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How Do I Know If I’m Pregnant?

Do you think you are showing early signs of pregnancy? Learn more about the most common pregnancy symptoms in this comprehensive guide.

Written by

Sally Rashid

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Pregnancy symptoms vary but hallmark indicators like nausea, breast tenderness, and a missed period may cause you to wonder whether or not you might be pregnant. If you suspect that you may be pregnant, taking an at-home pregnancy test or having blood work done at a doctor’s office will help provide an answer.

Early Pregnancy Signs

Just as the symptoms of pregnancy can vary, the timing and intensity of those symptoms are different person to person too. For some, nausea, mild cramping, or tender breasts may begin in the first week of pregnancy, but it’s also normal for symptoms to surface later.

Tender or Swollen Breasts

Hormones like progesterone and estrogen increase during pregnancy. These hormones encourage vascular circulation in the uterus and development of the placenta, but they also cause development of the milk ducts. For many, this translates to swollen, tender breasts.

Mild Cramping

Mild cramping is a common early pregnancy symptom, but since many people experience cramping before their period, it can be confusing to know whether it’s a normal premenstrual symptom or pregnancy! Cramping during early pregnancy often indicates implantation, or the period of time in which the pregnancy attaches to the uterine lining. This cramping feels like pulling or tingling in the lower abdomen and sometimes low back. Because implantation cramping and pre-menstrual cramping are difficult to discern, this symptom alone is not always a helpful indicator of pregnancy.

Bleeding

A missed period, or having what seems like an abnormally short period may be the first sign of pregnancy for many. In early pregnancy, spotting or light vaginal bleeding that is brown to pink in color is normal as long as it is lighter than your regular period and lasts about 1-2 days. This early bleeding may be called “implantation bleeding” and occurs when a fertilized embryo attaches to the uterine wall. 

Nausea

Nausea is a common symptom of early pregnancy. This nausea is often referred to as “morning sickness,” though it can occur anytime during the day. Nausea in early pregnancy has no one, single cause, but hormones, blood sugar levels, and fatigue are all thought to play a role. New research suggests that even your genetics may be a factor in whether or not you’ll experience morning sickness. 

Generally, this nausea is mild and resolves by the end of the first trimester, but about 10% of people may experience it throughout their entire pregnancy.

Fatigue

Typically due to a change in hormones and blood sugar levels, fatigue during pregnancy is common. Fatigue is more than just feeling tired — it’s exhaustion that interferes with your normal day to day routine. Since fatigue can also be a symptom of PMS, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether your exhaustion is pregnancy-related. 

Food Aversions or Cravings

A flush of hormones and increase in caloric needs to promote fetal growth sometimes brings on interesting changes with your relationship to foods. Pregnancy may make you crave some things like never before or you may find foods you once enjoyed intolerable. For some, this can be a hint that they may be pregnant especially when paired with a late period.

Mood Shifts or Swings

Fatigue, hormone changes, and dealing with a major life stressor may all be responsible for changes in moods during pregnancy. Increases in irritability, weepiness, or energy might be signs that you are pregnant. Hormones like progesterone and estrogen along with hCG may be the culprit in these mood swings and shifts.

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How far along am I in my pregnancy?

In order to track your pregnancy milestones and to understand all of your options moving forward, it’s important to know just how far along you are in your pregnancy. Gestational age refers to your pregnancy's age beginning from the first day of your last menstrual period. Because of this, gestational age technically includes two weeks prior to when you’ve become pregnant. Understanding your gestational age whether via last missed period, date of conception, or via ultrasound helps inform medical decisions during pregnancy. 

Last Menstrual Period (LMP)

The average pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks from your last menstrual period. Because pregnancy generally begins two weeks into your cycle, during ovulation, using your last missed period to determine your gestational age is common. Your provider can help you understand your gestational age or you can use aan LMP calculator online including this one here.

Date of Conception

Some people know exactly when they conceived because of in vitro fertilization or in instances where there was only one sexual encounter during their menstrual cycle. To determine your gestational age using date of conception, add 266 days to date of conception for proposed due date and count back to the current date for your current gestational age. 

Ultrasound

The most accurate way to understand just how far along you are in your pregnancy is to consult with a healthcare provider and have an ultrasound performed. An ultrasound, especially in very early pregnancy, measures the size of the embryo or fetus and translates those measurements into gestational age in weeks. 

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Telehealth services have increased access to medication abortions or “the abortion pill”, allowing more people to have their abortion care at home. In pregnancies up to 10 weeks in gestational age, you can meet with a licensed abortion provider online and have the medications used in a medication abortion mailed to your home. 

Hey Jane offers these services at low cost and, once you are evaluated by a provider, medications will get shipped to you in an unmarked box in 1-3 days. To get started, first check that you are eligible for our services. Afterwards, you’ll meet with our team via secure chat and we’ll ship FDA-approved medications to start your abortion process.


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Written by

Sally Rashid

Sally Rashid is a Registered Nurse and writer living in Detroit, Michigan. She has worked in reproductive care for a decade as a doula, nurse, and advocate for abortion access. Sally was a 2020 winner of Yes, And Laughter Lab's competitive incubation program for her work as writer and co-creator of Darling, a dark comedy about an abortion clinic at constant risk of closure. On top of writing for the beauty and healthcare industries, Sally is an all-around creative lady who loves music, making connections, and chilling with her two cats.

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