If you have the sneaking suspicion you could be pregnant, here are a few early signs of pregnancy and tools you can use to find out if you are indeed pregnant! The earlier you find out, the sooner you can begin to take extra care of your body, take precautions and better prepare for some symptoms that may be coming soon.
If any of these early signs of pregnancy show up, it's time to take a pregnancy test!
Sustained raise in waking temp. If you are a cycle tracker, you likely check your waking temperature every day. Once your temp elevates (ovulation) if it remains elevated for more than 16 days after you ovulated... you are likely pregnant. This is true about 97% of the time!
Spotting after week 3 of your cycle. If a baby has been conceived, you can actually have bleeding or spotting from implantation (the fertilized egg snuggling into your uterine lining) around the same time you think you should be getting your period. So, if you think you are getting your period, but it's unusually light... or it's just pink when you wipe, you might actually be pregnant.
Feeling under the weather. For some, low blood sugar combined with early pregnancy hormones can make for a rough beginning. This can happen as early as 2 weeks after conception! If low blood sugar + hormones are to blame, even if you don't feel like throwing up, you can still feel a little bit like you have the flu or feel extremely tired. Making sure you eat small snacks often to control your blood sugar and allowing yourself time to take naps can often help during this stage.
Your period is more than 4 days late. I feel like this is the one most people know about, and if you are very regular, a pregnancy test this early might be accurate. But, if you don't have a super regular period, was on birth control or have been breastfeeding, this might not be so obvious. In these cases fatigue and breast changes are usually the only noticeable differences.
Your breasts are sensitive or tender. Not everyone tracks their menstrual cycle, so it's not uncommon for this to be the first sign that people notice. This early pregnancy sign starts to show up around 2-4 weeks after your missed period. So, if you notice your boobs are a bit tender and you can't remember when you had your last period, you might want to consider a pregnancy test.
Over the counter pregnancy tests
These pregnancy tests detect a hormone in your pee called hCG (short for human chorionic gonadotropin). When you become pregnant, some of the cells in the growing fertilized egg (that will soon become the placenta) start producing hCG. HCG rises quickly in early pregnancy and this is what home pregnancy tests are checking for.
Pregnancy tests are best done first thing in the morning, when pregnancy hormones are the most concentrated. Most over the counter pregnancy tests are going to be more accurate a week after your missed period. Some claim you can use them as early as 6 days before your missed period (which can be true in some cases), but there is a big chance that it is just too early to detect your pregnancy and you may get a false negative result.
The best over the counter early pregnancy tests
First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test - This is by far the cheapest, most reliable and most accessible of the home pregnancy tests. The package claims you can test '6 days sooner than your missed period' and you can, but if you want to try this I'd recommend getting the 3-pack. That way if you test negative, it just might be too early and you can check again on the day of your missed period. If the second test is still negative, try the week after your missed period for the best results.
Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test with Smart Countdown - Sometimes you just want a yes or no, without trying to interpret little blue lines. I was just such a person and even used this brand back when I had my babies! The same rules apply though, for best results wait until your period is a few days to a week late, or grab the multi-pack.
I hope some of these tips helped you out! If you do end up getting a positive pregnancy test, it may be time to consider what kind of care you'd like during your pregnancy. Take some time, have some conversations with your partner, check in with your heart and explore your options! If you are interested in having a homebirth and would like to discuss what midwifery care might look like for you, I offer free consultations. Call or text anytime to 515-612-8575 to schedule your consultation!