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Guidance on Early and Presumptive Signs of Pregnancy

presumptive signs of pregnancy

The sooner you notice signs that someone might be pregnant, the sooner you can start taking care of both the mom and the baby.

Most people think missing a period is the main sign of pregnancy, but there are other signs before that happens. Pregnancy signs are split into three groups: likely, possible, and confirmed, depending on how sure you are about the pregnancy.

If you’re studying to be a nurse, it’s important to understand these signs well and know the difference between likely, possible, and confirmed signs of pregnancy. We’ll guide you through it all.

Presumptive, probable, and positive signs of pregnancy

You might have heard about likely, possible, and confirmed signs of pregnancy — but what do they mean?

Likely signs of pregnancy are things the person notices themselves, which might mean they’re pregnant. These signs are common in early pregnancy, but sometimes they can also happen because of other reasons like PMS, stress, or being sick.

Possible signs of pregnancy are the ones most likely to mean someone is pregnant. Changes in the cervix, a bit of cramping in the uterus, the cervix getting softer, feeling the baby move, practice contractions, and a positive result on a pregnancy test are common signs to look for. But sometimes, a pregnancy test can be wrong, especially if it’s done at home.

To be sure someone is pregnant, doctors check for confirmed signs. These include hearing the baby’s heartbeat or seeing it on an ultrasound, using a special tool called a doppler, and finding a certain hormone called hCG in the urine.

11 Presumptive signs of pregnancy

Here are some common signs of pregnancy that might indicate someone is pregnant:


This means missing periods, which is often the first sign of pregnancy for many women. But it can also happen because of other reasons like stress, changes in weight, or certain medical conditions.


Feeling really tired is common in early pregnancy. This happens because of all the changes and hormonal shifts in the body, especially in the first three months. Helping pregnant people manage their tiredness by giving them information and suggesting ways to rest is important.

Increase in Urinary Frequency

Expecting moms might find themselves making more trips to the bathroom, especially in the early weeks of pregnancy. This happens because of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which increases blood flow to the pelvic area and makes the cervix softer. This is called Goodell’s sign.

Nausea, with or without Vomiting

Because of hormonal changes in the first trimester, many pregnant people feel nauseous. This affects about 70% to 80% of pregnant women. Even though it’s often called “morning sickness,” it can happen at any time of day.

Breast Enlargement

As the body prepares to produce milk for the newborn, expecting mothers might notice their breasts becoming fuller, larger, and heavier. They may also feel tenderness or notice changes in their nipples. The darker area around the nipple, called the areola, might also darken and increase in size. However, because breast tenderness can also happen during PMS, relying solely on breast changes to confirm pregnancy might be too early.


This is a burning sensation in the throat or chest caused by stomach acid moving upward. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can weaken the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, leading to heartburn. The growing uterus also puts pressure on the stomach, causing bloating. As a nurse, suggesting dietary and lifestyle changes can help manage and prevent these symptoms for patients.


An increase in hormones during the first weeks of pregnancy leads to the dilation of blood vessels, which may cause lightheadedness. Although hormonal changes typically cause dizziness, they might signal more serious health issues in some women — such as infection, a blood clot, insulin resistance, or high blood pressure.

Elevated basal body temperature (BBT)

Basal body temperature (BBT) is the body’s lowest resting temperature, usually measured with a thermometer first thing in the morning. A woman’s reproductive hormones play a significant role in BBT; fertility awareness programs typically track the pattern to aid in pregnancy.

After ovulation, BBT increases and drops again if pregnancy doesn’t happen; therefore, an elevated basal body temperature might indicate an early pregnancy or ovulation.

Food cravings

Food cravings and aversions are common presumptive signs of pregnancy. Common types of foods craved by pregnant women include chocolate, ice cream, fruit, juice, milk, yogurt, cheese, and cream, among others.

Mood swings

Mood swings are another early, presumptive sign of pregnancy. Hormonal changes, the physical discomfort of pregnancy, sleep deprivation, and the upcoming post-baby life changes are factors that send pregnant women on an emotional rollercoaster. The good news for moms dealing with emotional ups and downs is that mood swings are only temporary.

Shortness of breath

As pregnancy progresses, walking up the stairs or carrying out a routine task may seem exhausting for many women. Shortness of breath is a common symptom for expecting mothers, occurring in 60% to 70% of healthy pregnant women. Although dyspnea in pregnancy is typically harmless, difficult breathing is associated with more serious pregnancy complications in some cases.

In Last

If you’re studying to become a nurse, it’s crucial to understand the early signs of pregnancy like presumptive, probable, and positive signs. SimpleNursing offers great resources to help you prepare for your nursing exams. With over 1,000 videos, 800 cheat sheets, and 3,000 practice questions, you can access the content you need to pass your exams. Join over a million students who’ve benefited from SimpleNursing and ace your nursing school exams and the NCLEX.

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