Are You Pregnant?
By Dana Sullivan
Even before a do-it-yourself urine test can confirm your pregnancy, you
may suspect that you're expecting. Within a few days of a missed
period, you should be able to get an accurate "yes" or "no" with a
urine test. But in the meantime, here's a look at some typical early
signs of pregnancy, plus an explanation of what's going on:
Blame it on pregnancy hormones.
Shortly after conception, the embryo starts to secrete the human
chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) hormone. HCG, in turn, contributes to
increased blood supply in the pelvis, making the bladder want to get
rid of the tiniest amounts of urine. You may feel an almost urgent need
to empty your bladder only to discover that just a few drops come out.
This feeling is completely normal and should ease after the first
trimester, only to return later in pregnancy as the baby gets bigger
and starts to put pressure on your bladder.
Nausea and vomiting (a.k.a. morning sickness)
though it's usually called "morning" sickness, the nausea and sometimes
vomiting that often accompany pregnancy can happen any time of day --
or night. There are a variety of theories as to what causes morning
sickness, but the two most prevailing are that low blood sugar and
pregnancy hormones that irritate the stomach lining are culprits.
Morning sickness is usually the worst when you haven't eaten in many
hours, i.e., after a long night's sleep when blood sugar is low. One
way to ease the queasiness is to eat small amounts of food, and eat
often. Starchy foods like crackers, rice, and cereal, seem to be the
most helpful, while greasy foods, like French fries, often make nausea
worse. Sipping peppermint tea also seems to have a stomach-soothing
From the earliest days of pregnancy,
your body begins to prepare for breastfeeding. A surge in the hormones
that will help milk ducts develop and increase blood supply to the
breasts makes the breasts feel firm and more tender to the touch. You
may also notice a tingling sensation around your nipples. Your breasts
will increase in size as pregnancy progresses -- often swelling by a
cup size during the first trimester.
Shortly after conception, levels of the
hormone progesterone rise. Since progesterone has a sedating effect,
it's no wonder you feel like you simply have to sleep. Early in
pregnancy your metabolism also speeds up so your body can help the
growing embryo, which only makes you feel even more tired. If you're
feeling guilty about taking naps, don't. Get all the sleep you can get
now, because once you bring that baby home, sleep will simply be a