How can you tell if you're pregnant? The earliest way to know for sure is through a blood test. Four days after fertilization, the egg begins to produce a hormone called hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which can be detected in your blood and, a few days later, in a urine sample. However, some women notice symptoms even before they take a test. Although these aren't conclusive, you should definitely get tested if you experience any of the following:
- Tender breasts: Many women report increased sensitivity, fullness, or heaviness within a few days. By two weeks after conception, your areolas (the pinkish or brown skin surrounding the nipples) may start to enlarge.
- Spotting: Scantier than a period and sometimes mixed with a yellowish discharge, a small amount of bleeding may occur when the developing egg implants itself in your uterine wall.
- Fatigue: Can't keep awake at work? If you feel tired even after a good night's sleep, your body may be going through the changes of early pregnancy.
- Nausea: Don't think of it as "morning sickness," since it can strike at any time of the day or night. It might feel like a slight case of seasickness or a full-fledged stomach virus — or you may not experience it at all.
- Bloating: Many women mistake this early sign of pregnancy for PMS; the tip-off may come when your period doesn't arrive.
- Increased urination: You may need to go to the bathroom more than usual, a symptom that will return in spades during your last trimester.
- Stretching of pelvic ligaments: During the course of a normal pregnancy, the uterus will grow to about 1,000 times its pre-pregnant size (imagine a pear turning into a basketball). Some women feel their pelvic ligaments stretching to make room for this growth to occur.
- Food cravings: If you suddenly find yourself ravenous for citrus fruits, red meat (even if you're a vegetarian), or potato chips, don't assume it's all in your head. Pregnant bodies may crave increased amounts of vitamin C, iron, and salt — among other things — even from the very beginning.
- The Mayo Clinic Complete Book of Pregnancy and Baby's First Year (Morrow, 1994)
The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.
Content courtesy of American Baby