Before pregnancy

The best time to get pregnant

You are most likely to get pregnant if you have sex within a day or so of ovulation. This is usually about 14 days after the first day of your last period.  An egg lives for about 12–24 hours after it is released. For you to get pregnant, the egg must be fertilised by a sperm within this time. Sperm can live for up to seven days inside a woman’s body. So if you have had sex in the seven days before ovulation, the sperm will have had time to travel up the fallopian tubes to ‘wait’ for the egg to be released.

The signs of pregnancy

For women who have a regular monthly cycle, the earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Sometimes women who are pregnant have a very light period, losing only a little blood. Other signs of pregnancy are as follows:

  • Feeling sick – you may feel sick, or even be sick.  This is commonly known as ‘morning sickness’ but it can happen at any time of the day.  If you are being sick all of the time and cannot keep anything down, contact your GP.
  • Changes in your breasts – your breasts may become larger and feel tender, like they might do before your period.  They may also tingle.  The veins may show up more and the nipples may darken and stand out.
  • Needing to pass urine more often – you may find that you have to get up in the night.
  • Being constipated.
  • An increased vaginal discharge without any soreness or irritation.
  • Feeling tired.
  • Having a strange taste in your mouth – many women describe it as metallic.
  • ‘Going off’ certain things, for example tea, coffee, tobacco smoke or fatty food.

Pregnancy tests

Pregnancy tests can be carried out on a sample of urine from the first day of a missed period, which means that, if you are pregnant, you are about two weeks after conception. Some very sensitive tests can be used even before you miss a period.

You can collect urine at any time of the day.  Use a clean, soap-free, well-rinsed container to collect it.

Many pharmacists and most pregnancy advisory services also offer tests, usually for a small fee.  You can buy do-it-yourself pregnancy testing kits from pharmacists.  They can give you a quick  result and you can do the test in private.  There are a range of tests that are available.  How they work varies, so check the instructions.

Preconception advice

When planning for pregnancy it is important to consider a few important topics;

  • Pre-conceptual folic acid and vitamin D supplements
  • Try to keep to a healthy weight
  • Cut out alcohol consumption
  • Get support to stop smoking
  • Avoid use of drugs (recreational or misuse of prescribed medications)
  • Contact your Consultant or GP for advice if you have any underlying health conditions for example; Epilepsy, Diabetes, Heart disease, High blood pressure, Asthma, Autoimmune disorders, Mental health conditions.

Related links

Share this page

Investors In People