How to Really Know if I'm Pregnant

Waiting for a missed period can seem like an eternity when you are trying to conceive a baby.

While pregnancy symptoms vary from one woman to the next, most women experience bloating, tender breasts, fatigue and frequent urination as well as a missed period.

Some symptoms may appear as early as a week after conception while others take longer to have a noticeable effect. If you suspect you might be pregnant, begin prenatal care by taking prenatal vitamins, eating a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes.

Pay attention to potential pregnancy symptoms. The hormonal shift that pregnancy brings about causes several changes to a woman's physical and emotional state. According to the Mayo Clinic website, early pregnancy symptoms include a missed menstrual cycle, swollen breasts, nausea or vomiting, aversion to certain foods and smells, mood swings, headaches, constipation and fatigue. While these symptoms may indicate pregnancy, they are not definitive. Many pregnancy symptoms are similar to premenstrual symptoms since they are caused by the same increase of progesterone. Additionally, some women discover they are pregnant without ever experiencing any telltale symptoms.

Purchase a home pregnancy test. A home pregnancy test is more accurate if it has a lower mIU/L measurement listed on the label, according to Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel, authors of "What to Expect Before You're Expecting." Home pregnancy tests detect the presence of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in your urine. Your body begins producing this hormone once a fertilized egg implants in your uterus.

The most accurate time to take a home pregnancy test is one week after your missed period, according to the Women's Health website. Since it can take several days for hCG to be detectable with a home pregnancy test, waiting until after your missed period yields more accurate results. Keep in mind that home pregnancy tests are not 100 percent accurate and may show a negative result if you've tested too early.

Schedule a prenatal appointment with an obstetrician or midwife. While home pregnancy tests produce accurate results when used correctly, many women want a professional to confirm the pregnancy. Obstetricians and midwives can perform a blood tests that yields more precise results than an over-the-counter pregnancy test. According to the American Pregnancy Association, 85 percent of healthy pregnancies have an hCG level that doubles every two to three days. The hCG levels continue to rise as your pregnancy progresses, doubling about every 96 hours.