How do I know if I’m Pregnant?

A delayed or missed period is the most common sign of a pregnancy. However, each woman may experience different symptoms. A woman’s body experiences hormonal changes affecting almost every organ system. Some women may notice symptoms as soon as the very first week after conception and others may not notice any symptoms for several weeks. Centers linked to this site can discuss symptoms with you. All discussions are confidential.

Most pregnancy tests are reliable. However, it will be necessary to visit your doctor or an appropriate health care provider to confirm that you are pregnant. Your doctor may request an ultrasound exam to confirm the status of your pregnancy. This information is important whether you are considering abortion or continuing your pregnancy. Some of the centers listed on this site provide this service for free.

Pregnancy Symptoms & Signs

Delayed or Missed Period

When you become pregnant, you will probably miss your next period. This is a very early sign of pregnancy. Some women will still bleed throughout their pregnancy, but if you do, it will typically be lighter or shorter than your regular period.

Slight Bleeding or Cramping

You may notice some spotting and even some cramping before your menstrual cycle is due. This is known as implantation bleeding, when the embryo attaches to the lining of the uterus. This usually happens about 6 to 14 days after fertilization. This is often the first pregnancy symptom you may notice. This type of bleeding is usually a bit earlier, lighter in color and spottier than your regular menstrual period and shouldn’t last as long.

Tender, or Swollen Breasts

You may notice swollen or tender breasts as early as 1-2 weeks after conception. They may also feel sore, tingly, fuller, and your nipples may become tender and stick out.

Extreme Fatigue

Extreme tiredness is another early symptom of pregnancy in the first several weeks. Your entire body is adjusting and developing high levels of the hormone progesterone. At the same time, lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and an increase in blood production can absorb your energy.

Morning Sickness

Hormone changes in your body may be causing nausea and vomiting. This is known as “Morning sickness.” Despite its name, this can happen any time of the day or night. This usually occurs between 2 and 8 weeks after conception. Pregnant women also have a stronger sense of smell so various odors may cause nausea in early pregnancy.

Frequent Urination

Around 6 – 8 weeks after conception, you might have a more frequent need to urinate. This is caused by the pressure being put on your bladder, urethra and pelvic floor muscles.

Food Cravings or Dislikes

You may find yourself having strong cravings or dislikes for certain foods. Like most pregnancy symptoms, these food preferences can be a result of changing hormones. Food cravings and dislikes can last the entirety of your pregnancy, but are most likely to be the strongest during your first trimester when your hormones are changing the most.

Headaches

Increased blood circulation caused by the sudden rise of hormones can cause you to have frequent, mild headaches early in your pregnancy.

Faintness and Dizziness

Frequently women experience dizziness and lightheadedness throughout their pregnancy. The growth of more blood vessels in early pregnancy, the pressure of the expanding uterus on blood vessels, and the body’s increased need for food can all cause you dizziness and faintness.

Mood swings

The flood of hormones in your body during the first several weeks of your pregnancy can cause you to be unusually emotional and weepy.

Darkening Areolas

A sign of pregnancy or symptom can include the skin around your nipples getting darker in color.

Constipation

As your levels of hormones increase, slowing down digestion and relaxing muscles in the bowels, you may experience constipation. Constipation may include having hard, dry stools, fewer than three bowel movements per week, and painful bowel movements.

Heartburn

Pregnancy hormones can cause you to experience indigestion and heartburn. Hormones slow down the muscles of the digestive tract causing indigestion and they relax the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, allowing food and acids to come back up causing the burning feeling of heartburn.

Backaches

You may experience lower back pains during early pregnancy, however they are common throughout your entire pregnancy.

Keep in mind that all of these symptoms could also be related to something other than pregnancy.

References

Body Changes and Discomforts. The National Women’s Health Information Center.
http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/you-are-pregnant/body-changes-discomforts.html

Stages of Pregnancy. The National Women’s Health Information Center.
http://www.womenshealth.gov/Pregnancy/you-are-pregnant/stages-of-pregnancy.cfm

Knowing if You Are Pregnant. The National Women’s Health Information Center. http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/before-you-get-pregnant/knowing-if-pregnant.cfm

Pregnancy Symptoms – Early Signs of Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. http://www.americanpregnancy.org/gettingpregnant/earlypregnancysymptoms.html

Symptoms of Pregnancy: What Happens Right Away. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/symptoms-of-pregnancy/PR00102

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