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Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Q. I had a couple of questions I’m hoping you can answer. How soon does morning sickness start after you’re pregnant? How often does birth control not work? Are there any reasons that could cause it to not work? What are other early symptoms of pregnancy?
Also, I’ve heard that the first time a girl (sic) gets pregnant, her body will abort the baby…is that true?

A. Wow. Important questions. Some of your questions have been answered in earlier columns, but I’ll repeat the information briefly, because nobody should have to wonder about these things.

Morning sickness doesn’t ALWAYS happen, and it can begin at any time during pregnancy and last anywhere up to the entire 40 weeks. Most commonly, it begins somewhere around 8-14 weeks (6-12 from the last period), and lasts during the first trimester.

By “birth control”, I’m assuming you mean combination oral birth control pills. Taken correctly, the answer is virtually never. Unfortunately, they are rarely taken absolutely perfectly, and anytime a woman messes up taking them, pregnancy is a more likely result.

By correctly, I mean one a day, at roughly the same time each day, not with grapefruit juice, not while taking antibiotics. Once a woman misses a pill, she is advised to take two the next day. If she misses more than one, she is advised to use an alternate method of birth control for the rest of that cycle.

Other symptoms of early pregnancy are a missed period and tender breasts that sometimes are also enlarged. Once a period is missed, the home tests should be pretty accurate. There is a blood test that can be done at the Health Center even before a woman misses her period.

Also, pregnant women don’t ALWAYS miss their periods. If you’re worried, you should get a test. The earlier you know, the more options you have, and the better decision you can make. This would be a really bad time to bury your head in the sand.

It is a myth that a woman’s first baby will be miscarried. Lots and lots of women have perfectly healthy pregnancies (and babies) having had sex only once, let alone having been pregnant only once. Of all the women I know who have ever been pregnant, the vast majority have never miscarried.