10 Easy Ways to Know Whether It's Weight Gain or Pregnancy

Medically reviewed by Nicole Galan, RN on December 13, 2015Written by Rena Goldman on December 13, 2015
pregnant woman looking in the mirror

Have you noticed some changes in your body recently, especially in the waistline? If you’re sexually active, you might be wondering whether it’s weight gain or pregnancy.

Women can experience pregnancy symptoms in different ways. Some signs and symptoms that come with extra weight gain might mean that there’s another health issue.

Am I Pregnant?

Dr. Gerardo Bustillo, a California-based OB-GYN, says he’s had patients who were very surprised to find out they were pregnant. “It all hinges around what kind of menstrual pattern a woman has,” he says.

For some women, their menstrual cycle is very regular and they can tell something is different as soon as a period is missed. Others have irregular cycles, meaning periods are unpredictable. They may not suspect anything if one doesn’t come when expected.

According to Bustillo, overweight women are less likely to feel fetal movement. And if a woman doesn’t feel like she looks different in the mirror, she may not notice.

One way to clear up any misunderstanding is to take a home pregnancy test. But if you’re not ready for that step, there are other physical signs that can tell you if you’re pregnant.

Here are 10 signs it’s pregnancy.

1. Nausea

This is often one of the first signs of pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting, also known as morning sickness, tend to happen two to eight weeks after conception.

The symptoms can vary. Some women don’t experience any morning sickness and others have severe bouts of nausea. Some women only vomit when they’re pregnant.

2. Constipation

Progesterone, a pregnancy hormone, makes the bowels move less quickly. As a result, constipation is pretty common. A woman who may have been regular before might start to have trouble going to the bathroom.

3. Frequent Urination

If you find yourself running to the bathroom a lot more than usual, this could be a sign of pregnancy. You might also feel thirsty and have the urge to drink more liquids than before.

4. Fatigue

Feeling tired is a common symptom of early pregnancy. As hormones change, you may find yourself wanting to nap more often.

5. Spotting

Some vaginal spotting around weeks 6 to 9 is common. If the bleeding happens six to 12 days after conception, it’s called implantation bleeding. This can also happen with some slight cramping. Women who aren’t trying to get pregnant could shrug this off as an irregular period.

6. Headaches

If you’re not someone who usually has headaches, it could be a sign of pregnancy. Hormone spikes can cause headaches for some pregnant women.

7. Backaches

Pain in the lower back may also be a sign you’re carrying a baby. It’s common for women to experience aching in their lower back throughout pregnancy.

8. Dizziness

Feeling dizzy or lightheaded if you stand up too quickly is another common experience for pregnant women. During pregnancy your blood vessels dilate, causing a drop in blood pressure.

9. Craving Ice

Anemia is common in women. But when they become pregnant, their blood volume is expanded, so they become more anemic. The craving for ice, specifically the need to chew ice, is often associated with anemia.

10. Nipple Changes

The skin around your nipples may start to get darker if you’re pregnant. Some women will also have a discharge from nipples (early milk production). This can happen early in the pregnancy. It will be green or milky in color.

But if the discharge has blood, it could indicate other health issues, like a tumor. In this case, you should notify your doctor right away.

Are You Pregnant?

Dr. Katayune Kaeni, a psychologist specializing in maternal mental health, says you shouldn’t speculate or comment on whether or not you think a woman’s pregnant.

Bustillo agrees, saying, “It would be dangerous to ask based on weight gain if someone’s pregnant. There are too many reasons people gain or lose weight.”

In situations like public transportation, it’s OK to be courteous and offer a seat to someone. You can do this without asking if a woman is pregnant.

In most cases, a woman will tell you if she wants you to know she’s pregnant.

Weight Gain or Bloating

There are reasons besides pregnancy that a woman may gain weight around the middle, or feel bloated. These include:

  • overeating
  • stress
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • hormonal fluctuations
  • menopause
  • tumors
  • ovarian cancer

See your doctor if you’re worried you are gaining weight for one of these reasons.

The Takeaway

Don’t ignore pregnancy symptoms. Any unexpected, uncomfortable changes to your body should be checked out by a doctor.

Take note of your symptoms and make an appointment. Your doctor can perform tests to tell if you’re pregnant or need treatment for another condition. 

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