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)
Even 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 effect.
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 dream.