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7 Ways To Tell Your Pregnancy Is Going Well, According To Experts

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If you’re anything like me, pregnancy is 40 weeks (more or less) of excitement, anticipation, and joy, but also stress, anxiety, and constant concern. Like many expecting parents, I loved the ability to listen to my baby's heartbeat, or my doctor's reassuring voice, during prenatal appointments. Those visits were few and far between, though. I'd constantly be asking myself, "Is my pregnancy is going well?" (especially on the days, and weeks, when visiting my OB-GYN wasn't an option). The good news is that while pregnancy is uncertain, and it's natural to worry, there are ways to check your progress.

Monitoring your pregnancy is the main reason for all of the prenatal tests and exams recommended throughout your pregnancy, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). And What to Expect adds that some pregnant people decide to do genetic screenings and tests — including non-invasive prenatal testing like blood tests and a special ultrasound called a nuchal translucency screening — and further diagnostic tests — like chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis —to obtain as much information about the fetus as possible.

For some moms-to-be, the time between appointments, or even before that first appointment, can be nerve-wracking. But if you're experiencing pregnancy symptoms during this time — like nausea and vomiting — that could be a good sign. A 2016 National Institutes of Health study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that morning sickness is "associated with a lower risk of miscarriage in pregnant women." And if you're later in pregnancy and seeking a little peace of mind, public health organization Count the Kicks recommends paying attention to the rhythm of your baby's kicks and movements during your third trimester, by tracking how often your baby kicks and letting your doctor know about any changes. “Later in the pregnancy, feeling fetal movements frequently is also a sign of wellbeing,” Lucky Sekhon M.D., fertility specialist and board certified OB-GYN, tells Romper via email.

No matter how far along you are in your pregnancy, it's pretty typical to worry. Fortunately, however, if you know where to look you can gain some reassurance by paying attention to the following signs:

1. You're Exhausted

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Fatigue during the first trimester is normal and a early sign of pregnancy for many women. This "special" kind of exhaustion is caused by hormone, blood sugar, and blood pressure changes. As your pregnancy progresses, the Mayo Clinic notes that you might get some relief in the second trimester, as hormone levels stabilize, only to feel exhausted again in your third trimester. “Progesterone, a major player in supporting an early pregnancy, is secreted at high levels from the ovaries and later by the placenta, near the end of the first trimester,” Dr. Sekhon tells Romper. “It tends to have a 'relaxing' effect on the body and can definitely cause sleepiness and fatigue”.

Because each person and pregnancy is different, though, there's not one version of "normal" that everyone experiences, so feeling a little — or a lot — of fatigue might let you know that your pregnancy is going well. It’s also totally fine if you don’t feel particularly tired in your first trimester (lucky you). “For patients who do not feel tired or rather feel energized in early pregnancy, that is not considered a bad sign and I would not worry that it means the pregnancy is not normal or healthy,” Dr. Sekhon says.

2. Your Screening Tests Are Normal

One amazing thing about being pregnant today versus even a decade ago, is that your doctor and/or midwife have access to a variety of early screenings. That's why, according to ACOG, it's so important to get recommended screening tests for things like gestational diabetes, sexually transmitted infections, chromosomal disorders, and pre-eclampsia. While pregnancy screenings are designed to assess risk and not diagnose conditions, they can give you some peace of mind about your pregnancy, and give your provider more information about how to help you and your baby stay healthy until delivery and beyond. “The most definitive sign of an early pregnancy that is healthy or progressing well is the rate of rise of pregnancy hormone (bhCG) — it should rise at least 53% every 48 hours. Even more reassuring, is when you see a doubling of the level every 2 days,” Dr. Sekhon tells Romper. hCG is the hormone detected by pregnancy tests, but it can also be measured using blood tests.

3. You Feel Hungover

For some pregnant people, nausea is a sign that their pregnancy hormones are on a normal, upward climb. “Morning sickness is a reassuring sign that the pregnancy is growing and progressing as it often correlates with HCG levels being produced from the pregnancy,” Dr. Sekhon tells Romper. “This is why women with twin pregnancies, who have higher levels of HCG, are more prone to severe morning sickness.”

If you’re not experiencing morning sickness, don’t panic. “Up to a third of women will be lucky enough to say they had no nausea or vomiting in pregnancy. It is not clear why some women are more prone to this than others,” Dr. Sekhon says

4. Your Boobs Hurt

Breast pain is normal during early pregnancy, according to What to Expect. Other growth and other physical changes are expected, too. For example, your areolas getting darker, and your veins looking more prominent, are both signs that your body is getting ready to have a baby.

5. Any Diagnostic Tests You Receive Are Normal

Your doctor or midwife might recommend genetic testing, like an amniocentisis or CVS, based on your medical history, pregnancy, and the results of any screening tests you've had, according to What to Expect. While the site notes that these tests are more invasive and risky than blood testing, because they collect samples of your baby's DNA, they can be 100% accurate when it comes to diagnosing some genetic and chromosomal conditions.

6. You Are Growing On Track

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Starting in the second trimester of pregnancy your provider will measure your fundal height, or the size of your uterus from bottom to top, during each prenatal appointment, according to the Mayo Clinic. This measurement surprisingly corresponds to how many weeks you are in centimeters, so it can be an important sign that your baby is growing on track, and is able to safely hang out in your uterus. “A fetus that is growing and measuring within one week of the expected number of weeks of pregnancy based on last period is also a reassuring sign in the first trimester,” Dr. Sekhon tells Romper.

7. Your Baby Moves To Their Own Beat

In your third trimester your baby will start moving to their own rhythm, according to the public health organization Count the Kicks. The organization recommends taking note of your baby's version of normal and reporting any changes in their movement to your doctor or midwife right away. “When women have not noticed as much movement, I tell them to eat something, drink cold water, and lie in a quiet place where they can tune in to their body and concentrate on feeling the movements,” Dr. Sekhon tells Romper. It not only can give you reassurance that your baby is doing well, but it can help identify problems with your pregnancy. "If [you] aren't able to feel movement or the movement feels diminished in frequency or intensity, call your doctor. They will likely want to do further evaluation to ensure all is well,” Dr. Sekhon says.

Expert:

Lucky Sekhon, M.D., fertility specialist and board certified OB-GYN in New York City

Studies referenced:

Hinkle, S. N.; Mumford, S. L; Grantz, K. L.; Silver, R. M.; Mitchell, E. M.; Sjaarda, L. A.; Radin, R. G.; Perkins, N. J.; Galai, N. Schisterman, E. F. (2016) Association of Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy With Pregnancy Loss: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial, doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5641.

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