In Hollywood movies and TV shows, whenever a storyline leads to a character finding out that she’s pregnant, the “sign” or indicator is usually morning sickness. She stops mid-sentence, puts a hand over her mouth, and runs to the nearest toilet to vomit. Growing up, whenever I found out a relative or close friend was pregnant, one of the first questions I asked was, “Do you have morning sickness?”
But morning sickness is just one of the many other signs and symptoms of pregnancy. In fact, some women might not even experience them at all, or might feel nauseous while carrying her first baby and then not at all during her next pregnancy.
Pregnancy can be an exciting but scary thing, especially if you didn’t plan for it. Here are some signs that might mean you’re pregnant without having to take a pregnancy test yet.
You missed your period.
Most sexually active women rely on the arrival of their next period to know if they’re pregnant. Though the most common, this isn’t always accurate. Not getting your period on time could also be because of the following factors: diet, excessive exercise, stress, or even PCOS.
You experience light bleeding (when you’re not supposed to).
If you keep track of your menstrual cycle, like most adult women should, then you know when you should and should not be bleeding. Pregnant women tend to experience light bleeding two weeks after fertilization.
This one can be tricky to decipher because you can easily bloat just by eating green, leafy vegetables! Similar to the bloating you experience when you’re about to get your period, the hormonal changes that happen when you’re pregnant can make you puffy. The difference is that it sticks around.
Despite the term “morning sickness,” nausea can hit you at any time of the day. There are women who only experience it at night. And it usually happens during your first trimester, before you hit Week 9. It’s important to note that nausea doesn’t necessarily mean you’re vomiting uncontrollably.
You get picky with food.
Ok, “picky” might be putting it lightly. When you’re pregnant, you develop certain aversions to food—even dishes you used to love may seem disgusting. On the other hand, you can also have intense food cravings.
You have mood swings.
How will you be able to tell if you’re moody because of your shitty day or if you’re actually pregnant? Apparently, when you’re carrying, you’re extra emotional and the change happens really fast. You know how when you’re in a bad mood, a part of you knows you’re being unreasonable? That’s thrown out the window when you’re pregnant.
Your breasts feel tender.
Here’s another classic period symptom that can happen when you’re pregnant: sore and tender breasts. The discomfort is taken up a notch when it’s the real deal (and not just your menstrual cycle).
You have cramps.
Period cramps and pregnancy cramps feel the exact same, so this can’t be the only sign that’s present when you feel like self-proclaiming yourself as “with child.”
Extreme fatigue is common among pregnant women. No matter how much energy you think you have, when you’re pregnant, your body produces high levels of a hormone called progesterone.
You have a lot of discharge.
Some women have noticed producing a white, milky discharge during the early stage of their pregnancy. This is because your vagina walls thicken after conception, and the increased growth of cells in the vagina causes the discharge.
You’re peeing more.
You might find yourself peeing a lot more. This is because the amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy, which triggers your kidneys to process any extra fluid in your bladder.
You’re having a hard time pooping.
Constipation is a very real struggle during pregnancy. Because of the high levels of progesterone in your system, the food you take in passes through the intestines at a slower rate.
Having read this list, you now know how difficult it is to determine whether or not you’re pregnant just by relying on these signs—especially because half of these are present when you’re on your period! We suggest taking an at-home pregnancy test first before consulting your doctor.
How To Take An At-Home Pregnancy Test
Over the counter tests work by detecting the pregnancy hormone in your pee called the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Your body starts producing this after fertilization. For the most accurate result, it’s advised that you wait one to seven days after you miss your period. Some women make the mistake of taking this test a few days before, but most pregnant women don’t see a positive result when they do so.
The best time to take a pregnancy test is in the morning—that’s right, your first pee for the day! Before you begin, make sure the stick isn’t expired (to avoid a roller coaster of emotions). Depending on the kind of pregnancy test you’ve purchased, you might have to hold the stick right below while you pee, while others instruct you pee in the cup and leave the stick inside.
Though rare, false-positives do happen—even a barely there plus sign means you’re carrying—you can take the test again after two to three days just to make sure.
Consult Your Doctor
Of course, if you don’t want to leave it all up to chance, you can book an appointment with your doctor and he or she will either give you a transvaginal ultrasound or schedule you for a blood test. If the doctor can’t detect a pregnancy via an ultrasound, the blood test will follow.
A blood test can pick up hCG earlier than any urine test can. A woman’s hCG level doubles every 72 hours through Week 8 to 11 of being pregnant. It stays relatively the same for the rest of the pregnancy and gradually decreases after giving birth. But you can find out as early as six to eight days before ovulation if you’re about to be a mother or not.
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