There’s a Fine Line Between the Signs of Pregnancy and Food Poisoning (Very Funny Mother Nature)


Just a quick note – if you landed on this post because you are pregnant and are worried you have food poisoning – first, I’m sorry! That really sucks. 

This is a satire post about how it’s hard to tell if you’re pregnant or sick with food poisoning, because both have the same symptoms! It’s not a medical post. If you’re looking for real information on food poisoning during pregnancy, here is a Web MD article that you may find helpful. Good luck! Now back to the post.


Pregnancy symptoms are a mysterious thing. Am I pregnant? Do I have PMS? WHAT IS HAPPENING IN MY BODY??? These are the questions that keep us up at night, as we ponder the great mystery that is the female reproductive system.

I threw up on Friday, out of left field. That afternoon I was having cramps and I needed a nap. Like really needed a nap. I cancelled my plans to go out, and then I got this text from my friend:

“Maybe you’re pregnant! Or ate undercooked chicken. Fine line between pregnancy and salmonella poisoning.”

YES. There is a VERY fine line between the two, which isn’t really convenient, now is it?

photo 1

You’re stunning, Mother Nature, but you can be a real jackass.

As someone who is trying to get pregnant AND who eats a lot of foods of questionable sanitation (I’m looking at you, mall food court), it makes me wonder WTF Mother Nature was thinking when she designed this whole shebang anyway. It’s almost like Mother Nature thinks she’s a comedian or something. And just to add a layer of screw you to the situation, somebody thought it would be a neat joke to make the symptoms of PMS basically the same, too. Hysterical!

Mother Nature, listen: you were capable of designing the butterfly. Now THAT is a beautiful creature right there. Intricate artwork on a delicate frame. Amazing symmetry and color. Bravo!

Now, you’re telling me that you could work THAT out but you couldn’t make clearer the difference between the start of life, the consumption of bad chicken, and PMS? Really?

3 minutes in my brain:

I feel bloated. These jeans are TIGHT. I’m probably pregnant! Oh wait no I just have to go to the bathroom. Also those are size 4 and who am I kidding? That’s better. Not pregnant. Definitely no. Why am I crying at this commercial?? So hormonal! Definitely pregnant. But that really was a good commercial. Anyone would cry at that commercial, right? But damn these cramps do NOT feel regular. This is NOT what my period usually feels like. Or is it? Actually I can’t even remember what my period is supposed to feel like. But I know for SURE I don’t usually pee this often. Except when I drink juice. Yeah this always happens when I drink juice so it could be that. But between the peeing and the sore boobs I am definitely pregnant. Unless my bra is too tight, because that plus the juice could do it too. But it doesn’t account for this sensitivity to smell I’m having. Man I smell EVERYTHING! Sure my husband is eating garlic bread so that does smell strong but never THIS strong. Nobody’s nose is this sensitive. Also I can’t believe how queasy I am! Such a good sign! Unless it’s not, which it’s probably not because that cheese I had for lunch was expired.

Since being user-friendly doesn’t seem to be one of Mother Nature’s priorities, I’ve drafted up a handy reference sheet to help us decode whether we’re pregnant, have food poisoning, or are getting our periods.

Handy Reference Sheet

  • Cramps may occur in implantation and PMS and food poisoning
  • Bleeding may occur with either implantation or PMS
  • Vomiting is a sign of pregnancy and food poisoning
  • Constipation can be a sign of pregnancy or of eating too many steak subs
  • During both early pregnancy and plain old PMS your breasts may feel more tender than usual
  • An elevated body temperature can be a sign of food poisoning or ovulation
  • Exhaustion can be a sign that you’re sick or pregnant or that you have a toddler or that you stayed up too late watching Scandal
  • Sore breasts can be a sign of pregnancy or they can be a sign that you’ve been manhandling your chest for days as you try to determine if your breasts are sore (which you are obviously trying to determine because that is a clue that you’re pregnant).

I hope that helped.

Now get it together, Mother Nature. You’re confusing us (Although again, your work with butterflies was spectacular).

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Has anyone just known right away that you were pregnant? You could just TELL. I really want to know. Because I am NOT in that boat. I’m in some other boat…I’d like some anecdotes in the comments so that I can continue to try to figure out my body.

  1. Love this article and so much truth! The picture if ?Nolan is adorable! Sorry, I don’t have an answer.

    • Thanks Marie! I had trouble finding a picture for this post, but I liked that one just because aside from being a jerk, Mother Nature is lovely.

  2. Going through this exact song-and-dance right now. Was that implantation or just a regular old cramp? I’m right at the cusp of having or missing my period and about to go insane. I want to miss the period so bad, but I’m ready to just get my period already and stop worrying for another few weeks. Mother Nature, you’re a dick.

  3. Because my body apparently likes to rebel, my early sign of pregnancy was the OPPOSITE of constipation, which can also be a sign of eating the wrong thing. A very wrong thing. That and loving chicken.

  4. Our bodies really need to update their system. Send a text or email saying “better luck next cycle…” Saves everyone some time and heartache.

      • Exactly! I receive a notification for a new update every ten seconds for my iPhone. The least Mother Nature could do is send Ryan Gosling to say “hey girl, it’s definitely PMS.”

  5. One of my friends could tell just by looking at me, which was very weird !
    I had a pregnancy scare weeks ago. I spent hours and hours scrutinizing every little symptoms (mind you while holding my 6 month old son). Then i got fed and bought a pregnancy test. Not pregnant . Let’s try it again next year, Mother Nature !!

  6. Another laugh-out-loud post… thanks Liz! I also feel like this occurs in an outward-facing capacity as well. Like, “No, I’m NOT pregnant, I’m just bloated and don’t feel like sucking in the pooch I still have from that last baby… get off my shit!” (you know, while bloated and cranky and not even trying to get pregnant again yet). Also, I still have a bone to pick with Mother Nature about this past winter so lemme know if you happen to run into her…

    • I will let you know if I run into Mother Nature for sure. I didn’t even get into the whole winter-in-New England thing this time, but that is on my list of complaints as well.

  7. Hahaha Lizard! You’ve really made me crack up this time! (Not rare) After going through years of fertility struggles I have been in this boat many times. I just wish this post existed then so I could get a chuckle out of it. You rock!

  8. OMG, I love this post! It’s all so true. I know for me last time when I definitely thought I was pregnant I never was and the one month I was convinced I wasn’t, I was. So I say you know when you are pregnant when you think you aren’t!

  9. Better yet, I get migraines and have an uneven cycle. Puking now. Could be baby, could be a late period. WOOOO.

  10. I feel the same way about the symptoms of food poisoning and the stomach flu, which both have the EXACT SAME SYMPTOMS. How do I know what I had last week?!? I guess I never will. Super annoying.

    • Yup, it will remain one of the great mysteries of our time… Like the Loch Ness monster. And like how they ever thought they could get away with replacing the mother on Fresh Prince of Bel Air without anyone noticing.

  11. This is such an awesome post. The first time I was pregnant I was nauseous for a month and really dizzy every morning. I kept taking pregnancy tests which I read as “unconfirmed”. (There was a faint line, but didn’t seem very positive.) When I finally went to the doctor and told the nurse my “unconfirmed” pregnancy status, the nurse thought I was insane. Clearly they were going back to their desk to laugh at me later. The second time around, I was again nauseous and explaining it away to other things, and my husband said “You’re pregnant. You’re just terrible at knowing the signs.” He was right!

    Good luck to you and all the others on the TTC rollercoaster. It sucks and is really exciting all at once. Thanks for giving us all an opportunity to laugh at the madness!

  12. You know they have these things called pregnancy tests, right? I mean…it’s like magic. You pee on a stick and it tells you if you’re preggos or not!…JK. The sense of smell was the beginning of when I thought I was pregnant. I smelled toast. I smelled toast when Husband and I went to bed which was like 6 hours after we had eaten toast (so we eat toast for dinner…what?). I actually got up out of bed to check to make sure the oven or toaster oven wasn’t on. Then the next day, I took one of those magical test thingies and I was pregnant…with twins.

    P.S. Obviously, the test didn’t tell me that…geez! I had to find out weeks later at the doctor’s office. Then I threw up.

    • What???? They make pregnancy tests??? 🙂

      It’s those pesky weeks before you can test that really try your patience….

      Also, it would have been nice for the test to tell you about the twins right away. It was kind of rude for the test not to tell you, actually…

  13. It’s close to eviction time for my first baby, and when people ask if we’ll have another my answer is invariably, “Hell no! I’m not going through the shitshow of trying to get pregnant ever again!” What I really mean is, “Of course we want another, you dip, but we are getting to dinosaur age and what I have now is a lovely hiatus from basal thermometers and opks, so don’t remind me.

    But really, I think there’s merit in the whole trying-but-not-really thing. After over a year, I put down the thermo and pee sticks and we went on vacation to Yellowstone. We had a wolf encounter and some good ol sex. It was probably the sex, but I like to give the wolf some credit as well. Bam! She’ll be here within the month.

  14. With my son, I didn’t even realize my period was late until it was a week late (and I am super regular). But then, with my second pregnancy, I actually FELT implantation and the next day my breasts became really sore and started swelling in a matter of hours, and my uterus became very bloated even though I was a week away from my period, so I knew. But I lost that pregnancy less than two weeks later. Then, the following month I was SURE I was pregnant again because I had all the symptoms and I analyzed them until I was blue in the face, but nope. Turned out to be a progesterone imbalance. And the month after that, I decided I wasn’t going to drive myself insane with symptom analysis, and since I had never gotten a positive on an OPK that month, I just chalked up every symptom to PMS. And wouldn’t you know it, I was pregnant. Your article cracked me up because I have SOOO been there.

  15. This could not be more spot on!! We tried to get pregnant with #3 for a year and every month I was thinking unkind things about how unfair it was that PMS and early pregnancy were basically the same bc I always thought I was pregnant and then I wasn’t. And it sucked. However, last month (March 10th at 4:58 pm in case you were wondering) I was driving home and suddenly felt complete exhaustion from my head to my toes. And I thought “I’m pregnant!” Which was absurd bc I have two toddler boys who don’t sleep well so of course I’m exhausted and also I’ve thought that about 27 times in the past year. But at 3:30 am I woke up and took a test and guess what? I’m pregnant! 🙂

    • I do remember the complete and total exhaustion being different than regular tired. That does seem to be one telling sign! Thanks for throwing us a bone, Mother Nature!

  16. i was a few days late on my monthly but, didn’t think too much of it. I ate some ice cream cake earlier in the day and thought that was giving me major stomach issues. About the third trip in for #2, I remembered my sister telling me diarrhea was one of the only things that let her know she was pregnant the second time. I was one week and 2 days late on my cycle and went the next day to get pregnancy tests!!

    • Interesting! My OBGYM was telling me constipation is also a sign. So it seems this can swing both ways 🙂 Fun!

  17. Ha, I love this post! Thanks Liz! I fortunately always knew I was pregnant because I would gag when brushing my teeth. I was also insanely hungry and would fill up after only a few bites, in the early stages of course. I guess I was a lucky one. I still often confuse possible pregnancy with PMS symptoms, but if I don’t gag when taking care of my oral hygiene and don’t feel the need to eat a cow, then I know I’m good!

  18. I started to suspect I was pregnant with my son because I was nauseous every night and could not stay awake before bedtime. Once I got to about 7 or 8 weeks I had morning sickness all day until about 14 weeks, super fun! Starting a few months after my son was born I regularly think “am I getting ready to start my period again or and I pregnant?”

  19. Yeah this happened to me. I could swear I was pregnang.

    I think I just contracted a stomach bug from my husband because two days earlier he had one and was sick.

    However I believed I was pregnant because I also got cramps and a stiff lower back.

    I also felt very nauseous

    Nature is cruel.

    What made it more cruel is that my period showed up EXACTLY on time.


    very frustrating if you are trying

  20. Hilarious post and so relatable! I’m going through the same thing right now…is that food poisoning, or pregnancy or PMS? Whatever it is, it sucks! And the crying. Enough with the crying already. Thanks for your post!

  21. Love this post! Its 3am and it just blow up our bathroom with diaherra! The bloating in my stomach freaking woke me up and sent me to the bathroom running! Every point you made in your post is going through my head! Am I pregnant or is this food poisoning? Or just my period coming? I’ve never had such obvious symptoms of early pregnancy. This is my second pregnancy. With my first pregnancy with my Daughter (now one years old), we were not trying with her. So any symptoms I had early on, I did not notice and thought they were always due to another reason. For example, I would have thought, if I had Sore breast, it was probably from that hard work out, or some slight morning sickness probably because I had gluten or cheese last night.
    But now, we are trying to conceive and I am reading into everything also. Smells are seeming stronger than normal, and my breast *might* be a little sore but that also might be my period coming. And now, this food posioning symptom…we just had a family party and I ate some pasta salad which might be the cluprit of the food posioning, OR this might be early pregnancy signs!!!! Thanks a lot Mother Nature!!!! Anyways your post was funny to read while laying sick in bed contemplating the same issues you posted about! Thank you!