Am I Pregnant?

One of the big questions you’ll have now that you started the use a program like Lisa Olson’s Pregnancy Miracle or Jenny Carson’s My Pregnancy Now is “Am I pregnant?”

Are You Pregnant?

empty baby bootiesThere are two ways to know whether you are pregnant:

  1. Observing your body’s symptoms. Pregnancy has some distinct, unique symptoms that it will use to tell you that “Yes, I am pregnant.”
  2. Have a pregnancy test done. There are two types of pregnancy tests:
    1. A urine test.
    2. A blood test.

You will probably want to know that you are possibly pregnant so here a few of the early signs of pregnancy.

Your Body’s Pregnancy Symptoms

In today’s modern scientifically-oriented, Western world, most people use pregnancy tests to figure out whether or not they are actually pregnant. However, it is not always been so.

Throughout history, even though man had not yet developed blood tests or urine tests to determine whether a woman’s pregnant, the woman’s body has always known if it’s pregnant. Once a woman becomes pregnant there’s a lot that her body must do to prepare itself for the pregnancy.

Some of these activities produce very definite physical symptoms that can be observed to let you know that you may be pregnant… Even before your first missed period. But, before I get into all that I would like to take a moment and briefly review what’s happening in the new mother-to-be’s body.

What’s Going on Inside Your Body

When you have sex, which should occur 13 – 15 days after the start of you previous 28 day period (Women who have 30-day periods or irregular periods will be somewhat different). That is about the time when one of your ovaries will release an egg (an ovum). When you release an egg from one of your 2 ovaries, it is called ovulation. If the timing is right and all the other things that need to happen have occurred, a sperm will most likely find the egg.

Running out of time

Tick, Tock…Tick, Tock…

Eggs are released from the ovary approximately 2 weeks after your previous period started if you have a 28-day menstrual cycle. Some authorities recommend you have sex every 2 days during the middle third of your monthly cycle.

Normally, fertilization of the egg occurs somewhere between your ovary and your uterus in a structure called the fallopian tube. Each ovary (you have two; one on each side of your abdomen) has its own fallopian tube which opens into the uterus near the top on its side of the abdomen.

The sperm will enter the egg and conception has occurred.

When that happens, some things happen with the now fertilized egg (now called a zygote) which will prevent any other spermatozoa (fancy name for a sperm) from entering the egg. In the event that more than one sperm enters the egg, normally things get all messed up and the egg dies.

After fertilization, the fertilized egg (called a zygote) moves through the fallopian tube and enters the uterus.

If the timing of the fertilized egg’s arrival in the uterus is right, the lining of the uterus will be ready for its arrival. The fertilized egg, now called a blastocyst, will then attach itself to the wall of the uterus (call the endometrium) in a process known as implantation.

Implantation is a process where the zygote that has now gone through many cell divisions and has become a hollow ball of cells called a blastula. Then it turns into what is called a blastocyst that literally burrows into the wall of the uterus and attaches itself there and begins to grow into your baby.

If the blastula gets to the uterus to soon, it will not implant properly because the wall of the uterus is not ready and it will probably be sloughed off during your next period. If it arrives too late, it will be discharged along with the lining of the uterus during your next period.

Naturally, there is a lot of biochemistry that occurs during this whole process.

The various steps in the process release “status reports” that your body understands. These “status reports” tell your body what to do next if conception has occurred (i.e. you are pregnant) or, in the event no “status report” is received, your next period will be as scheduled (or “whenever” if you have irregular periods).

As you might have already guessed, timing is very important in the human reproductive process.

I talk about it in my “Can’t Get Pregnant” Series: Behavior-Caused Infertility article.” If you are having trouble getting pregnant, as a first step, I recommend that you read the different articles in the my “Can’t Get Pregnant” series of articles to learn more about the timing-related causes of infertility.

Also, WebMD.com has a slide show called “Conception Slide Show: from Egg to Embryo” that I think you might enjoy… Just click the link.

Early Pregnancy Symptoms

I need to mention that pregnancy symptoms vary from woman to woman. In fact, they can even vary between pregnancies in the same woman.

A hormone called progesterone may be a culprit in many of the early symptoms of pregnancy. The levels of progesterone gradually increase until birth of the baby. It has many extremely important functions in the proper development of your baby and making sure the pregnancy works right.
Here is a list of the most common symptoms that occur during the first month or so after conception and when you can expect to be able to see them in your body.

Soon After Sex

Studies have shown that the sperm can find and fertilize your egg in as little as 30 minutes after ejaculation. When that happens, your body will begin to change in preparation for your pregnancy.

One of the first things that happens is that the vagina’s wall begins to thicken. That process may cause the discharge of a white, milky fluid from your vagina. It indicates that you are pregnant and it may not be the man’s sperm leaking out after intercourse.

That discharge can continue to occur throughout the entire pregnancy and normally does not require treatment. This is normal for some women and can begin to occur immediately after conception. If this discharge begins to smell bad or you begin to itch or you have a burning sensation you need to tell you doctor immediately because you may have an infection. Do NOT attempt to treat it yourself.

The following day counts assume that you ovulate on day 14 of your cycle and have sex at that time.

A Day or Two after Sex

At this point, your body knows that it’s pregnant. Certain subtle changes may begin to occur in some women. Primarily these are associated with the position of the cervix as well as the consistency of the fluid (cervical mucus) associated with the cervix and the feel of the cervix itself.

Some women who have been tracking their ovulation by cervical position and consistency of the cervical mucus may be able to notice these changes. Most women will not know what is normal for them unless they are checking for and tracking their cervical-related changes.

Generally, your doctor is the one you need to rely on for these sorts of things. Ultimately, the cervix, after the first few weeks of pregnancy, will become dry and what is called a cervical plug will form. This is a defense mechanism that your body uses to protect the baby growing in your womb from external contamination.

6 – 7 Days after Sex

Probably the first symptom that you are pregnant which will occur results from the implantation of the fertilized egg (now called a blastocyst) into the wall of your uterus (the endometrium) which your body has prepared to receive the fertilized egg.

The implantation process (literally burrowing) will often cause a small amount of bleeding that you will probably find as spotting on your underpants. Sometimes there will be various degrees of cramping that you will experience because of the blastocyst’s burrowing process.

Two to Three Weeks after Sex

Late Period

Starting about 2 weeks after sex, if you have conceived, you will begin to notice that your period seems to be late.

I’d like to share a word of warning here. If you are extremely stressed due to your desire to become pregnant, your mind will literally play tricks on your body and you will begin to exhibit pregnancy symptoms. This is called a “false pregnancy” or pseudocyesis. It is also sometimes called a “hysterical pregnancy.”

This condition is quite rare and occurs 1 to 6 times per 22,000 births.

According to a New York Times article that I found called “All the Signs of Pregnancy except One: a Baby”, the only ways you can tell that a false pregnancy is not real are

  • You don’t hear heart tones from the fetus,
  • You don’t see the fetus on ultrasound, and
  • You don’t get a delivery.

Sometimes, even doctors may be fooled by pseudocyesis. I have found some reports on the internet that indicated that, very occasionally, the symptoms of a false pregnancy will even include hormonal changes and will produce a positive pregnancy test because of them.

Excessively Tired

The mother-to-be may begin become quite tired. This is because her body is changing to accommodate her new condition. Hormone levels are adjusting, cells are dividing at a rapid rate and the uterus is changing dramatically… all of which require energy… a lot of it.

Often, the fatique is caused by increased levels of a hormone called progesterone.

Abdominal Bloating and Urge to Urinate

Also, the woman may begin to feel bloated and the urge to urinate may become more frequent. This generally begins 3 to 4 weeks after sex.

Constipation

Constipation may begin soon after you conceive. This is caused by changes in the level of progesterone, which increase rapidly after implantation of the blastocyst.

Breast Changes

Her breasts will begin to change.

Nipple sensitivity will increase and the nipples may begin to swell. The “disc-like” or circular region around the nipples (the areolas) may begin to darken, swell and grow larger.

The breasts themselves may begin to swell and ache or tingle or become sensitive to touch.
Blood vessels not even noticed prior to pregnancy may become prominent as her mammary glands prepare to produce nourishment for the baby after it is born.

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness may begin to occur as early as three weeks after sex. Actually, morning sickness can occur any time of the day or night. While the exact cause of morning sickness is not known, it is thought by some authorities to be caused by hormonal changes related to pregnancy.

Overly Sensitive to Smells

In addition, about the same time as the morning sickness begins to occur, a pregnant woman may become increasingly sensitive to smells. Some of these smells will bring on varying degrees of nausea and sometimes vomiting.

After the First Month after Sex

There are also a number of other symptoms or signs that you are pregnant that may happen. Some of those are:

  • Back Pain
  • Headaches
  • Mood Swings
  • Dizziness & Fainting

Please, pay attention to the following warning!

Important Warning

Any symptoms that you experience should discussed with your physician. Some of the symptoms of pregnancy that I have listed may also be caused by other conditions that could require treatment. Also, if you notice unusual symptoms in your body, don’t just assume they are symptoms of your pregnancy. They may be warnings to you from your body that something serious is wrong.

Only your physician is qualified to make a determination as to the significance of any symptoms that you might have.

Pregnancy Tests

There only two types of pregnancy tests:

  • A urine test.
  • A blood test.

All home pregnancy kits are urine tests. The test that a doctor will order are usually blood tests. The blood tests are much more accurate and can even give a hint to the doctor if something is wrong.

Urine tests are not exact but simply indicate that you may be pregnant.

Most of the pregnancy tests, blood or urine, use the level of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin or hCG as it is usually written. hCG is produced by the placenta that begins to form after implantation of the blastocyst.

The placenta is a tube-like organ that attaches the baby to the mother. It supplies nutrients (food) and oxygen to the baby from the mother’s body. Like progesterone that I mentioned earlier, hCG is important in the early stages of pregnancy because it helps things happen when and like they are supposed to.

Home pregnancy tests actually have mixed results for different woman. While they all work because of the presence of hCG levels in your urine, there are many variables that may affect their accuracy.

I have reviewed both First Response™ and Clearblue® for customer recommendations, effectiveness claims and pricing. I believe strongly that online ordering is the best because the product is delivered right to your door and online products are frequently less expensive than the same product bought in a local store… Especially when you consider the cost of gasoline, wear and tear on your vehicle and the time spent traveling to select and buy the product.

Both of these products are available from Amazon.

Here’s what I found:

Pregnancy Test Comparison Chart

Item Clearblue® First Response™
Customer Reviews on Amazon 312 476
Number of (Percent) 5- & 4-Star

229 (73%) 400 (84%)
Number of Effective before Next Period

5 Days 6 Days
Count of Tests in Each Order Unit

3 Tests 3 Tests
Subscription Price (Each Test Price)

$14.23 ($4.74) $12.33 ($4.11)
NON-Subscription Price with Prime (Each Test Price)

$14.98 ($4.99) $12.98 ($4.33)
Regular Price w/o Prime (Each Test Price)

$19.15 ($6.38) $19.57 ($6.52)
Buy Now!

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