Whether you are actively trying to get pregnant or not, as a sexually active woman, the question of potential pregnancy can be one that tends to linger. For some people, a spot of heartburn the day after having sex could spark the thought, "Am I pregnant?!" and for others, it might take ignoring multiple signs of pregnancy before ever taking a test.
We spoke with Lakesha Richardson MD, OB/GYN, who clued us into some of the earliest signs, symptoms, and tips when it comes to early pregnancy, which all women should be aware of.
What Are the Early Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy?
Although one of the earliest and most obvious signs of pregnancy is a missed period, some women may not get a period at all due to their birth control pill or another factor, which can be confusing when trying to figure out if you're pregnant. "Most women realize that they may be pregnant when their cycle doesn't start on time," Dr. Richardson told POPSUGAR. "In addition, women may have morning sickness, an aversion to certain smells, and breast tenderness early in pregnancy. Early signs of pregnancy that women may not be aware of include constipation, heartburn, and [fainting]."
Other signs and symptoms can include bloating, peeing more often than usual, and a metallic taste in your mouth. And of course, one of the most obvious, (but also not so obvious, because being tired is just a part of adulthood), fatigue.
"While every woman is different and experiences early pregnancy differently, every woman will experience the fatigue of early pregnancy. During the first trimester of pregnancy, [the development of the fetus occurs], which usually requires a large amount of energy and leaves most women feeling exhausted by midday or early afternoon. Most women usually feel the need to nap daily during the first trimester."
When Is the Earliest You Can Find Out You're Pregnant?
With an average menstrual cycle of 28 days, it doesn't seem like that long of time in between cycles to wait to see if you conceived, but if you've ever felt like you might be pregnant but weren't sure, you know that each day waiting for your period to come or not can feel like an eternity. Thanks to pregnancy test technology, however, women are able to find out nearly a week before their missed period if they're pregnant. "With First Response, you can tell as soon as six days before your first missed period that you are pregnant. [It] is over 99 percent accurate," Dr. Richardson notes of the popular pregnancy test brand.
Should You See a Doctor Following a Positive Pregnancy Test?
Physically, early pregnancy may not look like much (even if it feels like you're getting hit with a ton of bricks), but you should see your doctor well before your baby bump makes its debut. According to Dr. Richardson, "You should see a doctor as soon as possible after confirming an early pregnancy" because the first trimester is so important.
"The first trimester is a crucial time in pregnancy because of [the development of the fetus]," she said, before listing additional reasons why some women may need some extra assistance from their doctor within the first trimester. "Women who are high risk may need to stop certain medications that are teratogenic, [which can disturb the development of the fetus]. Women who have an incompetent cervix may need to be scheduled for a cerclage, [a treatment for cervical weakness], in early pregnancy. Women who have a history of preterm labor may need to be started on injections to prevent preterm delivery."
In general, contacting or visiting your doctor is always a good idea if you're concerned or have questions, especially during the early stages of your pregnancy.