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Finding out you are pregnant is one of the most exciting times of your life, even if you have been preparing for it for some time. Pregnancy can be confirmed by means of a simple test that measures the levels of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), that are present in your urine. The test can be carried out as soon as you reach the day that your next period should have started. You can carry out a home test yourself using one of the kits available from the pharmacist. Ensure that you choose a kit that will give an accurate result this early. Although many modern home-testing kits state that you can test your urine at any time, you may wish to use a n early morning sample because this urine will contain the highest concentration of HCG. If the result is positive, you must make an appointment to see your doctor so that he or she can make arrangements for your antenatal care and the birth.

Early symptoms of pregnancy

Some women experience all the early symptoms of pregnancy, while others sail through the first weeks without any feelings of discomfort.

  • Your body is having to work hard to adapt to the demands of pregnancy, so you may feel overwhelmingly tired. Try to get as much rest as possible. You will find that sitting with your feet up for even half an hour will help.
  • If you're lucky you'll escape this completely. However morning sickness is a common symptom of early pregnancy. It often starts when you're four to six weeks pregnant. You may feel nauseated and queasy, or even vomit. Despite its name, morning sickness can affect you morning, noon or night.
  • You may feel a tingling sensation as pregnancy hormones increase the blood supply to your breasts, particularly around the nipples. Once your body gets used to the hormone surge, the sensation will subside.
  • Your breasts may tingle or feel tender, rather as they do before a period; your nipples will appear darker and more prominent and the veins will be more noticeable. You should wear a good support bra from now until after your baby is born.
  • You may experience a strange metallic taste in the mouth, which can be accompanied by going off certain foods and tea and coffee.
  • A feeling of nausea, or even actual physical sickness in the morning or at any time during the day, is quite usual. It is often worse when your stomach is empty, so have a plain biscuit and a cup of tea before you get up in the morning. During the day try eating six small high-carbohydrate meals, such as pasta, potato, and bread. Avoid rich or fatty foods.
  • Skin changes are common during pregnancy. One of the first ones you may notice is the circle of skin round your nipples (your areolas) getting darker. This can happen from about eight weeks. You may also find that the bumps around your nipples become more pronounced or your nipples are more erect. At this time your vulva and vagina may change to a deeper, purplish red too.
  • Finally, as the enlarging uterus presses on your bladder you may need to urinate more frequently.

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