One of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences in a woman’s life is when she knows she is pregnant. Whether it is the first time or her third, she is all excited about her little one. A woman experiences a lot of changes from the time her pregnancy test is positive till she gives birth. Of course, with the pregnancy glow, there are also a couple of hiccups like morning sickness that most expecting moms-to- be would not like to experience. Nonetheless,to put it metaphorically, when finally there is a bun in the oven, ready to be out in nine months, every thing a woman gets to experience during that time is definitely worth the wait.

What happens after conception?

After conception has taken place, the fertilised egg will become embryo and will attach to the walls of the uterus and grow further from there. This can cause the earliest signs of pregnancy – spotting and cramping pains, known as 'Implantation Bleeding'. They resemble menstrual pains, albeit the bleeding is much less. This may continue for couple of days after the egg is fertilised. This is usually harmless and resolves on its own

Changes in the breast

Hormonal changes are drastic after conception takes place. Changes in the breasts are often an early indicator of a pregnancy. A woman’s breasts may become tender, swollen and may experience some pain and heaviness. These symptoms usually subside as the pregnancy advances and the woman gets familiarised with the changes in her hormones.

Missed period

A sure way to know whether a woman could be pregnant is when she has missed her period. Every missed or delayed period may not be a sign of pregnancy until it is properly tested. Other reasons like weight gain, birth pills, stress could all lead to missed/delayed periods. In case, a period is missed or late, it is always better to get a pregnancy test done to ease your fears.

Other signs and symptoms of early pregnancy

A woman’s hormonal levels alter drastically during pregnancy and that could lead to symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Morning sickness
  • Frequent urination due to the uterus pressing on the bladder as the baby grows. Factors like diabetes, urinary infections during pregnancy could also lead to frequent urination.
  • Constipation: high levels of progesterone can lead to constipation during pregnancy
  • Other symptoms include mood swings, cravings or aversions to food in general, dizziness and low blood pressure

A pregnant woman may experience a few or all of the above symptoms. Usually, they are mild,but it is better to visit your Gynaecologist doctor if they turn troublesome.

How to confirm if you are pregnant?

How do you know for sure if you really are pregnant or it is just a false alarm? The best way to know is to take a pregnancy test. Make sure you plan it right as this could be tricky. Home based pregnancy kits test for the presence of a hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG), whose levels in urine are very high that can give a positive pregnancy test. Though many a times, the test may show a false positive, one can always retake it to be sure.

Blood tests can be taken at the doctor's office to confirm a pregnancy, but they are less frequently opted for, as results take more time than a urine test. A quantitative beta-HCG test will simply confirm a pregnancy, whereas a qualitative HCG test will measure the levels of the hormone that can help rule other problems like ectopic pregnancy or chances of a miscarriage early.

How accurate are these tests?

If the tests are taken after a week after missing your period, the tests results will be accurate.Home based pregnancy kits are 99% accurate depending on how well the instructions have been followed, how is your ovulation pattern and how early the test is taken. Blood tests are more accurate with lesser chances of false negatives and false positives.

What do these tests results indicate?

In a home pregnancy test, if the indicator shows two blue line, you are pregnant. No matter how faint or dark the line is, the test for pregnancy is indeed positive and you will need to make an appointment with your Gynaecologist. In very rare cases, the tests may show a false positive due to abnormal proteins or exogenous use of certain injectable medicines .Even if the test is negative, that does not mean you are not pregnant. There still may be chances of a pregnancy if:

  • The test kit has passed its expiration date
  • The instructions were not followed
  • The test was done too early
  • The urine collected was too dilute

Even if your home test came negative, it is always a good idea to collect a concentrated urine sample and test again. A better option is to get a blood test done.

Keeping fit during pregnancy

Once your pregnancy is confirmed, make sure you visit your gynaecologist regularly for an uneventful pregnancy.

  • Make sure you are eating right, following a healthy diet, exercising well and taking all the necessary medications.
  • Regular exercise prepares the woman for childbirth. Opt for low impact workouts like walking, yoga, swimming etc to avoid injury. Doctors recommend taking in 150 minutes of exercise per week.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and footwear, you can be as stylish as you need provided the clothing provides comfort. Invest in garments like a good support bra, maternity dresses,low heeled shoes for walking about.
  • An expectant mother must eat well for the baby to grow healthy. Get the required calorie and nutritional content sorted out from a nutritionist throughout the pregnancy. Avoid skipping any meals.
  • Make sure you are sleeping well. All sexual activities can be continued after the consent of your doctor.

Ensure all medical and pregnancy related tests and follow ups are regularly done to carry a healthy pregnancy and to avoid complication of pregnancy like diabetes,anemia and hypertension. Antenatal care is a very important aspect of pregnancy to ensure that both you and your baby are doing well.