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How Can I tell if I am Pregnant?

Updated on May 31, 2011

Signs for possible pregnancy

Becoming pregnant is no small thing, and women want to know if they might be pregnant or not. There are some basic things to think about when considering the possibility of being pregnant.

The number one thing is to notice is a late period. A woman who is sexually active, that usually has regular periods and suddenly is a week or more late, might be pregnant. This is not always the case however, and many things can cause a delay in a regular period, like stress or changes in weight or lifestyle. Still, being late in one's menstrual cycle will always be the case with any pregnancy.

Hormones in a woman change when she becomes pregnant, and it is not uncommon to feel unusually tired.  She may experience some bloating in the abdomen area as well.  The hormones that are affected are estrogen, and human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG.  These two hormones help to maintain the pregnancy.  They are produced by the placenta about ten days after fertilization occurs.  This may cause a feeling of nausea and may even cause vomiting for a time until things get a bit more settled. 

One other symptom is changes, or swelling in the breasts.  The other changes that can be observed can be observed by a doctor doing an examination. 

The most accurate tests

The most accurate ways to get a true positive test result for a pregnancy is by a blood and urine test. The tests that come from the store check for changes in hormones, and if taken too early may not show up as positive. The changes can be detected from a urine sample. Some of the tests can show extremely low levels of the hormone HCG. These are called ELISA, or an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay.

There is a test that can be done before the first period is even missed, and just days after fertilization. During the first 60 days of pregnancy, the levels of chorionic gonadotropin levels double about every two days or so.

Having been pregnant twice myself, I had my share of "wondering" about whether or not I was pregnant, as it was not technically in the "plan". It turned out I was pregnant, though a test showed up negative. So you want to get the best tests you can find, and ultimately go to a doctor when you are able to. I wouldn't change a thing, as it turns out and I am so glad I had my first baby when I did and then the second one.  As for the other symptoms of pregnancy, they were mostly true for me, but it was a very hectic time in my life so I attributed the exhaustion, late period, etc to stress. 

Farther along in pregnancy

The other ways to check for pregnancy is to have a doctor detect the heartbeat of your baby with a special stethoscope or an ultrasound.  You can detect this heartbeat by sound as early as 18 to 20 weeks along with a stethoscope but as early as 12 to 14 weeks with the ultrasound.  The heart has been beating however, even before it can be heard with such instruments.  There is nothing quite like that sound of the heartbeat of your baby for the first time. 

Another very clear sign is the movement of the baby (fetus).   A mother can feel the movement before a doctor can.  In subsequent pregnancies, the mother can feel the movement sooner than the first pregnancy. 

With an ultrasound, an enlarged uterus can be seen ,and the heartbeat can be seen at approximately 6 weeks after conception. 

Great video explaining what happens at beginning of pregnancy & more

Being part of a new life is an amazing thing, and gift that you can give.  Finding a good doctor and getting on some prenatal vitamins will help the pregnancy.  Don't make any rash decisions for its very normal to feel confused and concerned

*Side note*  (If you are in a situation where you need some help finding out if you are pregnant, I want to encourage you to seek out some help from a local crisis pregnancy center.  They often will offer you a pregnancy test free of charge or for a very small fee.  For the best overall help to the mother long term, I would go to a place where they are looking out for both the mother and the unborn both.  They can help give some advice and help and that is what they are there for.  They are not being "put out" by you and want to help.  I know this because I have volunteered in a place like this.  Most if not all the people there are so happy to be of any service or help.)


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    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Seafarer, thank you so much for the comment! I have heard about how serious it is to get enough folic acid (and other vitamins and minerals). Thank you for your story there, that is wonderful. It is amazing now, what they can do to help babies with problems before they are even born.

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 7 years ago from New England

      Great hub. Yes, those prenatal vitamins are important to start taking asap after one knows one is pregnant.

      I knew someone who gave birth to a baby with a cleft spine. The doctors tried to close the hold in-utero, which helped the little boy develop the ability to walk, albeit with braces and crutches. So, I took folic acid supplements while my husband and I tried to create a little life together. When we succeeded, the prenatal vitamins contained enough folic acid and I could stop taking the supplements.