I Think I'm Pregnant

I Think I'm Pregnant - Now What?

I think I'm pregnant. This sentence can be one of the most emotional sentences that you will ever think or speak. The idea of being pregnant - of having a baby and becoming a mother - can be at turns exciting and terrifying, exhilarating and confusing. Whether you have been trying to conceive for a while or the thought of a potential pregnancy is unexpected, you may be surprised by the sheer enormity of feeling that accompanies the idea. If the words "I think I'm pregnant" have recently crossed your mind, you likely have been unable to think of much else since.

If the only reason you think you might be pregnant is because you recently had unprotected sex, it is probably too early to find out for sure with a home pregnancy test. Many home pregnancy tests claim to be able to give an accurate result as soon as the first day of your missed period, but you will receive the most accurate results if you wait at least a week from the date of your expected period. Home pregnancy tests work by testing your urine for human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), commonly known as the pregnancy hormone. This hormone will only be present after the embryo has attached to the uterine wall, which research has shown takes about 6 days from fertilization.

Because a blood test from your doctor can detect even very small levels of hCG, it can give an accurate result 6-8 days after fertilization. Home pregnancy tests, which are urine-based, need larger levels of hCG present to indicate a positive result. This means that the longer the embryo has been attached to the uterine wall, the better your chances of receiving an accurate positive result. If you take a home pregnancy test early and receive a negative result, this does not necessarily mean you aren't pregnant; you should wait and take another test a week after your missed period.

Of course, when the words "I think I'm pregnant" occur to you, the last thing you want to do is sit around and wait until the optimal time to take a pregnancy test. So in the mean time, there are a few other things you can do to help determine the likelihood of a pregnancy. Determining your date of ovulation is an inexact science at best, but if you know the date of your last period and the normal length of your menstrual cycle, you can get a general idea of when your most fertile days were in this last cycle. For someone with a regular 28-day cycle, the estimated date of ovulation is 14 days from the beginning of the last period. You can find various ovulation calculators online to help you figure out when your approximate date of ovulation was. Add a few days before and after this date, and compare them to the dates you had sex. This will not give you a definite answer, but can give you an idea of how likely it is that you are pregnant.

There are also certain symptoms that may be present as soon as the first few weeks of pregnancy. As soon as one week into a pregnancy, you may experience tenderness in your breasts and feelings of tiredness, or fatigue. You may also experience some spotting during the first week or two of pregnancy. This spotting, or implantation bleeding, can occur when the embryo attaches to the uterine wall. It can be accompanied by slight cramping, and may make you think you're about to get your period. Backaches, headaches, and nausea can also appear during the very early part of pregnancy, usually at two to four weeks.

If you find that you're experiencing one or several of the early symptoms of pregnancy, your period remains late, and/or you have gotten a positive result from a home pregnancy test, the next step is to make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can perform a simple blood test and tell you for sure whether you're pregnant. In the meantime, do what you can to live a healthy lifestyle - just in case!