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    May 22, 2006, 09:58 PM
    AM I PREGNANT? Please read before asking..
    The Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
    This is a question that every woman will probably ask herself at least once in her lifetime. Whether you are trying to get pregnant, this is a pleasant surprise or something unwelcome, the signs and symptoms of pregnancy are all the same.
    There are many signs and symptoms of pregnancy. Here are the basics:

    Missed Period
    This is probably one of the more reliable signs of pregnancy. Although some women will experience implantation bleeding about the time of their period, it is usually lighter and/or shorter than their normal period. This is why you are asked for the first day of your last normal period. There are even a few women who will have period throughout their pregnancy, although this is rare, it does happen.

    If you've been planning for pregnancy, the day that you expect your period is probably well marked in your mind.

    It is the official day that you can take a home pregnancy test.
    These tests measure the levels of hCG (hormone secreted during pregnancy) in your urine. The amount of urine each test can detect varies widely. The amount of hormone each woman secret may also vary, but not as widely. The better tests on the market will measure 25-50 mIUs of hCG, which is usually the amount found in urine between the 4th and 5th weeks of pregnancy. The levels of hCG in your urine and blood will be different.

    First morning urine will always contain the highest concentration of hCG. However, most tests do not require that you use first morning urine. You can help better your chances of having enough hCG in your urine by waiting four hours after you last urinated to take the test. This will allow hCG to build up in your urine.

    These tests rarely give false results. A negative answer that is later revealed to be a pregnancy is usually the result of the test being performed too early. A positive that later turns out the woman is not pregnant is usually a very early miscarriage. Talk to your practitioner if you have questions about your pregnancy tests and consider calling the toll-free number provided by the test manufacturer.

    Blood tests are the most accurate and can be performed 7-10 days post-ovulation. They are the most accurate because they can measure smaller amounts of hCG, even before your period is missed, though they should also be considered only after your missed period except for extreme circumstances.

    Morning Sickness affects many pregnant women, but by no means all. It's estimated that only 50% of women will experience morning sickness.

    It is not very well named either. Any variation of sickness is applicable. Some women are sick only in the night, some are sick all day, other women it comes and goes with its own pattern. There is also a difference in whether it's merely a queasy feeling or actual vomiting. Some women will actually have a severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. This can lead to dehydration and other problems

    Breast tenderness is experienced by many women, both during pregnancy and prior to their periods. This usually goes away during the second trimester, or it may be experienced as a heighten sensitivity. This can be a good thing for some women. Or you can do what I did: poke your breasts so often to check for tenderness that you can't decide if you caused the tenderness or not.

    Headaches are more common in pregnancy due to the changes in hormones. This may be a pregnancy symptom, but it is not necessarily a pregnancy sign. There are many things that could cause this, including stress.

    Some women do begin to bloat nearly immediately.
    Again, this is a symptom of pregnancy, but not necessarily a sign. There are also women who will have bloating prior to a period.

    Vaginal discharge, without itching or burning, may be a sign of pregnancy. The cervix is building your mucous plug to block the opening of the cervix to help protect your baby from infections, etc. You might notice a slight increase in vaginal secretions. Again, it's shouldn't smell, burn or itch. These would be signs of infection that would require proper medical treatment.

    Some women will sail through pregnancy with never a problem, while others seem to have it all. There are many things you can do to ease these symptoms of early pregnancy (and the later ones too!). Most of these will disappear by the early portion of your second trimester. The only time you should be concerned about disappearing symptoms is when they suddenly stop before the 10th week of pregnancy. This may be nothing, or it could indicate a problem with the pregnancy.

    Everyone with a positive pregnancy test should consult a midwife or doctor for advice. If your pregnancy is unplanned your care provider can help you with the decision making process. There are many options available today

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