So you think you might be pregnant

One of the most common questions that we get asked at askus@marchofdimes.com is “Am I pregnant?” Although we can’t answer that question, there are a few signs that indicate you might be pregnant:
•    You miss your period.
•    You feel sick to your stomach or throw up.
•    Your breasts are big and sore. The area around your nipples gets darker.
•    You crave certain foods. Or you really dislike certain foods.
•    You feel tired all the time.

Not every woman will have all of these symptoms and some women may have none of them.  Every woman and every pregnancy is different, so there is really no way for a woman to know for sure that she is pregnant just by her symptoms.  For instance, some women may think they have had a period, but they actually have experienced implantation bleeding.  Implantation bleeding occurs when the embryo attaches to the lining of your uterus. This may occur 10-14 days after fertilization. Although this spotting is usually earlier and lighter than a menstrual period, some women don’t notice the difference, and don’t even realize they’re pregnant. And many early signs of pregnancy are similar to some premenstrual signs, so it can be very confusing.

If you think you might be pregnant, the best thing to do is to take a home pregnancy test.  Home pregnancy tests are usually more accurate when your period is late – about 2 weeks after conception (getting pregnant). If they’re done too early, they may say that you’re not pregnant when you really are. This is called a false negative. That’s why it’s best to take a home pregnancy test when your period is late. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully.

If you’ve taken a home pregnancy test and it’s negative (shows that you’re not pregnant), you may want to take a blood pregnancy test at your health care provider’s office. A blood pregnancy test is more sensitive than a home pregnancy test that checks your urine. The blood pregnancy test can tell a pregnancy very early on.

Pregnancy tests work by looking for the hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that a woman’s body makes during pregnancy. If both a blood and urine test come back negative and you still have a missed period, talk with your health care provider. Things like stress, eating habits, illness or infection can cause changes in your menstrual cycle.

Finally, if you are trying to get pregnant, and that test is negative, try not to get discouraged. Nearly 9 out of 10 couples who try to get pregnant do so within 1 year. It may not happen immediately, but the odds are it will happen soon.  You can read more about getting pregnant on our website.

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