Many women suspect they are pregnant even before that first missed period. However, the earliest signs of pregnancy are barely noticeable by most women. Here are a few you might pick up on if you are paying very close attention to your body.
Breast tenderness is classic. This can be mild but for some women becomes truly painful over time, and it can involve the whole breast like an ache or just the nipple like skin sensitivity. (Later, you might notice the areola around the nipple darken slightly or veins becoming visible on your upper chest if you are very light-skinned.)
Some women feel mildly bloated or puffy all over. Add to this that even early on pregnancy tends to constipate women. A slightly stuffy nose is common. Mood changes caused by the hormones of pregnancy can be difficult to untangle from this picture.
Needing to pee more often, without other symptoms of a bladder infection, could either be that you are drinking more fluids, or pregnancy. Some women feel mildly crampy, like they are about to get their period, but don’t. This can be particularly noticeable right after peeing.
Nausea due to pregnancy does not kick in until 6-8 weeks after the first day of your last period, so that is not an early symptom: by the time you lose your appetite you should have noticed your period is late.
The earliest symptoms of pregnancy are barely detectable, and it is only the most body-attuned woman who will pick up on them before that first missed period. Home pregnancy tests can detect about half of pregnancies on the day you expected, but did not get, your period. If you need to know sooner, a blood test done in a health care provider’s office can detect a pregnancy within 6-12 days after conception. If a home pregnancy test is positive, or if your period is still late and you think it is falsely negative, the test should be repeated in your provider’s office.
About 9% of pregnant women have some bleeding in the first weeks of pregnancy. So even if you get your “period” or you think it was maybe a short or light period, you could still be pregnant.
One thing to watch out for is the possibility of a pregnancy in your tubes, or elsewhere other than the uterus. This is called ectopic pregnancy, and can actually be life-threatening if the fallopian tube bursts. If you are in early pregnancy, have not yet had an ultrasound, and have abdominal pain, particularly on one side more than another, particularly with vaginal bleeding, you need to go to an emergency room to make sure you do not have an ectopic pregnancy.
If you think you may be pregnant, do not drink any alcohol. Avoid other illicit substances, and stay out of hot tubs. If you are taking medications, ask a pharmacist, health care provider, or read the medication’s literature to make sure it is safe to take in pregnancy. Don’t abruptly stop taking anti-depressants, blood pressure medications, seizure drugs or other critical medicines without talking to a professional first. An exception to this would be Accutane, for acne. Stop taking that if there is the slightest chance you could be pregnant, or if you are not using effective contraception.
Start your prenatal care as soon as you can. In fact, if you get a negative result on that home pregnancy test, schedule a visit, if possible, with a health care provider to do a preconception visit, or to review your contraception.
To schedule an appointment with me, at my office in Livonia, Michigan, call 734-655-8250. I look forward to meeting you!