Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
Knowing whether or not you are pregnant can be a source of stress and anticipation, but the key is to look out for the signs and symptoms of pregnancy. While some women may experience all of the symptoms, others may only experience some of them. It is important to recognize the early signs of pregnancy so that you can make informed decisions about your health and well-being.
Let’s take a look at some of the common signs and symptoms of pregnancy:
One of the most common signs of pregnancy is missing a period. This is usually the first symptom that women notice when they are pregnant. Missing a period can be caused by a number of factors, such as fluctuating hormones, stress, birth control medications, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or another medical condition.
If you have missed your period and suspect that you might be pregnant, it’s best to take a pregnancy test. A home pregnancy test can confirm your suspicions and give you an indication as to whether or not you are indeed pregnant. Some over-the-counter tests are 99 percent accurate when used correctly. However, keep in mind that false positives and negatives do exist and if your results indicate that you may be pregnant, it’s best to follow up with your doctor for confirmation.
Other common indications of pregnancy include:
- Elevated Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
- Breast tenderness/enlargement
- Implantation bleeding/cramping (usually occurring 7-14 days after conception)
- Frequent urination
- Food cravings or aversions
- Increased bloating/flatulence
If any of these symptoms occur along with a missed period then it may point to pregnancy; however the only way to know for sure is by taking a test or visiting your doctor for an exam.
Nausea is a very common symptom of early pregnancy and is typically one of the first clues that a woman is expecting. Nausea can manifest itself as mild discomfort or a feeling of extreme sickness and can affect the ability to keep food down and perform normal daily activities. What’s commonly referred to as “morning sickness” can strike at any hour, day or night.
In fact, nausea during pregnancy is often linked to heightened levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone helps offer nourishment to the embryo after it buries itself into the uterine lining. Generally, light snacking throughout the day can help keep nausea at bay, and avoiding smells that trigger symptoms may also be helpful. Additionally, moderate physical activity can also aid in relieving symptoms.
If nausea persists for more than 24 hours or you are unable to keep anything down for an extended period of time, consulting a doctor should be advised.
Breast tenderness is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy and usually occurs within some weeks after conception. Generally, the feeling can range from simply feeling a bit irritated and heavy to experiencing a sensation similar to pre-menstrual tenderness.
As your pregnancy progresses, the symptom may become more of an issue as your breasts increase in size due to higher levels of hormones. In most cases, the discomfort will subside after a few weeks as your body adjusts to increased hormone levels. However, for some women, it can persist throughout the entire duration of their pregnancy.
If you’re experiencing ongoing discomfort from breast tenderness that continues to be bothersome during your pregnancy or seems worse as it goes on, you should be sure to talk about it with your doctor and seek treatments for relief if necessary.
Fatigue is a common symptom experienced during the early stages of pregnancy. Many women may feel especially exhausted in the first trimester of pregnancy, and this can last throughout the entirety of the pregnancy. Excessive tiredness and fatigue can be caused by several factors such as an increase in hormones, a shift in your internal body clock, and progressing pregnancy symptoms.
Other symptoms that contribute to fatigue during early pregnancy include:
- Poor sleep quality from constant trips to the bathroom due to increased urination or discomfort resulting from morning sickness.
- Heightened sense of smell causing odors to become overpowering.
- Nausea brought on by smells or strong emotions.
- Anxiety over bodily changes, lifestyle adjustments, and preparing for a new baby.
- Rapid hormone changes causing an overproduction of chemicals such as cortisol which leads to feeling overwhelmed or fatigued.
- Vigorous physical activities that may have been done prior to the onset of pregnancy could suddenly become impossible because of exhaustion.
In order to combat fatigue it is best for expectant mothers to get plenty of rest throughout their pregnancies, but also make sure they are eating well balanced meals with adequate nutrients that will help charge their bodies physically and emotionally.
Home Pregnancy Tests
Home pregnancy tests are a great way to quickly and easily find out if you are pregnant. Home tests are the most reliable and accurate way to determine if you are pregnant and the results can be known in as little as a few minutes. Not only are home pregnancy tests easy to use but they are also very affordable.
Let’s take a look at the different types of tests available and how fast you can get an answer:
Urine home pregnancy tests look for the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. This hormone is only present during pregnancy. Urine tests can detect hCG typically 10 days after conception, though it varies depending on the sensitivity of the test, and you may need to wait a few more days before getting an accurate result.
Depending on the product, you may receive results one to three minutes after collecting your sample or up to 10 minutes later. For example, a stick-test may be less sensitive than a cup-based test and require you to wait longer for results.
No matter which product you choose, read all instructions carefully and follow them completely for the most accurate results. Check the expiration date on any testing kit you purchase, as expired tests will no longer be as accurate.
If you would like to take a pregnancy test earlier than buying an over-the-counter [OTC] test, you can schedule a visit with your health care provider and have them conduct a blood pregnancy test. While these tests are also known as quantitative blood tests, your doctor may refer to it as the beta human chorionic gonadotropin (beta hCG) test. It is considered the most accurate test for detecting pregnancy and takes only 24 to 48 hours for results.
Blood tests measure the exact amount of hCG present in the blood, which provides quick confirmation of pregnancy and also detects more subtle levels of the hormone than home pregnancy tests. This can be especially useful if you are having difficulty getting a positive result on an OTC urine or home pregnancy test or if you need to know that your levels are rising appropriately during early stages of gestation.
Some medical tests can help you to confirm your pregnancy very quickly. These tests use hormones called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to detect if a woman is pregnant. With this method, you will get results within hours or days after taking the test. It is important to note that while these tests offer reliable results, they are not foolproof.
Let’s discuss the different medical tests that can help you to know if you are pregnant:
Ultrasound is a type of imaging used in pregnancy to view and monitor the baby as it develops in the uterus. This technology uses sound waves to produce detailed images of the fetus and placenta. Ultrasound is also known as sonography, and can be used at various points during pregnancy to check on the overall health of both mother and baby.
An ultrasound examination will typically include several views of the developing fetus so that an accurate assessment can be made. An ultrasound exam may include:
- Estimating fetal age or due date
- Measuring key body organs like head, abdomen, hip measurements, etc.
- Observing fetal movement and heart rate
- Checking for multiple pregnancies
- Identifying abnormalities or birth defects
- Examining the placenta or umbilical cord
- Assessing amniotic fluid levels
Ultrasound exams are usually performed using an abdominal transducer (probe), though sometimes a transvaginal probe may also be used for a closer look at the developing fetus.
When it comes to detecting pregnancy, blood tests are more accurate and reliable than urine tests. Blood tests can detect hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) levels as soon as six to eight days after conception, but most doctors prefer to wait until 11-14 days for a definitive answer.
There are two different types of blood tests – quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative test can measure the exact amount of hCG in your blood and can help determine the age of the fetus, while the qualitative test simply looks for the presence of hCG in your system and can confirm a positive or negative result. Blood tests are so sensitive that they can even detect low amounts of hCG as early as seven to ten days after conception.
Urine tests are a popular and unobtrusive way to diagnose pregnancy. It involves testing the urine for the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the hormone produced by a female’s placenta after implantation of an embryo. Urine tests can be performed in a doctor’s office or at home with over-the-counter products that detect hCG.
Doctor’s Office Tests
If you take a urine test at your doctor’s office, you can expect to have results within five minutes. Your doctor will collect a urine sample and use an instrument called a dipstick to measure hCG levels in the sample. Usually, if hCG is detected, you will be deemed to be pregnant.
Over-the Counter Tests
Over-the counter home pregnancy tests are available in most drug stores and supermarkets. Typically, these tests work by detecting hCG levels present in a woman’s urine and provide results in three to five minutes after collecting your sample. These types of tests usually do not require collection of first morning void samples for accuracy; however, for best results it is still recommended to collect first morning void samples when using an over-the-counter urine test to confirm pregnancy.
Other Ways to Confirm Pregnancy
When it comes to confirming a pregnancy, most people look to take a home pregnancy test. However, there are other ways you can confirm a pregnancy as well. These methods often provide more reliable or accurate results, or are used to support the results of a home pregnancy test.
This article will discuss these other methods to help you confirm a pregnancy:
Symptom tracking is another method of confirming a pregnancy. Some of the more common early signs that you may be expecting are nausea and/or vomiting, fatigue, frequent urination, tender or swollen breasts, and generally a feeling of malaise. Though these signs alone don’t necessarily indicate a pregnancy, they are often the first indicators that something is different.
Other symptoms throughout the course of your pregnancy – but which may not necessarily occur in the first weeks and months – can include:
- Food cravings or aversions
- Bloating and cramping
- Spotting (also known as implantation bleeding)
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Heightened sense of smell
- Back or pelvic pain
Tracking these developments can help you to confirm your pregnancy.
It is important to remember that each individual woman will experience different levels of intensity when it comes to symptom tracking. No two pregnancies are exactly alike! If you are experiencing any symptoms at all – such as those listed here – then this could be an indicator that you may be expecting a baby in the near future!
Fetal movements, or quickening, are the first tangible sign that you are pregnant. Quickening often begins at 16-24 weeks of pregnancy and is typically felt in the lower abdomen or on the side nearest the uterus. Pregnant women report feeling anything from a soft thumping to strong kicks and punches as the baby becomes increasingly active inside her womb.
It is difficult to determine exactly when you will begin to feel these movements, as it can be different for each woman. Being more in tune with your body can help you recognize any distinctive movements that may indicate it’s your baby shifting around in there.
However, if it is your first pregnancy, it may take a while before you’re able to differentiate between your own bodily movements and those of your baby. The sensations of fetal movement will typically increase in intensity as the pregnancy advances closer to full-term. Depending on whether this is your first pregnancy or not, it can take anywhere from 20-25 weeks before you are able to confirm fetus movement as a sign of pregnancy.
One of the main ways to confirm pregnancy is listening for the fetal heartbeat with an ultrasound. In general, a medical practitioner can detect a fetal heartbeat around 6-7 weeks of pregnancy. After 8 weeks gestation, it can usually be heard clearly by a doctor using a Doppler fetal monitor and USG. It is most commonly heard between 10-12 weeks of pregnancy, although some practitioners might not be able to detect it until 14-15 weeks when the fetus is larger and easier to see.
It’s important to remember that accuracy and clarity in hearing/detecting fetal heartbeats depend on various factors including gestational age and position of the fetus, as well as presence or absence of amniotic fluid. The sound produced by your little one’s tiny heart will become stronger and flutter faster as they grow, allowing practitioners to identify distinct individual beats rather than just one steady rhythm from far off at 6-8 weeks gestation.
An ultrasound machine also allows individuals to see other physical indicators for confirming pregnancy such as fetal movement and size measurements that help estimate age. Additionally, other tests such as HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) may be prescribed depending on your individual needs or in conjunction with ultrasound tests if there are concerns about early miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
When to See a Doctor
When you think you may be pregnant, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Knowing the signs and symptoms of early pregnancy can help you decide if it is time to see your doctor. It is important to know when to recognize the signs of pregnancy and when to consult a doctor for a definitive diagnosis.
This article will discuss when to see a doctor and other important details regarding early pregnancy:
If you are unsure of your test results
If you’ve taken a home pregnancy test and the result wasn’t clear, you should still see your healthcare provider. There are medical tests that can provide more accurate results. An ultrasound is often performed to confirm early pregnancy and to determine the age of the fetus.
Your doctor will also discuss any health risks associated with pregnancy, such as STDs or diabetes, which are best treated before becoming pregnant. Your doctor will also be able to answer any questions you have about conception and answer any questions regarding medications such as birth control pills or herbal remedies.
An early visit to your doctor can also help identify potential problems before they become serious, increasing your chances of a successful and healthy pregnancy. So if you believe that you may be pregnant, it’s always best to double check with a medical professional as soon as possible.
If you experience any unusual symptoms
It is important to note that not all pregnancies are the same and that every woman’s experience can differ. Therefore, if you think you may be pregnant, it is best to speak with your doctor. When you have an appointment, be prepared to describe any unusual symptoms you have experienced during pregnancy.
For example, if you feel unusually tired, nausea or extreme hunger after missing your period, it is best to contact a doctor right away. In addition to physical signs of pregnancy such as tender breasts or darker nipples, some women may also experience non-physical symptoms like dizziness or changes in mood. Also pay attention to any changes in vaginal discharge like an increase in volume or color.
If you are worried about other medical issues unrelated to pregnancy such as having a high fever, bleeding from the vagina which is not associated with your monthly cycle, sudden abdominal pain or swelling which can be related to a growth in the uterus it is important for you seek medical help immediately. In this situation it could be beneficial for a doctor to diagnose these issues and rule out diabetes or other major medical issues that could need additional treatment including surgery. Being aware of any changes your body goes through will help keep everyone safe throughout the duration of the pregnancy.
If you have any concerns about your pregnancy
If you have any concerns about your pregnancy or notice any signs of a potential complication, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Some signs that warrant immediate medical attention include:
- Pain in the abdomen or pelvis
- Excessive bleeding
- Regular contractions
- Sudden swelling of the face or hands
Any changes in a woman’s wellbeing during pregnancy can be an indication of serious issues and should be discussed with her doctor right away.
It is also important for pregnant women to pay attention to their emotional health. Many women experience depression during pregnancy and it is essential for them to receive proper treatment if symptoms begin to appear. The physical health of the baby can also be impacted if the mother isn’t receiving proper mental health care during her pregnancy. If you are feeling particularly anxious, overwhelmed or deeply depressed while pregnant, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from your healthcare team.