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Do You Have A Bun In The Oven? 10 Ways How To Confirm Pregnancy

Women are said to have a sixth sense. They inexplicably feel things you can’t and there doesn’t seem to be a logical explanation behind it – it just is what it is. Therefore, it’s not surprising to find out that there are many women who know they are pregnant long before any confirmation or symptom. Pregnancy though is not like a Sims game, where you click on a bed, choose “Try For Baby”, have both partners under the sheets and you hear a lullaby which basically tells you that you’ll have a new family member in 9 months. Well, actually in just a few hours game time. In real life, it’s a bit more complicated. Of course, there are these first signs which could be a giveaway that at least a baby is on the way and there are quite a few ways to confirm (or infirm your suspicions).

1) MISSED PERIOD

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You are checking your calendar and you see a date marked in red. You are starting to sweat, panicking, because you realize what this could mean. So yes, you were supposed to have that dreadful period, which makes you feel annoyed, irritated, angry and overall like a curmudgeon, for an entire week. But, there is none of that. You are waiting a few days more, thinking you might have miscalculated the day and yet, nothing. Not even a single drop. The menstrual cycle occurs between 28-32 days, with a duration which can be variable. Contrary to popular belief, the ovulation is not calculated starting from the last day of your menstruation, but actually from the first one. Of course, this is the most obvious sign of pregnancy, albeit not the most reliable one, because 1) there can be cases of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, which you could mistake for a period and 2) if you have irregular menstruation, it might take some time to figure out that you are pregnant. The menstrual cycle can also be affected by other factors, like medical conditions such as bulimia, anorexia or taking contraceptives. However, as soon as you miss your first period, make sure you set an appointment with your doctor and get a confirmation. If you are indeed pregnant, it’s important for you to know how much your last menstrual cycle lasted, because this is how you will be able to know when your baby is due.

2) PREGNANCY TESTS

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Because we spoke about getting a confirmation from a doctor, of course that the next step of how to confirm pregnancy would be taking a pregnancy test. Now you might think: Well, yes, the sooner I get rid of this uncertainty, the better!, but there is another reason why you would want to take a pregnancy test in the early weeks after having missed your period. Even though your baby needs 9 months to fully develop and be ready to enter the world, his main organs and structures form during the first weeks of your pregnancy. This means that the sooner you know it, the sooner you will be able to give him the valuable nutrients he needs.

It takes time for the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone (hCG) to rise to a certain level; that’s the reason why, if you rush with your pregnancy tests, sometimes the results show negative. hCG is created through a fertilized egg which fixes itself right in your uterus and this is something that occurs approximately a week after fertilization. As your pregnancy progresses, so does your hCG level, which increases day by day while you are pregnant.

Pregnancy tests can be either taken at home or in a clinic. Most of the time, a home pregnancy test (HPT) is the quickest and most convenient way to clear the doubts. These tests have come a long way and are way more accurate than they were a few years back. They involve dripping urine over a dipstick which contains various chemicals; for accurate results, the test should be retaken 3-5 days later, because of the hCG level which might build up slower, as mentioned above. Home pregnancy tests are extremely advantageous, because not only do they offer you privacy – you can take them any day, any time – but the results also appear immediately. Still, no matter if positive or negative, it’s always recommended to pay a visit to your obstetrician (OB or OB/GYN) as soon as possible, because not only would the doctor give you a 100% accurate answer, but if pregnant, you would also find out how far you are in terms of progress, through a sonogram. Doctors will have you take another urine pregnancy testing to keep the result in their records, as well as possibly use blood testing along with a pelvic exam to confirm your pregnancy. The urine pregnancy test (UPT) at the doctor’s office is exactly the same as the home pregnancy test, the only difference being that you lose the ability to have confidentiality over the results. After doctors perform UPT, they can perform even more pregnancy tests, depending on your preference and need. Such tests include blood tests and sonograms.

Unlike urine tests, blood tests are less common, even though they are able to detect a pregnancy sooner than an UPT. The downside to this is that the results aren’t immediate – instead, they need to be sent to a laboratory, because doctors’ offices lack the equipment or certification to analyze the results themselves.

There are two kinds of blood pregnancy tests:

  • A qualitative hCG blood test. This test simply checks if there is any hCG, giving an affirmative or negative response. Again, it’s not a very frequently used test, because of the time it takes to confirm or infirm a pregnancy.
  • A quantitative hCG blood test can tell you exactly how much hCG you have in your body, no matter how low these levels are. Because this test gives you an amount, instead of just telling you if there is or not hCG, it can be used to also check for any problems which might occur during the pregnancy, as for instance an ectopic pregnancy.

Ultrasound is one of the best ways you can get an approximate delivery date and the sooner you have it, the more accurate will the date be. This date won’t be affected if you repeat the ultrasound throughout your pregnancy – it will always be the same one. Another way to determine the due date without an ultrasound is to simply calculate the baby’s date by adding 40 weeks to the day when you had your last period.

3) NAUSEA/VOMITING

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You know how in soap operas you never see a woman vomiting for other reason than because she is pregnant? Of course, while such scenarios are highly exaggerated, nausea and/or vomiting are the most obvious signs of pregnancy. From your third week of pregnancy onwards, you can experience these unpleasant sensations for no specific reason, but it is believed that it’s related to the high levels of the hCG hormone. Any smell or taste can trigger these nasty responses, from strong cologne to cabbage. While morning sickness usually doesn’t go past the first trimester, occasionally it is present for a longer period. If the nausea/vomiting is severe, there are medications like metoclopramide, which are safe to use and which can keep the symptoms in control. Morning sickness affects between 50-80% pregnant women and one in three of those women also deal with vomiting.

4) FOOD CRAVINGS

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If you wake up in the middle of the night and feel like eating pickles, it’s either because you are weird or because you are pregnant. Same thing applies if yesterday you used to eat carrots like Bugs Bunny and now you can’t even stand the sight of them anymore. While food cravings are also a mystery in terms of what causes them, it is believed that pregnant women react to food tastes and smells in different ways because of the increased levels of estrogen in the body. What’s interesting to note though is that sometimes we don’t crave food as a whole, but a certain ingredient of that food. Instead of craving that ingredient say, milk, we crave the chocolate with milk.

5) BREAST CHANGES

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The first visible transformation of your body during pregnancy is the change in your breasts. Long before your abdomen will start to grow, it’s the breasts which will feel sore and swollen. You are probably familiar with these sensations, because they are similar to how they feel when you are approaching the end of your menstrual period, except this time, the discomfort is a little bit stronger. As your pregnancy advances, your breasts will visibly be larger (expect them to increase one-cup size). However, the most dramatic shift in dimensions will happen 4-5 days after giving birth, to the point that it will look as if your breasts are literally getting bigger day by day, because the tissues are swollen and the milk-producing hormones start to do their magic. With the inevitable weight gain that comes with pregnancy, the breasts alone count for 3 pounds. Breasts might be more sensitive, fuller and warm during pregnancy and from to time, pregnant women might also experience a shooting pain which comes and goes during 5 minutes. The veins can also be more visible and this is because the amount of blood delivered through them increases. Both the breast areolas and the glands on them become more prominent; they also change their color into a darker one.

While after birth, you will be able to go back to your previous shape, your breasts will never quite be the same again. They will change into a soft, full, global shape, unlike the curved shape they had before pregnancy. Breast changes occur independently of whether or not you are breastfeeding, since their size is determined by hormones and not by the act itself.

6) SPOTTING

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1-2 weeks after your last period, you might notice a few drops of blood, even if you are already pregnant. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be having menstruation during pregnancy as well or that something is wrong with your baby – actually, what happens is called implantation bleeding. Not all moms-to-be experience it though; implantation bleeding is the result of the embryo getting attached to wall of your uterus. It’s a sign of pregnancy that actually might kick in before you get the dreaded morning sickness and while you might see blood dripping as worrisome, there is no reason to be afraid. The blood is lighter in color than you would normally see during menstruation and you could also experience mild cramps alongside it. Spotting poses no danger and it doesn’t require any treatment either, since it will go by itself. However, if you do experience heavy bleeding in combination with other symptoms like fever, it’s something entirely different which would require you to schedule an appointment with your doctor and take appropriate actions.

7) FREQUENT URINATION

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If going to the bathroom turns into a recurrent nightmare, it’s probably because you are spending way too much time there and need to go way too often – if you are doing that, it might be because you are pregnant. This is another way how to confirm pregnancy and it happens especially in the first trimester, because of the blood flow through your kidneys and the high retention of water. However, if you think that after the first trimester, you will go less to the bathroom – truth is, it’s the exact opposite. As your baby grows, he/she will exert more pressure on the bladder, thus you will urinate more frequently, including several times per night. Leaking can also be an issue when you sneeze or laugh, so make sure to go to the bathroom every time you feel the sensation and don’t drink fluids right before going to sleep, if you want to reduce going to the bathroom during the night. If urination comes with pain or a burning sensation, discuss with your doctor about it, because you might suffer from a urinary tract infection.

8) MOOD SWINGS

If you are in a jolly mood, just to suddenly get angry for no apparent reason and without any trigger – you might be pregnant! Once again, you can blame everything on the pregnancy hormones, because that’s what puts you in a curmudgeon mood. These hormones affect the portion of the brain responsible for your moods, basically heightening all your emotions. You can decide to go out on a date with your partner and you compliment his outfit, only to pick on his socks two minutes later. Or even feel depressed watching a comedy movie. To get out of this hoopla, speak to your partner, friends, family and let them keep you distracted. Don’t let yourself get sucked up by negative emotions and try to be patient and cheerful. Fighting with yourself is no easy feat when these mood swings are involuntary, but you can learn how to control and minimize them.

9) BLOATING

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Again – hormones hormones hormones. They cause your body to bloat, giving you a feeling of fullness, even though your uterus remained the same. The increase of the hormone progesterone causes the muscles meant to transport the food through your intestines to weaken; there are fewer contractions, thus also less trips to the bathroom. And before you start to feel happy about it, learn that basically what happens is called constipation. The more constipated you are, the more bloated you feel. To ease things up, it’s recommended to have a diet rich in fibers and drink as often as possible.

A feeling of fullness or abdominal bloating is also a sign of being pregnant. The hormonal changes in your body cause the body to bloat. You may also experience cramps along with bloating. Your clothes may feel tight across your waist, even though your uterus is still small. If bloating is persistent, discuss with your doctor about the recommended medication to handle it.

And speaking about bloating, you will also inevitably weight gain during pregnancy, although “eating for two” is mostly a myth (link to our book). You only need to add 300 calories more to your diet, but as always, talk to your doctor if you want to know just how much weight you are supposed to gain. Depending on your current weight, you should either gain 25 to 35, 28 to 40 or 15 to 25 pounds – the more you were weighing before getting pregnant, the less will you need to gain.

10) BACK PAIN

While this symptom isn’t exclusive to pregnancy and by the time you will feel it, you will probably already know you are pregnant, it does come with the package. The spine needs to support the weight you are gaining during pregnancy, but because the nerves and blood vessels found in the back and pelvis can’t deal with the sudden pressure, it might cause your back to hurt. Another reason why you might experience back pain is also related to the weight gain, which changes your posture and subsequently, the center of gravity. This change makes you adjust your posture sometimes even involuntarily and even waddle, leading once more to potential back pain. If you thought that you got rid of hormones this time – well, you’re wrong. During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin, which pretty much does what its name suggests – relaxing the joints and ligaments. While this is wonderful, because having them loosed helps you with giving birth, the ligaments sustaining the spine can suffer from the same weakness, thus causing pain.

If the mood swings stress you out, that feeling can aggravate the pain in your back; stress and back pain often come hand in hand when pregnant. The good news is that unlike other symptoms that you can’t do much about, back pain is treatable. Most of the times, doing exercise helps strengthen the muscles and offers you more stability. Heat and cold therapies for your back also reduce the pain – try applying cold compresses on the spot where you feel the pain, then 3-5 days later do the same, but with heat pads instead. As always, talk to your doctor before taking this step and make sure you never apply any kind of heat to your abdomen. If you don’t have an aversion to needles and can handle acupuncture, this is another recommended treatment to relieve pain.

There are many ways how to confirm pregnancy, but don’t worry if you don’t experience all of them, since the lack or presence of any symptoms mentioned above doesn’t affect pregnancy. In fact, if you can go nine months without dealing with morning sickness or hot flashes, it’s a reason to rejoice. Even though you can use many methods to confirm pregnancy on your own from this list without relying on a doctor, do let them guide you through all the pregnancy trimesters. No matter if you are having your first baby or if you are already a parent, never rely just on yourself when it comes to the health of a fetus and never neglect any symptoms that might suggest that the pregnancy is not as smooth as it should be. If you have doubts or worries, no matter how insignificant they might be, always clear your doubts with a doctor. Stay healthy, stay safe, stay relaxed and enjoy the pregnancy. It will get a lot better after the 9 months pass, but pregnancy does come with its unforgettable moments as well.

What was your first pregnancy symptom?

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