Finding out

Whether or not you've done a pregnancy test, you should see a GP as soon as you think you're pregnant. If you're not yet registered with a GP, find a GP services near you

Your pregnancy will be treated confidentially, even if you are under 16. Your GP or midwife will tell you about your choices for antenatal (pregnancy) care in your local area. Being pregnant may affect the treatment of any current illness or condition you may have or go on to develop.

Knowing that you're pregnant

When you find out you're pregnant, you may feel happy and excited, or shocked, confused and upset. Everybody is different, and don't worry if you're not feeling as happy as you expected. Even if you've been trying to get pregnant, your feelings may take you by surprise. 

Some of this may be caused by changes in your hormone levels, which can make you feel more emotional. Even if you feel anxious and uncertain now, your feelings may change. Talk to your midwife or GP – they will help you to adjust, or give you advice if you don't want to continue with your pregnancy.  

Men may also have mixed feelings when they find out their partner is pregnant. They may find it hard to talk about these feelings because they don't want to upset her. Both partners should encourage each other to talk about their feelings and any worries or concerns they may have.  

However you're feeling, contact an NHS professional (such as a midwife, GP or practice nurse) so that you can start getting antenatal (pregnancy) care. This is the care that you'll receive leading up to the birth of your baby.

Find out about your schedule of antenatal appointments

Telling people that you're pregnant

You may want to tell your family and friends immediately, or wait a while until you have sorted out how you feel. Many women wait until they have had their first ultrasound scan, when they're around 12 weeks pregnant, before they tell people.

Members of your family or extended family may have mixed feelings or react in unexpected ways to your news. You may wish to discuss this with your midwife. 

Read about dealing with feelings and relationships in pregnancy

Flu and pregnancy

The seasonal flu vaccine is offered to all pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy. Pregnant women who catch the flu virus are at an increased risk of complications and flu-related hospital admissions. 

Find out about the flu jab and pregnancy

Talk to your GP or midwife if you're unsure about which vaccinations you should have.

Further information

If you're pregnant and not sure you want to be, the FPA leaflet Pregnant and don't know what to do? A guide to your options explains the choices you have. You can also talk to a GP.

Signs and symptoms

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 very light period, losing only a little blood.

Some of the other early pregnancy signs and symptoms are listed below. Every woman is different and not all women will notice all of these symptoms. 

Feeling sick during pregnancy

You may feel sick and nauseous, and/or vomit. This is commonly known as morning sickness, but it can happen at any time of the day or night. 

Around half of all pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting, and around 3 in 10 women experience nausea without vomiting. For most women who have morning sickness, the symptoms start around six weeks after their last period.

Read more about coping with nausea and morning sickness in pregnancy

If you're being sick all the time and can't keep anything down, contact your GP. The pregnancy condition hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a serious condition that causes severe vomiting and needs treatment.

Feeling tired is common in pregnancy

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

Read more about tiredness in pregnancy

Sore breasts in early pregnancy

Your breasts may become larger and feel tender, just as they might do before your period. They may also tingle. The veins may be more visible, and the nipples may darken and stand out.

Other signs of pregnancy that you may notice are:

Strange tastes, smells and cravings

During early pregnancy, you may find that your senses are heightened and that some foods or drinks you previously enjoyed become repellent. You might notice:

  • a strange taste in your mouth, which many women describe as metallic
  • that you crave new foods
  • that you lose interest in certain foods or drinks that you previously enjoyed – such as tea, coffee or fatty food
  • that you lose interest in tobacco
  • that you have a more sensitive sense of smell than usual – for example, to the smell of food or cooking

If your pregnancy test is negative

A positive test result is almost certainly correct. A negative result is less reliable. If you get a negative result and still think that you may be pregnant, wait a week and try again, or see a GP.

When you can take a test

You can carry out most pregnancy tests from the first day of a missed period. If you don't know when your next period is due, do the test at least 21 days after you last had unprotected sex.

Some very sensitive pregnancy tests can be used even before you miss a period, from as early as eight days after conception.

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.  

Where you can get a pregnancy test

You may be able to get a pregnancy test free of charge from your GP. The following places provide free pregnancy tests:

  • community contraceptive clinics
  • sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
  • some young people's services – call the our sexual health helpline on 0800 22 44 88 for details
  • Brook centres – for under-25s 

You can also buy pregnancy testing kits from pharmacists and some supermarkets. They can give a quick result and you can do the test in private.

How does a pregnancy test work?

All pregnancy tests detect the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which starts to be produced around six days after fertilisation.

Most pregnancy tests come in a box that contains one or two long sticks. You pee on the stick and the result appears on the stick after a few minutes. All tests are slightly different, so always check the instructions.

Pregnancy test results

A positive test result is almost certainly correct. 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 GP if you get a negative result after a second test but your period hasn't arrived.

Continuing with the pregnancy

If you're pregnant and want to continue with the pregnancy, contact your GP or a midwife to start your antenatal care

If you're not sure you want to be pregnant

If you're not sure about continuing with the pregnancy, you can discuss this confidentially with a healthcare professional. Your options are:

  • continuing with the pregnancy and keeping the baby 
  • having an abortion
  • continuing with the pregnancy and having the baby adopted

As well as a GP or a nurse at your GP surgery, you can also get accurate, confidential information – even if you're under 16 – from the following:

All these services – including community contraceptive clinics – are confidential. If you're under 16, the staff won't tell your parents. They'll encourage you to talk to your parents, but they won't force you. 

If you're under 25 and would prefer advice specifically for young people, the sexual health charity Brook provides a range of services for young people. The Brook website contains information on pregnancy choices. You can also use the Ask Brook text and web chat service.