Identifying Early Signs of Pregnancy
Am I Pregnant?
Missing your regular period is one of the most obvious signs of early pregnancy which usually leads women to take a pregnancy test and confirm their suspicions. At this stage, some women may have already experienced other early symptoms of pregnancy, sometimes as early as within 1 week of conception.
These early signs of pregnancy may continue throughout the first trimester:
- Raised basal body temperature
- Nausea and vomiting, also known as ‘morning sickness’ (often happens anytime pf the day)
- Tender or swollen breasts
- Headaches and dizziness
- Low back pains
- Food cravings or aversions
- Mood swings
- Weight changes
- Sensitivity to smells
In addition, some women report having an intuition about being pregnant which may later be proven right. However, these symptoms are not unique to pregnancy and could be due to hormone changes or other conditions. Some women do not experience any symptoms early in their pregnancy.
Using a Home Pregnancy Test Kit
If you think you are pregnant, you can purchase an over-the-counter pregnancy test kit at most major retail pharmacies. These kits test for pregnancy by detecting the quantity of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) hormone in the urine. hCG is produced during pregnancy and can be found in the blood and urine of pregnant mothers. Here are some common FAQs about the use of pregnancy test kits:
1. When should I test for pregnancy?
Take a pregnancy test approximately 1 week after your missed period. Try to perform the test first thing in the morning when you wake up, as your first urine of the day would be the most concentrated. This facilitates the detection of hCG.
2. How accurate is a home pregnancy test kit?
The pregnancy test kits are more than 99% accurate. However, if the test is administered too early on in pregnancy, where hCG levels are too low to be detected, the result may be a false-negative. The test may be repeated a few days later. There are also instances of false-positives, where there is a temporary rise in hCG hormone, and a subsequent fall in levels. This is also known as a “biochemical pregnancy”, and its exact cause is unknown.
Confirming Your Pregnancy with a Gynae
What’s next after your pregnancy test kit shows a positive test result? You can confirm your pregnancy with a gynaecologist 6 to 8 weeks after your last menstrual period (first day of your last menstrual cycle). However, if you experience bleeding, consult a gynaecologist as soon as possible. At your first checkup, your gynae may repeat the urine pregnancy test, and also conduct an ultrasound to scan for the foetus.
Once your pregnancy is confirmed, your obstetrician will be starting you on supplements such as folic acid, calcium and iron to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. At the same time, you will be advised on your diet, such as avoiding raw food, alcohol and caffeine.
Tips on Choosing a Gynae for Your Pregnancy:
- Think about what is important to you — personality of the doctor, ease of travelling to clinic, cost etc.
- Seek recommendations from friends or family
- Choose a gynae who is accredited to deliver at your hospital of choice