Wondering if you could be pregnant? How to tell if you are pregnant before needing to take a test or even miss your period.
By Caroline Vencil, Contributing Writer
It’s been a few weeks since you “did the deed” and you’re dying to know… am I pregnant? While you might have to wait up to a month after you conceived to get a positive result (depending on your cycles and hormones), there are some early signs to be on the lookout for that might give you a clue.
Keep in mind though, nothing is for sure until you get a positive result. But these are fun things to be aware of before running out to get a pregnancy test.
How to Tell if You Are Pregnant
Sore and Swollen Breasts
Waking up, you notice that your breasts feel sore. Even gravity hurts them. Or maybe you bumped into a doorframe and you feel like someone punched your breast. Putting on a bra this morning may have felt like torture.
And are you imagining it, or are they a little bigger? Tender, sore, and heavy-feeling breasts, darkening of the areolas and even more pronounced veins on your chest can be a first sign that you’re pregnant.
Instead of leisurely getting out of bed in the morning, you have to make a mad dash into the bathroom to vomit. Most pregnant women start to get nauseous when they’re around 6 weeks along, but some can experience morning sickness (which can occur not just in the morning, but morning, noon, night, or even all day long) earlier. It will most likely subside as you enter the second trimester.
You didn’t even make it to 11am without feeling like you need a nap. You find yourself napping for 3 hours a day and still want to go to sleep by 7pm. Exhaustion and fatigue might be your body’s response to the increased hormones in our body. For many women, tiredness continues through the first trimester, but then lessens by the second.
You’ve never been one to have headaches, and then suddenly you feel like you need Tylenol to make it through the day. Changing hormones means more headaches as your body learns to adjust to the new levels in your system. If you need headache relief, ibuprofen is not recommended during pregnancy. (There are some natural headache relief strategies, if you want to go the natural route, and stay away from acetaminophen as well.)
Constipation and Bloating
Your jeans don’t fit right already and you haven’t even had a positive test. Then you realize that it’s been a few days since you’ve been to the bathroom. If you’re feeling a little bloated or backed up, it might be extra progesterone due to pregnancy, which slows down your digestive system making everything move slowly down there. Stool softeners and lots of water will help move things along. Do not take anything that is a laxative, as it could cause cramping that is dangerous to a precious little life.
Shortness of Breath
Suddenly, walking up the stairs makes you pant like you’ve been at the gym for an hour. That little peanut needs oxygen, and until your body gets used to this extra need, you’re left with the short end of the stick. This might continue throughout your pregnancy, especially as your growing baby starts to put pressure on your lungs and diaphragm in the later trimesters.
You can smell your neighbor making fish through closed windows… and it makes you want to vomit. Or you can tell which of your friends had a Pumpkin Spice Latte in the past 72 hours. Your nose is now super-human in sensitivity. If you’re grossed out by certain smells or have an increased sensitivity to odors in general, it may mean you’re pregnant.
Dizziness or Fainting
Fainting was the go-to pregnancy symptom in old movies. And it’s true. The changes in hormones and blood volume can really make you very dizzy. Staying well-hydrated and making sure to eat enough can help with this.
Suddenly, you can’t go passed a bathroom without running in. If you find yourself unable to sleep through the night without a trip to the bathroom, it might be a sign of pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body produces extra fluids which means more bathroom breaks.
Do you notice your lower back being stiff and sore? If you don’t usually have back aches and pains, this could mean that your ligaments are loosening and starting to make room. This pain might continue throughout the pregnancy, but can be alleviated with a belly support and routine trips to a chiropractor.
If you’re feeling crampy but still haven’t gotten your period, you might be pregnant. Your uterus might be stretching, or you might get cramps from implantation (when the egg implants itself in the uterus).
Food Cravings or Aversions
You might find yourself with an insatiable appetite for Caesar salad and watermelon. But your once-favorite tuna makes you want to throw up. These sensitivities could be due to pregnancy.
You’re laughing at your favorite sitcom one minute, only to be bawling over the dog food commercial the next. Maybe your husband left dirty dishes in the sink and your reaction is similar to a volcano erupting. If you’re feeling a more-than-a-little hormonal, it might be because your body is adjusting to a lot of new hormones. Assure your husband that the roller coaster emotions will pass soon (Just kidding… it never does… welcome to motherhood!).
Elevated Basal Body Temperature
If you’ve been trying to conceive or have been doing natural family planning, you may have been charting your basal body temperature (BBT) to pinpoint ovulation. Generally, your BBT is elevated from ovulation until you get your period around 2 weeks later. If it stays elevated for more than two weeks, it may be because you’re pregnant.
Thanks to all of the new aches, pains, fluids, nausea, hormones, and more, you might find it tough to sleep through the night. This might not be a sleep issue, but rather a sign of pregnancy.
Darn! You got your period. Or did you? If it was much lighter than normal, and a few days earlier than expected, you may actually be experiencing implantation bleeding, where the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall and causes a little blood to appear. If that’s the case, don’t worry. This is one of the many variations of normal in pregnancy.
Late, and Eventually Missed, Period
This one might be obvious, but it’s the best indicator of pregnancy. If you’re more than a week late, it’s time to get a test! And finally…
Positive Pregnancy Test
This is the only way to tell for sure if any of the weird things that you’ve been feeling are all for a good cause. If you get a negative result but you still don’t have your period, test again in a few days. It might just be too early for the test to pick up on the hormones necessary to produce a positive result.
Remember that everybody is different. What showed up as an early sign for your friend might not be the same for you. The only way to tell for sure is by a blood test at your doctor’s office or from a home pregnancy test.