Pregnancy is a mind-body journey likely to include everything from moody blues to the kicks of tiny feet. We asked Chester Martin, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Jeanne Waldman, R.N., a certified nurse-midwife with Planned Parenthood for help in compiling a 12-month time line that chronicles how you may feel during your pregnancy. While not a substitute for medical care, this road map may help you distinguish between signs that warn you to call your doctor and signs that indicate everything is normal.
MONTH 1: Weeks 1-4
Possible physical changes
Absence of menstrual period, tingling, tender and/or swollen breasts, fatigue, mild to extreme nausea, with or without vomiting, at any time of day or night, minor uterine contractions
Possible emotional changes
Wondering whether you're pregnant, fear of complications, anxiety about motherhood and how it will affect marriage, career, and lifestyle, crankiness
Possible appetite changes
Food cravings or aversions, increase or decrease in appetite. If you even suspect you're pregnant, start taking 800 micrograms of folic acid daily, the dosage recommended during pregnancy by the March of Dimes, to prevent neural tube defects.
The inside story
The embryo is a tiny speck, the size of a pencil point that is sometimes visible about the fourth week of gestation via vaginal ultrasound.
Possible fatigue or sleepiness. An hour of extra sleep or taking afternoon naps may help, but don't be surprised if you still feel tired no matter how much sleep you get.
Instead of wondering or worrying whether you're pregnant, get tested. At-home pregnancy tests are nearly 100 percent accurate 14 days or more after a missed period, and urine tests (done at your doctor's office) are nearly 100 percent accurate 7 to 10 days after conception. Blood tests are 100 percent accurate after 7 days.
When to call your doctor
Positive result on home pregnancy test, cramping and spotting or bleeding, which may indicate early miscarriage, lower abdominal pain, continual vomiting, gushing or steady leaking of fluid from vagina, painful or sparse urination.