- Women's Health
Signs of Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a tricky thing -- it’s hard to determine whether you are pregnant early on, but the waiting can be excruciating. Lucky for you, we’ve moved past the practice of injecting urine into rabbits, and we now understand how to recognize and confirm pregnancy through less, err, lethal methods.
If you just cannot wait to find out if you or pregnant, see if you exhibit the four major signs of pregnancy. Keep in mind, however, that every individual woman is different, and therefore, you may not experience even the most common symptoms. You should always confirm your suspicions as soon as possible with a blood test from your physician so you can plan for a healthy pregnancy now, or terminate before it’s too late.
The most common sign of pregnancy -- and consequently, most well known -- is missing your period. Pregnancy impedes your body’s menstrual cycle, which halts your monthly periods immediately. If your period is MIA, there’s a chance that you are pregnant.
However, missed periods can also be attributed to a number of other factors: stress from work or family life, dieting, strenuous exercise, changing your birth control regimen or even depression. If you missed your period and there’s a possibility you may be pregnant, rule out these other factors first.
Chronic fatigue is a major telltale sign of pregnancy, especially early on. After conception, you may feel exhausted, have trouble getting out of bed and sleep a lot more than usual. Tasks that used to take no effort at all are suddenly incredibly arduous. This is due to the major hormonal changes affecting your body, and the pregnancy can zap every last bit of your energy, starting as early as the second week.
Chronic fatigue can also be a sign of stress, depression or exhaustion, so if you’ve noticed a recent change in your stress levels, you’ve been feeling down or blue, or you’ve been pulling late hours at work or at home, then fatigue may actually be due to this. Chronic fatigue is also a sign of high blood pressure, although high blood pressure can also be a sign of pregnancy -- see your doctor if you think your blood pressure is problematic.
While the excessive eating and constant peeing won’t show up until the beginning of the third trimester, breast tenderness can kick in as early as the end first week. Swelling, tenderness and easy bruising are also signs of pregnancy. Putting on or wearing a bra may become uncomfortable, jogging and exercise may cause pain or blistering and you may even feel sore whenever your partner touches you.
Breast tenderness can also pop up when you start or increase hormonal birth control or from trauma. Breast cancer can also cause breast tenderness; if the pain or swelling presents secondary to a lump or a hard spot in your breast, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately.
Nausea and Vomiting
If a missed period is the most recognized sign of pregnancy, then nausea and vomiting is a close second. Nausea can kick in as early as the first week, and vomiting can start soon after. Contrary to the popular concept of “morning sickness,” nausea and vomiting can actually appear in late afternoon, early evening or stick around all day. Some women complain of nausea within days after implantation; in fact, many attribute their unsettled stomach to alcohol or food poisoning because of the severity. Conversely, some lucky women never experience any queasiness throughout their entire pregnancy, so you should not take a lack of queasiness as a sign you aren’t pregnant.
If you experience severe vomiting that never seems to dissipate, you cannot keep food down and/or you are losing weight -- especially after the first trimester -- you could have hyperemesis gravid arum (or HG). Hyperemesis is a serious condition that can cause excessive weight loss, dehydration, ketosis, nutritional deficiency and even hallucinations in severe cases. If you suspect you are pregnant and you cannot stop throwing up, contact your doctor immediately. He can prescribe strong antiemetics like Ondansetron (Zofran) or Metoclopramide (Reglan) that are safe for the baby but powerful enough to combat even the most persistent morning sickness.
If you suspect you may be pregnant, you can take a home pregnancy test to confirm or deny your suspicions. Pregnancy tests are so advanced nowadays that women can determine whether they are pregnant as early as three days before their first missed period. If you find a positive result, schedule an appointment with your family physician for a blood test to confirm your pregnancy, and then get ready for nine months of hormones, mood swings, and ice cream with pickles!