The thought of a possible pregnancy isn’t always an exciting moment for everyone. If its unplanned, women (and men!) can sometimes find themselves feeling overwhelmed, crippled with fear, and staring in disbelief at the seemingly bright plus sign on a pregnancy test. 

Whatever way you find yourself handling the initial news, just make sure you take a moment to breathe, take a step back, and don’t make any quick decisions based on your initial feelings. Remember, you’ve got this!

If you haven’t taken a test yet, but rather are just curious and want to better understand what you’ve been feeling, I invite you to read more (although if you’re in a hurry, you can take our quick, 10-question online quiz here). Hopefully, it will ease your concerns or help guide you in taking the next step in your situation.


What Are Your Chances?

The risk of pregnancy is highest during ovulation. No matter the length of your cycle, ovulation typically occurs 14 days before the start of your next period. If you wanted to break it down some more, engaging in unprotected sex 5 days before ovulation gives you a 10% chance of pregnancy and that percentage increases to 30% on the day of ovulation, as well as the two days prior. A woman’s, as well as the man’s age, is one of the most important factors affecting fertility and plays an important role when these percentages are taken into consideration. The chance of having a child is much higher for women younger than 35 years old and men younger than 40 years old. 


Early Pregnancy Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms commonly surface around 4 weeks of pregnancy, with the first indication being a missed period. Many women generally feel fine at this point, but will experience a few of the symptoms listed below. Take a look…


The Five Must-Know Symptoms


  1. Missed Period You may notice other signs first if your cycle is usually irregular, but if it’s usually on time, this will be your first indicator of a possible pregnancy.
  2. Irregular Spotting or Cramping – Usually, this symptom is less common and mistaken for the onset of a period until after the fact, but spotting can be a sign that the embryo has implanted.  This usually takes place a week after ovulation and a week before your missed period.
  3. Changes in Your Body:
    • When it comes to your breasts – Feeling sore or sensitive? This is a key indicator for many. Another sign is changes in your nipple area. If they’ve changed shape, grown larger, or become darker, these are all signs of pregnancy. This is all in preparation for making milk!
    • Bloating and swelling – This happens not because your baby has had a growth spurt overnight that causes the inability to button your jeans, but because of hormonal changes. Digestion is slowed down so your body can get more nutrients from your food intake that are vital for both you and your baby. 
    • Tiredness and headaches – A growing baby takes a toll on the body, so you may find yourself feeling unusually tired, even though you got your full 8 hours of recommended sleep the night before. Headaches play another role in all of this, not only because of exhaustion, but because of hormonal changes and the increased blood flow throughout your body. So, don’t be hard on yourself for taking a nap; rest is important! 
    • Unusual nausea or sensitivity to smells – Are you feeling queasy or are certain smells making you feel like you could vomit any minute? This is usually referred to as morning sickness. Despite the key word “morning”, this feeling can come over you anytime throughout the day and have you running for the bathroom. Not all morning sickness is accompanied with vomiting however, and it’s usually over by the end of the first trimester, so hang in there!
  4. Changes in Mood or Feelings Again, blame it on the hormonal changes that are taking place! Maybe you’re feeling happy one minute and the next you find yourself feeling sad. It’s ok, it’s just the way your brain is responding to the recent spike in hormones. If it’s anything severe or you’re finding it difficult to cope, it’s important to reach out to someone close or contact your healthcare provider.
  5. A Positive Pregnancy Test This is not a symptom, but an extremely reliable indicator that you are pregnant. Generally, a standard pregnancy test taken at the right time is over 99% accurate. 


When Should I Get a Pregnancy Test?

Since a missed period is usually the first indicator of the possible chance of pregnancy, it is recommended that you wait until the first day of your missed period before taking a home test. Some tests can be taken earlier depending on their sensitivity; however, it is possible that these tests can be done too early as well and show a false negative. If your period still doesn’t begin a week later, another test should be done.


Is It Possible To Get a False Positive?

Although rare, it is surprisingly possible! There are a few reasons this can happen. For one, you can find yourself face to face with a false positive if you’ve experienced a recent pregnancy loss. Are you taking any fertility drugs that contain HCG? If so, this can also cause a false positive if a home test was taken too soon after taking these drugs. Menopause, problems with your ovaries, or an ectopic pregnancy could all produce inaccurate test results as well. The sooner your pregnancy is confirmed, the sooner you can begin prenatal care. 


Next Steps

Are you checking these symptoms off as you read down the list? Have your concerns grown more concerning? If so, and if you’ve received a positive pregnancy test, the next important step is to schedule an ultrasound to confirm that your pregnancy is viable. If you haven’t taken a test yet and it makes you more comfortable, hold off and take your first test with us. Pregnancy Resources at Cornerstone provides free pregnancy testing, free confirmation ultrasounds, and other confidential pregnancy services that provide resources and support that fit your specific needs in whatever situation you may be in. Contact us today at 717-442-3111 or send us a message to learn more about what we can do for you or to schedule YOUR next step. 

Authored by Kate Grim