Your last period should’ve started a week ago, and you’re starting to get worried. Are you just a little late, or is it possible a baby is on the way?
Having a child of your own is a big responsibility, and being overwhelmed at the thought of parenthood is common. In fact, more than a few women enter into denial and intentionally avoid taking a test to confirm their pregnancy. But knowing you’re pregnant for sure is the first step before seeking out the information, resources, and relationships you’ll need to thrive during this next season of life.
So before you start narrowing down baby names, what are the signs you might be pregnant?
Key Indicators of a Possible Pregnancy
Many women experience one or more pregnancy symptoms during a normal menstrual cycle, so you shouldn’t panic if you’re a little nauseous, tired, or experiencing cramping. If you’ve noticed several of the indicators below over the last few weeks, however, it’s worth a closer look. These signs often signal a pregnancy, but only an official pregnancy test or doctor’s visit will be able to tell you for sure.
You’ve missed your period
If you’re in your childbearing years, sexually active, and more than a week has passed since the day your period was expected to start, it’s very possible you’re pregnant.
If you have an irregular menstrual cycle, have recently experienced significant weight loss or weight gain, or stopped taking your birth control pills, a missed period may not be a reason to worry. However, missed periods are perhaps the most tell-tale sign of a potential pregnancy, so be sure to take a pregnancy test if you’re in this situation. Many pregnant women experience some bleeding around two weeks after fertilization and mistake it for a light period, but a missed period on their next cycle will indicate a pregnancy.
Your breasts are starting to get tender and swollen
As the bodies of pregnant women adapt to fluctuating hormone levels, they often experience breast soreness and discomfort for several weeks before things return to normal. If you are pregnant, you can expect your breasts may feel heavier or fuller and your areolas (the area around your nipples) to become darker in color.
You’re regularly becoming nauseous
We aren’t talking about that nasty feeling you get after a greasy meal but chronic bloating and/or a recurring upset stomach. Nausea during pregnancy, often referred to as “morning sickness,” usually starts around a month after you become pregnant. You may also develop intense desires for particular kinds of foods or suddenly become averse to foods you’ve historically enjoyed. This nausea may or may not involve vomiting, so it’s important to note both kinds. If you’ve been sick to your stomach for several days or nights and you aren’t sick, pregnancy could be the reason.
You get inexplicably tired
Any of us would expect to be exhausted after a long and difficult day. This is totally normal, and, when considered by itself, is probably not a sign you’re pregnant.
However, pregnancy causes women to experience fatigue, even when they’re taking things easy and slow. The hormone responsible for making you tired goes off the charts when you’re expecting a baby, so your significantly lower energy levels may be something to look into. This intense fatigue can begin as early as one week after conception.
You’re visiting the bathroom significantly more often
Do you find yourself urinating more often during the day or waking up in the middle of the night to take care of a full bladder? This could be a sign you’re pregnant. Because your body makes significantly more blood during pregnancy, your kidneys are filtering more liquids – resulting in a greater number of potty breaks. Though you’ll be doing plenty of urinating, pregnancy actually increases your chances of constipation, meaning that going #2 may be a little more difficult.
Confirming Your Pregnancy
Take a home pregnancy test
The cheapest, easiest, most accessible way to confirm you’re pregnant is with a home pregnancy test. This form of testing can identify a positive pregnancy result as early as two weeks after fertilization, making it one of the fastest ways to learn more about your situation. You’re probably familiar with how the little stick you buy at the supermarket or convenience store works—you bring it to the restroom with you, urinate on it, and wait for the results.
The test works by looking for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine—a hormone your body starts to crank out in large quantities shortly after conception. If you test negative on the first try, many pregnancy tests recommend you check again three to five days later. Why? Because hCG can take several days to build up in your body, the first test may accidentally give you a false negative!
This retest is really important. If your first test suggests you’re not really pregnant (when you actually are), you may not know to reach out to your doctor or physician to get the checkups, vitamins, or medications you need to ensure you and your baby remain healthy. If/when you get a positive result—whether it’s on the first, second, or eighth time—make sure you take the next step by scheduling a medical visit!
Get a more accurate test at your doctor’s office
Even though your trip to the bathroom has made you pretty certain you’re pregnant, getting it confirmed by a medical professional is critical.
Most doctors are able to offer patients both urine tests and blood tests to check for pregnancy. While the results of the urine test are typically available within just a few minutes, lab results may take several hours or days to get back. Unlike a simple urine test, blood tests are able to give you and your doctor a better sense of where you’re at in your pregnancy and how things are developing. It’s possible your physician asks you to do more than one of these tests over the course of your pregnancy to determine how things are changing over time.
The Source has clinics across Texas and provides free pregnancy tests. Click the button below to schedule a 30-minute appointment with one of our doctors today.
Schedule a trans-vaginal ultrasound scan
Perhaps the best and most accurate way to confirm you’re pregnant is getting an ultrasound done. This may sound really intimidating, especially if you’re overwhelmed and afraid, but ultrasounds are a great way to get the helpful information you need to make better, more informed decisions.
These scans typically take place 6-7 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period or 2-3 weeks after you miss your period. They give your doctor insight into how your baby is growing. At this point, he/she will be able to identify any issues you may be experiencing and help you identify and implement the right solutions.
You're Not Alone
Though pregnancy may terrify you, confirming it with a home pregnancy test and a follow-up visit to a local healthcare clinic or hospital is the right thing to do.
Once you know for sure where you stand, friends, family members, church/community group members, and medical professionals can come alongside you to make sure you and your baby receive the care and support needed to flourish.
Think you might be pregnant? Come in for a free pregnancy test appointment at The Source. We’re Texas’ prime provider of care for women and families who have an unplanned pregnancy.
Click the button below to book a 30-minute appointment.