Signs of Pregnancy
Missed your period?
One of the first signs that you are pregnant is missing a period. While some women are really familiar with their cycles, others are not. Some women have really regular cycles and others don’t.
There are a few circumstances that you may not notice this at first.
- don’t have a regular cycle
- haven’t had your first period yet
- have had a baby and not had another period yet
- are breastfeeding
- have stopped hormonal contraception and haven’t had a period yet
- miss periods due to low body fat
- manipulate periods through the use of the oral contraceptive pill, or
- don’t keep much of an eye on when your period is due
Some women have an implantation bleed – when the fertilised egg burrows into the lining of the uterus – a little before their period is due. This can confuse the issue a bit.
Early pregnancy signs
Some women say they noticed signs of being pregnant before their period was due. This is sometimes the case with women who are really in tune with their body.
Some signs you may notice include:
- Tender breasts
- Morning sickness
- Going off some foods
- Smell sensitivity
- Feeling emotional
At the first signs of pregnancy, many women head straight for the home pregnancy test. This tests the level of the pregnancy hormone hCG in your urine – hence the pee on a stick scenario. These are reasonably cheap and reliable, getting it right about 97% of the time from about the five-week mark. Some home tests can be done a little earlier but may not be as accurate, particularly if you have an irregular cycle. Your sexual health clinic, midwife or GP can also arrange for this initial test. From this point it is up to you where you want to go next, depending on which model of care you choose or have access to.
Women who have a midwife as their primary caregiver in pregnancy can organise a midwife visit at a mutually agreeable time. At this visit, your midwife can discuss with you any further tests including blood tests and scans (2). These will not only confirm your pregnancy but can provide an estimated due date when performed at the right time.
Where to from here?
Women who want or need to use their family doctor (GP) for their pregnancy care can organise a similar visit with their doctor’s clinic. This is also the case if you choose obstetric care or have risk factors which make obstetric care the most suitable model for you. Whichever you choose, please know that continuity of care is the best option for all women. While the midwifery continuity model is the gold standard for women without complications (3), obstetricians are the experts in abnormal. If you have medical, pregnancy or birthing complications, obstetric care is highly recommended. While this does not prevent you from having care from a known midwife, legally your midwife must provide your care in consultation with, and under the advice of, your specialist.
If your pregnancy is unplanned and you wish to discuss your options please make an appointment to see your doctor who will be able to provide you with the information and support you require to make a decision.
Dr Janelle McAlpine (PhD), Clinical Midwife
Photo by michaelheim, used under license from Shutterstock.com