Published on March 1st, 2021
If you’re working on bringing a new life into the world, everything can seem like a sign of pregnancy.
Ugh, my boobs feel sore after my workout. Am I pregnant?
You could be having a bundle-of-joy-to-be, or simply rocking some push-ups!
Why do I have a craving for tikka masala curry inside grilled cheese? Could I be pregnant?
Pregnant, maybe? But for sure, a gastronomical genius.
Whoa, my period was supposed to be here like… last week. Does that mean I’m pregnant?
It’s probably worth breaking out the pregnancy test, unless your period tends to be irregular.
While it’s not easy to know for sure, being tuned into your body for the various (and sometimes surprising) signs of pregnancy in the first trimester can help you decide to take a pregnancy test.
Pregnancy Tests 101
Knowing how pregnancy tests work helps indicate the right time to take one. Pregnancy tests look for HCG or the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone in your urine. HCG’s main job is to create a nourishing environment for the implanted egg during early pregnancy. But HCG makes its entrance at a very specific point in the development of the fertilized egg.
Here’s how that timeline breaks down within your menstrual cycle and the molecular process of reproduction:
- 21-24 days after the first day of your last period is when a fertilized egg would move out of the fallopian tube and implant in your uterus. Your body begins producing HCG only once a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterine wall.
- Around day 24 or 28 of your cycle (AKA 2-3 days after implantation), HCG hormone levels will rise to detectable levels.
- Your body will continue to increase HCG production, doubling every 2-4 days through the 16th week of pregnancy.
That means if your egg is fertilized on the 15th, the absolute soonest your pregnancy test will show a positive result is on the 23rd (and that’s only when your fertilized egg takes the minimum 6 days to meander down to the uterine wall and the minimum 2 days after that for your HCG levels to surge).
While HCG operates on its own timeline, the moment your egg becomes fertilized, your body starts getting ready for the baby. When a baby starts growing in their womb, many women may notice that something feels different in their bodies, leading them to reach for a pregnancy test.
7 Signs to Take a Pregnancy Test
HCG hormone levels aren’t the only thing that changes in your body when you get pregnant. Keep an eye out for these most common signs of pregnancy within the first trimester:
#1 A Missed Period
When it comes to signs to take a pregnancy test, this one is a ten-story neon billboard.
A period is your body’s way of keeping the womb environment as fresh and nourishing as possible for new life. When an egg isn’t fertilized within 12-24 hours of ovulation, it’s recognized by your body, which starts the process of “changing the sheets” for a potential new pregnancy. It does this by shedding the uterine lining, breaking down the previous egg, and building a fresh lining ready for the next egg.
When an egg does become fertilized, it gets cozy in your uterine lining, where it can grow into the newest member of your family. When that happens, your body focuses its energy on providing nutrients and support through the uterine lining (which will eventually become the placenta), so your little fertilized egg can grow into a big strong embryo and, eventually, a beautiful bundle of joy. Because your body no longer has to change the sheets, you won’t have a period.
If you realize it’s been a while since you’ve worn your period pants, it might be time to head to the store for a pregnancy test and a bottle of celebratory sparkling cider!
#2 Changes In Your Breasts
When you find out you’re pregnant, you may start prepping your home for the new arrival by painting the nursery, buying baby books, or online shopping for cute maternity wear.
Your body intuitively does the same thing—and it finds out much sooner than you do!
When an egg becomes fertilized, your body starts producing a mix of pregnancy hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that tell the body to do certain things, including getting your breasts ready for milk production.
This can result in a few noticeable changes in your décolletage within the first trimester of your pregnancy, including:
- Tenderness – Your body prepares your breasts for milk creation by increasing milk ducts and milk-making breast tissue. This sudden cell growth can cause some soreness, a bit like growing pains.
- Growth – Pregnant women may notice their breasts begin to grow in size as early as 6 weeks into pregnancy.
- Darkening of the nipples – Scientists aren’t quite sure why, but many women experience darkened areolas during their pregnancy—in fact, it might be one of the first early pregnancy symptoms you notice!
#3 Light Bleeding
Is it just a light period? Or is it the first sign of your little-one-to–be?
Around 25-40% of pregnant women experience a “false period.” A bit of spotting or light bleeding can occur as the fertilized egg gets snug in the uterine lining. Think of the false period as a bit of pillow fluff that gets loose as your little baby-to-be gets comfy in his new “bed.”
You may be experiencing a false period if spotting or bleeding…
- Occurs around the time of your normal period
- Stops after a few hours or a few days
- Is not accompanied by your usual period symptoms
Just because you need to switch to your period underwear doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a pregnancy test.
Pregnancy Test Tips: If your test reads positive and you experience any type of bleeding, Mayo Clinic recommends that you reach out to your doctor if the light bleeding continues for more than a day and/or becomes heavier. While light implantation bleeding is pretty common, it’s best to loop in a professional to ensure your pregnancy progresses in the healthiest way possible.
When your fertilized egg implants into the uterine lining, it’s common to experience discomfort similar to period cramps. Your baby-to-be snuggling into your uterine lining might be cozy for her, but it might cause a little pain for you.
If you feel crampy around the time of your period but notice much lighter bleeding (see above), it might be test time!
Pregnancy Test Tip: Cramps, bleeding, mood swings… is this an article about signs of a pregnancy or signs of a period? It’s true: the signs of pregnancy can look a lot like signs of a period. But why is that?
Think of it this way: your reproductive system uses the same tools (hormones like progesterone and estrogen, the uterine lining, et cetera) for both pregnancy and periods.
Just try your best to listen to your body and get a feel for what’s old hat period stuff and what feels a little different.
And of course, when you’re not quite sure, a pregnancy test can solve the riddle!
#5 Nausea and Vomiting
Off the top of your head, you can probably name a few TV dramas that use morning sickness as a plot device to indicate a character was expecting. Turns out, there are some facts to that fiction.
Morning sickness can start as early as 6 weeks into pregnancy and continue throughout the first and second trimester (sidenote: morning sickness can happen morning, noon, or night, despite the name). While morning sickness is still puzzling scientists, some potential causes of this symptom of pregnancy include:
- Increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, which relax your digestion muscles and make digestion less efficient.
- A heightened sense of smell that can come with pregnancy which can cause severe food sensitivities.
Excitement for your future child can make your head spin. And sometimes, that dizzy feeling means he’s already on his way!
Pregnant women sometimes feel lightheaded or dizzy during the first trimester due to changes in their blood. It all goes back to those pregnancy hormones, but one in particular: progesterone.
Progesterone helps increase blood flow to your baby to help support his development. But more blood flow to the baby means less blood flow to you and, more specifically, your brain. This can cause dizziness for the mom-to-be in the first trimester.
Hey kid, quit hogging my blood!
Don’t worry; the dizziness shouldn’t last long. Your body just has to catch up to your new needs. A woman’s blood volume will increase by 50% during pregnancy.
#7 Food Cravings or Aversions
Pregnancy certainly brings changes to the body, especially when it comes to food. Food cravings (and aversions to certain kinds of food) tend to occur primarily during the first and second trimester, but they can also occur throughout pregnancy.
Scientists believe that hormones heighten a pregnant woman’s sense of smell which enhances her sense of taste. This can make certain foods even more delicious and other smells more displeasing.
Additionally, some theorize that pregnancy cravings are the body’s way of addressing potential nutritional deficits to help the baby thrive.
The most common pregnancy cravings are:
- Red meat
- Spicy food
- Dairy products
If you notice a strange hankering for pickles on pizza with extra peppers and double the cheese, you might want to take a pregnancy test.
Or open a very niche restaurant.
The Best Time To Take a Pregnancy Test
You might still be wondering, When can I take a pregnancy test?
Typically, you can take a pregnancy test as soon as the day of your missed period. But the more time that’s passed since your missed period, the more accurate the pregnancy test result will be.
This is because as your pregnancy progresses, your body will make increasing levels of HCG, making it easier for the pregnancy tests to detect.
Here are a few ways to help time your test for the most accuracy, so you don’t have to wait a second longer to find out if you’re pregnant:
Timing the Test with Your Cycle
Timing is everything when it comes to creating new life—and testing for it, too! Because pregnancy tests look for high levels of HCG (which can only be detected several days after implantation), it can help to understand exactly when your ideal pregnancy testing window would be. Taking an ovulation test can be helpful during this time period if you’re wanting to be extra diligent. However, make sure you understand the difference between an ovulation test vs pregnancy test if exploring this method!
- Day 1: The first day of your period
- Day 15: Ovulation—when an egg is released into the fallopian tubes for fertilization.
- Day 15 or 16: A sperm fuses with your egg, fertilizing it.
- Day 22 or 25: Your fertilized egg moves into the uterus and implants itself into the uterine wall. This implantation causes the body to begin producing the pregnancy hormone HCG.
- Day 24 or 28: The first surge of HCG levels—so if you’re wondering how soon will a pregnancy test read positive, here’s your answer. It’s also around the time your next period is due.
- Day 26 or 31: The next surge of HCG levels occurs.
The later you take the pregnancy test in your menstrual cycle, the more likely your HCG level will be high enough for a pregnancy test to detect. While waiting can be the hardest part of the baby-making practice, it can be worth it for accurate test result.
Day-of Testing Tips
Right before an important test, it can help to come prepared—that’s doubly true for pregnancy tests. Try these tips for when it’s time for pregnancy testing day:
- Read the instructions carefully – Most home pregnancy tests are around 99% accurate. But why not 100%? That 1% accounts for one thing: human error. Be sure to read the test kit packaging thoroughly before you hit the bathroom.
- Take the test first thing in the morning – HCG levels are at their most concentrated when you haven’t urinated in a while. Try to take your urine pregnancy test during your first visit to the bathroom in the morning.
- Test again the following week – Not every woman’s body operates on a perfect 28-day schedule. If you receive a negative result, you might just be a little early to learn about the newest addition to the family. Try testing again the following week to ensure accurate results.
After The Pregnancy Test, Try the SneakPeek Early Gender DNA Test!
There’s no feeling quite like a positive pregnancy test after trying for a baby. You might feel exhilarated, speechless, or even a bit dizzy from the news (and the hormones). But when you get the positive result you’ve been looking for, it just opens the floodgates for new questions about your baby-to-be.
Like, will you be having a girl or a boy?
That’s why taking a SneakPeek Early Gender DNA Test is high on our list of what to do after a positive pregnancy test.Proven 99.9% accurate in scientifically-published clinical studies, this gender prediction test can tell your child’s gender as early as 8 weeks into pregnancy.
Find your answers fast with SneakPeek!
VeryWell Health. When Do HCG Levels Stop Doubling During Pregnancy? https://www.verywellfamily.com/when-do-hcg-levels-stop-doubling-every-two-days-2371281
University of Michigan. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw42062
Sanford Health. Is spotting during pregnancy normal? https://news.sanfordhealth.org/womens/is-spotting-during-pregnancy-normal/
The Bump. Darker Nipples During Pregnancy. https://www.thebump.com/a/darker-nipples
HuffPost. 7 Awesome Things Your Body Does During Pregnancy. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pregnancy-changes_n_3790822
What to Expect. Dizziness During Pregnancy. https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/symptoms-and-solutions/faintness.aspx
Intermountain Healthcare. Why Pregnancy Can Make You Have Weird Cravings. https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/intermountain-moms/2016/10/why-pregnancy-can-make-you-have-weird-cravings/
Mayo Clinic. Bleeding during pregnancy. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/bleeding-during-pregnancy/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050636?p=1#:~:text=1st%20trimester&text=Contact%20your%20health%20care%20provider%20immediately%20if%20you%20have%20moderate,pain%2C%20cramping%2C%20fever%20or%20chills