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. Just as there’s no correct way to feel after a positive pregnancy test, there are no “right” or “wrong” next steps.
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.
Can my pregnancy test be a false positive?
Yes! 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.
Can my pregnancy test be a false negative?
Also yes. While certain types of tests can detect early pregnancy, 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.
What else can cause a false positive pregnancy test?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a pregnancy test could also read positive if you’re taking certain medications, including fertility drugs, and in the event of an ectopic pregnancy. For this reason (and others), it’s important to schedule a doctor’s appointment after getting a positive pregnancy test result.
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 Human chorionic gonadotropin (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.
If you have existing medical conditions, have experienced miscarriages in the past, are experiencing abnormal pain, or have any other atypical symptoms, your doctor will likely want to see you sooner.
During your first 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.
Decide the type of prenatal 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 norm? 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 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 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 Csection)
- Delivery location (home, hospital, or birthing center)
- Plans for pain relief
- Who else will be present during the birth
- Plans for feeding your baby
- Potential newborn procedures (eyedrops, Vitamin K)
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?” Each body is different, and if this is your first pregnancy, you could be in for a surprise.
What are the most common early pregnancy symptoms?
- 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:
- Mood swings
- Bloating and constipation
- Food cravings or aversions
- Nasal congestion
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. If you and your baby are healthy, there’s nothing to worry about.
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. As your baby develops, they’re going to need calcium to build bones and iron to make red blood cells, plus folic acid to support brain and spine development and loads of other important nutrients. And baby gets all this from what you’ve got stored in your body!*
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.
Exercising throughout your pregnancy not only helps you manage a healthy pregnancy weight gain—it also prepares your body for the strain of carrying and delivering a baby and builds the stamina you’ll need after childbirth, when you’re constantly lifting and cradling your newborn.
Healthcare providers 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.
What workouts are pregnancy friendly?
Brooke Cates, a fitness expert specializing in prenatal and postpartum fitness and the proprietor of Studio Bloom, recommends incorporating specific exercises during each trimester to aid the body in adapting to its evolving physical state and to facilitate a smoother transition back into exercise postpartum. Two of the primary focuses are core and pelvic floor exercises, which will help you build a deeper core-based connection before the real changes start to take place.
Cardio exercises like walking, swimming, jogging and stationary cycling are all recommended as safe options throughout all three trimesters.
In the first three months of pregnancy, experts recommend continuing with your regular routine as long as your pregnancy isn’t considered high risk.
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 from your diet 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.
Discovering that you're pregnant, whether planned or not, marks a pivotal moment in your life. It's crucial to approach this revelation with kindness toward yourself and acknowledge that experiencing a multitude of emotions is entirely normal!
In the initial days and weeks following a positive test, allow yourself the space to absorb the news. Take a moment to jot down any questions or concerns that arise and bring this list with you to your first appointment for discussion.
Lean on your spouse, partner, close friends, or family members for support—and perhaps to share in the celebration of this significant moment. Above all, give yourself the time to savor this period as you prepare for the journey of the next nine months and beyond.
You have plenty of time to prepare for your baby’s actual arrival, so soak up this experience. You’ve got this!
Q: Can home pregnancy tests give false positives?
A: Yes, user error or an expired test can cause a false positive. Waiting too long to check results may also lead to misinterpretation.
Q: Is a false negative possible with a pregnancy test?
A: Yes, testing too early, especially before a missed period, can result in a false negative.
Q: What can cause a false positive pregnancy test?
Certain medications, including fertility drugs, and ectopic pregnancies can lead to false positives.
Q: How accurate are at-home pregnancy tests?
A: At-home pregnancy tests are 99% accurate if taken correctly.
Q: When should I make a doctor's appointment after a positive test?
A: Schedule a doctor's appointment to confirm the pregnancy and discuss next steps.
Q: What happens during the first prenatal checkup?
A: The first prenatal checkup typically includes a medical and social history review, a physical exam, and an ultrasound to calculate the due date.
Q: What are the different types of prenatal care providers?
A: Options include obstetricians (OBs), midwives, and doulas, each offering unique approaches to pregnancy and childbirth.
Q: What are common early pregnancy symptoms?
A: Symptoms may include missed periods, nausea, tender breasts, increased urination, fatigue, cramping, and mood swings.
Q: Can I exercise during pregnancy?
A: Yes, low-impact aerobic exercises are generally safe. Consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.
Q: What foods should be avoided during pregnancy?
A: Deli meats, unpasteurized cheese, raw fish, certain seafood, alcohol, and excess caffeine should be limited or avoided.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.