PREGNANCY

Pregnancy, the miracle of life, it’s an amazing thing, when you’re ready for it. Being a parent is a big deal, a very big deal, and it changes your life completely, that’s why it is something that should only be done when you’re really ready to take that step. Have a read of the information and points below and find out the best way to protect, prepare and inform yourself.

 

    FINDING OUT

    • All pregnancy tests detect the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which starts to be produced around 6 days after fertilisation.1
    • You can carry out most pregnancy tests from the first day of a missed period.1
    • A positive test result is almost certainly correct. A negative result is less reliable.1
    • If you don't know when your next period is due, do the test at least 21 days after you last had unprotected sex.1
    Pregnancy Test

    THE DETAILS

    Am I pregnant?

    All pregnancy tests detect the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). A positive test result is almost certainly correct. You can do a pregnancy test on a sample of urine collected at any time of the day. It doesn't have to be in the morning.1

    What if it’s negative?

    A negative result is less reliable. If you get a negative result and still think you're pregnant, wait a few days and try again. Speak to your doctor if you get a negative result after a second test but your period hasn't arrived.1

    HOW TO STAY NOT PREGNANT

    • There are a lot of contraception options out there.2
    Pregnancy counselling doctor

    PROTECT YOURSELF

    It’s super important to make sure you use your birth control the right way. This means you can’t forget to take your pill, change your ring, or get your shot on time — or you’ll be at risk for pregnancy. So, the best method of birth control for you is the one you’ll always use correctly.3 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.

     

      FINDING OUT

      • All pregnancy tests detect the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which starts to be produced around 6 days after fertilisation.25
      • You can carry out most pregnancy tests from the first day of a missed period.25
      • A positive test result is almost certainly correct. A negative result is less reliable.25
      • If you don't know when your next period is due, do the test at least 21 days after you last had unprotected sex.25
      Pregnancy Test

      THE DETAILS

      Am I pregnant?

      All pregnancy tests detect the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). A positive test result is almost certainly correct. You can do a pregnancy test on a sample of urine collected at any time of the day. It doesn't have to be in the morning.3

      What if it’s negative?

      A negative result is less reliable. If you get a negative result and still think you're pregnant, wait a few days and try again. Speak to your doctor if you get a negative result after a second test but your period hasn't arrived.25

      Pregnancy Test

      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.

      Abortion

      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 problems 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. metal 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

      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

      • There are a lot of contraception options out there.1
      Pregnancy counselling doctor

      PROTECT YOURSELF

      It’s super important to make sure you use your birth control the right way. This means you can’t forget to take your pill, change your ring, or get your shot on time — or you’ll be at risk for pregnancy. So, the best method of birth control for you is the one you’ll always use correctly.26 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

        If you’re breastfeeding, you can safely use hormonal methods. They won’t hurt you or your baby. You can start using the shot, IUD, and some types of birth control pills (called mini-pills) right after giving birth.4

        You may be able to get an implant or IUD in the hospital or at your postpartum checkup. Implants and IUDs are super effective, and prevent pregnancy for several years. Once these methods are in place, you don’t have to do anything (like remember to take a pill) to be protected from pregnancy. They’re set-it-and-forget-it birth control, which comes in really handy for busy new parents. For the first 3 weeks after giving birth, don’t use a method that has the hormone estrogen, like the pill, patch, or ring. After 3 weeks, you can start any of these methods.4

        For women who have a regular monthly menstrual cycle, the earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Women who are pregnant sometimes have a bleed similar to a very light period, with some spotting or only losing a little blood. This is called implantation bleeding. Some of the other early pregnancy signs and symptoms include Feeling sick, feeling tired, Sore breasts in early pregnancy, Peeing more often, constipation, Strange tastes, smells and cravings. If you have any symptoms, you're worried about, talk to a GP or your midwife.5

        Stomach (abdominal) pains or cramps are common in pregnancy. They're usually nothing to worry about, but they can sometimes be a sign of something more serious that needs to be checked. It's probably nothing to worry about if the pain is mild and goes away when you change position, have a rest, do a poo or pass wind. But if you have stomach pains and are worried, call your midwife or maternity hospital.6

        Harmless stomach pains, which can be dull or sharp, may be caused by:6

        • ligament pain (often called "growing pains" as the ligaments stretch to support your growing bump) – this can feel like a sharp cramp on one side of your lower tummy.
        • constipation – which is common in pregnancy.
        • trapped wind.

        Stretch marks are narrow, streak-like lines that can develop on the surface of the skin. They can be pink, red, purple or brown, depending on your skin color. They are common in pregnancy, affecting around 8 out of 10 pregnant women. Some creams claim to remove stretch marks once they've appeared, but there is no reliable evidence that they work. There is also limited evidence about whether oils or creams help prevent stretch marks from appearing in the first place.7

        The return of the uterus to a nonpregnant state after birth is called involution. This process begins immediately after expulsion of the placenta with contraction of the uterine smooth muscle. The uterus should not be palpable abdominally after 2 weeks and should have returned to its nonpregnant location by 6 weeks after birth.8

        It's common to feel tired, or even exhausted, during pregnancy, especially during the first 12 weeks or so. Hormonal changes in your body at this time can make you feel tired, sick, emotional and upset.5

        Breastfeeding may help prevent pregnancy if a woman is within six months of delivery, has not had a menstrual cycle AND the baby is only feeding on breast milk (no formula or soft food supplementation). All three of these criteria must be met for breastfeeding to be an effective form of contraception. In all other situations, ovulation can occur even when a woman is breastfeeding. The nursing mother should use birth control if she wishes to avoid pregnancy.9

        Of course, you can. Most women can use an IUD.10

        Many women think so. But studies have shown that the effect of the birth control pill on weight is small — if it exists at all. Instead, you may be retaining more fluid, which can make you feel as if you've put on weight, particularly in your breasts, hips and thighs. The estrogen in birth control pills does affect fat (adipose) cells, making them larger but not more numerous.11

        Breastfeeding may help prevent pregnancy if a woman is within six months of delivery, has not had a menstrual cycle AND the baby is only feeding on breast milk (no formula or soft food supplementation). All three of these criteria must be met for breastfeeding to be an effective form of contraception. In all other situations, ovulation can occur even when a woman is breastfeeding. The nursing mother should use birth control if she wishes to avoid pregnancy.9

        No, Resumption of fertility following cessation of contraception was not affected by use of contraception, type of contraception, duration of use and type of progesterone.12

        An IUD is an effective method of contraception. It protects against pregnancy for 5 or 10 years. The GP or nurse that fits your IUD will teach you how to feel for these threads and check that it's still in place. In rare cases, an IUD can make a hole in the womb when it's put in.11

        It is not necessary for the woman to have an orgasm to get pregnant.9

        Women who have used [oral contraceptives, or OCs] for four years or more should be reassured because we found no evidence that long-term OC use deleteriously affects fecundability.13

        Never reuse a condom. This increases the risk of pregnancy and passing on STIs.14

        You must swallow the pills within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. The sooner you take the pill, the more effective it will be.15

        No, it is not necessary to take a 'pill break' unless you want to get pregnant.16 Long-term use of oral contraceptives does not hurt a woman's chances of becoming pregnant.13

        References:

        1- The National Health Service (NHS). Doing a pregnancy test. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pregnancy-test/ . accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        2- Queens Land Health. 9 types of contraception you can use to prevent pregnancy. Available at: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/types-contraceptionwomen-condoms-pill-iud-ring-implant-injection-diaphragm. Last accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        3- Planned parenthood. What's the Best Kind of Birth Control for You? Available at: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/preventing-pregnancy-stds/whats-best-kind-birth-control#:~:text=The%20kinds%20of%20birth%20control,if%20you%20use%20them%20perfectly. accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        4- Planned parenthood. What are the Best Birth Control Options While Breastfeeding? Available at: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/breastfeeding/whats-best-birth-control-option-while-breastfeeding . accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        5- The National Health Service (NHS). Signs and symptoms of pregnancy. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/signs-and-symptoms-pregnancy/ . accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        6- The National Health Service (NHS). Stomach pain in pregnancy. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/stomach-pain-abdominal-cramp-pregnant/ . accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        7- The National Health Service (NHS). Stretch marks in pregnancy. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/stretch-marks-pregnant/ . accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        8- Perry S, Hockenberry M, Lowdermilk D, Wilson D. Maternal child nursing care. 5th ed. 2014. Available at: https://www.elsevier.com/books/maternal-child-nursing-care/perry/978-0-323-09610-2 . accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        9- Cleveland Clinic. Contraception Myths. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9137-contraception-myths . accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        10- The National Health Service (NHS). Intrauterine device (IUD). Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/iud-coil/ . accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        11- Mayo Clinic. Birth control pill FAQ: Benefits, risks and choices. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/birth-control/in-depth/birth-control-pill/art-20045136 . accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        12- Girum T, Wasie A. Return of fertility after discontinuation of contraception: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Contraception and reproductive medicine. 2018 Dec 1;3(1):9.

        13- Boston University school of public Health. Long-term Oral Contraceptive Use Doesn’t Hurt Fertility, Study Finds. Available at: https://www.bu.edu/sph/2013/04/04/long-term-oral-contraceptive-use-doesnt-hurt-fertility-studyfinds. Last accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        14- Mayo Clinic. Male condoms. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/condoms/about/pac-20385063 . accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        15- The National Health Service (NHS). How effective is emergency contraception? Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/how-effective-emergency-contraception/ . accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        16- Planned parenthood. How to Use Birth Control Pills | Follow Easy Instructions. Available at: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/how-do-i-use-the-birth-control-pill. Last accessed 18 Jun 2020.

        LEARN HOW TO TALK ABOUT IT WITH:

        Your HCP

        Your HCP

        Your healthcare provider knows the subject better than anyone; get the right answers for you

        Your Parents

        Your Parents

        They know you better than anyone, and they’ve been through it too

        Your Partner

        Your Partner

        You’re in this together, and not just in the bedroom, be honest

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        A coalition of international partners with an interest in sexual and reproductive health