Your mind is filled with questions: When can you tell if you’re pregnant? When should you start seeing your doctor? How will you know if it’s a boy or girl? Find answers here.
You’re trying to get pregnant. You have been keeping track of your cycle, taking your basal body temperature and doing all you can to try to conceive. It won’t be long now before you’re expecting that bundle of joy. Your mind is filled with questions about pregnancy and babies. Here are the answers to three common pregnancy FAQs.
1. When can I tell if I am pregnant?
A missed period is often the first sign of pregnancy. Some women also have symptoms even before their missed period:
- Breast tenderness
Many women use a home pregnancy test. These tests are reliable and can give you a result within minutes. Many doctor’s offices use a similar urine test for initial pregnancy verification. Your doctor can also check your pregnancy status with a blood test. These tests work by detecting a hormone in your blood or urine. This hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), is only present in a woman during pregnancy.
Home pregnancy tests: results as soon as one day after your missed period
The amount of hCG in urine increases with time. You are more likely to get accurate results if you wait three to four days after your missed period to take the test. If you get a negative reading and your period does not show up after a week, you should take another pregnancy test. Home pregnancy tests are usually very accurate if used correctly. Follow the directions that come with the test. If you still do not get your period, or if you have any abdominal pain, call your doctor.
Blood tests: results as soon as 10 to 12 days after ovulation
Blood tests done at the doctor’s office can tell if you’re pregnant earlier than home pregnancy tests. Doctors use two types of tests:
- Qualitative hCG blood test checks to see if any hCG is present in the blood.
- Quantitative blood test measures the exact amount of hCG in your blood. This test is sometimes used to help determine the health of a pregnancy.
2. If I am pregnant, when should I start seeing a doctor or nurse midwife?
If a home pregnancy test says you’re pregnant, call your health care provider right away. She or he can confirm your pregnancy. Seeing your doctor early and regularly during pregnancy can help you and your baby stay healthy.
Your first prenatal visit includes:
- A detailed health and family history
- A physical exam
- Calculation of your due date (called the EDC)
- Schedule for your prenatal care
- A healthy eating plan and any needed vitamin supplements
3. How is the baby’s gender determined?
The baby’s gender is determined when the sperm fertilizes the egg. People normally each have 46 chromosomes made up of 23 pairs. Egg cells and sperm cells each contain 23 single chromosomes. Of the 23 single chromosomes, one is always a sex chromosome. Each egg has an X (female) sex chromosome. Each sperm either has an X (female) or Y (male) sex chromosome. If the sperm that fertilizes the egg has an X, you’ll have a girl. If the sperm that fertilizes the egg has a Y, you’ll have a boy.
Though the baby’s gender is decided at conception, you will have to wait a while before you can pick out pink or blue clothes. At 18 to 20 weeks pregnant, your doctor may perform an ultrasound to check on the health of your baby. This ultrasound may give the doctor enough information to tell if you are carrying a boy or girl. But depending on the position of the baby or how far along you are in your pregnancy, this may not be possible.
Amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) can also verify the baby’s gender. In amniocentesis, a sample of your amniotic fluid is taken and analyzed. CVS is done on a sample of the placenta earlier in the pregnancy. These tests are done on some pregnant women, often those who are pregnant over age 35 or who have a higher risk for genetic problems. Along with other data, these tests provide the genetic information needed to determine the sex of the baby. However, because these tests have certain risks, they are not performed just to find out if you are going to have a boy or a girl. They might be done only if the gender of your baby may place him or her at a high risk for a specific inherited disease.