Advice on the different pregnancy testing kits available, what to expect when taking pregnancy tests and the reliability of positive and negative test restults.
Whether or not you have had a pregnancy test, you should see your doctor as soon as you think you are pregnant. Being pregnant may affect your GP's treatment of any current or future illness. Your GP will also be able to advise you about antenatal care in your area and put you directly in touch with a midwife if you wish.
The earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy, for women who have a regular monthly cycle, is a missed period. Sometimes women who are pregnant have a very light period, losing only a little blood. Other signs of pregnancy are:
- Feeling sick, you may feel sick, or even be sick, not necessarily in the morning, but at any time. If you are being sick all the time and can't keep anything down, tell your doctor.
- Changes in your breasts, often the breasts become larger and feel tender, rather as they may do before a period. They may tingle. The veins may show up more and the nipples may darken and stand out.
- Needing to pass water more often. You may find that you have to get up in the night to do so.
- Being constipated.
- An increased vaginal discharge without any soreness or irritation.
- Feeling tired.
- Having a strange taste in your mouth, many women describe it as metallic.
- 'Going off' certain things like tea or coffee, tobacco smoke or fatty food, for example.
- Some women don't even need these signs. They just 'know' that they are pregnant.
In order to be certain about your pregnancy symptoms you will need to take a pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests can be carried out on a sample of urine from the first day of a missed period, that is, about two weeks after conception. You can collect urine at any time of the day. Use a clean, soap-free, well-rinsed container to collect it. You can get pregnancy tests free or for a small charge from your GP or family planning clinic. Many pharmacists and most pregnancy advisory services also offer tests, usually for a small fee.
You can also buy do-it-yourself pregnancy testing kits from pharmacists. They can be expensive but give you a quick result and you can do the test in private. Follow the instructions to be sure of a reliable result.
A positive test result is almost certainly correct. A negative result is less reliable. You could wait a week and try again, or go straight to your doctor.
You may feel very happy or excited when you discover that you are pregnant, but you shouldn't worry if you don't. Even if you have been looking forward to pregnancy, it is not unusual for your feelings to take you by surprise. And if your pregnancy was unplanned, then you may feel quite confused. Give yourself a little time to adjust to the idea of being pregnant. Even though you may feel rather anxious and uncertain now, this does not mean that you won't come to enjoy your pregnancy or to welcome the idea of the baby.
You may want to share the news with family and friends immediately or wait a while until you've sorted out how you feel. Others in your family/extended family may have mixed feelings. Do begin to think about your antenatal care (that is, the care you'll receive leading up to the birth of your baby) and where you would like to have your baby. The earlier you begin to organise this, the more chance you will have of getting what you want.