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Am I Pregnant? The Key Signs of Pregnancy

 

If you're trying to conceive a baby, you might know exactly when your baby was conceived. However if you only suspect you're pregnant, it's important to know the symptoms of pregnancy and when to test for it.

Knowing The Very Early Signs Of Pregnancy

Some people notice symptoms of pregnancy as early as within a week of conception. There are a number of early signs of pregnancy. If you experience more than one of these symptoms, consider taking a pregnancy test.

  • Feeling dizzy or fainting. The pregnancy hormones and the low blood sugar and low blood pressure that often come when you’re expecting can cause extreme dizziness and even fainting spells. If you’re experiencing them, you might want to take a pregnancy test – and definitely see your doctor. A good way to avoid this one is by making sure to get enough fluids and food in your system.
  • Heightened sense of smell. If you’re suddenly having strong reactions to various smells – whether it’s trash or fish or bacon – and your nose seems to have turned bionic, picking up every scent swirling around, you might be pregnant.
  • Cramps. Some women have cramps similar to those that come with their period early in their pregnancies – which makes it confusing. If that’s happening to you, take a pregnancy test and then confirm it all with your doctor.
  • Light bleeding. Spotting, or light bleeding, can also be an early pregnancy sign, making it hard for the women who have it to tell whether they’ve got their period or are expecting. A good way to distinguish is if the bleeding begins a few days earlier than your period normally starts and is much lighter than usual. It’s caused by the fertilized egg attaching to the wall of the uterus. 
  • Headaches. Pregnancy hormones can cause pretty killer headaches in some women almost right away. If you’re getting bad headaches all of a sudden when you normally don’t suffer from them, coupled with some other pregnancy symptoms, it’s best to check whether you are or aren’t. 
  • Backaches. An achy back might also be an early indication you’re pregnant as it could signal that your ligaments are loosening up. If you’re not one who’s typically prone to backaches and you have some other symptoms, you might be pregnant – so take a test to find out! 
  • Shortness of breath. This symptom can crop up pretty early on in a pregnancy because the fetus needs more and more oxygen as it develops and grows. And unfortunately, this one will probably stick with you through all nine months. 
  • Tummy trouble. If you’re finding that you’re constipated and bloated more than usual, you might be pregnant. The extra progesterone produced during pregnancy causes the digestive system to slow down – and in some cases, get backed up.

More Telling Symptoms of Pregnancy​

Having a child can be both exciting and overwhelming for expectant mothers. Yet, not all new moms realize they're pregnant right away. There are some tell-tale signs women have a child on the way. Let's look at four examples:

1. Tender or swollen breasts

Hormonal ups and downs are not a new experience for women. These swings can result in tender and swollen breasts. Many women encounter these fluctuations before, during and sometimes after their monthly period, so they many not realize the sensitivity is tied to pregnancy as well. No need to fear, however, this tenderness usually disappears within a few weeks as moms' bodies adjust to the changes.

2. Nausea and vomiting

It's not uncommon for women in the movies to realize they're pregnant after a bout of morning sickness. While there are many other signs that point to carrying a child, nausea and vomiting are strong indications. This uncomfortable feeling is likely during the first six months of pregnancy, but often subsides as moms begin their second trimester.

the signs of pregnancy infograph

3. Missed periods

Signs of pregnancy can also be confused with premenstrual syndrome, but don't be fooled. Missing a period is a clue that women could be pregnant. If that's coupled with mood swings, backaches and food cravings, a doctor's visit is in order.

4. Tiredness and lightheadedness

Feeling faint and fatigued? The hormone progesterone is elevated during the early stages of pregnancy, which could make expectant mothers feel more tired than usual.

Many women realize they're pregnant due to a combination of two or more of these signs. If you have any inklings or indications that you're carrying a child, visit your doctor.

When to Test for Pregnancy?

Many women test for pregnancy when they miss their period. Because of the way pregnancy is dated, by the time you miss a period, you're already four weeks pregnant. Women who have a longer menstrual cycle may have their due dates miscalculated in the early stages of pregnancy.

Home pregnancy tests work by measuring the levels of the “pregnancy hormone,” human chorionic gonadotropin (or HCG), in your urine. In even the earliest of days of your pregnancy, your HCG levels rise quite dramatically, which is what allows the tests to be taken before you’ve even missed your period.

young woman reading a pregnancy test

I Can Take a Pregnancy Test Before I Even Miss My Period?

That’s right! Some pregnancy tests on the market can accurately tell you whether or not you’re pregnant as early as five or six days before your period begins (or doesn’t begin, as the case may be). Once you have your pregnancy test, when to test will be your next question. The optimum time to take one is first thing in the morning, since your HCG levels will be strongest, although you are likely to get the same result whatever time of the day you take it. As tempting as it might be, try not to drink a lot of fluids so that you can hurry up and take it, since you will just end up diluting your results.

Where to Get a Pregnancy Test and What to Do with It

Wondering where to get a pregnancy test? You can get home pregnancy tests from your local drugstore or grocery store or online. There are plenty of different brands to choose from, but the idea is the same. You will direct the stick under a flow of your urine for around five seconds. You can also collect a urine sample in a small cup and dip the stick into it if you’d prefer. After setting it down on a flat surface, you will wait for a few minutes (they may feel like years), and then you can read your result. Depending upon the brand of pregnancy test you’ve chosen, you’ll get either a digital “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant” result, a series of blue or pink lines, or a plus (+) or minus sign (-). Generally, two lines or a (+) means you are pregnant, and one line or a (-) means you are not.

How Accurate Are Pregnancy Tests?

Home pregnancy tests are now just as accurate as any doctor’s urine test (excluding a blood test, naturally). In fact, your healthcare provider may not bother testing you again, since you already have such an accurate result. It’s impossible to get false positives, as you must be pregnant in order to produce HCG. You can, however, test positive if you have recently suffered a miscarriage and your HCG levels haven’t returned to normal yet. You can also get false negatives, for example if you test too early, and your HCG levels are not yet detectable. In this case, wait to see if you miss your period (as hard as that wait may be!), and then test again. You might get a different result.

 
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