Women’s Health Corner
So… Am I pregnant or what? And if I am, what now?
This is the season for listing items on your wish list. Many couples are hoping that “baby” will be on that gift list for the upcoming New Year. More so, in our society, many couples want to know as soon as possible before having to wait for a missed period due to financial planning, changing work schedules, sharing the news with others and many other reasons. For those who are anxiously wondering if they will be adding another stocking on the mantle for next Christmas need to know the following early signs of pregnancy and the follow-up for obstetrical care.
Aside from a woman missing her regular menstrual cycle, there are many other “tell tale” signs of pregnancy that include:
- Breast Tenderness
- Breast Swelling
- Breast Color Changes
- Higher sensitivity to Smells/Fumes/Odors
- Increased Appetite
- Frequent Urination
Some of the above symptoms present early in pregnancy before the missed cycle and others throughout the entire pregnancy and postpartum period.
If there is a chance of pregnancy and you are having the above symptoms and/or have missed a menstrual cycle, then you should report to your obstetrician for testing. Most people feel comfortable taking a urine pregnancy test at home and these urine tests should be done after missing a normal cycle. Although these tests are as high as 99% accurate in detecting pregnancy, they sometimes will have a negative test result, when in fact you may be pregnant. There are blood tests that your obstetrician can perform to detect if you are indeed pregnant which can be done prior to missing your cycle. The test is called a quantitative beta HCG (beta human chorionic gonadotrophin). Beta HCG is a hormone produced throughout the pregnancy that can be detected by a blood sample drawn early in pregnancy that is even more accurate than a urine pregnancy test. Generally, if the hormone level is within a certain range, then the obstetrician can help you estimate your number of weeks of pregnancy. Your obstetrician may bring you back to repeat the beta HCG to make sure that it is rising appropriately. The levels should double every 2 days which is consistent with a normal pregnancy.
Once the pregnancy has been established, your obstetrician may order a sonogram or ultrasound in order to detect your estimated due date. The earlier the sonogram is performed, the more consistent it is with your dating your pregnancy. A sonogram also serves to make sure that the pregnancy is in the uterus and not outside of the uterus otherwise known as an ectopic pregnancy which is a serious medical condition. It can also detect if the pregnancy is viable by checking to see if the baby has a heartbeat.
Eventually, you and your obstetrician will come up with your prenatal plan which will include a pelvic exam, daily vitamins and more blood work. It is important to follow your obstetrician’s advice. It is also important for you to ask your doctor questions about any concerns.
The Women’s Health and Surgery Center has physicians who specialize in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and will be happy to see you either for preconception counseling or if you are already pregnant. The practice is dedicated to the Stafford community and is the only OB/GYN practice affiliated with the new Stafford Hospital Center.