“Siri tell me…”,
“Okay Google, how do I…”
Any of these ring a bell? We live in a pretty fascinating day in age where information is at our fingertips, or even just at our verbal command. There are more websites in existence than we could count in a day, more stories, more pictures, and even more medical advice than we could ever imagine floating out there in the world wide web. It is beneficial to us when we need to know quick facts, but it can be increasingly overwhelming when you’re just trying to find legitimate, sound knowledge about the human body and what yours might be going through. Without a strong education or foundation about anatomy and physiology, many website writers can unknowingly turn information to misinformation very quickly. In an effort to combat the confusion and chaos that you might find when researching all things pregnancy-related, we’re kicking off this blog with an Essentials Series, where we clearly explain some common, and rather essential, questions related to pregnancy. In today’s post we are going to address how to tell if you are pregnant, what some of the early signs and symptoms may be, and what to do if you suspect that you are pregnant.
There are three basic categories of the signs of pregnancy. Medical professionals refer to them as presumptive signs, probable signs, and positive signs. Today we’ll focus on the first category, presumptive signs.
These are symptoms that a lot of women experience in the early stages of or throughout their pregnancy. Having any one of these symptoms does not mean definitively that you are pregnant but having a combination of them without a clear cause may indicate possible pregnancy.
The presumptive signs of pregnancy are:
- Urinary Frequency
- Having to pee more often than normal may be a sign of pregnancy as the physical changes of your uterus in pregnancy can cause your bladder to be compressed, leaving less room for urine, and signaling to your brain that you need to empty your bladder more often.
- Fatigue refers to being tired or feeling like you have little energy or strength for things you normally do. When you are pregnant, your body is devoting a lot of energy to supplying a growing baby with nutrients, and this can leave you feeling a little less energetic than normal.
- Missed Period
- Missing a period (also referred to as amenorrhea) for one or more months can be a sign of pregnancy. The average woman can have a period anywhere from every 21 to 35 days, and they can last for anywhere from 2 to 7 days. This is individual to every woman. If you go longer than 35 days without your normal period, this may indicate pregnancy. Other causes of missing or skipping a period could be stress, malnutrition, or use of some contraceptives.
- Tracking your cycle on your phone calendar, or free apps like Period Tracker Lite can be useful to keep up with your period and determine if you have missed one.
- Nausea and Vomiting/ “Morning Sickness”
- “Morning sickness” is a common symptom reported by women who are pregnant. Many women note that their nausea and vomiting are more commonly experienced in the morning, and this is thought to be linked to a hormone called HCG. HCG levels are typically highest in the morning and tend to trickle down throughout the day. Remember that many other illnesses (the flu, food poisoning, etc.) can cause nausea and vomiting in the morning or any time of day, and this is not a definitive sign of pregnancy.
- Breast Soreness
- Breast soreness is linked to increased hormone levels in pregnancy. Increased hormone levels typically lead to increased blood flow to your breasts. This can leave them feeling swollen and sensitive to the touch.
- Darkened Areolae/ Skin Changes
- Areolae are the areas of skin surrounding your nipples. Hormonal changes in pregnancy can lead to your skin producing more pigment, and this can lead to darkened skin around your nipples.
- In addition to the skin around your nipples, the skin around your inner thighs, genitals, and neck might darken.
- Many women also report having a dark line from their belly button to their pubic bone show up during pregnancy. This is called a linea nigra. Other women sometimes develop dark patches on their faces. This is called chloasma.
- There may be other dermatological, or skin, diseases that can cause pigment changes in your skin, but the ones listed here are some very often associated with pregnancy.
- Uterine Enlargement
- During pregnancy, your uterus expands as your baby grows. Your uterus is located below your belly button in your lower abdomen and gets larger and more noticeable to the eye the further into pregnancy you go. This may be a sign of pregnancy. However, other things can cause your lower abdomen to appear enlarged such as bloating, cysts, or weight gain. If you suspect your uterus is enlarged, it is best to consult with a doctor/OBGYN to determine the cause.
Again, these are all signs that do not definitively prove you are pregnant and all of them may have other causes apart from pregnancy. In addition, you do not have to have all of these signs in order to be pregnant. Pregnancy can be a very individual process and what one woman experiences, the next may never experience. These are simply some of the most common signs that can be linked to pregnancy, and that may warrant a visit to your doctor or local pregnancy center.
Presumptive signs of pregnancy are the ones you may notice first on your own, and the ones that may lead you to investigate further, especially if they are changes from your normal health status. If you are suspecting you may be pregnant, your next step would be to take a pregnancy test. Though you can get one over-the-counter at most grocery stores and pharmacies, you can also book a free appointment here with Paulding Pregnancy Services. Our tests are designed for medical professional use and are more sensitive to the HCG, or pregnancy, hormone than an over-the-counter pregnancy test, meaning it will be more accurate and be of less cost to you. From there, Paulding Pregnancy Services can help you determine your next steps in the process, whether that be options counseling, ultrasound services, or getting you necessary pregnancy supplies.
Thanks for tuning in this week. Check back here frequently for more answers to your essential pregnancy questions. We will be tackling the next category of pregnancy signs (probable signs) next time. If you have further questions about the content, additional comments, or just something you’d like to share, feel free to drop it in the comment section below or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to connect with you and get you the trusted medical information you need to make educated decisions in regard to your health.
*The information contained in this blog is for educational and informative purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice and care of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.*
Emily Rose Minter, RN, BSN
Emily is a registered nurse in Paulding County with eight years of healthcare experience across the Metro-Atlanta area with patients of all ages and backgrounds.