Tag Archives: am i pregnant

Initial Pregnancy: Blood Test

If some of the initial signs and symptoms are present, and you’ve taken a urine test from the pharmacy, it could be time to get a blood test with a provider. Not all providers want to see you for this blood test, in fact, some providers won’t even make your first appointment until you are twelve weeks’ gestation, as long as you are not having any complications.

We like to offer it as an option. Some women would prefer to have a second, often more accurate, pregnancy test performed to give them peace of mind. Women who have a history of pregnancy loss may choose to have their blood tested a couple times to make sure the pregnancy is progressing normally. We certainly don’t require it, you’ll find that midwives don’t require much of anything, but we’d like you to know it’s available if you’d like it.

The blood test is performed by regular venipuncture and is fairly simple and straight-forward. Possible risks are the same as any venipuncture, bruising, swelling, and/or tenderness at the draw site, infection due to an open wound, or an allergy to something used in the process, such as gloves or a tourniquet. The blood is tested by a lab for hCG, the same hormone that the urine test is sensitive to, however, a blood test will give both qualitative and quantitative results. This means that it gives a positive or negative, but that answer is followed up with exactly how much hCG the test was able to detect in your system. This information is useful when trying to narrow down a conception date, identifying multiples, diagnosing problems, or tracking the health of a pregnancy. hCG should double in the body every couple days so if a miscarriage is suspected, the hCG can be drawn twice, a few days apart, and the number tracked as to how much it’s increasing.

So, if you are searching for a provider willing to perform a pregnancy blood test, look no farther. Give us a call and we’ll come to you.

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Initial Pregnancy: False Negative

The flipside of the coin from our last post (Initial Pregnancy: False Positive) is a false negative. Receiving a false negative is much less common and can only be attributed to a couple factors.

The most obvious reason for a false negative is that the test was taken too early. hCG starts to build up in your system but not in high enough quantities to be read on a pregnancy test until just a few days before your missed period. Since women ovulate differently, it could be that you just need to wait a few days and take another test.

Following the instructions to use the most concentrated, early morning urine is important here too, because diluted urine just won’t have the same concentration of hCG. Again, if you think you are pregnant, wait and take your test in the morning. Having an accurate test is well worth waiting another twelve hours.

Possibly, the test is a dud. This happens in all things, one or two tests off the production line just weren’t made the same as the others and the sensitivity is off. Our advice is the same as above, retest in a few days, using a different brand or at least a different lot number from your original test.

Less common reasons for a false negative could be an ectopic pregnancy that just isn’t creating enough hCG, or a threatened or spontaneous miscarriage.

If you are convinced you are pregnant, but you can’t get a positive home test, reach out to us. We can look over your situation and have you come in for a blood test. It has a better accuracy rate, and we’ll be discussing in more in detail tomorrow.

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Initial Pregnancy: False Positive

We hear this question all the time. “I just took an at-home pregnancy test and it shows that I’m pregnant! Is there any chance it could be wrong?” This question comes from women on both sides of the fence, those hoping that the test could be inaccurate, and those hoping so badly to get pregnant that they don’t believe the evidence before them.

Because of this, we have developed a checklist of questions to make sure that the positive you are seeing is a true positive pregnancy…

Are you absolutely sure you took the test according to the package directions and did not leave it too long before checking?

We ask this question because each test has its’ own guidelines to follow when testing. Almost all tests suggest using your first morning urine, and reading the test within 7-10 minutes after testing. If the test is left too long, lines can appear from the urine evaporating and look like a positive marker.

Have you eaten beets, carrots, saffron, anything urine-colored recently?

This is the same idea to the evaporation lines. Food-dyed urine can appear as a positive marker line in the test box, although it will not turn blue or pink.

Have you recently had a miscarriage?

We hate to think this, but if a woman is insistent that she can’t be pregnant, that is one of our most useful questions. After a miscarriage, it can take some time for your body’s hormones to revert to normal. This means that a pregnancy test could be reading your hCG from the last pregnancy.

Are you taking any medications?

There are several prescriptive medications that can trigger a false positive on a pregnancy test. Fertility medications are among the highest culprits, followed by diuretics and anti-anxiety meds. We can help you sort through your medications and determine if one might be causing a false positive, or you can do your research. Just know it’s a possibility.

How are you feeling otherwise?

With this question, we’d like to know if you are experiencing any other signs and symptoms of pregnancy or if there may be an illness or disease that is providing the positive. Urinary tract or kidney infections, PCOS, and ovarian cancer can also trigger a false positive.

With those questions, it’s helpful to determine whether a positive is most likely a true positive. This is why we call a pregnancy test a probable sign of pregnancy. They are not foolproof and nothing is 100% positive until we hear that little heartbeat or see the little peanut floating around. Pregnancy tests will also show positive for a chemical (extremely early pregnancy that never implanted) or an ectopic pregnancy (a fertilized egg that attached inside the fallopian tubes). Neither of these pregnancies will lead to a healthy baby, but they are still considered pregnancies nonetheless. To rule these out, Doppler or ultrasound technology must be used.

So, depending on how you answered the questions, congratulations. Your positive is most likely a true positive and we’d love to hear from you.

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Initial Pregnancy: A Line and a Half

Reading a pregnancy test can be a nerve-wracking experience. You know the insert says to add the urine and then let it rest for 5-10 minutes, then come back and check it. But how many women can just walk away instead of watching the urine creep across the window and trying to determine if a second line is popping up to match the control line? And then, sometimes, a woman is left with a full, dark control line, and this skinny little partial line next to it. There’s nothing in the insert about that!

That skinny little partial line, no matter how light or faint, is a positive. This might be some of the best advice we were given from a doctor ever, but a line is a line is a line. It doesn’t have to match the control line, it just has to be present in some form or fashion. It may be early and the test is only able to detect traces of hCG, or it may be a test that malfunctioned slightly, but either way, any line in the test window is a positive pregnancy test.

You still need to wait the recommended time and check it again. Some tests have streaking that you can misread for a line if you check right away, or some really do need some time to show up. And don’t forget either, because there is a true window, and if you wait hours and then go back and check the test, it could read a line where there wasn’t one before as the urine dried up. But really, who forgets that they were taking a pregnancy test and goes back hours later to check it? Pregnant women, that’s who!

This post is meant to reassure you, so that you can know with certainty that any partial line is a line. Hope the information helps you as much as it helped us. And if you have a second line, faint or not, we’d love to hear from you.

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Initial Pregnancy: Dizziness

Dizziness, or light-headedness, is an often overlooked sign that you could be expecting. This can occur at any point during the day, but more frequently it happens when you change positions from sitting to standing, when you have prolonged times of standing, or while taking a hot shower. Combined with another one or two of the early signs of pregnancy that we have talked about this month, it is a good indicator that it’s time to take a pregnancy test.

Dizziness happens during early pregnancy for two common reasons. The first is that hormone progesterone. It helps to relax everything in the body and when it works its’ magic on blood vessels, it can cause enough of a drop in blood pressure to make you feel light-headed, dizzy, or faint. The second culprit is low blood sugar. If you are especially lucky to have a difficult time eating or holding down any food during early pregnancy, it is possible for your blood sugar to drop low enough to cause dizziness, light-headedness, and even some mental confusion.

These symptoms will be discussed again in a blog post in March and we will talk about the prevention of dizziness and ways to combat it once it begins. If you are currently pregnant and experiencing this, feel free to reach out to us and we will gladly share what we know with you.

If the lyrics “You spin me right round, baby, right round…” are swirling in your head, or you have been having episodes of light-headedness, it’s time to see your provider and make sure that a pregnancy test is one of the first things they perform.

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Initial Pregnancy: Quickening

Okay, so maybe this doesn’t happen at the very beginning of a pregnancy, but for some new mothers, this is one of the first signs they notice when they are expecting. Quickening is one of those fancy words we learned in midwifery school, but it really just means feeling those first flutters in your belly as your baby wiggles around. For some women, this can happen as early as 10 weeks, and some women don’t feel any movement until week 16. The exact time that you will be able to feel your baby’s movements depend on a lot of factors, such as where the placenta is located and how many other children you have that you have to pay attention to. Seriously, we felt each baby a little later than the previous ones because we were too busy to notice.

We’ve heard it before, that women have felt their baby super early, and someone in their life responds with “it’s probably just gas.” Well, you’ve felt gas before, and if this is a new sensation to you, then you’re right, you’re feeling little tiny rolls and punches from the human in your womb. By 18 weeks, most women are feeling movement daily, even if it’s just hiccups, and by 20 weeks, most women can not only feel, but see the movements from the outside of their belly.

So, if you are far enough along that one of your first signs of pregnancy is alien movement inside you, it’s time to see your provider, that way you can listen to a heartbeat as well.

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Initial Pregnancy: Elevated Basal Body Temperature

Still questioning whether or not you could be pregnant? If you have been charting your basal body temperatures throughout the month, checking it now should be a cinch. You can compare it to the other temperatures you have gotten and see if it remains elevated after ovulation. Because we are talking about tenths of a degree, this isn’t a good way to check for pregnancy if you haven’t been charting all along.

Your basal body temperature stays slightly elevated after conception due to hormones maintaining your pregnancy. When we wrote the original blog post, back in January, we did warn of the drawbacks of this method of charting, such as an illness that could elevate your temperature for other reasons. While BBT charting is not foolproof, it is one more sign along the way that you could be expecting.

So, if you have been charting your BBT, and it’s staying slightly elevated, you could be pregnant.

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Initial Pregnancy: Congestion

If you feel stuffy, congested, or like you may be coming down with a cold, there is actually a chance that you could be pregnant. Weird, huh? This time, though, we won’t blame progesterone. The likely culprit this time is the hormone, estrogen. Estrogen increases blood flow to the tissues, including your nose, and it also causes thickening of mucus membranes. These two put together cause your nasal passages to feel smaller, but with an increasing amount of drainage. What fun!

Pregnancy congestion affects over a third of pregnant women at some point during their pregnancy, and it’s often one of the very first signs of expecting. To make matters worse, allergies can flare up with pregnancy, and so now your nose is on an even greater overdrive. Keep the tissues handy, and be gentle when wiping. Having a raw nose isn’t comfortable at all!!

Of course, next month, we will discuss natural remedies for your stuffy nose, but if you are experiencing it now, reach out to us and we’ll fill you in on any and everything you can try.

So, if you are congested and seem to have no other reason to be, and there’s a possibility that you could be expecting, you might want to take a test.

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Initial Pregnancy: Food Aversions

Oh man, we remember this one clearly. A great early sign of pregnancy is strong food (or smell) aversions. You know, the one where just the thought of a particular food is enough to make you queasy. It’s always interesting to us how, once again, listening to your body is one of the best choices you can make.

While there is no proven cause of food aversions, although I’m sure those raging hormones have a lot to do with it, we like to think of them as your body’s way of protecting itself and your unborn baby. Food aversions are most commonly towards meats, fish, eggs, and dairy, foods that, if not prepared well, are common causes of food poisoning. Other food aversions are to foods that may not be beneficial to your body. I have yet to hear of a pregnant woman having a strong food aversion to a raw carrot or her favorite fruit. However, I commonly hear of women who turn green at the smell of coffee or vomit at the thought of touching raw chicken.

Amanda has known she is pregnant whenever she has an aversion to seafood. It truly is one of her favorites, yet at the beginning of each pregnancy, something about seafood made her nauseated, so much so that she couldn’t stand to be around it. I guess it was a match made in heaven that her hubby was allergic to shellfish.

While the focus of this blog has been food aversions, smell aversions are just as strong. Again, smell aversions are commonly to toxic fumes, such as cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and strong perfumes. Not only do pregnant women think these things smell gross, they have a much more visceral reaction, literally a turning of the stomach and potential to vomit.

So, if you have been totally turned off by some strong smells or foods recently, ones that typically don’t bother you so much, you might be pregnant!

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Initial Pregnancy: Food Cravings

Food cravings are a fun part of pregnancy, as long as the food you are craving is beneficial to you and your unborn. This can happen at any point during your pregnancy, or may not happen at all, but can often be one of the initial signs that you are expecting.

Midwives, as a general rule, believe that listening to your body will give you the best possible pregnancy, but when it comes to food cravings, our bodies can be tricky. Food cravings are a vitamin or mineral deficiency and our bodies are trying to fill the need with foods, but in our culture, we don’t listen closely enough to our bodies to know that when we are craving ice, we are actually needing iron and B vitamins. The following is a simple chart that can help you to interpret your cravings and what you actually are needing.

Craving…Needing…Substitutes…
ChocolateMagnesiumNuts, seeds, raw fruits
Bread, PastaNitrogenMeats, fish, nuts, beans
SweetsChromiumBroccoli, grapes, cheese
CarbonFresh fruits
PhosphorusMeats, eggs, dairy, nuts
TryptophanRaisins, sweet potatoes
Fatty FoodsCalciumDairy, greens, sesame
Coffee or TeaSaltSea salt, apple cider vinegar
IceIronMeats, seaweed, black cherries

Isn’t it interesting how our bodies interpret our need for certain dietary requirements? We find that it is a common trend within the first few weeks or months of pregnancy for women to desire simple carbohydrates. We fell prey to this ourselves at the beginning of each pregnancy. But what we really needed was nitrogen-rich foods and more B vitamins. And this makes perfect sense, because nitrogen makes up 3% of the little human that you are growing. The needs for nitrogen in your body increase quite a bit during pregnancy.

Even though your body is telling you that nothing else will help, that you must have a bowl of mashed potatoes topped with pasta noodles and a side of toast sprinkled with cereal grains, it’s not what you need. If you need help interpreting your cravings, give us a call or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you.

So, if you are craving foods and it seems that only that food will fill the void, you might be pregnant, or at the very least, have a nutritional deficiency that you could look into.

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