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10 Signs You Should Take a Pregnancy Test: Early Signs of Pregnancy

Different people have different reactions to the idea that they might be pregnant. Whatever your feelings are, you can prepare for the future by learning about the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy.

If you want to find out if you’re pregnant for sure, you’ll need to get a testing kit. You can buy a pregnancy test at most drugstores and pharmacies or order one online. 

Many of the early signs of pregnancy are very similar to those you’d experience around the time of your period. None of these early signs of pregnancy can determine that you’re pregnant for sure, so consider them symptoms to look out for, rather than a reliable test. You’ll need to take a pregnancy test if you want to confirm that you’ve conceived.

Here are 10 common signs of early pregnancy:

1. Late period

The most common reason for someone to suspect that they are pregnant is missing a period. Pregnancy is not the only thing that can cause you to miss a period, though. Weight loss or gain, hormonal changes, and stress can all disrupt your cycle. You can’t be sure you’re pregnant until you’ve had a positive pregnancy test and had it confirmed by a health care provider.

Increase your chances of getting pregnant

If a week or more has passed since your expected period, you may be pregnant. This is an unreliable indicator if your menstrual cycle is irregular, though. If there’s any chance that you might be pregnant, take a pregnancy test as soon as possible and make an appointment with a health care provider.

2. Breast changes

Breast changes are common during pregnancy, and this can be one of the early signs of pregnancy. Hormone levels vary widely over the course of pregnancy, and this causes many changes in the body, including in the breasts.

You may notice that your breasts are:

  • Swollen
  • Painful
  • Sensitive
  • Heavy

Breast pain or discomfort can be troubling in the early stages of pregnancy, but once your hormones begin to settle down, you can expect most of these symptoms to resolve.

3. Weird bathroom schedule

If you’re in the early stages of pregnancy, you can expect some changes to your usual bathroom routine. Hormonal changes are the cause of this, and it can mean that you need to make allowances in your day for more trips to the bathroom.

In early pregnancy, you will probably urinate more frequently than usual. This is a common symptom. Be aware that other conditions like diabetes and urinary tract infections can cause similar symptoms. For this reason, it’s best to consult a health care provider if you think that frequent urination may be the result of something other than pregnancy.

During pregnancy, you’ll have more of the hormone progesterone circulating in your system. While this is perfectly normal, one of progesterone’s unwelcome side effects is constipation. This is because it delays the passage of food through your gastrointestinal system. If you experience constipation during pregnancy, make sure to drink lots of water, exercise, and eat a high-fiber diet.

4. Cramps

Soon after conception has taken place, the fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus. Among other symptoms, this may cause abdominal cramps that are similar to those that accompany menstruation. In fact, the cramps of early pregnancy are often mistaken for the beginning of a period.

Cramping during early pregnancy is mild and should lessen with time. Don’t hesitate to consult a health care provider if the pain is severe or if it’s accompanied by heavy bleeding or other worrying symptoms.

5. Nausea

Most of us are familiar with morning sickness from movies or pop culture. Often, nausea is a regular feature of the early days of pregnancy, but it’s not restricted to a particular time of day.

Nausea in early pregnancy is likely the result of the increase in circulating hormones and may occur at any time of day, but morning is the most common time.

6. Feeling tired

Fatigue is a common early sign of pregnancy. This draining tiredness is caused by rising levels of the hormone progesterone and may occur as early as the first weeks of pregnancy.

At the same time, changes in blood pressure can contribute to feeling lethargic.

If your low energy is the result of pregnancy, then try to make more time for resting. Make allowances in your social life to recover, and let work colleagues know that you may need their support. You may also find that adding a little more protein and iron to your diet may give you the boost you need at this early stage of pregnancy.

7. Food cravings

Strange food cravings may be one of the best-known signs of pregnancy. Just like many of the other symptoms of early pregnancy, food cravings are the result of the changes in hormone levels that are experienced after conception.

The same hormones that can make someone desperate for a certain type of food can make other foods a total turn-off. Food aversions can be so severe that even the thought or smell of these foods can cause very unpleasant nausea.

For some people, food cravings and aversions can last for their entire pregnancy, but in most cases, they disappear by the end of the first trimester. Until then, try to eat a healthy diet that nourishes both you and your baby. A health care provider will be able to offer you advice.

8. Light bleeding or spotting

Implantation bleeding is the light vaginal bleeding that typically occurs about 10 to 14 days after conception. It shouldn’t cause anything more than mild spotting, which you may notice in your underwear. Implantation bleeding can also be accompanied by mild cramps that resemble the cramps of menstruation.

If the bleeding is heavy or if the cramping is severe, contact a health care provider for advice.

Along with light bleeding, some women notice white, milky vaginal discharge. This is completely normal and is the result of increased development in the lining of the vagina. The discharge may continue throughout pregnancy and does not usually have any other symptoms. Seek a health care provider’s opinion if the discharge smells bad or is accompanied by itching. You may need to be treated for a bacterial or yeast infection.

9. Unusual feelings and emotions

If your emotions feel a little out of balance in early pregnancy, the reason is once again hormones. It’s most common in the first trimester, so the feeling of being on an emotional roller coaster will likely settle down after a little while.

As with other early pregnancy symptoms, you may find that staying active, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a social life can help you deal with these symptoms.

10. You missed birth control

If you forget to take one or more birth control pills and then miss your period, you may be pregnant. To be sure, take a pregnancy test and make an appointment with a health care provider if it’s positive.

How early can a pregnancy test show an accurate reading?

Pregnancy tests are very advanced. Most will give you an accurate result on the first day of your missed period. Some newer tests are even more sensitive and can be used before you miss your period — as early as four days before your period is due.

When to see a health care provider about your early pregnancy

Everyone’s experience of pregnancy is different, and every pregnancy is different — even in the same person. Be aware of this when looking for signs of early pregnancy. Learn about common signs and symptoms and be alert to your own body and the signals it sends you.

Make sure you see a health care provider as soon as possible after conception. This may contribute to a healthy pregnancy.

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