Pregnancy Symptoms: Early Signs You Are Pregnant

Could I be pregnant? Until you know for sure, wondering if you are pregnant or not can cause quite a bit of anxiousness — especially when a pregnancy is unexpected.

The confusing part is that premenstrual signs mimic early pregnancy, so it can really leave you wondering what to attribute your symptoms to.

The only way to have a definitive answer to the “Am I pregnant?” question is by a positive pregnancy test followed up with an ultrasound to confirm a viable pregnancy. Since you may experience early pregnancy symptoms before you have that confirmation, we will discuss them here, so you know what to look for.

What Happens in Your Body When You Become Pregnant?

Specific things need to happen in your body for a pregnancy to occur. Steps to pregnancy include:  

  • Ovulation: Ovulation is the point in your menstrual cycle when a mature egg is released from your ovary and into the fallopian tube.
  • Presence of sperm: Sperm must be present to become pregnant. After unprotected sex, sperm, which is chemically designed to locate the egg, travels up to the fallopian tube.  
  • Conception: Conception is when a single sperm penetrates the egg (fertilization). It is the moment that pregnancy begins. The fertilized egg continues to travel through the fallopian tube for five to six days to the uterus.
  • Implantation: Implantation is the process of the fertilized egg burrowing into the uterine lining and becoming an embryo. The instant implantation occurs, your body is triggered to produce human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a pregnancy hormone.

Pregnancy Symptoms

As soon as implantation occurs, you may begin to experience early pregnancy symptoms because your body starts producing the hCG pregnancy hormone right away.

Listed below are common pregnancy symptoms. You may experience all of them, some of them, or none of them. Every pregnancy is different, so keep in mind that what is normal for you may not be typical for another woman. And try not to become overwhelmed as you read the list. Most women tolerate early pregnancy symptoms quite well, and they usually only last through the first trimester of pregnancy.

Classic signs and symptoms of pregnancy may include:

  • Missed period

The most common symptom of pregnancy is missing your period. This is often the first clue that you might be pregnant.

  • Spotting

Light bleeding in early pregnancy may be alarming to you, but this is more common than you might expect. Implantation bleeding is spotting that happens in approximately 25-30% of pregnant women when the fertilized egg implants into the uterine lining.

Sometimes, women mistakenly count implantation bleeding as a period, delaying them from realizing they are pregnant. If your period is different than usual in duration, different in color, and has a lighter flow than a regular period, consider taking a pregnancy test. This could be implantation bleeding.

  • Light cramping

You may feel like your period is about to start because you experience cramping. It can accompany implantation or be caused by your uterus growing. However, seek medical care immediately if you also have severe pain on one side to rule out an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the uterus, most often in the fallopian tubes) which would require immediate medical care.

  • Vaginal discharge

Your vaginal walls thicken when you become pregnant, causing a white, thin discharge. It is normal unless it has an odor or changes color. In that case, contact your healthcare provider.

  • Breast changes

Breast tenderness is another pregnancy symptom that might have you feeling like your period is about to start. You may also notice that your breasts feel swollen or tingly in early pregnancy. The areola may also become darker and larger.

  • Nausea

The term morning sickness is very familiar. But the reality is that nausea and/or vomiting can strike any time during the day or night when you are pregnant. Many women find it helpful to stay hydrated, keep crackers on hand, and eat small frequent meals, so their stomachs do not get empty, causing nausea to increase.

  • Food aversion

In addition to nausea, you may notice that you can’t tolerate certain odors or foods.

  • Fatigue

Your body is working hard to support another person, and it is very normal to feel fatigued in early pregnancy. Rest assured that it tends to subside when the second trimester starts. Practice good self-care by eating nourishing foods rich in iron and protein and rest when your body needs it.

  • Constipation and bloating 

Pregnancy hormones can slow your digestion system and make it difficult to have a bowel movement causing you to feel bloated. Maintain a healthy diet that includes fiber, fruits, vegetables, and drinking plenty of water every day.

  • Urinating More Frequently

In early pregnancy, your body needs to process more fluid than usual, causing the need to urinate more often. As your pregnancy grows, it also presses against your bladder and results in feeling like you need to make more trips to the bathroom than usual.

  • Heartburn

Heartburn starts earlier in pregnancy than women anticipate. It’s caused by progesterone, which not only slows your digestive system down but also causes your esophagus muscles to relax, leading to a burning feeling in your chest.

  • Mood changes

Like premenstrual hormones, pregnancy hormones can cause you to feel different emotionally. Some women feel more sentimental and loving, and some experience mood swings, including weepiness. Be gracious with yourself, and remember that pregnancy brings emotional adjustments in addition to physical changes.

No-Cost Pregnancy Testing Is Available at Willow Womens Center

If you think you might be unexpectedly pregnant, you will need a listening ear and compassionate care more than ever before. You are looking for accurate answers to your questions.

Willow Womens Center is passionate about empowering you with unbiased facts from licensed healthcare professionals so you can make a confident decision about your unexpected pregnancy.

Our services are always at no cost to you. We offer medical-grade pregnancy testing, limited ultrasound if your pregnancy test is positive, and testing for sexually transmitted infection (STI)  in addition to other services.

Contact Willow Womens Center today to schedule your confidential appointment and receive the support you deserve.


Early Signs That You Are Pregnant

If you’ve been feeling a little “off” lately, more emotional, not really yourself, you might be wondering if you are coming down with the flu, or maybe that nasty cold that has been making the rounds. Have you considered, though, it might be something else? Could you be pregnant? Here are some signs to look for:

If you have had sex since your last period, you could be pregnant. Pregnancies happen every day, despite using contraception. Before you panic, grab a bottle of water, take a seat, relax and get ready to think about these symptoms of pregnancy.

There are quite a few early signs of pregnancy, but many of them can be attributed to other conditions as well. It’s when you recognize several together that it points more strongly toward pregnancy. Keep in mind, you could be pregnant without experiencing or recognizing any of these symptoms.

Most Common Signs of Pregnancy

Fatigue: This can start as early as one week after conception and is thought to be due to the hormone progesterone together with lowered blood sugar, lower blood pressure and increased blood production.

Food, cravings or aversions: Another sign you can thank the hormones for. These aversions and cravings can last the entire pregnancy, can change, or might end by the 13th or 14th week. Beware, this is not limited to eating food, but certain smells can also trigger nausea and vomiting.

Increased urination: Usually begins around the sixth week after conception.

Missed period: The most common symptom of pregnancy. There can be spotting and cramping when the embryo implants into the uterine wall. This could happen between 6-12 days after the egg is fertilized.

Nausea and vomiting: Also called morning sickness, although it doesn’t have to happen in the morning. It can be afternoon, evening or constant.

Tender and/or swollen breasts: As with other signs, this is due mainly to hormones and will ease in a few weeks.

Less Common Signs of Pregnancy

Backaches: Like so many other signs, this is linked to hormones and stress.

Bloating: This also is due to hormones and is similar to the feeling at the beginning of your menstrual period.

Headaches: This might be caused by the increased volume of blood your body is busy producing.

Mood swings: This is common thanks to hormones, especially during the first three months.

Dizziness: This could happen as a result of dilating blood vessels, low blood pressure, and/or low blood sugar.

Constipation: This, too, is due to increased levels of progesterone, although not everyone will experience this.

Darkening of the areolas: The area around the nipple may get larger and darker in color.

Schedule a Pregnancy Test

If you suspect you could be pregnant, make an appointment to come to Willow Womens Center for a no-cost pregnancy test. If it is positive, we will offer you an ultrasound to determine viability of the pregnancy and how far along the pregnancy is. A positive pregnancy test alone is not conclusive.

At Willow Womens Center, we care about you holistically: physically, emotionally, spiritually and want to support you in all of those areas. We are committed to helping you consider all your options, giving you unbiased information and answering your questions.

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Signs You Might Be Pregnant

A lot of women think that the first sign you could be pregnant is a missed period. In reality, there are a lot of early signs pointing to a possible pregnancy. Of course, things vary from one woman to the next, so you may not experience all of them, or some may not appear as early for you as they do for someone else.

At Willow Womens Center, we know that facing an unexpected pregnancy can be hard. It certainly starts you on an emotional roller coaster that isn’t nearly as fun as those at Six Flags. If you think you might be pregnant, take a look at the early signs of pregnancy below and see if any of them match up to things you are experiencing.

Early Signs of Pregnancy

Fatigue: You may feel exhausted and want to sleep all the time. This is because your body is working very hard and all your energy is being used on your pregnancy.

Nausea/vomiting: A lot, but not all, women experience this. For some, it’s first thing in the morning, while others have it happen at night. Eating many small meals or snacking regularly on crackers may help you through this.

Tender/swollen breasts: Remember the way your breasts feel when you get your period? Multiply that by 10. They may enlarge, the nipples can become darker, and a vein may become visible.

Spotting: Light bleeding or spotting can mean the embryo has implanted into the uterine wall. This usually happens about a week before you would expect your period but can fool some women into thinking they’ve had a period.

Aversion to certain foods: You may experience times when foods you normally like make you feel sick. Even the thought of some can do that, and the smell can do it as well. Beware, sometimes your sense of smell is enhanced and that might lead to nausea as well.

Cramping: Cramping, similar to menstrual cramps, can occur, but is less common than other symptoms.

Mood swings: Hormones get the blame for this one and can affect the neurotransmitters in the brain. This can take the crabbiness level you usually experience during your period and make that seem like Happy Days. If you have trouble dealing with this, talk to your doctor and see what help they can offer.

Peeing: Another one to blame on the hormones, increased blood flow through your kidneys, and a growing uterus pressing on your bladder. This can begin as soon as one week after implantation.

Dizziness or fainting: This can happen due to the uterus compressing major arteries in your legs while standing and cause your blood pressure to drop. Don’t skip meals or going too long without food as it can cause blood sugar to drop and result in feeling dizzy.

Constipation: Hormones can slow down bowel functions to allow for better absorption of vitamins and nutrients.

Heartburn: As the uterus grows, the hormone HCG slows down digestion, so your stomach doesn’t empty as fast, increasing stomach acid and causing that uncomfortable feeling of heartburn.

Come See Us for Testing

If the early signs you might be pregnant sound familiar, you are probably thinking its time to take a pregnancy test. We are here to help you at Willow Womens Center with no cost pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and STI testing.

One of our licensed medical staff members will administer the medical-grade pregnancy test and discuss your results with you immediately afterward. If the result was positive, we will provide you with a no-cost ultrasound.

An ultrasound can tell you how far along you are, determine the location of the pregnancy (If your pregnancy develops in your fallopian tubes, this is called an ectopic pregnancy and can be life-threatening), and will tell you the gestational age, an important piece of information if you are considering an abortion.

An ultrasound may also help determine the risk that you might miscarry: 20% of all pregnancies do not carry to term and 80% of all miscarriages happen in the first trimester (first 13 weeks). If it is determined that you are at risk for a miscarriage or have an ectopic pregnancy, you may not need to have an abortion. Instead, you would need to seek prompt medical attention.

Willow Womens Center also provides testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Since abortion can be an invasive procedure, untreated STI’s can be pushed into the uterus where they can drastically affect your long-term reproductive health and future fertility. An untreated STI can leave you with Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, causing chronic abdominal pain, fever, abnormal bleeding, nausea and infertility.

Once all the testing has been completed, we will give you clear, unbiased information, answer all your questions openly and honestly, and give you the support you need to make a decision about your future. We know that having all the information you need will give you the confidence and peace about the choice you make, whatever it is.

 

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Could You Be Further Along in Pregnancy Than You Think?
can you be further along in pregnancy than you think

Trying to determine when you are due and whether that due date is correct, can be challenging, especially if you feel “bigger” than you did with previous pregnancies or you are measuring ahead during your appointments. This blog post explores signs that your due date might be off, factors that can influence an inaccurate due date, and how to estimate your due date based on your menstrual cycle.

Signs Your Due Date Is Off

If you don’t know the first date of your last menstrual period, you don’t know your average cycle length, or you have mistaken bleeding during pregnancy for menstruation, your assumed due date can be inaccurate. Some of the most common signs that your due date might be off are:

  • your ultrasound-predicted due date is more than a week from your menstrual-cycle due date
  • your fundal height is off, especially if it is off by more than 3 cm
  • your due date was determined by fetal Doppler or an ultrasound in the second or third trimester; these are less accurate ways to estimate the due date.

It is important to rely on the expertise of your OBGYN or other physician to help you understand how your due date was calculated, what outliers like a fundal height that is measuring ahead might mean for you (fundal height is the distance from the pubic bone to the top of the uterus measured in centimeters), and what you can expect when it comes to gestational length. Ultrasound-determined due dates are most accurate during the first trimester, and measuring ‘ahead’ doesn’t result in a changed due date in most cases.

In short, it is common to deliver a few weeks before to one week after your due date, and true due date changes are less common and should be made by a provider based on all of the information they have available to them.

Influencing Factors

A number of studies have evaluated average gestation length as it relates to different factors, like age, race, pregnancy history, and more. Here’s what those studies have revealed:

  • length of gestation increases with maternal age, so mothers who are under 25 are likely to have shorter pregnancies than women who are over 25, for example
  • length of gestation is longer for women with higher birth weights themselves, i.e. women who weighed more at birth will carry a pregnancy longer on average than women who weighed less at birth
  • women with longer implantation periods also have longer pregnancies
  • smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or both increase the risk of preterm birth and shorten gestation overall
  • black women have shorter pregnancies than white women by 5 days on average
  • pregnancies with male fetuses are longer on average than pregnancies with female fetuses
  • gestation decreases as the number of fetuses increases; i.e. singleton pregnancies are longer on average than twin pregnancies and length continues to decrease as the number of fetuses increases

While all of these factors can influence how long you can expect to be pregnant, your due date will remain the same. That means that even if you and your provider suspect that you will deliver early or late, your due date won’t be adjusted to account for that – it will remain at 40 weeks past the first day of your last menstrual period.

How to Estimate An Accurate Due Date

First, it is important to note that your due date is simply an estimate; it can help you plan and prepare and help you and your doctors make decisions in the case of early delivery or complications, but it cannot predict exactly when you will go into labor. Your due date is typically set for 40 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period, and most women deliver sometime after 37 weeks and before 41 weeks.

Tracking your periods can help you estimate an accurate due date. To estimate your own due date:

  1. Identify the first date of your last normal menstrual period. Some women mistake bleeding during pregnancy for their menstrual period and don’t realize they are pregnant, so it is important to reflect on whether the period was as heavy, as long, and as uncomfortable as it has typically been in the past. If you can’t remember or don’t keep track of your menstrual cycle, sometimes it can be helpful to think about where you were at or what you were doing when it started and then cross-reference your calendar.
  2. Add 40 weeks or 280 days. There are a variety of free pregnancy due date calculators online, like this one from the American Pregnancy Association, that will do the math for you so you don’t have to count it out yourself.

Then, you can calculate how many weeks or months pregnant you are at any given time, using these formulas:

  • Number of weeks pregnant: take the number of days that have passed since the first day of your last menstrual period divided by 7
  • Number of months pregnant: take the number of days that have passed since the first day of your last menstrual period divided by 30

Keep in mind that you will be two weeks further along in your pregnancy than you might think; for example, if you had sex and conceived two weeks ago, and you have a 28 day cycle, then you are actually four weeks pregnant.

Getting Help for an Unexpected Pregnancy

If you think you might be pregnant and are weighing your options, scheduling an early pregnancy test and ultrasound is one reliable way to estimate your due date when you don’t know the first day of your last menstrual period. Early knowledge of pregnancy is key to ensuring a healthy lifestyle, adequate nutrition, and time to explore options, especially in the case of an unexpected or surprise pregnancy. Willow Womens Center offers pregnancy testing, pregnancy options counseling, and ultrasound for women who test positive in our office. Ultrasounds are most productive if you are approximately 6 weeks from your last menstrual period. If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of pregnancy, schedule your confidential visit at  Willow Womens Center today.


How to Take Care of Yourself After an Abortion

Having an abortion may have turned out to be more challenging than you expected it to be, and self-care is critically important afterward.

If you are recovering from a medical or surgical abortion, you are not alone. Research reveals that in the United States, 24% of women aged 15 to 44 years will have an abortion by age 45.

What can you do to improve your healing process after an abortion? Read on to learn more about how to care for yourself physically and emotionally while you are recovering from an abortion.

How to Take Care of Yourself After an Abortion 

Whether you had a medical or surgical abortion, self-care is essential so you can recover and thrive. Self-care during this time includes resting, drinking plenty of fluids, eating healthy foods, and incorporating anything healthy and comforting to you. 

If you were prescribed antibiotics, take all the pills until they are gone to prevent infection. And take antinausea and pain medication as directed. 

Remember that you can get pregnant very quickly after an abortion, so take precautions to prevent another unexpected pregnancy. 

You are valuable and deserve to care for yourself physically and emotionally.

1. How to Care for Yourself Physically After Abortion 

After an abortion, you need to know which physical side effects are expected and which symptoms indicate a complication requiring immediate medical attention. First, we will discuss common side effects after abortion and how to take care of yourself if you experience them. 

  • Bleeding

Some women have minimal bleeding after a surgical abortion because surgical instruments are used on the uterine lining. But on average, post-abortion bleeding lasts 14 days and can last as long as six weeks. Passing small blood clots is normal, and you may notice that bleeding increases if you are more active.

Try to physically get as much rest as you can for the first day or two after an abortion. Also, avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for about one week.

Use pads for the bleeding since most healthcare professionals recommend not putting anything into your vagina for two weeks, including tampons. This is to prevent infection while waiting for your cervix to close after having an abortion.

  • Cramping

Your uterus needs to return to its pre-pregnancy size, so uncomfortable cramping is normal after an abortion.

For cramping relief, you can take Ibuprofen or Tylenol as directed. Do not take aspirin because it can increase bleeding. A heating pad on your abdomen can also relieve cramping pain. 

Uterine massage is another effective way to alleviate cramping. To do uterine massage, press the palm of your hand into your abdomen and rub in a circular motion.

Post-abortion cramping can come and go for about 7 to 10 days. As with post-abortion bleeding, cramps may increase with activity so listen to your body and pace yourself.

  • Nausea/Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting for the first 24 hours after abortion is common and may also be accompanied by diarrhea.  

To help with these symptoms, you can eat small, bland, starchy meals such as dry toast or crackers. It may also help to have beverages on hand with extra electrolytes.

The following symptoms are NOT normal after an abortion. If you experience them, seek out medical care immediately.

  • Heavy bleeding: soaking two or more maxi pads an hour for two hours or passing clots larger than a golf ball for two hours or more
  • Severe abdominal or back pain: pain not relieved with pain medication
  • Fever over 100.4°: may indicate a serious infection that has spread to your bloodstream or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Odorous vaginal discharge: a sign of infection
  • Nausea and vomiting for more than 24 hours after the abortion:
  • You still have pregnancy symptoms two weeks after the abortion: could indicate a failed abortion if you are still experiencing signs of pregnancy two weeks after your abortion

2. How to Care for Yourself Emotionally After Abortion

There is not a correct way to feel after an abortion. Feelings of relief, sadness, or a combination of many conflicting emotions are normal. You have not only just made one of the most difficult decisions you have ever faced, but your body is experiencing physical symptoms as your hormone levels shift suddenly, which can cause you to feel extra emotional.

Research indicates that abortion is associated with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders compared to women without a history of abortion. If you notice that you are having difficulty coping after an abortion, help is available for you. If a supportive family member or friend is not available, there are other resources to get the help you need.

Push yourself to reach out for help – even if you may not feel like seeking support at the moment. The sooner you can address post-abortion emotional difficulties, the quicker you can get on your path to recovery.

You can reach confidential hotlines for mental health support at SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or via text message: 435748 (HELP4U). It is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year information service in English and Spanish.

If you have thoughts of harming yourself, take it seriously and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. What you are feeling is temporary, and with compassionate support and over time things will improve!

Need Support After Abortion?

If you think you might be unexpectedly pregnant or need support after abortion, Willow Womens Center is here for you. From the moment you walk into our center, you will recognize an atmosphere of care that will never include judgment for any decision you make – or have already made. Instead, our role is to compassionately come alongside you and provide you with the answers you need so you can take informed next steps for yourself.

You will never be charged for any services we offer at Willow Womens Center. Pregnancy testing, education, ultrasounds, and STI testing are all at no cost to you and designed to empower you.

Get the caring support you deserve and make your confidential appointment today.