What to do if you find out you are pregnant?

If you think you might be pregnant it is important to arrange an appointment with your GP; if you are pregnant, this will affect what you can eat, which medications you can take and what you can do in terms of lifestyle choices so it is best to find out as early on as possible so you can adapt your lifestyle and protect yourself and your baby.

Common signs of pregnancy include:

  • Nausea and sickness; although this is commonly known as morning sickness, it can occur at any time of the day.
  • Urinating more regularly
  • Changes in the size of your breasts and increased tenderness
  • Constipation
  • Experiencing an unfamiliar taste in your mouth (many women say this tastes metallic)
  • Food cravings
  • Vaginal discharge

If you do a pregnancy test and the results comes back positive it is almost certainly accurate. You should arrange to see your GP as early as possible. Your GP will confirm you are pregnant and put you in contact with your midwife; your midwife will organise your antenatal care and they will be your first port of call if you have any questions, concerns or you simply want to know a bit more about pregnancy. Your midwife will discuss your pregnancy with you; they will talk you about your diet, your lifestyle, vitamins you can take, working during pregnancy, medication and keeping healthy. You will be sent details of scans and appointments through the post.

Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception is an option if you discover you are pregnant and do not want to keep the baby. There are two methods of emergency contraception, which can be used to prevented unwanted pregnancy; these include the emergency contraceptive pill and the IUD (the copper intrauterine device). Both methods are more effective if used soon after having unprotected sex.

The emergency pill, known to many as the morning after pill, should be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex; the pill is more effective the sooner you take it after having sex. The success rate is 95 percent within 24 hours; the rate drops gradually as time passes and after 72 hours the pill will not work. The pill is now widely available from chemists at a cost of £26; it will only be prescribed to people over the age of 16. The emergency contraceptive pill is also available at GP surgeries and most family planning clinics free of charge; doctors can give the pill to people aged under 16, as well as those over 16. It is important to understand the emergency contraceptive pill should not be used as a regular form of contraception. The most common pill used is Levonelle, although a new pill has recently come onto the market; ellaOne can be taken up to 5 days after having unprotected sex but it is available only on prescription and patients must be aged over 18.

The emergency pill works in two ways; it thickens the mucus lining in the neck area of the womb, which makes it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg and it makes the inner lining of the womb thinner, which makes it harder for the fertilised egg to implant on the wall of the womb. Common side-effects of taking the pill include abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue and irregular periods.

The IUD is a small device, which is made from plastic and copper; it is inserted into the womb up until 5 days after having unprotected sex; this is carried out by a doctor or a nurse. The IUD works by preventing the sperm reaching the egg; it has a success rate of almost 100 percent. Possible side-effects of the IUD include heavy periods, longer periods and increased pain during menstruation.

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