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Pregnancy Test

You’re desperate to know but not sure how early you can take a test, or exactly how the ‘weeks’ are calculated. Here’s the info…

How soon you can take a pregnancy test

Step back from the supermarket shelves; you should wait until the first day of a missed period before you do a pregnancy test (Tommy’s, 2017). This is usually about two weeks after you think you conceived. So get your diary out and start counting.

Too keen to wait? Some tests are more sensitive than others and can be taken earlier (American Pregnancy Association, 2018). This might be four or five days before your period is due (NHS Choices, 2018).

If you can though, it’s most reliable to wait for the first day of your missed period. And that way you won’t get any upset from an inaccurate result.

Is a home pregnancy test reliable?

Yep, they’re around 97% accurate when done correctly but sometimes you might get a false positive result. The results can be wrong if a test is done too early. If you get a negative but still have pregnancy symptoms, take another test a week later (American Pregnancy Association, 2018).

Is it better to go to my doctor for a pregnancy test?

You can do a pregnancy test at your GP or chemist but it’s much more common now to buy a home test. This means you’ll get the news in your own bathroom.

The test can be done in two ways. Either dipping the end of the pregnancy test in the stream as you wee or into the wee collected in a container.

How do pregnancy tests work?

Pregnancy tests detect a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropic (HCG) (Tommy’s, 2017) which is an early sign of pregnancy. If you are pregnant, HCG will appear in your blood and wee as early as 10 days after conception (Medline Plus, 2018).

How will I know when I conceived?

If you get a positive test result on the first day of your missed period, it’s probably about two weeks since you conceived. Some pregnancy tests can also give an estimation of when you might have conceived based on the level of HCG too (NHS Choices, 2018).

Can I be pregnant but still have a period?

You definitely could think you’ve had a period. It’s common to experience light bleeding or spotting in the early weeks of pregnancy when the egg implants. But there are likely to be differences in texture, colour or amount of blood (Healthline, 2017).

I am trying to get pregnant, is there anything I could do or should be doing while trying?

You should take folic acid supplements (400 micrograms daily) while you’re trying to get pregnant. Although you might be eating foods with it in, it’s still recommended to take the supplements in order to reduce the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect like spina bifida (NICE, 2014).

I’m shattered – could this be an early symptom of pregnancy?

Yep, feeling tired and fatigue are common early signs of pregnancy. If you’re noticeably more exhausted than usual, it could be a sign that you’re pregnant (Mayo Clinic, 2017; Healthline, 2018).

What about feeling sick in the early stages of pregnancy?

Nausea and vomiting are the most common symptoms of pregnancy (Koren et al, 2002). Although you might have heard friends refer to morning sickness, it can occur at any time during the day or night too. Don’t worry though: for most women, sickness becomes a lot less severe in the second trimester (Healthline, 2018).

My senses of taste and smell are all over the place, could this be an early pregnancy symptom too?

Yep, this is another one. Some women get a strange metallic taste in their mouth during early pregnancy (Patient, 2017). You might be more sensitive to smell, particularly of cooking or certain food or go off certain foods you used to love (Healthline, 2018).

What about tender breasts? I feel as if my breasts are more sensitive.

And this one… In early pregnancy, hormonal changes can make your boobs feel sensitive, sore and swollen. This symptom will usually go away after a few weeks of pregnancy though (Mayo Clinic, 2017; Healthline, 2018).

I have to go to the toilet more often – is that a sign?

Oh yes, dashing to the loo more than often can be early sign that you’re pregnant. During pregnancy your body increases the amount of blood it pumps around the body. That means the kidneys process more fluid than usual which leads to more fluid in your bladder (Healthline, 2018). For more information on early pregnancy signs and symptoms.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

The HER Foundation provides information about hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).

American Pregnancy Association. (2017) Understanding pregnancy tests: urine and blood. Available from: [Accessed 15th October 2018].

Healthline. (2017) When you should take a pregnancy test. Available from: [Accessed 15th October 2018].

Healthline. (2018) Early pregnancy symptoms. Available from: [Accessed 15th October 2018].

Koren G, Boskovic R, Hard M, Maltepe C, Navioz Y, Einarson A. (2002) Motherisk- PUQE (pregnancy-unique quantification or emesis and nausea) scoring system for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 186(5):S228-31.

Mayo Clinic. (2017) Getting pregnant. Available from: [Accessed 15th October 2018].

MedlinePlus. (2018) Pregnancy test. Available from: [Accessed 15th October 2018].

NHS Choices. (2018) How soon can I do a pregnancy test? Available from: [Accessed 15th October 2018].

NICE. (2014) Maternal and child nutrition: Public health guideline [PH11]. Available from: [Accessed 15th October 2018].

Patient. (2017) Early pregnancy signs and symptoms. Available from: [Accessed 15th October 2018].

Tommy’s. (2017) How to know when you are pregnant. Available from: [Accessed 15th October 2018].

Tommy’s. (2018) Taking a pregnancy test. Available from: [Accessed 15th October 2018].


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