Pregnant or not? Early pregnancy symptoms

Women's Health Primary Care
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Having a baby is big news. But how can you tell if you’re pregnant?

The most clear-cut and definitive means of determining whether you’re expecting is to take a pregnancy test, either at home or at your physician’s office.

But even before you take a test, you might experience some common early signs of pregnancy that could help clue you in to the fact that a baby’s on the way.

Key indicator: a missed period

For many women, one of the first indications of pregnancy comes from a missed period. If your menstrual cycles are typically regular and you suddenly miss a period, it could be an early sign that you’re expecting. If a week or more has passed without your period, plan to take a pregnancy test.

However, menstrual cycle irregularities aren’t always linked to pregnancy and could be the result of other factors, including birth control pills or other medications you may be taking, or medical conditions such as diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome or an eating disorder. Make plans to speak to a health care provider if you’re experiencing menstrual cycle irregularities not linked to pregnancy.

Other common early signs of pregnancy

A missed period isn’t the only way your body may let you know you’re expecting. Because of an influx of hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, many women experience one or more of these common symptoms in the early weeks following conception: 

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Breast tenderness and swelling
  • Headaches
  • Food aversions or cravings
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Mood swings
  • Frequent urination

“It’s quite common for women to feel intense fatigue, breast tenderness and nausea in the early days of pregnancy,” says Elizabeth Waring, M.D., OB/GYN at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital. “But don’t let so-called ‘morning sickness’ fool you. Nausea in pregnancy can occur at any time throughout the day.”

Start prenatal care

If you think you might be pregnant, it’s important to take care of yourself and your baby. Stop smoking and avoid alcohol and other drugs. Select an OB/GYN and schedule regular prenatal visits.

“Prenatal exams are essential, since they allow your doctor to monitor your growing baby’s health and ensure that the mom-to-be is staying healthy as well,” says Dr. Waring.

At Riverside, we deliver more than 2,000 babies a year, but we know that each birth is personal. Our teams at Riverside Partners in Women’s Health and Riverside OB/GYN Specialists look forward to helping you welcome your new addition. Learn more about our Women’s Health Practices

You can read our online Healthy Mom & Baby Resources for tips to ensure that your pregnancy is healthy and happy.

For more tips on successfully navigating your pregnancy as well as your newborn’s arrival, sign up for our Healthy Mom & Baby Newsletter.

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