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How early can a pregnancy be detected?

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Waiting to confirm a pregnancy can be stressful for a first time mom, and even more so for those who’ve been trying for a while.

So, how soon can pregnancy be detected?

Female hands hold pink, positive pregnancy test

How is pregnancy detected?

Pregnancy is detected by measuring the amount of hCG in a woman’s system.

HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is known as the pregnancy hormone. According to UT Medical Center, “A woman’s body begins to produce hCG from cells in the developing placenta (tissue that nourishes a growing fetus) soon after implantation of a fertilized egg.”

About 8 days after you ovulate, trace levels of hCG are present. So, technically, you could get a positive test result several days before your normal period would start.

How soon can you take a test?

For the most accurate test results, you’ll need to wait until a week after your first missed period, or 7-12 days after implantation. This is when hCG levels are more detectable.

If you absolutely cannot wait, you should at least hold off until about 2 weeks after what would be conception or on the first day your period is due to start.

If you do test early, don’t be surprised if your negative result becomes positive with a few more days of time.

Remember to test first thing in the morning when hCG levels are the most concentrated!

What are the earliest pregnancy symptoms?

You probably won’t experience any tale-tale signs of pregnancy until after your first missed period, as well, but there are a few things you can look out for.

  • Pregnancy headaches are one of the earliest signs of pregnancy and often go unnoticed. These headaches are brought on by rapidly changing hormone levels and increased blood volume. They are typically the worst during the first trimester and usually taper off or disappear altogether in later months.
  • Implantation bleeding is when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall, you may experience light bleeding and spotting, usually bright pink in color and very sparse.
  • Light cramping can also be experienced during early pregnancy. These cramps feel like very mild period pains which can intensify throughout the first trimester.

What’s Next?

After you receive a positive result, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will provide you with a blood test to confirm the pregnancy and you might be able to hear baby’s heartbeat on a monitor.

At this point, you’ll likely start experiencing more of the typical things pregnancy makes you feel, like nausea, fatigue and bloating.

Take some time to learn about the 3 stages of pregnancy (and which trimester is the worst) and ways to deal with the varying pregnancy symptoms in each phase.

You can also start preparing for baby by checking out reputable first time mom books, learning about first time mom labor, how it feels after giving birth, the postpartum timeline and common postpartum body changes.

And, fun things like:

Early pregnancy is an exciting and sometimes anxious time for new mothers.

Remember to relax and breathe and take things slow! And if you need more advice, here are even more helpful tips for the brand new mom for pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond!