Image by Nate Grigg (Creative Commons)
What to do first if you think you might be pregnant.
If you think you are pregnant the first step is to find out if you definitely are. To do this you need to have a pregnancy test. Finding out if you are pregnant is important so that you can get the right care early if you are continuing the pregnancy, access timely abortion if you are not continuing, and give yourself time to make a decision if you are unsure.
You can do a home urine pregnancy test, or you can go to your doctor or a family planning clinic to have a test. Home pregnancy tests are readily available in supermarkets and pharmacies. If you make sure that the test is in date and follow the manufacturer’s instructions correctly, the accuracy of these tests is 97%. Using the first urine sample in the morning makes the test more accurate. You need to do a urine pregnancy test after you have missed your period, or 16 days after the sex you are worried about. If you do a test too early such as before a missed period, it may not be accurate.
If the pregnancy test is positive, you can confirm the pregnancy with your GP, or a nurse or doctor at a family planning clinic. Seeing a nurse or doctor will also allow you to obtain further information, advice, assistance, or referral as needed. They can also do a pregnancy blood test which is more accurate than a urine test and can also give an estimation of how far pregnant you are.
If you have symptoms of pregnancy, and have had at least one positive home pregnancy test and you know that you do not want to continue the pregnancy, then you do not need to see a GP if you do not wish to, you can book into an abortion clinic without a referral.
If the pregnancy test is negative and your period still has not come, repeat the test again in a week. If it is still negative, then you might want to visit your GP or a family planning clinic.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy?
The symptoms of pregnancy vary for individual women. The most common symptom that occurs is no period, or your period being unusually short and light.
Other symptoms include:
- Swollen and tender breasts
- Nipple sensitivity
- Urinating more often
- Food aversions (finding the taste and smell of some foods very unpleasant)
- Food cravings
- Mild pelvic cramping which may feel like period cramps
- Feeling more emotional or moody
Some women will get just a few symptoms, some will get many or all of these symptoms, and for some, the only symptom they may have is missing a period.
How will I know how pregnant I am?
A pregnancy is calculated from the first day of your last normal menstrual period. If you see a doctor or nurse, they can help you to work out how pregnant you are from the first day of your last normal menstrual period. They may also use the results of a blood test to work it out, and possibly an ultrasound if you have a very irregular menstrual cycle or don’t know when your last period was. If you have an ultrasound and you are unsure if you are continuing the pregnancy make sure that you tell the doctor and the person doing the ultrasound so that they can approach it sensitively and appropriately.
Pregnancy is counted in weeks and days rather than months, and the length is referred to as ‘gestation’. For example: 8 weeks and 4 days gestation.
Pregnancy is divided into 3 trimesters:
- The first trimester is from the beginning to 12 weeks.
- The second trimester is from 13 weeks to 28 weeks.
- The third trimester is from 29 weeks to 40 weeks.