Am I Pregnant? The First Signs Of Pregnancy And What You Should Do Next
Pregnancy is big news! Let’s check the signs and plan your next steps.
Pregnant? Knowing the first signs of pregnancy and what to do next when pregnant can help you relax. Surprised or not, the realization you might be pregnant is huge. And, if you haven’t missed your period yet, it can drive you crazy questioning the symptoms and waiting to find out if you’re pregnant. After all, even if you know the early pregnancy signs, you’ll need to wait for a positive pregnancy test (and a missing period!) to confirm your suspicions.
Early symptoms of pregnancy often include: tender breasts, moodiness, fatigue, headache, lower back pain, frequent urination, cervical discharge, and nausea. In fact, many women simply think they’re sick when really they’re pregnant. And, to complicate matters even more, many of the signs of early pregnancy are similar to those experienced before the arrival of your period. As veteran moms can attest, waiting for your period can make you hyper aware of pregnancy symptoms, making PMS symptoms easy to confuse.
It’s also important to note, not everyone feels the same emotions about getting pregnant. While many women try to get pregnant for months, and even years, and agonize over the details, others are surprised (and perhaps not as excited) by the possibility. As such, it’s important to give yourself room to feel a range of emotions about pregnancy as you wait to find out if you’re indeed pregnant. And, when the news is confirmed, it’s okay to feel ambivalent, scared, and even disappointed about pregnancy. Not everyone is going to jump up and down at the news of being pregnant, and that’s alright.
Regardless of whether you’re over the moon happy or not, it’s good to know which early signs of pregnancy could mean you’re going to have a baby, and what to do next when you find out your pregnant. As such, we put together this week-by-week early pregnancy guide to look at your symptoms and help you figure out next steps.
Signs Of Pregnancy: The 15 Earliest (And Weirdest) Symptoms
From Mama Natural
Week 1 And Week 2
Most women ovulate between the 11th and 21st day of their cycles, (calculated from the first day of their last periods). The egg can be fertilized for 12 to 24 hours after it’s released. As such, there’s a six day window during each cycle when women are potentially fertile. This is because a man’s sperm can live for up to five days after intercourse inside a woman’s body.
If you suspect you’re pregnant (or would like to become pregnant), you may want to start by figuring out your fertile window. If you had unprotected sex during this time, you have more of a potential to be pregnant. And, if you’ve done the math and it doesn’t quite line up, but you still think you may be pregnant, be sure to take a pregnancy test after you miss your period. Women who are irregular may ovulate earlier or later than average.
Symptoms: Week 1 And Week 2
You’re not technically pregnant until ovulation and fertilization occur, so you’re probably not pregnant during week 1 or 2 of your cycle. As such, you won’t have symptoms, other than possibly excitement over the prospect of making a baby!
What To Do: Week 1 and Week 2
If you want to become pregnant, now is the time to have unprotected sex and be aware of your fertile window. You can measure your basal body temperature and use LH strips to try to pinpoint your ovulation. Even so, you should be having unprotected sex before you ovulate to increase your chances of getting pregnant. The more viable sperm present in your uterus at the time of ovulation, the better when it comes to babymaking.
And, this is also the time you should start taking a prenatal vitamin and become more aware of your lifestyle choices to best promote the health of your baby. If you use recreational drugs, smoke cigarettes, or drink alcohol, now is a good time to stop. Likewise, if you take prescription medications, make a plan with your doctor about how you will proceed going forward.
Week 3 And Week 4
Week 3 and week 4 are a time of rapid cell division for the egg as it ramps up to create the placenta and the embryo. The egg will implant in the interior lining of the uterus about six to twelve days after ovulation. Your body is also beginning to make more progesterone, so you may start to notice signs of pregnancy around the end of week 4, or the time your period normally would have arrived. Nonetheless, some women swear they notice symptoms even earlier, such as moodiness and nausea.
Symptoms: Week 3 And Week 4
The first sign of early pregnancy is often spotting, or implantation bleeding, as the egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. This bleeding is lighter and shorter than a period and many women may not even notice it as a symptom. Breast tenderness is also common as progesterone builds in the system. And, some women report a stronger sense of smell and taste during this time. It’s also common for women to think they’re sick with a cold or a flu when early pregnancy symptoms really begin to set in, generally around the time of the missed period.
While light cramping may occur upon implantation, heavy cramping, especially on one side of the abdomen, could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. Also known as a tubal pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy happens when the egg is fertilized and grows outside the uterus, generally in one of the fallopian tubes. Know the signs and seek medical attention if you’re experiencing intense pelvic pain and think you might be pregnant.
What To Do: Week 3 And Week 4
The waiting game to find out if you’re pregnant isn’t an easy one. While you may get a positive pregnancy test before your missed period, most women will have to wait until they’ve officially missed their periods to get a positive test. If you get a negative result, wait a couple days and test again. Your hCG, the pregnancy hormone produced by the placenta after implantation, will double every 48 hours and it may take a week or two to get a positive result.
Even though more expensive “early” pregnancy tests are more accurate before you miss your period, the cheap Dollar Store versions work just fine after you’ve missed your period. If you need to use more than one test, you may want to opt for the less expensive option. After all, peeing on sticks can feel like a waste of money when you keep using them.
Now may also be the time to start researching which doctor or midwife you’d like to see during your pregnancy. And, you should continue taking your prenatal vitamins and practicing healthy lifestyle choices, as what you’re doing to your body is now affecting your baby, too.
Week 5 And Week 6
Many women will be able to confirm their pregnancies in week 5 with a home pregnancy test. Most tests will tell you with 99% accuracy if you’re pregnant AFTER you’ve missed your period. For women with irregular cycles, this can be somewhat challenging to pinpoint when your period would have arrived for accurate testing. Again, if you test negative but still don’t get your period, try again in a couple of days.
During week 5, baby’s heart beat may be detected with an ultrasound, although this isn’t always the case. Some women won't be able to find the heartbeat until week 6 or later. Amazingly, the brain, spinal cord, and placenta are also beginning to develop at this time.
Symptoms: Week 5 And Week 6
Around the time you get your first positive home pregnancy test, you’ll likely also be experiencing more signs of early pregnancy. Morning sickness, or nausea, are increasingly common around this time, as well as sore breasts and darkening of the nipples. Despite the name "morning sickness," queasiness and even vomiting may occur at any time of day or night. Women may also feel lightheaded and/or dizzy as hormones increase. And, more frequent urination, mild abdominal cramping, and light bleeding may also occur, along with increased vaginal discharge. Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn't it?!
Also, don’t be surprised if you start to crave certain foods or develop aversions. Your preferences will change as your pregnancy progresses. And, some women may notice constipation around this time. Be prepared for increased levels of fatigue, as well. Take advantage of the excuse for that extra nap or more sleep at night while you can.
What To Do: Week 5 And Week 6
When you’ve tested positive, it’s important to call your healthcare practitioner and schedule your first appointment. While many practitioners won’t have you come in until week eight, it’s good to connect with your doctor’s office as they’ll likely have a set of questions for you to answer over the phone. And, now's also the time to learn the do's and don'ts of pregnancy and decide when you're ready to share the news with friends and family.
Week 7 And Week 8
By now, you’ve likely confirmed your pregnancy with a home test and calculated your due date based on the first day of your last period. And, you’ll probably have your first appointment with your healthcare provider during these weeks as well. Be prepared for an ultrasound to measure your pregnancy and check the development of your baby. If you have irregular cycles, you may discover you’re not as far along as you expected. And, if a heartbeat isn’t detected, don’t lose hope, particularly if your practitioner thinks you may be less far along than you thought.
Symptoms: Week 7 And Week 8
You’ll likely continue to experience the same symptoms as the past couple weeks during week 7 and 8, although they may increase in intensity as your hormones continue to change. You may notice your nipples are darkening and your breasts have already grown in size. Likewise, you may be producing more saliva and see an increase in headaches.
Breast tenderness is very common during the first weeks of pregnancy. Constant fatigue is also typical. You should build time into your routine to get as much rest as your body demands. Mild cramping may continue during this time, don’t be alarmed. Just watch for period-like bleeding and severe discomfort. Contact your provider if you’re concerned.
If you’re suffering from morning sickness, remind yourself it will likely only last through your first trimester. While you still have weeks to go, it’s reassuring to know you likely won’t feel as sick later in your pregnancy.
What To Do: Week 7 And Week 8
Make self-care a priority during these weeks. Get as much rests as you need, even if that means taking naps and going to bed earlier than usual. Continue your exercise routine, but listen to your body. Eat well, take your prenatals, and stay hydrated. Your baby is depending on you.
If nausea is interfering with your ability to function, look into natural ways to lessen morning sickness and also talk to your healthcare provider. While you may not be able to eliminate the nausea entirely, things like frequent small meals and ginger products can make a difference.
The good news? You're growing a baby and this is just one season of many to come as a mom.