Earliest Pregnancy Sign

The earliest pregnancy sign is unexplained fatigue.  But that isn’t the end of the story!  Read on to learn which of the three top early signs of pregnancy you are most likely to experience.

According to our combined 60+ years of experience working with pregnant women and as validated by our natural pregnancy community, the earliest sign of pregnancy is usually unexplained fatigue.  However, because people feel tired for many reasons, this is not the sign that causes most women to realize they are pregnant.  Instead it is the sign that, when they reflect backward, many women realize was the first sign even though they didn’t realize it at the time.  This is especially true for second time mothers who may often be tired from working and taking care of a small child.  


The second earliest pregnancy sign is feeling overly emotional.   For the same reason as tiredness, most women don’t realize that this was the first sign until they reflect backwards.  This is especially true if it is someone’s first pregnancy because feeling emotional can easily be mistaken for pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).  However, it is a distinctly different emotional feeling from PMS.  …one that is much more likely to be recognized the second time around.  So for second-time moms this is often the first sign that causes them to think they are pregnant.  

The sign that causes the most women to suspect (up front) that they may be pregnant is breast tenderness.  Breast tenderness is unique and something that most women don’t experience at any other time.  Because it is so specific to pregnancy and it is such a departure from the way that a woman’s breasts normally feel, it is distinctive enough to cause the majority of women to suspect they are pregnant.  

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Why fatigue may be your earliest pregnancy sign

Fatigue is common in pregnancy.  Face it, your body is building the <complexity> equivalent of a sky scraper inside your womb.  Every process your body runs to create your baby takes energy. If your diet isn’t optimal, you haven’t been drinking enough water, if you are stressed  or if you haven’t been getting enough sleep, …that will all make it more difficult for your body to accomplish the same baby building tasks.  

Fatigue is the earliest pregnancy sign that is overlooked the most.

Pregnancy and childbirth are very similar to an edurance event.  With endurance events it is all about managing your energy output with the inputs your body needs so that you can go the distance.  If you do this optimally, you won’t get overly tired and you will be able to complete the event without unnecessary pain.  If you go at it less than optimally, you may still finish, but it will be alot harder and you will be alot more tired.  Training is focused on helping you learn what your body is capable of and what it needs to have the best possible event.  

The critical factors are:

  • Eating the right things during the event so that your body will have the fuel it needs
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Tapering your training so that you are as rested as possible prior to the event 
  • Finding ways to rest the parts of your body that you aren’t using to conserve energy during the event 

The same principles apply to pregnancy.  You will feel far better and enjoy your pregnancy a whole lot more if you lower your stress, get plenty of rest, eat nutrient dense foods and drink plenty of water.  And despite doing all of that, you will feel unusually tired during certain stages of your pregnancy simply because your body is doing an amazing amount of work to make a healthy baby.  

You can expect to feel the most tired during your first trimester and your last trimester.  

During your first trimester, your body is going thru a huge number of rapid changes. Your hormone levels are changing at a rate unseen outside of pregnancy.  This is a very critical time where your body is laying the foundation for your baby.  The core development of your babiy’s organs and other features are all laid down in the first few weeks of pregnancy.  

During your last trimester your baby is growing and putting on weight at a fast rate in preparation for being born.  Not only are you eating for two, but you are also processing your baby’s waste along with your own and your heart is pumping a much larger volume of blood to nourish both you and your baby.  Pregnancy hormones are also changing rapidly again to prepare both your body as well as your baby’s body for birth.

Progesterone is not called the pregnancy hormone for nothing.  The latin pro-gestare literally means to carry about

This is all going on while you have the equivalent of a basketball inserted inside of your abdomen.  The basketball is not soft and squishy, its hard.  It:

  • Prevents you from moving as you are used to
  • Is putting pressure on your pelvis making it hard to walk
  • Pressing on all of your organs, making it harder to breathe, hold urine, digest food
  • Makes it hard to find a comfortable position to rest in, much less sleep 

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Why feeling overly emotional may be your earliest pregnancy sign

Feeling overly emotional - not just moody or irritated like some women get just before their period - is a common first sign of pregnancy because rapidly rising progesterone levels can cause the most even keeled women to suddenly feel emotional.  

This feeling is very distinct and different than normal PMS.  Read our in-depth article about Early Signs of Pregnancy for more about this.  

During the first few weeks of pregnancy, your progesterone levels will rise at a rate that never happens outside of pregnancy.  Many women who reportedly never get PMS will find themselves feeling unexpectedly emotional.  Women that never cry will suddenly find themselves crying for no good reason at all.  

Some women will find themselves feeling elated and they can’t figure out why (personally, I never look a give horse in the mouth, so if you are feeling unexpectedly elated, I say run with it!).  So if you find yourself crying because you feel unreasonably joyful and you can’t figure out why, you may be pregnant!  

One of the women in our community told us that she realized she was pregnant when she was trying to prepare the roast chicken that they routinely had on Thursday nights.  All of a sudden, she couldn’t bring herself to cut up the chicken into pieces.  While this had never bothered her before, she suddenly couldn’t bring herself to section the legs, wings and breast meat because doing so made her want to cry.  She said that all of a sudden she thought her chicken looked like a little doggie and she couldn’t bear cutting off one of it’s legs.  She knew it wasn’t rational, but she just couldn’t do it.  So she had her husband do it for her and she switched to boneless, skinless breast and thighs for a couple months!   Progesterone is not called the pregnancy hormone for nothing.  The latin pro-gestare literally means to carry about! 

  Be prepared, your earliest pregnancy sign may surprise you too.  

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Why breast tenderness may be your earliest pregnancy sign

Breast tenderness is the earliest pregnancy sign for most first-time moms.  Logically, you might expect that breast changes would happen later in pregnancy in preparation for breastfeeding.  However, the same hormones that stimulate important baby making processes also stimulate important processes in your breast.  Your breasts go thru many changes as your mammary glands prepare for making first colostrum and then breastmilk.  

Dormant until pregnancy, your breasts will grow and develop rapidly.  You can expect your breasts to swell early on in your pregnancy and to keep growing throughout your entire pregnancy and your first few weeks of nursing.  So, don’t buy a bigger bra that fits perfectly during your first trimester and think that you are done with the whole bra issue.  

Also, don’t purchase a nursing bra until after your baby is born since your breasts will continue to grow as they expand with milk a week or so after your baby is born.  Until then, your breasts are just preparing.  And for the first few days after your baby is born they are producing colostrum only.  Colostrum is produced in much smaller quantities than milk.  It is vitally important to your baby as it provides the foundation of your baby’s immune system.  Your baby is not intended to drink large volumes of milk until a few days after birth when your milk comes in.  

Early pregnancy breast tenderness is very different than the achy feeling you get if “the girls” have been bouncing around too much during exercise or if you just happened to go on a very bumpy car ride bra-less.  Whoops!  It is also very different from the soreness you get after working your chest muscles.  

So how does this earliest pregnancy sign feel?  Most women experience a tingling sensation that they have never felt before.  If you find that your breasts suddenly itch, you may be pregnant.  Other women experience fairly intense pain when their nipples harden.  So if you go outside and forget a sweater only to find that your contracted nipples are killing you, then you may be pregnant.  

Like reading about the earliest pregnancy signs?  Here is more great pregnancy information:

How did you first know you were pregnant?

Tell us what your first pregnancy sign was! Come on, don't be embarrassed! What tipped you off that you were pregnant? Did you figure it out or did someone else?

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