If you’re trying to have a baby, you might be anxious to know for sure whether or not you really are pregnant. You might not have to wait long to know, though. Your body will likely show some telltale symptoms of pregnancy before you even take your first pregnancy test.
This quiz on the most common early symptoms of pregnancy might help clear up some doubts, and help you decide whether or not a trip to the doctor is necessary.
1. Did I Miss My Period?
One of the first signs that you might be pregnant is missing a period.
Each month, one of your ovaries releases an egg in a process known as ovulation. If the egg isn’t fertilized after ovulation, the lining of the uterus sheds through your vagina as your period.
If you’re pregnant, the lining of the uterus builds up instead of shedding, in preparation for the implantation of the fertilized egg. So, not having your period is often one of the first clues to pregnancy.
However, according to Planned Parenthood, it’s important to note that you could be missing a period due to other reasons, including:
- excessive dieting
- switching to a new method of birth control
Talk to your doctor to determine the cause of your missed period.
2. Am I Nauseous?
It might be called “morning sickness,” but nausea or vomiting during pregnancy can strike at any time of day or night. You may find yourself feeling sick after smelling certain smells that didn’t bother you before, or even for no reason at all.
According to the Mayo Clinic, morning sickness can begin as early as two weeks after conception, and usually only lasts for the first trimester. But for some women, morning sickness can last for the whole pregnancy.
Although we don’t know exactly what causes morning sickness, it’s believed that pregnancy hormones play a role, as estrogen and progesterone can cause the stomach to empty more slowly. In addition, you may have a heightened sense of smell. This can cause previously unoffending scents to make you nauseous.
Luckily, morning sickness rarely requires professional treatment. Simple home remedies like drinking ginger ale can help relieve nausea. If you begin vomiting blood or can’t keep down liquids, or feel dizzy or faint when standing up, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
3. Are My Breasts Tender or Swollen?
No, you’re not turning into Dolly Parton. Your growing breasts could be sign of pregnancy. If they’re sensitive and maybe even sore, the pregnancy hormones estrogen and progesterone might be to blame.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, estrogen can cause your breasts to become more sensitive, as it signals increased blood flow to the area. Progesterone, on the other hand, stimulates the production of breast tissue. In addition, this hormone combination can lead to:
- protruding nipples
- highly sensitive nipples
- darkened and/or enlarged areolas (the area around the nipple)
- an increase in visible veins
Sore breasts are usually benign and end during the first trimester, but your breasts will continue to change throughout your pregnancy.
If you’re hoping to conceive, sore breasts might be one of the first signs you’re pregnant. But they also could be a sign of an upcoming menstrual period or other factors. A pregnancy test and a trip to the doctor can determine the cause.
4. Am I Urinating More Frequently?
Your multiple bathroom breaks might be a symptom of pregnancy. The uterus begins to grow during the first trimester. This growth pushes on the bladder, which is in front of and slightly below the uterus.
According to the Mayo Clinic, in addition to having to pee more, you might find yourself leaking urine when laughing, coughing, or sneezing. This is also due to the pressure from the uterus on the bladder. Panty liners will help absorb excess urine.
The pressure on the bladder is often relieved by the fourth month of pregnancy. This is when the uterus moves upward and out of the pelvis.
5. Am I Tired or Dizzy?
Have you been pressing the snooze button more often than usual lately? While there are many reasons you may be feeling tired and dizzy, pregnancy can be one of them.
According to the Mayo Clinic, one reason for feeling tired during the first months of pregnancy is the sheer amount of work your body is doing to prepare for a baby. Your body begins building the placenta and your metabolism increases. Your blood vessels dilate, causing blood pressure and blood sugar to dip. In addition, the surge of progesterone can also cause you to feel sleepier than normal.
Dizziness can also be caused by a dip in blood pressure, so avoid prolonged standing, rise slowly after sitting down or sleeping, and be sure to stay hydrated. Talk to your doctor if the dizziness is severe and you experience abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, as this could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy.
6. Am I Having Mood Swings?
Mood swings aren’t just for teenagers and menopausal women. They can often be a symptom of pregnancy.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are a number of reasons why you may feel like you’re riding an emotional rollercoaster. The fatigue that often accompanies pregnancy can trigger an emotional reaction, and the physical stressors of being pregnant can also lead to volatile moods. The rise of estrogen and progesterone can affect the level of chemicals in your brain that regulate mood, known as neurotransmitters.
Once you know for sure that you’re pregnant, thoughts of worry and excitement can also cause mood swings. It’s important to remember that what you’re feeling is perfectly normal, but consult with your doctor if your mood changes become intense or severe.
7. Am I Craving Certain Foods, but Disgusted by Others?
Pickles and ice cream, anyone? According to the Mayo Clinic, a strong desire for certain foods, or a sudden disgust for foods you once enjoyed can also indicate pregnancy.
As with most symptoms of pregnancy, the flood of hormones is usually to blame.
These food cravings are usually most severe during the first trimester when your hormones are going through the most dramatic changes. While it’s important to listen to what your body needs and satisfy your cravings, don’t forget to eat nutritious and complete meals.
8. Am I Cramping or Spotting?
According to the Mayo Clinic, light vaginal bleeding can occur when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. Known as “implantation bleeding,” this bleeding usually occurs 10 to 14 days after conception.
In addition to light bleeding, you may experience mild cramps. These cramps are usually a result of the uterus expanding, and are generally not cause for concern. Effective treatments for mild cramps include:
- sitting down or changing positions
- taking a warm bath
- doing relaxation exercises
- drinking plenty of fluids
However, if you begin experiencing sharp abdominal pains or have heavy bleeding, call your doctor. These may be a sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.
Take a Test
If you found yourself answering “yes” to any or all of these questions, there’s a good chance you might be pregnant! To know for sure, take a home pregnancy test around the time when you would normally expect your period, and reach out to your doctor. They can accurately determine if there’s another medical condition to blame, or guide you through the next stages of your pregnancy.