The first sign of pregnancy is most often a missed period. However, some women experience other symptoms of pregnancy before they even miss a period.
Because other conditions can have symptoms similar to those of pregnancy, you should talk to a doctor if you have missed a period. At Dignity Health, our team of medical professionals are experts in obstetrical and gynecological care and can help you understand pregnancy symptoms in the Bay Area. Use our online tool to Find a Doctor that’s right for you.
Signs & Symptoms of Pregnancy
The most common signs and symptoms of pregnancy include:
- Missed period. Skipping your menstrual period can be a symptom of pregnancy.
- Swollen, tender breasts. In early pregnancy, your breasts may feel fuller or larger than usual and become extremely sensitive.
- Nausea (with or without vomiting). Morning sickness is a common symptom of pregnancy. About 25 percent of women report nausea as their first pregnancy symptom.
- Headaches. In early pregnancy, hormone spikes can trigger headaches in some women.
- Frequent urination. Increasing hormone levels may cause you to urinate more often.
- Fatigue. When you’re pregnant, your body produces higher levels of progesterone, a hormone that can make you feel sleepy.
- Mood swings. Hormone levels change rapidly during early pregnancy and can cause mood swings.
- Food aversions or cravings. You might crave particular foods or notice you’re more sensitive to certain smells and tastes.
If you have any of these symptoms, or any other reason to suspect that you are pregnant, take a pregnancy test.
Diagnosing Pregnancy at Dignity Health
Pregnancy tests measure levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone that increases rapidly in the early days and weeks of pregnancy. HCG levels can be determined through urine or blood-based tests.
Home pregnancy tests are urine-based tests. For the most accurate results, read and follow the directions carefully. These tests have a dipstick which is dipped into a container of collected urine or held in the urine stream. Remember to wait the correct amount of time before reading the test.
Although some at-home pregnancy tests can detect pregnancy even before you miss a period, you will get the most reliable results if you test with your first morning urine about a week after missing a period.
Another option is to schedule a pregnancy test with your doctor. They may use a urine-based pregnancy test or draw a sample of your blood from a vein in your arm for a blood-based pregnancy test.
If your test is negative and your symptoms persist, your doctor may want to order additional tests to rule out a false-negative pregnancy test and determine if another condition may be causing your symptoms. If your test indicates you're pregnant, you can rely on the Dignity Health childbirth team to provide supportive, prenatal care.
Dignity Health offers gynecological care for women experiencing pregnancy symptoms in the Bay Area, including Santa Cruz and Redwood City.