Answer these questions to help determine whether or not you may be pregnant.
Have you been experiencing bodily changes? Do you think you may be pregnant? This can be an exciting time but also a puzzling time. To add to the confusion, many pregnancy signs and symptoms can have causes unlinked to pregnancy.
At GMPC Medical we have compiled this list of questions to determine whether or not you may be pregnant. Please contact GMPC Medical if you have any other questions or would like to make an appointment for a free and confidential consultation.
Early signs of pregnancy tend to differ from one woman to the next and your best bet is to take a pregnancy test as soon as possible. But paying attention to early symptoms of pregnancy is also important, and these symptoms can start as early as your first month of pregnancy. With that in mind, consider these 10 questions about the early signs of pregnancy:
1. Have you missed a period?
A missed period is a common early sign of pregnancy. Many pregnant women begin seeking answers because they know they’re late for their next period. If your period is over a week late, you may consider this a possible indicator of pregnancy, and as other pregnancy symptoms start to appear, you may find that this symptom was the first you experienced. However, a late period may not be an accurate sign if you typically have irregular menstrual cycles, as you could simply have a late period that month.
If you are currently having your period, then it is most likely that you are not pregnant, as the lining of your uterus is shedding through blood it had stored up before ovulation. If it’s been more than a month since your last menstrual period, then you might be pregnant, as your endometrial lining could have, at that point, received a fertilized egg and is now working to support it. Tracking your period is not the only way to determine whether or not you’re pregnant, but this, along with a few other symptoms, tends to be a good indicator.
Q: How do I track my period so I can know if I’m late?
One good method to track your period is to mark the calendar on the first day of your menstrual cycle. According to Women’s Health, a typical menstrual period lasts between 24 and 38 days (1). If you count 24 days after the first day of your last period, you will be able to estimate when your next period will begin. According to the Mayo Clinic, you’ll also experience an increase in basal body temperature when you are ovulating. If you track your temperature throughout your cycle, you should be able to track your period, which will appear 12-16 days after ovulation (2). There are also many apps available to help you with this, like Flo Period and Ovulation Tracker.
2. Have you been feeling frequently nauseous?
Nausea is another of the common early pregnancy symptoms in the first trimester and may or may not be accompanied by vomiting. This symptom affects more than half of pregnant women and is known as morning sickness, even though it can be experienced any time of the day. It typically lasts throughout the first weeks of pregnancy and subsides after your first trimester of pregnancy. “Not all women experience nausea, while others experience it throughout their pregnancy,” reported Medical News Today. “Nausea can begin as early as 5 weeks, with most women experiencing some level of nausea by week 8 of pregnancy” (3). The severity can differ from person to person. It isn’t totally clear what the cause is for morning sickness, but it may be due to hormonal changes.
Q: My morning sickness is more than just the morning and has been constant through my pregnancy. When should I be concerned?
Morning sickness is a pregnancy symptom that can occur throughout your pregnancy, but the nausea is not solely confined to the morning. During pregnancy you will have hormone changes in your body. An increase in the hormone HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is thought to be a factor in causing morning sickness, which typically is a mild form of nausea. If, however, the nausea is intense and causing extreme, frequent vomiting, you may have hyperemesis gravidarum, which can lead to dehydration and rapid weight loss. According to Medline Plus, you should contact your doctor if frequent, intense vomiting continues, as this is one of the medical conditions that could require treatment and hospitalization (4).
3. Do you have swollen, tender breasts or nipples?
The American Pregnancy Association reports that this is one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy. “Changes to the breasts can start as early as 1 to 2 weeks after conception” (5). The APA also stated that about 17% of pregnant women surveyed reported breast changes as the first sign of pregnancy. This typically occurs in the early weeks of pregnancy, but could occur up to four to six weeks in. Because of the increase in the amount of blood flow throughout this area, you may experience tingling, aching, and swelling/enlargement of the breast tissue, often leading to sore breasts. You may also notice darkening of the areas surrounding the nipples. Once your body adjusts to your new hormonal changes, breast tenderness should subside.
Q: What can I do to relieve some of this discomfort from breast changes?
According to Parents.com, when increased amounts of the hormone progesterone, along with estrogen and prolactin, is produced, milk glands inside your breasts begin to grow. This can become uncomfortable, as these hormones expand your blood vessels to help raise the blood volume in your breasts. To help with the discomfort, wear a more supportive bra and looser clothing. Take warm showers, apply warm and cool compresses, and, if nothing else is helping, talk to your doctor about taking Tylenol (6).
4. Have you noticed spotting and cramping?
When the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus, this may cause light spotting and even mild cramping. WebMD calls this “implantation bleeding,” and it typically resembles a light period. This “occurs anywhere from 6 to 12 days after the egg is fertilized. The cramps resemble menstrual cramps, so some women mistake them and the bleeding for the start of their period.” However, there are some distinct differences. Some of the key differences include a smaller amount, shorter time, lighter color, and absence of clotting. The cramps pregnant women experience may seem similar to those during PMS. But implantation cramps are also different—these cramps would be present even after you’ve missed your period. Other common early signs of pregnancy include leg cramping and back pain, typically in the lower back (7).
Q: How long does spotting and cramping last through my pregnancy?
Light vaginal bleeding and cramping due to implantation bleeding typically only occur within the first trimester. According to Healthline, spotting can occur any time throughout your pregnancy, but for different reasons. Light bleeding in the first trimester is typically because of implantation and can occur all the way to the end of the first trimester. Throughout the second trimester, bleeding or vaginal discharge may occur if there is a problem with the cervix or placenta. If bleeding happens frequently, contact your healthcare provider. Spotting may also take place after having sex while pregnant. If bleeding happens in the third trimester of pregnancy and is accompanied by mucous, it may be a sign that labor is beginning (8).
5. Do you have headaches more frequently?
Headaches are so common that this alone is not necessarily considered one of the first signs of pregnancy. In this case, you may also be experiencing lightheadedness or dizziness due to hormonal changes in your body. You should consider them in conjunction with other pregnancy symptoms you’re experiencing.
Q: Am I allowed to take painkillers to help with the headache pain?
MayoClinic states that acetaminophen (Tylenol) is generally considered safe for a pregnant woman, though you should talk to your doctor before taking any medication. Other, non-medicinal methods to ease headache pain include managing your stress, including exercise in your daily routine, eating regularly, and following a consistent sleep schedule (9).
6. Are you experiencing strange food cravings and an increased appetite?
If you are pregnant, you may start to experience cravings for certain foods. Often, the foods you normally desire won’t sound good to you at all. These food aversions and cravings may also be due to hormonal changes, along with changes in your senses. Your body is also working really hard to build a new life, so of course you’re experiencing an increased appetite! Be sure to fill up on healthy, pregnancy-approved snacks so your body will receive the energy it needs.
Q: Will my cravings make me gain a lot of weight?
According to The Mother Baby Center, weight gain and increased appetite during your pregnancy are completely common and expected. Oftentimes, your cravings may be a signal that your body needs a certain type of nutrient, like iron. If you find yourself with an appetite that is out of control and cravings that are hard to handle, try eating satisfying, protein-heavy food that will keep you full longer. Be sure to drink plenty of water and—most importantly— DON’T stress about the scale. The most important thing is that you and your baby are healthy (10).
7. Are you going to the bathroom a lot?
With pregnancy, you may notice changes in your bladder sensitivity. This is a common pregnancy symptom and can be traced back to hormone changes, your growing uterus, and increased blood circulation to the pelvis. Because of these changes, you may find yourself making more frequent trips to the restroom.
Q: Will frequent urination last throughout my pregnancy?
According to What to Expect, frequent urination will likely last throughout your pregnancy. The change in frequency may or may not affect you much, depending on your personal arrangement of internal organs – it varies from woman to woman. To reduce the frequency, lower your caffeine intake and limit your fluids before bed (11).
8. Do you feel light-headed?
Feeling dizzy or light-headed, especially immediately after standing or changing your position quickly, can be a sign of pregnancy. Dizziness may be the result of a change in your blood volume and blood pressure, or it could be a deficiency in iron. Light-headedness can be caused by many different factors, so this symptom on its own is not considered a reliable sign of pregnancy. When paired with other symptoms, though, pregnancy could be something to consider.
Q: Is there a way to help the dizziness?
Healthline refers to several different methods to help with the dizziness, including limiting long periods of standing, slowly changing positions from laying down or sitting to standing, frequently snacking, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding tight clothing (12).
9. Are you moody recently?
Sudden mood changes and fatigue are also attributable to hormonal changes. These changes could take place as early as the first month of pregnancy. This is because your body is producing a hormone called progesterone. This hormone supports the pregnancy and is responsible for milk production in the breasts as well.
Q: When will my moods feel stabilized again?
The American Pregnancy Association states that most women experience their most intense mood swings within the first 6-10 weeks of pregnancy, as this is when you experience the largest influx of hormones. Hormone levels usually stabilize through the second trimester, and then, during the third trimester, pick back up as your body prepares to give birth. Give yourself grace through these times. Be sure to eat a healthy diet, exercise, and talk to your loved ones. You’ll feel like yourself again before you know it (13). Just having someone to talk to can help with your emotional well-being. At GMPC Medical we are here to hear you. Contact us to book a consultation or just a friendly conversation.
10. Are you feeling fatigued?
“You may feel fatigue early and late in pregnancy,” according to the March of Dimes. “Your body may be tired because it’s working hard to take care of your growing baby. Your body is making pregnancy hormones and you’re using a lot of energy, even when you sleep. You may have trouble sleeping at night because you’re uncomfortable or you need to get up to go to the bathroom. Later in pregnancy, leg cramps may wake you up at night” (14). The good news is that such high levels of fatigue are particularly strong in the early stages of pregnancy and will likely subside after the first trimester and then fluctuate through the entire pregnancy.
Q: Is there anything I can do to ease the fatigue?
Eating frequent meals helps keep your energy up throughout the day, according to Healthline. Also, avoid caffeine after lunch and be sure to take plenty of naps. When convenient, take naps during the day. Your body is working incredibly hard, so be sure to take it easy during this time. You’ll likely feel like you have more energy in the second trimester of your pregnancy (15).
11. Are you experiencing sensitivity to smell or a metallic taste in your mouth?
Though there may be little scientific consensus on these, they are some of the earliest signs of pregnancy. This heightened sense of smell may also be one of the causes of nausea, as is the metallic taste in your mouth.
Q: What can I do to get rid of the metallic taste?
Due to a surge in estrogen, you may be experiencing a metallic taste in your mouth. To help combat this, BabyCenter recommends you eat tart, acidic foods, and gargle with saltwater or baking soda (16).
12. Have you been constipated or bloated?
Speaking of hydration, that’s not a bad idea— this symptom can be very uncomfortable! If you’ve had fewer than three bowel movements in a given week, you may be dealing with pregnancy constipation. Hormonal changes can be the culprit behind bloating and constipation.
Q: How do I ease the bloating and constipation?
According to Medical News Today, this bloating and constipation is one of the symptoms of early pregnancy and often develops in the first trimester, and gets worse in the third trimester, as the baby takes up more space in your body. To help ease the symptoms, drink plenty of water, eat tiny, frequent meals, increase your fiber intake with foods like dried fruit and whole grains, and make sure you exercise a little each day (17).
13. Have you been experiencing increased heartburn?
This may affect more women in the later stages of pregnancy and isn’t really considered one of the signs of early pregnancy. However, it’s generally considered to stem from your increase in progesterone levels, so don’t rule it out, especially if it’s not something you normally experience.
Q: What causes the heartburn and how can I stop it?
Your body changes a lot when you’re pregnant. According to the Cleveland Clinic, heartburn is caused by the big changes in your body shape – like your uterus expanding, as well as changes in hormones. This can cause disruption in your digestive system, which can cause stomach acid to rise more easily through your esophagus. Talk to your doctor before taking any antacids, as some may contain materials that are dangerous while pregnant. Some home remedies include eating several small meals a day, eating slowly, avoiding spicy or citrusy foods, and limiting caffeine. You can also practice sitting up straight, avoid laying down after eating, and limit your food intake late at night. All of these methods will help keep stomach acid from rising to your chest (18).
If you are pregnant, you may be experiencing several of these early pregnancy signs. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to tell from symptoms alone. Another way to determine if you are pregnant is to take a home pregnancy test.
Often thought as the best way to determine if you’re pregnant, home urine tests claim to be 99% accurate. There is a slight chance you receive a positive result, even though you aren’t actually pregnant, which is called a “false-positive.” A false-positive may result if the fertilized egg is no longer attached to the uterine lining or from side effects from fertility drugs or problems with your ovaries. There is also a chance for a false-negative result. This can happen if you take the urine test too early, if you use the home test kit incorrectly, or if you have diluted urine. A blood test will give you 100% accuracy and will be administered at your first doctor’s appointment. If you would like a pregnancy test at GMPC Medical call us for a free and confidential consultation.
In order for the pregnancy home test to get an accurate reading, you have to have enough HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) in your urine. This is the hormone released by the cells surrounding the growing embryo, which allows your body to realize it is pregnant. Reading and following the directions precisely will reduce the possibility of false negatives occurring. GMPC Medical will give you a free and confidential clinical grade pregnancy test with more accuracy.
If you are pregnant, don’t wait until you see a health care provider to begin taking prenatal vitamins. These vitamins contain several essential nutrients for you and your baby’s health, including folic acid, vitamin D, and calcium.
We hope that these questions helped you and gave you more knowledge about what you may be experiencing. If you would like more information, contact GMPC Medical Today!
If you’ve experienced any of these pregnancy signs and symptoms or have received a positive pregnancy test and want further information, give us a call. You shouldn’t have to go through this time in your life alone and your prenatal care is of the utmost importance. We’re here to help.