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7 Ways To Know If You Are Pregnant

Whether you are preparing and planning for your pregnancy journey or not, it is helpful for all sexually active women of childbearing age to educate themselves about the signs and clues suggesting that they may be pregnant. These can include a wide range of physiological adaptations in your body and your mood, which occur in response to the process of gestation. It is also important to bear in mind that some of these signs might imply other conditions. As a result, it is always recommended to notify your healthcare provider for proper investigation in case of suspected pregnancy.

In this post we try to review and identify some of the most evident physiological changes in pregnancy, especially those that occur early on, to enable women to pursue clues and consider definitive tests, in case of strong suspicion, and confirm or rule out their pregnancy and take the next necessary steps.

1. Menstrual cycle

One of the strongest clues to the beginning of pregnancy is the cessation of menstruation. As the process of menstruation occurs regularly once every 23-35 days in most healthy females, a delay in the start of this natural cycle could be a strong indicator of pregnancy. Additionally, a missed menstrual cycle could be due to other conditions such as hormonal or metabolic imbalances and infections. As a result, a prompt investigation is recommended in case of a disturbed menstrual cycle for all females.

2. Breasts changes

Another early physiological change in pregnancy is the enlargement of breasts. In this process, the breasts tend to display changes such as engorgement, areola darkening, and prominent vascular patterns, as well as tenderness. While these changes are considered normal in a pregnant woman, inflammatory findings such as redness, swelling, irritability, and discharge are rarely present, as they could be identifiers of other pathological processes such as infections or inflammations and require proper investigations.

3. Skin changes

Besides the increased pigmentation of the areola in breasts, some skin changes in the facial area (under the eyes and on the bridge of the nose) as well as on the midline of the abdomen and the perineum can be observed. Increased number of skin tags, redness of the palms of hands, and increased striae could also be expected as the pregnancy progresses.

4. Nausea and Vomiting

A significant percentage of pregnant women experience Nausea and Vomiting early in their pregnancy (up to 70%). The severity and frequency of symptoms vary from person to person, as some experience it with more intensity. In a small percentage of cases, this could develop into an extreme condition called “hyperemesis gravidarum”, or HG for short, which results in electrolyte imbalance, fluid and nutritional deficiencies, and weight loss. In this situation, it is vital to seek professional consultation from healthcare providers, as in-patient assessment and interventions may be indicated.

5. Appetite and intestinal motility

Pregnant people may experience appetite changes in their pregnancy such as cravings. Additionally, other changes in the gastrointestinal system may be expected in later stages, which include constipation and reduced intestinal motility due to increased intra-abdominal pressure and hormonal changes. It is important to monitor appropriate weight gain and include adequate nutritional diversity during pregnancy. Constipation may also lead to conditions such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures. These can be prevented by adequate hydration and including green fibers in the diet.

6. Mood

A variety of maternal mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety may be experienced throughout pregnancy. While transient in many cases, some of these mood changes may pose serious risks to the outcome of pregnancy and affect the mother-baby relationship even after the birth of the baby. Scientific studies suggest a variety of determinants, such as socioeconomic status and partner support, linked to the presence of these mental health issues. In addition to other conditions hinting at the possibility of pregnancy, it is important to pay attention to mood changes and address them accordingly to minimize risks and optimize outcomes.

7. Pregnancy test kits

Finally, among the most reliable ways to clarify the suspicion of pregnancy are the commercially available pregnancy test kits. In Canada, a variety of pregnancy test kits are readily available across pharmacies and online platforms. These kits typically operate on the detection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in urine, a hormone produced during pregnancy. This hormone starts to increase at the time of missed menses and reaches the highest levels at around the 10th week of gestation. After that, it gradually decreases until the time of delivery. The sensitivity of these tests usually varies and is indicated on the box, as they are sometimes capable of detecting pregnancy even before the first missed period. The instructions on how to properly use and interpret the result of these kits are included in the package. Some kits come with digital displays for clear results, while others offer rapid results within minutes. It’s essential for users to carefully follow the instructions provided with each kit for reliable results.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that a visit to your healthcare provider, such as a family physician or midwife would provide the most accurate results, as they are equipped with laboratory tests that directly assess the hCG levels on blood samples and offer professional interpretation of the symptoms and the test results.

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