- Pregnancy tests work by detecting a hormone in your urine
- Most pregnancy tests will work the first day of a missed period
- Tests that are done earlier than this may not be accurate
- If you don’t have regular periods, the earliest to do a test is 4 weeks (28 days) from the last time that you had unprotected sex. Nothing is perfect so always double check if you’re pregnant with your doctor
- Periods can be late for all sorts of reasons, don’t panic or make any rash decisions
Am I pregnant?
Pregnancy tests work by detecting hormones in your urine that only appear when you’re pregnant. Most tests are accurate the day after your period is late, but not everyone’s periods run like clockwork and in this case taking a test 4 weeks after unprotected sex is also fine. The best time to take the test is in the morning when urine is more concentrated and gives the test more chance of detecting the hormones, if they are there.
What if it’s positive?
If it’s positive, the simple answer is that you’re pregnant. Tests aren’t always 100% right though, so even if it does say positive, you should always follow this up with a visit to your healthcare provider to make sure and for further advice on what to do next.
What if it’s negative?
Tests these days are extremely accurate so after a negative result it’s unlikely that you are pregnant, but if missing your period still has you worried speak to your healthcare provider about it. Periods can be late for more reasons than pregnancy such as stress, change in diet or another health issue, so speak to a provider just in case.
OOPS, I DIDN’T MEAN TO GET PREGNANT
- Everyone reacts differently to the news they are pregnant, but whatever you do don’t panic!
- Deciding what to do next is an enormous decision and you shouldn’t go through this alone, speak to your partner, friends, family and healthcare provider
- Accept support and advice but don’t be pressured into anything you don’t want to do, you will regret it
WHAT TO DO NEXT?
You’re pregnant. Now this news will either make you delighted and excited for the future, or terrified of it, but don’t be, you have a few options open to you. You can choose to:
- continue with the pregnancy and keep the baby
- end the pregnancy by having an abortion
- continue with the pregnancy and have the baby adopted
It is important to take time to make the decision that’s right for you, but it’s also important not to delay making your decision. Don’t let anyone else pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do. The decision is yours. Stay calm, speak to your healthcare provider, your partner, family, and friends and make sure the decision you make is what you really want. Your healthcare provider is there for you at every stage of every decision so whatever you choose, stay informed, stay healthy and stay safe.
Keeping the Baby
If you decide to continue with the pregnancy you need to start your antenatal care (care during pregnancy), whether you are planning to keep the baby or to have it adopted. As part of your antenatal care, the healthcare provider will talk to you about: healthy eating and exercise, taking folic acid, stopping smoking, cutting out on alcohol, stopping recreational drug use, whether any medicines you are taking are unsafe during pregnancy, getting advice and tests for sexually transmitted infections.
You may be worried that you won’t be able to cope with looking after a baby. Your partner, family and friends can be a great support, and enable you to have some time to yourself. Your healthcare provider can offer advice and support, and put you in touch with local groups where you can meet other new mums and get the support you need.
Legal abortion is a safe way of ending a pregnancy. This is a decision you may make because you do not want to be pregnant and have a baby at this time. However, requirements for an abortion to be legal, differ from country to country. Therefore, if you think about an abortion, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible in order to not miss any deadlines. In many countries the deadline is until around the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, afterwards only upon a medical indication.
Any woman who has an abortion, whatever age she is, has a right for that information to remain confidential. This means that information cannot be shared with anyone else without your agreement. If you have any worries about confidentiality discuss this with the healthcare provider you speak to about your abortion. It is important not to delay making your decision.
In-clinic procedures are safer and easier the earlier it is done in pregnancy. The majority of abortions are carried out before 13 weeks of pregnancy, and most others are carried out before the 20th week. Having an abortion will not usually affect your chances of becoming pregnant and having normal pregnancies in future. The risk of problems occurring during an abortion is low, but there are risks with any medical procedure and there are more likely to be mental if an abortion is carried out unsafely or later in a pregnancy. In rare cases, serious complications may be fatal and harm your body emotionally and physically e.g. mental depression, damage to the cervix, womb or other organs, or excessive bleeding.
A woman can experience many different feelings after an abortion. Some women feel sad and upset immediately after an abortion but the majority don’t experience long-term psychological problems. However, make sure that you talk to your healthcare provider about effective forms of contraception which can protect you before pregnancy proactively and are less harmful.
Adoption could be a choice for you if you do not want to bring up the baby yourself but you do not want an abortion. Adoption is a way of giving the baby new parents who will bring them up as their own. You will continue with the pregnancy and give birth, but you won’t look after the baby, and you won’t have legal rights or responsibilities regarding the child once the adoption is complete. Adoption is a formal process organized by adoption agencies and local authorities, and made legal by the courts. Once an adoption is made legal the decision is final and cannot be reversed.
HOW TO STAY NOT PREGNANT
- Visit your healthcare provider and speak to them about reliable methods of contraception that would suit you
- Take our Questionnaire and do some research before you visit your healthcare provider
Whether you’ve had a close call or you just want to take extra precautions against pregnancy, the best thing to do is educate yourself. Learn what contraception methods are available then learn to talk openly about sex and contraception. The more you know, the more you can talk about it confidently the more chance you have of getting the answers you need and not finding yourself in any situations you don’t want to be in. This website is a great place to start but make sure you don’t make any big decisions without speaking to your doctor or healthcare provider.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Hormonal methods are a definite option while you are breastfeeding, but not all of them are appropriate: products containing estrogens should not be used because this hormone can have an effect on milk production. Progestogen on the other hand, is an option - especially those with "local" effects such as hormonal intrauterine systems (IUS). The volume and composition of breast milk are not affected. Injections, progestogen-only pills and hormonal implants are other contraceptive options for women who are breastfeeding. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider for further information.
Early in pregnancy, uterine cramping can indicate normal changes of pregnancy initiated by hormonal changes; later in pregnancy, it can indicate a growing uterus. Cramping that is different from previous pregnancies, worsening cramping, or cramping associated with any vaginal bleeding may be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, threatened abortion, or missed abortion.
Other physical effects that are normal during pregnancy, and not necessarily signs of disease, include nausea, vomiting, increase in abdominal girth, changes in bowel habits, increased urinary frequency, palpitations or more rapid heartbeat, upheaving of the chest (particularly with breathing), heart murmurs, swelling of the ankles, and shortness of breath.
The uterus returns to pre-pregnancy size after approximately 6 weeks. This is accomplished through a process called involution. During this process, the uterus has contractions that women may be able to feel, especially with breastfeeding.
Missing a period is usually the first signal of a new pregnancy, although women with irregular periods may not initially recognize a missed period as pregnancy. During this time, many women experience a need to urinate frequently, extreme fatigue, nausea and/or vomiting, and increased breast tenderness. All of these symptoms can be normal. Most over-the-counter pregnancy tests are sensitive 9-12 days after conception, and they are readily available at most drug stores. Performing these tests early helps to allay confusion and guesswork. A serum pregnancy test (performed in a provider's office or laboratory facility) can detect pregnancy 8-11 days after conception.
Unfortunately, striae (stretch marks) cannot be prevented. The degree to which a woman experiences stretch marks is determined genetically. Stretch marks usually occur when weight is lost or gained quickly. Using creams and gels rarely make a difference. Fortunately, stria fades with time and marks become silvery white, but they do not tan.
Fatigue in early pregnancy is very normal. Many changes are occurring as the new pregnancy develops, and women experience this as fatigue and an increased need for sleep. Lower blood pressure level, lower blood sugar levels, hormonal changes due to the soporific effects of progesterone, metabolic changes, and the physiologic anemia of pregnancy all contribute to fatigue. Women should check with their health care provider to determine if an additional work up, prenatal vitamin changes, and/or supplemental iron would be beneficial.
There is still a very widespread misconception (that has already provided many a baby with a little brother or sister) that women can't get pregnant while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding does actually have an inhibitory effect on fertility/ovulation. But it is only possible with hindsight for a nursing mother to know for sure whether or not she has ovulated, i.e. when she has her first period.
And once solids are introduced (when you start to give your baby other foods in addition to breast milk), there is an increased likelihood of you starting to ovulate again, with a return to fertility. If you don't wish to take any risks, then you should also use contraception while breastfeeding. Your gynecologist will tell you which methods of contraception are appropriate for you.