A few days late period, nauseated, tense breasts, you already imagine yourself pregnant and… just think about it. What are the warning signs of pregnancy? Should we rely on them? What tests should you do before imagining the color of the baby’s room or ordering the pregnancy box?
Sign of pregnancy n°1: my period is late
It’s “the” clue that should put you on the spot. “If you have a fairly regular menstrual cycle and your period is about 7 days late, there is a risk of pregnancy” confirms Dr. Abensur. On average, periods occur every 28 days – but the length of a cycle can vary between 25 and 35 days. All you have to do is count it!
“Menstruation corresponds to a decrease in hormone production (estrogen and progesterone). Since the egg has not been fertilized, the endometrium (the part of the lining of the uterus intended to receive the embryo) becomes detached and this is manifested as a blood flow.” But in case of pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone levels remain high, and menstruation does not occur.
Caution: Other factors can cause a delay in menstruation. For example, it can be caused by a significant weight loss (in which case it is a warning signal that should not be overlooked!), by a change in contraception or by an emotional shock.
My rules are not as usual
Was your last period less heavy than usual? They were only traces – pinkish, blackish or brownish? Caution: it may be “birthday periods”… which are synonymous with pregnancy.
According to experts, this phenomenon affects about 1 in 4 women during the first trimester of pregnancy. “In some women, nidation (when the embryo attaches itself to the uterine lining, about 8 days after fertilization) is accompanied by a small amount of bleeding, which is generally not significant,” explains Dr. Abensur.
“Birthday periods – or metrorrhagia – can be misleading since they arrive at about the same time as the usual menstruation.”
Pregnancy Sign #2: my breasts are (a little) painful.
Is your chest painful, hypersensitive? Do you have the impression that your breasts are heavier, more tense? Again, this may be a sign that you are pregnant.
Because from the first day of pregnancy, your breasts start to change: they are only 9 months old to prepare for breastfeeding! Under the influence of progesterone and estrogen, the breasts become heavier and swollen, the nipples and areola gradually change color (they become darker), and the small granular swellings on the surface of the areola become more visible. And sometimes this happens even before menstruation stops!
Sign of pregnancy n°3: I have a stomach ache
To accommodate the embryo, the uterus can contract to increase its volume,” explains Dr. Abensur. This is a phenomenon that can be painful: in real life, it looks like a premenstrual syndrome. But again, not all women are affected.”
This pain in the lower abdomen can be accompanied by an unpleasant tightness in the groin: under the effect of estrogen, the ligaments soften in order to allow the belly to enlarge. In addition, pregnant women may feel a frequent urge to urinate, which is also linked to the action of estrogen.
Of course, there are other clues. In case of pregnancy, some women will experience nausea, cravings, mood swings, fatigue, bloating or constipation… All this is related to hormonal changes.
“You shouldn’t become paranoid either! If your periods occur normally and/or if your last sexual intercourse was several months ago, you have little risk of becoming pregnant” says Dr. Abensur.
I think I’m pregnant: what do I do?
First reflex: the pregnancy test. Urine pregnancy tests are sold in pharmacies or supermarkets: they cost between €2 and €10 (not reimbursed by Social Security). No need to invest in a high-tech tool: they are all 99% reliable!
There’s also no need to rush into a pregnancy test the day after unprotected sex (or forgetting to take your pill): it will only be really reliable from the day you are supposed to start menstruating.
“It’s better to do your pregnancy test in the morning” also advises Dr. Abensur. “If you want to know where you stand, count 14 days after the beginning of your last period: it is probably your conception date!
Is the test positive? Make an appointment quickly with a gynecologist, a midwife or your general practitioner. And stay calm!