“I think Im pregnant” can be one of the scariest sentences you’ll ever say out loud. Of course, it can also be one of the happiest. If you suspect that you really are pregnant, it’s important to confirm the pregnancy, learn about your options, then make a decision about what you’re going to do. Here’s what to do if you think you are pregnant.
What to do if you think you re pregnant
At a certain point in your life, it seems that every time you feel a little tired there’s someone behind you asking, “Are you pregnant?”. The truth is that while there can be a number of signs that you are pregnant, the only real way to know for sure is to take a pregnancy test. If you’re trying to decide if taking one of these tests is worth the time and expense, however, consider if you’re showing any of these symptoms.
- Weight gain and/or larger appetite
- Feeling tired or sleepy
- Increased moodiness
- Increased nipple or breast tenderness
- Missed period
Of course, it’s entirely possible to have all of these symptoms and not be pregnant, or to show none of these symptoms and still be pregnant. In fact, each of these symptoms have numerous other possible explanations. For example:
Nausea can be caused by a variety of bacterial and viral infections. Nearly all of these, however, are accompanied by a fever or other symptoms. In the case of food poisoning, the nausea is usually very intense and usually occurs almost immediately after eating the bad food. Nausea that comes on without any other symptoms can indicate pregnancy, but not always.
Many women make the joke that they “look pregnant” after gaining some weight, but the truth is that most weight gain is due to simply overeating and not exercising. If you’ve put on some extra pounds and are not showing any other symptoms of pregnancy, then consider other reasons for the weight gain.
Feeling tired, sleepy, or moody can be the result of various causes of stress in your life. Working more, relationship issues, or even a change in schedule can cause all of these problems. It’s also important to note that this is not a symptom that all women experience when they are pregnant.
Increased breast tenderness is one of the more unique symptoms of pregnancy, but it can also be attributed to several different types of infections. If you notice a swelling or growth in your breasts and/or experience a lasting or intense pain, make an appointment with a doctor immediately. This is not a typical sign of pregnancy, but it can indicate anything from a cyst to a tumor. Mild tenderness or aching is more indicative of pregnancy. This is caused by the hormonal changes, but like moodiness or sleepiness, it does not necessarily occur in every pregnancy.
Finally, a missed period is one of the most common symptoms signs of pregnancy, but many people mistakenly believe that a missed period always indicates a pregnancy. The truth is that there are a number of reasons why a woman could miss her period. It may be possible to miss a period simply because a woman does not have a regular cycle. Missed periods can also be caused by changes in diet, changes in schedule, or even starting or stopping certain medications. Increased stress can cause a period to be late, or to be skipped entirely.
Should I Test?
If you are showing any obvious signs of pregnancy, or if you have had unprotected sex since your last period, it’s probably a good idea to take a pregnancy test as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are a number of commercial tests available in drug stores, grocery stores, and big box retailers. You do not need a prescription for a pregnancy test in the United States even if you are under 18 years old.
Picking a pregnancy test can seem daunting, but it’s important to realize that despite the marketing, all of the test work in a fairly similar manner. All pregnant women have Human Growth Hormone, or HGH, present in their bloodstream and urine. As the pregnancy progresses, the amount of HGH in the woman’s body increases. Over the counter pregnancy tests are basically chemical test strips that change colors when this hormone is present. The very basic (and cheapest) kits simply contain this paper and a set of instructions on how long to wait after exposing the paper to your urine. If the paper changes color or multiple lines appear, HGH has been detected at a level high enough to indicate a pregnancy. Fancier and often more expensive kits often have electronic attachments that will read the paper for you.
There are several different types of test paper that can detect HGH. The cheapest type of these test strips can usually be used a minimum of five days after a missed period. More modern versions of the test are sensitive enough to detect HGH up to five days before a missed period. Of course, the more accurate the test is, the more expensive it tends to be. If your period is already several days late, it probably makes sense to buy a cheaper test.
The directions for nearly all at home test are virtually the same, but pay attention to how long the test needs to sit before giving accurate results. Many people assume that they will react as quickly as litmus paper, but many take a few minutes before giving the result.
At home pregnancy tests are among some of the most accurate health care testing products available. The test work by detecting Human Growth Hormone, a distinctive protein only found in pregnant women. There are no other substances that can make an HGH test turn positive. Because of this, false-positives (that is, a test saying that someone is pregnant when they really are not) are virtually unheard of.
It is possible, however, that an HGH test will not turn positive when a person actually is pregnant. This is usually because a woman has not been pregnant long enough for the level of HGH in her body to be high enough to be detected. This means that a pregnancy test can give a false negative. If you take a test that comes up negative but still have symptoms of pregnancy several days later, take another test.
What Do I Do if the Test is Positive?
As stated earlier, there is virtually no test of a pregnancy test coming back positive if you really aren’t pregnant. Nonetheless, the first step after getting a positive result should be scheduling an appointment with your doctor. An obstetrician or general practitioner can give you another in office test to confirm the pregnancy. If you do not have a regular doctor or health insurance, you might want to check out the free pregnancy resources in your area. Many non-profit groups run clinics that offer free pregnancy tests, counseling, and pre-natal appointments.
Once you arrive for your appointment, in many cases, the doctor will then ask you a few questions and/or use a sonogram to date the pregnancy. This will let you know how far along you are and give an estimate of when the baby will arrive. With this information, it will be possible for a doctor to let you know about your options.
Telling Your Partner
Depending on your circumstances, informing the baby’s father that you are pregnant can be very exciting or a very serious conversation. If you believe that the news will come as a shock, try to break it to him in private and with a calm tone of voice. If you believe that your partner will react negatively, and/or if you are concerned he will become violent, make sure you tell another trusted adult in your life and consider having him or her with you when you break the news.
Telling Your Employer
Unless you are in a specialty field that requires you to report a pregnancy, you are under no legal obligation to tell your employer that you are pregnant. People who must inform their employer are usually told this when they start their job, and have jobs that might endanger a fetus if proper precautions are not taken. These jobs include x-ray technicians and some chemical engineers and scientists who work with potentially harmful substances.
Nonetheless, it is impossible to hide your condition for long, so it makes sense to start making a plan now if you haven’t already. While terminating an employee because she is pregnant is illegal, it is not illegal to terminate an employee for missing shifts, being late to work, or being unable to perform her job duties. Because of this, many women come up with plan that allows them to continue working while their employer makes reasonable accommodations.
These accommodations can include providing a stool or bench to a woman who was previously required to stand all day, giving extra break time, and/or providing a private space in an office environment. Depending on your exact work situation, the ideal solution is to talk with your boss and work out a plan that will work for both you and your company. If you believe that your workplace will react negatively to the news that you are pregnant, take steps to protect yourself and your job.
The first reaction of many women upon hearing that they are pregnant is to tell all of their friends and family immediately. Consider, however, that it is estimated that nearly one in three pregnancies ends in a miscarriage. Before making an announcement, think about how you would react to constant questioning if this unfortunate event occurs. Also, carefully consider how you break the news to family and friends. Realize that not everyone will be as excited as you, and in the case of family members or friends who are struggling with infertility or the recent loss of a child, this news might not be greeted with much joy at all.
Terminating the Pregnancy
In the event that you decide not to have a baby, you might be able to get an abortion. In most states, you must be less than 20 weeks along in the pregnancy in order to have this procedure. If you decide that this is the right option for you, talk to your doctor about how to proceed. Do not try to terminate the pregnancy on your own. Many of the methods that are suggested by friends, relatives and the internet can seriously harm you and/or cause lasting health problems.
Continuing the Pregnancy
It surprises many women when they find out that most doctors and clinics will schedule the first pregnancy or pre-natal appointment a few days or sometimes weeks after the pregnancy is confirmed. In many cases, an ultrasound and other important tests are not scheduled until the second trimester. This leaves many women wondering what they should do until then.
There is a lot of advice given to pregnant women, and it can be hard to sort out what you should actually do and what advice you can ignore. While every person will make different decisions for themselves and their baby, there are some rules that you must follow in order to increase your chances for a healthy pregnancy.
No drinking alcohol. This is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the health of your baby. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been shown to lead to low birth weight, brain development issues, and other birth defects. Since so much of the baby’s brain forms during the first trimester, it is especially important to make sure that you do not consume alcohol during the first few months that you are pregnant. If you have already consumed alcohol before knowing that you were pregnant, make sure that your doctor knows. There are tests that can be done to determine if this has had an effect on the fetus.
Drugs. Everyone knows not to take illegal drugs when they are pregnant, but it is critical to ask about any prescription medications that you are on. Ideally, ask about these medications at your first appointment to confirm the pregnancy. If you don’t ask, call your doctor’s office and give them your medication list over the phone. Many offices can quickly look up the fact sheets for these drugs and let you know if it is safe to continue taking them. If you have taken unsafe medications prior to learning that you were pregnant, let your doctor know. Many states have laws that allow you to tell your doctor about illegal drug use confidentially and without fear of law enforcement intervention.
Diet. Everyone will have something to tell you about what to eat and what to avoid when you’re pregnant. While there are entire books written on this subject, for now try to stick to a few basic rules.
- Consume as many fruits and vegetables as possible. These foods have a lot of the vitamins that you and your baby need to stay healthy. Specifically, try to incorporate as many dark green vegetables into your diet as possible. Kale, romaine lettuce, and broccoli are all examples of vegetables with a lot of folic acid. This nutrient helps to promote brain growth and development in the fetus.
- Don’t worry about eating for two. Many women assume that just because some women have an increased appetite when they are pregnant that they have to start eating more. The truth is that during the first trimester the fetus actually uses very little energy. Remember that for most of the first three months, he or she is smaller than a golf ball, and therefore can’t use a lot of calories. In fact, it’s estimated that only about 100 calories a day is going to the fetus during the first trimester. It’s not at all uncommon for women to not gain any weight during the first trimester, and many women even find themselves losing weight. For the most part, this does not harm the baby. If you are worried that you’re not keeping down enough food to feed the baby, don’t panic. Remember that the fetus will take what it needs first, making sure that its growth is the first priority.
- Moderate exercise. If you’re feeling well enough to exercise, getting some moderate movement into your life is a good idea for you and the baby. Simply walking for half an hour a day is a good way to stay healthy while not putting any stress on the fetus. Check with your doctor if you want to continue running, weight lifting, or other strenuous exercise.