Think you might be pregnant? Here's how to tell

By Erin Dym on November 10, 2011
Attempting to become pregnant is a life-altering experience that either ends in true elation or utter frustration. Fortunately for most, it usually ends well and a new chapter in your life begins.

Early pregnancy can be associated with many symptoms and signs.

Most people look for a missed period, however, this may not always be accurate, especially in early pregnancy, says Dr. Larry Bacher, a family physician at the Malvern Medical Centre in Toronto.

“This is because some women experience mild spotting six to 12 days after conception from implantation bleeding, caused when the blastocyst implants into the uterine wall. This is often mistaken for a light period.”

Here’s Dr. Bacher’s advice for identifying pregnancy in the early stages:

Besides a missed period, watch for these other pregnancy symptoms and signs:

  • Fatigue
  • Breast enlargement, tenderness and tingling
  • Darkening of the areola or the nipples
  • Morning sickness, which may occur throughout the day and usually subsides by 13 weeks. (Some woman may continue to have intermittent nausea throughout pregnancy.)
  • Increase in appetite, cravings or aversions to certain foods
  • Increased sensitivity to smells
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Increased urination
  • Increased basal body temperature
  • Lightheadedness

Home pregnancy testing kits

To confirm if you are pregnant, try a home urine pregnancy test available at the pharmacy. These testing kits have improved over the past few years.Several pharmaceutical companies claim that these tests are 99 percent accurate at two days after a missed period. However, a number of investigations reveal that the test is not likely more than 90 percent accurate so early on. If the pregnancy test is negative in the face of a missed period it would be wise to repeat it again in a week.

You’re having a baby!

After confirming your pregnancy at home, get in touch with your health-care provider to review some of the topics covered in the pre-conception interview (see below), order appropriate blood work, and arrange for screening, which usually starts 11 weeks after your last period. Remember, each pregnancy is unique and may require special actions or discussions to ensure to optimal health for you and your fetus.

The pre-conception interview

Even before you consider whether you are pregnant, it is important to have a pre-conception interview with your health-care provider. After all, you want to start one of the most important phases of your life on the right foot for both you and your baby. Here is what you will discuss:

The need for pre-natal folic acid to help reduce the development of neural tube defects in your fetus.

The effect of conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes and others, and the medications you take to control them may have on the developing fetus. This can lead to strategies that may reduce the risks to the developing fetus.

Any potential genetic risks associated with you and your partner to help you understand the potential risks to the fetus.

Environmental factors, such as smoking cessation,good nutrition and avoiding harmful drugs, including over-the-counter preparations, to help improve fetal development. This will allow your fetus to grow in optimal surroundings.

By Erin Dym| November 10, 2011

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