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Presumptive, Probable & Positive Signs of Pregnancy

By BlakeRyan ; Updated April 18, 2017

Pregnancy can be an exciting yet stressful time for women. There are many signs and symptoms of being pregnant, but some are not as reliable as others.

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For all women, it's important to understand the meanings of presumptive, probable, and positive signs of pregnancy, and to know what is included in each category, so that if the chance ever arises that she could be pregnant, she will know what to look for and what to rely on.


Presumptive signs of pregnancy refers to signs and symptoms that may resemble pregnancy signs and symptoms, but may in fact be caused by something else.

One of these presumptive signs of pregnancy is the absence of a period. While this is a sign of pregnancy, missing a period can also result from things such as sickness or stress in a woman's life, so this is not a reliable sign of suspected pregnancy.

Nausea or vomiting is also a presumptive sign of pregnancy, but those can occur from a number of other reasons too, such as the flu or food poisoning.

Fatigue is another presumptive sign. Fatigue can occur for a number of reasons, pregnancy related or not.

Frequent urination and breast tenderness are also presumptive signs of pregnancy, but frequent urination can occur simply if a woman happened to drink a large amount of fluid, or if a urinary tract infection is present. Breast tenderness is also a sign that a woman is getting her period, not just of pregnancy.


Probable signs of pregnancy are signs that indicate pregnancy the majority of the time. However, there is still the chance they can be false or caused by something other than pregnancy, like presumptive signs.

A positive pregnancy test is a probable sign of pregnancy. However, in some instances, pregnancy tests can give off false positives for a variety of reasons, such as the urine being too diluted when the test is taken, or the instructions not being followed completely.

An enlarged abdomen is another probable sign of pregnancy, but this can also occur from bloating during menstruation or a slight weight gain.


Positive signs of pregnancy are signs that cannot, under any circumstances, be mistaken for other conditions, and are evidence that pregnancy has occurred.

These signs include fetal heart sounds by a Doppler in the doctor's office, ultrasound detection of the fetus, or the movement of the fetus felt by a doctor. These signs cannot be brought on by any other condition. There is no mistaking or "faking" the sound of a fetal heartbeat, or seeing a fetus on an ultrasound screen.

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About the Author

Based in Hardwick, Vt., Blake Ryan has been writing for eight years. She began as the editor in chief for her school newspaper, where she wrote reviews and how-to articles, and edited other's works. She enjoys writing poetry, short stories, and informational pieces. Blake attended Peoples Academy High School in Morrisville, Vt. and is currently a student at the Community College of Vermont.

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