First signs of pregnancy
Chances are you already know you’re pregnant. Getting pregnant might have been emotionally and physically hard, and taken a long or unexpectedly short time. Everyone reacts differently.
The first sign of pregnancy is usually missing a period, about 2 weeks after you’ve conceived. This isn't always reliable and if your periods aren’t regular you might not notice you’ve missed one.
Some women have a bit of bleeding as the egg embeds. Many women also experience tender breasts. This may be around the time they would have expected a period and can be confusing.
Home pregnancy test
A home pregnancy test is a reliable way of checking to see if you’re pregnant. You can do a test on the first day your period's due.
The test measures a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) in your urine. For the result to be positive, your body must be making enough for the test to pick it up, usually about 2 weeks after you conceive.
You can get a free pregnancy test, support and advice at a sexual health clinic.
Find a sexual health clinic in your area
If you’ve had assisted conception (such as IVF), you need to wait about 2 weeks after the transfer of an embryo before doing a pregnancy test.
When you find out you’re pregnant, you’ll have an ultrasound scan. From then on, you’ll have the same care as other pregnant women.
Dating your pregnancy
The start of your pregnancy's dated from the first day of your last actual period, although you probably conceived about 2 weeks after that. That means by the time you miss a period you could technically be 4 weeks pregnant if you have a 28-day cycle. But every woman's different.
Pregnancy usually lasts between 38 and 42 weeks. Your due date will be estimated when you attend your first ultrasound scan appointment. Most babies are born in the 2 weeks before or after this date.
When you know you're pregnant
As soon as you know you’re pregnant:
- phone your GP practice and ask how to make an appointment with a midwife
- stop drinking alcohol as there's no safe amount to drink
- make sure you eat a healthy diet and start taking folic acid
- be active every day and drink plenty of water to prevent constipation
- stop smoking and don’t take drugs
- you must stop dieting as you must not go on a weight-loss diet in pregnancy
- tell your GP, midwife and obstetrician if you’ve had mental health issues before
Seeing your midwife early
Seeing a midwife as early in your pregnancy as possible gives you and your baby the best start. You'll be able to discuss how your lifestyle might impact on your baby and the choices you can make during pregnancy.
How you might be feeling
You might be feeling:
- overjoyed and excited
- have mixed emotions or not feel the way you expected
Maybe your pregnancy is a surprise and it’s taking a while to get used to the idea. Your partner can feel the same.
Talk about your feelings
Whatever your situation, it’s important to talk about how you’re feeling and make sure you’ve got support.
Your midwife's there for you, dads and partners too.
If you’ve got any worries or questions, the people involved in your care are happy to listen and help give you the support you need.
Sometimes young people worry about sharing their pregnancy with a professional.
Young people aged 13 and over have the same rights to medical confidentiality (privacy) as an adult and the same rights and responsibilities as all parents.
It’s important you're able to:
- access the care and support you need and are entitled to
- speak to an adult you trust so you can get the support you need during your pregnancy and once your baby's born
Your midwife can help you find out more about the support available from the NHS and other services.
Your midwife or doctor won't tell anyone else about your pregnancy without your agreement if they believe:
- you fully understand the information and decisions involved
- there's no risk to your health or wellbeing
More about your right to confidentiality when using the NHS
Family Nurse Partnership
Most first-time young mums are eligible for support through the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP).
Specially trained FNP nurses:
- work with and support first-time young mothers during pregnancy and their child’s first 2 years
- can put you in touch with local young parent groups, where you can meet other young parents
The Scottish Government has more information about Family Nurse Partnership
Further information, other languages and alternative formats
Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.
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25 January 2023
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