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For every woman who just knows she is pregnant quite a while before she misses her period, there are many more who are trying to interpret every little sensation in their body. Could you be pregnant?

We're here to help you interpret the twitch here and that feeling of nausea there, while you are in that terrifying, exciting two-week wait. 

The most common early pregnancy symptoms

Some of the most frequently encountered early pregnancy symptoms are also symptoms of an approaching menstruation. This makes it hard to know whether you are pregnant or just premenstrual. If you have any of these symptoms, you are best off not getting too excited because you may get your period soon.

We are talking about:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Tender breasts
  • Mood swings, for some women
  • Impurities on the facial skin
  • Bloating

Other sensations are more likely to specifically point to pregnancy. These early signs that you are really likely to be expecting a baby are:

  • Pregnancy nausea and/or vomiting, more commonly known as morning sickness
  • Extreme fatigue, throughout the day
  • Feeling weak or dizzy
  • The need to use the restroom to urinate more often
  • A more sensitive sense of smell and taste, often accompanied by aversions to certain foods or smells
  • A missed period
  • A positive pregnancy test

The latter two are the most reliable signs that you are actually expecting, so wait for both of these even if you have all the other symptoms. I know from experience that every little thing happening to your body seems to point to pregnancy when you are trying to conceive and hoping that you conceived this month. Another thing I know, also from experience, is that you're often disappointed by a period or a negative pregnancy test (taken too early, perhaps) when you were so sure you had all kinds of pregnancy symptoms. Real pregnancy symptoms are often not subtle enough to misread, and they may hit you in the face when you least expect them. What do you do, after you take the pregnancy test and it comes back positive? Do you need to jump into action immediately or can you enjoy your pregnancy in peace for a while?

What to do after the positive pregnancy test

The steps you are going to take after your positive pregnancy test depend on many factors: your health, whether your pregnancy was planned, the medical climate in your country, and your personal philosophy surrounding pregnancy. In general, here's some advice:

  • Women who find out that they are pregnant when they were not trying should see a doctor as soon as possible for further advice, particularly if they had been smoking or drinking alcohol during the weeks before they found out they were pregnant. The same goes for women who think they may have nutritional deficiencies, or those who could be at risk of sexually transmitted infections. That is true for most people, unfortunately. Just get tested!
  • Women with chronic conditions that may interfere with pregnancy should check in with the doctor treating them for that condition as well. If you are on any type of medication, it is best to check whether it is compatible with pregnancy with both the doctor treating you for your illness, and your OBGYN.
  • If you do not have a prenatal care provider in mind yet, interview several (and several types) before making a final decision. You almost always have a choice of several.
  • If you want to find out what your due date is, you can calculate that yourself by adding 266 days to your ovulation date, or 266 + 14 days to the date of your last menstrual period.
  • You may require confirmation of your pregnancy for work-related reasons. In that case, you'll need to see a doctor.
  • If you are healthy and already have a prenatal care provider (your regular family doctor or OBGYN, for example) you may decide to have your first prenatal appointment at around 12 weeks also incidentally the time at which you usually have your first ultrasound. This is when you officially enter the second trimester as well, and when your risk of miscarrying goes down drastically.

Many expectant parents decide to wait until the 12 week mark to inform other people about their pregnancy, and to enjoy these weeks together in peace. There are many reasons for this. It can be terribly hard when you have a miscarriage and need to explain that to everyone you know, and miscarriages are pretty common. You may also just like some time to get used to your pregnancy together.

  • Photo courtesy of 123rf (stock photos)
  • Photo courtesy of 123rf (stock photos)