Next Steps After a Positive Pregnancy Test
Just took a positive pregnancy test? Don’t panic! Here’s what to do next.
So, you just got a positive pregnancy test. Now what? For some, it’s time to celebrate. Others might be taken by surprise. Whichever category you fall under, it’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next.
Whether it’s your first or fourth, finding out you’re pregnant is a life-changing and pivotal moment. Someone who’s been planning this for years might suddenly feel panicked at the changes looming ahead. If it comes as a surprise, you might feel happy or scared, or both! Just as there’s no correct way to feel after a positive pregnancy test, there are no “right” or “wrong” next steps.
Below is our comprehensive guideline for what the next steps are after a positive pregnancy test. Make a checklist so you can feel as prepared as possible in the early stages of pregnancy.
What to do after a positive pregnancy test: next steps
Consider taking a second test
Of all the questions running through your head, one of them might be, “How accurate are home pregnancy tests?” The answer is: very. At-home pregnancy tests are 99% accurate if taken correctly. That being said, it never hurts to double-check.
False positive pregnancy test
User error or an expired test can cause a false positive pregnancy test result. Other false positive pregnancy test causes include waiting too long to check for the result. In this case, it’s possible to misread the evaporation line as an indication of a positive pregnancy test. This is only an issue with certain types of tests; err toward using a digital test if you’re concerned.
Bear in mind, false positive pregnancy test results are possible but rare. If your test clearly indicates a positive result, chances are good that you’re actually pregnant.
Early positive pregnancy test
Certain types of tests can detect early pregnancy. But what does that mean, and how early can a pregnancy test show a positive result?
For those who’ve planned their pregnancy, certain at-home tests can be taken as early as ten days after conception. However, at-home tests are best used after your first missed period. Taking a test too soon could result in a false negative, even if you are pregnant.
Early testing can also detect what is called a chemical pregnancy, or very early-term miscarriages. Chemical pregnancies can give the impression of a false positive pregnancy test result, but the truth is they’re extremely common. To avoid disappointment, wait until you’ve missed your period to take an at-home test.
Make a doctor’s appointment
Visiting your doctor is the only way to confirm that your positive pregnancy test is accurate. This is done with an in-office pregnancy test that measures the amount of hCG (a hormone produced during pregnancy) in your blood.
Following this confirmation, schedule your first prenatal checkup. This appointment doesn’t usually happen until your eighth week of pregnancy. Still, it’s better to book this ahead of time and avoid unexpected wait times.
During your appointment, expect to go over the following:
- Medical and social history, including your family’s reproductive and gynecologic history
- A physical exam, including lab tests
- Ultrasound to calculate the due date
This is also your opportunity to ask questions about your care and discuss concerns you might have about your pregnancy.
Understand what’s coming for you and your baby
You’ve probably already noticed your body starting to change, and it’s only the beginning! Once you’ve confirmed your positive pregnancy test, start researching what’s in store for you over the next 9+ months. From navigating physical symptoms to planning for maternity leave, there’s a lot to take into consideration as you plan the next steps.
Observe pregnancy symptoms
It’s possible that your missed period is your first and only sign (so far) that you’re pregnant. However, this isn’t the case for everybody. One of the questions often asked is: Can you have pregnancy symptoms before a positive test result? And the answer is: absolutely. But each body is different, and if this is your first pregnancy, you could be in for a surprise.
Common early pregnancy symptoms include:
- Missed period
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Tender, swollen breasts
- Increased urination
Other symptoms that are less common but still possible (and perfectly normal!) include:
- Cramping and light spotting
- Mood swings
- Bloating and constipation
- Food cravings or aversions
- Nasal congestion
- Mild headaches
Remember, a lack of pregnancy symptoms doesn’t mean you’re not pregnant. It’s possible to go through your entire pregnancy without experiencing any of these things! So, if you’ve taken a positive pregnancy test but aren’t noticing any changes, don’t panic. As long as you and your baby are healthy, there’s nothing to worry about.
Decide on type of care
Getting that positive pregnancy test back is certainly the start of a very exciting time. It can also feel overwhelming, and some types of prenatal care can feel invasive. Luckily, there are several prenatal care options available to customize your experience.
Midwife vs. Doula vs. Doctor: Which one is right for me?
Did you know that giving birth in a hospital surrounded by doctors and nurses isn’t always the standard? Many different cultures employ midwives and other caregivers to help mothers throughout pregnancy and during labor.
Most women choose an obstetrician (or OB for short) to monitor their pregnancy and labor. An OB is a licensed medical doctor with years of specialized education and training. They’ll manage your care using a support team that can include nurses, other doctors, and even midwives. OBs will help you deliver your baby in the hospital.
Midwives are another great option. An extensive Canadian study actually found fewer instances of trauma or fatality in births assisted by certified midwives. Midwife-assisted births were also less invasive. Their approach tends to be more nurturing, and they err toward a more natural birthing experience. However, they won’t hesitate to refer you to an OB or other specialist if needed.
Doulas can help you find the right caregiver and come up with a birthing plan. They then work alongside your OB or midwife to offer physical and emotional support. Research has shown that mothers actually needed less pain medication during labor when their doula was present.
Other considerations to discuss with your chosen caregiver include but are not limited to:
- Type of birth (natural unassisted childbirth, assisted childbirth, and delivery by C-section)
- Delivery location (home, hospital, or birthing center)
- Plans for pain relief
- IV insertion preferences
- Who else will be present during the birth
- Plans for feeding your baby
- Potential newborn procedures (eyedrops, Vitamin K)
Develop healthy habits
Once you get your positive pregnancy test result, it’s time to start thinking about lifestyle. Your body undergoes a lot of changes during pregnancy and needs all the help it can get.
Here are just a few of the items to consider:
Ensuring you’re getting enough vitamins and nutrients throughout your pregnancy is crucial to your and your baby’s health. Unsure what to look for? Talk to your OB about their recommendations. You can also get a head start with our all-natural Pregnancy Bundle, featuring our Prenatal Vitamin and Energy Boost Drink Mix.
Learn more about pregnancy vitamins and supplements here.
If you were physically active before getting pregnant, you should be able to continue your routine in moderation. If you weren’t very active pre-pregnancy, now’s the time to get moving.
Doctors recommend getting a minimum of 30 minutes of low-impact aerobic exercise per day throughout your pregnancy. Studies have shown that maintaining a regular exercise routine improves posture and backaches, and limits fatigue. There’s also evidence to suggest it can prevent gestational diabetes and build up stamina in time for labor and delivery.
A pregnancy diet isn’t much different from what you might think of as a “healthy” diet. Greens, fruits, whole foods, and lean protein are all a must. There are certain foods you might need to cut as well. Deli meats, unpasteurized cheese, raw fish, and certain other types of seafood are a no-go. Plus, say goodbye to alcohol, and cut your caffeine intake to no more than 200mg per day.
Your body is hard at work growing your baby, and trust us—you’ll feel it. Those who’ve only just gotten their positive pregnancy test result might already be feeling a little more tired than usual. However, you’ll really start to notice it between weeks eight and 12. Get a good sleep every night, and nap if you need to.
Start saving up
Sit down with your partner or a financial adviser to go over your finances and maternity leave options. Is it possible to take a 12-month maternity leave, or do you need to return to work a little earlier? What options does your workplace offer? When and how can you add your baby to your health insurance plan? In many instances, newborns are only eligible for enrollment within 30 days post-birth, so plan to move quickly.
Now that you’ve gotten your positive pregnancy test results and know what to do next, get excited! Discuss with your partner who you want to tell and when, and get ready to celebrate. You have plenty of time to prepare for your baby’s actual arrival, so soak up this experience. You’ve got this!