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Unplanned pregnancy – what to do next?

So, you’ve taken your pregnancy test and the result is positive – it is completely normal to feel somewhat overwhelmed or surprised. Whether it was a result you were expecting or not, it is natural to feel apprehensive. Making a decision about an unplanned pregnancy is personal; information and support helps, but only you can know what is best for you and your situation…

Mixed feelings

It is completely ok to have mixed feelings if you find yourself pregnant unexpectedly. Talking to people you trust, whether that be family, friends or your partner, about your options is important and can be reassuring. You may prefer to speak to someone less close to you; if you can speak to your local GP or someone at a local sexual health clinic then this will all be kept confidential. Regardless of how you move forward with your pregnancy, you may find it helpful to build a support system.

Explore your options

When you become aware of an unexpected pregnancy it is also completely natural to feel dazed by your options, especially if you do not have a support system in place. It is normal to ask yourself questions like, What should I do if I’m pregnant and I don’t want to keep the baby? Or, Am I ready to become a parent? It can be difficult to answer these, but you are the only person who can decide on which of your pregnancy options is best for you.

What can help me decide?

Most people need to think carefully about a number of things before making a decision about an unplanned pregnancy, whether that be; work, education, money, life goals, health or safety. Consider how you feel when you think about abortion, adoption or keeping the baby and think about what you want for your own future. It may be helpful to ask yourself questions like, How would my decision affect me?, Will I have the support I need? Or Am I ready to go through pregnancy and childbirth? There are lots of different factors to consider.

If you are uncertain, alone or afraid, then please consider contacting these organisations who can help you. Everything discussed is always private and confidential.

Supporting depression in pregnant women

Pregnancy is considered a time of joy and excitement, but some women can also feel stressed and anxious… Research has suggested that 7% of women who are pregnant experience depression during their pregnancy1. Most people tend to go through periods of feeling down or upset, but when you are depressed you can feel persistently sad for long periods of time, rather than just a couple of days. Here we explain the signs of antenatal depression and how to find the help you need.

What is antenatal depression?

Antenatal depression is depression that is experienced throughout pregnancy (and can sometimes be referred to as perinatal depression). Many people are aware of postnatal depression (which happens after pregnancy), but it is lesser known that you can experience depression during pregnancy as well. Common signs of antenatal depression are feeling sad for a long time period, feelings of worthlessness, tearful for no apparent reason and generally feeling as if you are unable to cope. With the normal pregnancy hormone imbalances, it can be hard to differentiate between the two. 

What causes antenatal depression?

Antenatal depression can happen at any given point during a pregnancy. It is mainly caused by a hormonal imbalance, although as all women experience hormonal changes when they are pregnant it is unlikely to be the only cause. Other things that can play a part can be unplanned pregnancy, difficult childhood experiences, poor self-esteem, isolation, lack of support, previous miscarriages and previous difficult birthing experiences.

What can I do to help myself?

It is natural that you might feel isolated or confused when going through antenatal depression, but it is key to not keep it to yourself. It is important that you try to speak to your midwife or GP if you start experiencing these feelings to discuss treatment options; many women can feel embarrassed or worried about depression and typically don’t want to open up as they are concerned about what people may think. There are also some self-help methods that you can use: talking to friends and family can help, boosting your wellbeing through relaxing activities like pregnancy yoga, meditation or mindfulness can also help. It can also help to eat healthily, getting outside for some fresh air each day and doing moderate exercise whenever you can.  

You’re not alone

If you need help then don’t feel afraid about seeking professional guidance; counselling and talking therapies can help enormously, as professionals can suss out what is contributing to your depression. It is important to talk through these options with your GP or with mental health organisations like MIND.

See our website for more helpful support articles on pregnancy.
References

[1] Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/more-women-are-depressed-during-pregnancy#1 [accessed 14 February 2020]

Pregnancy signs and symptoms uncovered

If you think you are pregnant and find yourself obsessing over pregnancy signs and symptoms, do not worry, as this is completely normal and many women do it. While ultrasounds and pregnancy tests are the only way to conclude if you’re actually pregnant, there are many signs and symptoms to look out for too. Some people believe missed periods are the only sign, but there are many others to consider, like feeling sick, feeling fatigued or developing a heightened sense of smell. Early Bird Swift, the award-winning pregnancy test brand, explores early pregnancy signs and symptoms to be aware of…

When do pregnancy symptoms start?

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to early pregnancy symptoms, although it is likely that most women will start to feel the symptoms of pregnancy four weeks after conceiving1. What can be even more confusing, is that early symptoms can actually mimic symptoms you would experience before and during menstruation. Common symptoms of both menstruation and pregnancy are a sudden increased appetite, breast tenderness and stomach cramping – so it is hard to differentiate between the two! It is important to remember that these differences are subtle and vary from woman to woman.

Most common signs and symptoms of pregnancy

A woman’s body goes through so many changes during pregnancy. The first indication of pregnancy tends to be missing a period or having a lighter period than normal. The second sign tends to be morning sickness – anything from nausea to actually throwing up. Nausea and/or vomiting are said to affect 70 – 85% of pregnant women, as sickness is triggered by hormonal changes during pregnancy2.

Fatigue also ranks highly among symptoms of pregnancy, as levels of the hormone progesterone tend to soar in the early stages of pregnancy and can actually send you to sleep (if a high amount is emitted). Another very common sign is breast tenderness, which is also triggered by increased levels of progesterone and oestrogen.

Other signs of pregnancy that you may notice

Change in mood is another sign that could suggest pregnancy. As previously mentioned, fluctuation in hormone levels can affect both your body and mind. As well as adjusting to shifting hormone levels, mood changes can also be a side effect of the physical changes to your body during pregnancy such as morning sickness and tiredness.

Another lesser-known symptom is smell sensitivity. It could be toiletries, food or drink that may become more (or less) appealing to you, and although some studies have seen a link between sense of smell and pregnancy hormones, there is not a clear answer to why this happens. Feeling bloated is another symptom you may not really notice, as hormonal changes slow your digestive system down.

It is fair to say that some of the symptoms listed above could point to different explanations other than pregnancy, but when experienced together they do tend to point to becoming a mum-to-be. If you are experiencing multiple symptoms, then it may be time to take a pregnancy test or book a visit to the doctor.

References

[1] Metro: https://metro.co.uk/2017/08/16/when-do-pregnancy-symptoms-start-and-what-are-they-6853716/

[2] Live Science: https://www.livescience.com/44550-early-signs-pregnancy.html

 

Staying healthy during pregnancy

Pregnancy and becoming a parent is an exciting new chapter in your life, but this life change can also feel all-consuming. Staying healthy in your day-to-day life can be tricky enough, so staying healthy when pregnant can be an even harder task, as fluctuating hormones can make you feel lethargic and prone to snacking! Here we give you a practical guide on how to stay healthy throughout pregnancy…

Eating a balanced diet

Eating a healthy and nutritious diet is especially important if you’re pregnant, as your growing baby relies on you to provide nutrients, to help them develop into a happy and healthy baby. This topic tends to be the most talked about for mothers-to-be and is normally full of advice of things to eat and not to eat. Generally speaking, a healthy pregnancy diet includes a variety of foods from the four main groups: foods that are rich in protein, dairy, fruit and veg and starchy foods – potatoes, bread and pasta!

Keep hydrated

When you’re pregnant, you need to drink even more water than the average person to enhance digestion, produce extra blood and help with the general strain that pregnancy can create. It is recommended that you drink 8-12 glasses of water a day. If you struggle to drink that much, try changing things up by adding fruits such as lemons and limes to your water, or increase your fruit and vegetable intake (as they have water too!).  

Get plenty of sleep

It is completely normal to feel tired when pregnant, as your body is working overtime to protect and nurture your developing baby! As well as physical changes, emotional factors can also play a role. The excitement and anticipation of having a baby can be stressful and can keep you watching the clock, as you start to realise how much you need to do before the baby arrives. To wind down before you go to sleep, try curling up with a good book, have a relaxing cup of camomile tea or a long hot bath – or all three!

Stay active!

Staying active during your pregnancy can boost your health and help you to adapt to the changes your body is going through. Spending too much time sitting down can be harmful to your health, lead to too much weight gain and increased pregnancy aches and pains. If you didn’t exercise a great deal before becoming pregnant, there are lots of little ways to improve your fitness. Pregnancy yoga, swimming or walking can all be enjoyable as well as fitness-boosting! If you’re lacking time to fit this in, focus on trying to walk more in your daily tasks i.e. have a brisk walk on your lunch break, climb the stairs instead of getting the lift and taking the dog for an extra walk.

See our other helpful articles on pregnancy here.

Ovulations kits vs ovulation apps

When deciding to bring a new baby into the world, whether that means starting a family or trying to get pregnant again, you may find it helpful to chart out your ovulation to see when you are most fertile. By delving into your fertility, you will become more in tune with your body whilst increasing your chances of conceiving.

These days the amount of options for charting your ovulation can be overwhelming, so the question remains which option has the most benefits? Early Bird Swift, the award-winning pregnancy test brand, shares insights into the great debate of home ovulation kits vs ovulation apps.

The pros and cons of ovulation apps

Technology has brought a great deal of innovation to the healthcare industry and fertility apps are at the heart of this. There are so many apps to choose from, that you are truly spoilt for choice! Most of the apps tend to track your period and ovulation and use this information to show you your cycle, when you can expect your period and favourable days for conception. Although ultimately the question remains, how effective can an app be for plotting ovulation?

Researchers at the Stanford University in California analysed over 200,000 users of two well-known ovulation apps and found that, whilst the data they returned was fairly accurate, they were not exact. The study concluded that the apps didn’t tend to work as well for anyone who did not have regular ovulation.  So, when using any ovulation apps, it is worth viewing them as a supportive assistant that helps you to get better in touch with your reproductive system. Using an app isn’t going to help you get pregnant overnight, but it certainly helps you to make sense of what is happening in your body. By being mindful of all the factors that play a role in getting pregnant your chances of getting pregnant will certainly increase.

The pros and cons of ovulation predictor kits

Ovulation predictor kits are a popular way to track your ovulation to see when you are most fertile. These prediction kits work slightly differently to apps, as they detect a surge in the luteinizing hormone (LH), which generally appears 24 to 36 hours before ovulation.

There are many pros of ovulation predictor kits, including how easily accessible they are as you can purchase them at your nearest pharmacy without a prescription. Another positive is how easy they are to use, as they simply require you to urinate on the test stick. It is possible to say that ovulation kits may be more accurate than apps, as it is said, that if used correctly, ovulation kits are around 99% accurate. Although, it is worth keeping in mind that the kits are only measuring the LH surge that takes place before ovulation begins.

So, which one should I use?

Fertility tracking is not a perfect science, the information available to you from both an app or kit will help you to understand your body and your fertility in more detail. Whether you choose an app or kit comes down to your own personal preference and your fertility needs! If you are struggling to conceive then it is always a good idea to visit your GP for a check-up.

Managing pregnancy the second time round

Finding out that you are pregnant for the second time is an exciting time! After all, you have the benefit of experience and knowing the changes your body will go through. It’s natural to also feel apprehensive, as you’ll now be learning to care for your first born whilst coping with your own physical and emotional needs during pregnancy. HILDA (The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) researched the effect of mental health in second time pregnancies and found that a mothers’ mental health can decline after giving birth for the second time, so it is important to make your self-care a priority at this incredible time.

Worries are completely normal, and you should not feel alone in your journey. Early Bird Swift, the award-winning pregnancy test brand, shares advice on managing pregnancy the second time round…

Will there be any differences from my first pregnancy?  

It is hard to say whether there will be large differences from your first pregnancy. Some second-time pregnancies tend to have the same symptoms as the first, but some expectant mothers end up having a different range of symptoms.

You are likely to be in a different mindset than you were during your first pregnancy, as your life mostly revolves around your first child, naturally as they depend on you. Therefore, you likely have less time for yourself than with your first pregnancy and could feel more tired as a result of it.

It is completely natural to feel guilty about the upcoming birth of your second child and how this will affect your first born but try to remind yourself of all the positives. Your first born will adjust from the experience and once they have an understanding, they will love their new sibling. It is said that some siblings tend to encourage empathy in one another, and the other obvious positive is that they will always have a trusty companion!

Looking after yourself and your first child

As you’ll remember from the first-time round, pregnancy is a life changing experience, but you have every right to feel apprehensive about juggling between looking after yourself and your first born. It is important to ask for support from friends and family if possible to ensure you try to have more ‘me time’, like doing a yoga class, going out for a date night with your partner or catching up on some housework (this can feel very therapeutic without a toddler around!). Relax and look after your body as much as possible.

Pregnancy can be emotionally challenging, so it is important to be kind to yourself. Unlike your first pregnancy you have more to manage at home. So, when you are feeling tired when trying to achieve the things you used to easily do, let it go. If your laundry piles up, then it really isn’t the end of the world!

Involving your first born in your pregnancy

Involving your first born during your new pregnancy is key to helping them get excited about the birth of their new brother or sister. When telling your first born about the new pregnancy, let their questions guide the amount of detail you go into. The most natural question will probably be around where the baby is coming from and when it will arrive. If they are asking more questions and seem very interested, then it’s a great idea to encourage them by asking for their ideas on baby names – this will make them feel more involved. Furthermore, you could ask them to help you pack a bag for the hospital (even as a roleplay scenario) to get them excited for your new arrival.

Tips for boosting fertility

When you and your partner have made the choice to try for a baby, it is the start of a life-changing journey. Naturally, some couples conceive quicker than others and lots of variables can affect this. Whilst there is no rush, as nature will take its course if both you and your partner are fertile, there are actions you can take to enhance your fertility levels. Early Bird Swift, the home pregnancy test brand, shares its advice…

Timing is everything

A lot of couples assume that the more they are having unprotected sex, the more likely they are to conceive. Whilst there is some truth to this, a woman’s monthly window of fertility is affected by their ovulation cycle. Ovulation takes place around two weeks before your period, which makes your most fertile time the seven days before your expected ovulation. Having unprotected sex during this time may help increase your chances of conceiving, but couples shouldn’t feel limited to setting calendar schedules!

Healthy lifestyle

Before pregnancy, you should start as you mean to go on, beginning with a healthy lifestyle. From reducing alcohol consumption and caffeine, to eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of sleep, your body will thank you ahead of conception. The more relaxed and healthier your body feels, the better your hormones will react, improving the quality of your menstrual cycle. The same advice applies to men, as a healthy lifestyle can enhance sperm count and quality.

Exercise and mindfulness

It has been scientifically proven that being under or overweight can have negative effects on ovulation and fertility. Establishing a weekly routine of moderate exercise will benefit your health and body prior to, during and after pregnancy. Furthermore, exercise is not only great for physical health, but mental health too. Yoga and mindfulness classes can help reduce stress and tension which are again factors that can disturb the regularity of women’s menstrual cycles.

The above advice can enhance fertility but cannot guarantee conception. If you and your partner have been trying unsuccessfully for over a year, you may be best to visit your GP to investigate if there are any underlying medical conditions affecting conception.

 

Body image during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time when women potentially experience the biggest changes to their bodies in their lives so far – both physically and mentally. It’s therefore not surprising that adjusting to these changes can take time. A common association relating to pregnancy is the presence of the ‘rosy glow’, but behind the glow, physical body changes can actually cause some women worry and anxiety as expected.

How does pregnancy affect body image?

In the age of social media, societal pressures are at an all-time high and women can feel expected to conform to an ideal weight, even during their pregnancy! Pregnancy body image concerns are widespread, and recent research undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation revealed the extent of how many women feel negative about their body image during pregnancy. The survey reported that ‘More than half (54 per cent) of the women aged 25-34 who had been pregnant felt more negative about their body image after pregnancy compared to before they were pregnant.

Your body is a temple for your baby

It’s easy to get caught up in the negative effects of pregnancy, but it is important to realise the value in the changes that your body is going through. When you are pregnant, your body is working hard to make changes to accommodate the birth of your baby. The most common changes are fluctuating hormones and physical changes, such as stretch marks and weight gain, which are only natural! It is important to not pay attention to the scales, as giving birth to a healthy baby is your priority. It is also common to have an increased appetite during pregnancy, especially when morning sickness fades and cravings increase. Do not feel guilty about this, instead eat a varied diet with treats in moderation, as you need more calories to feed your ever-growing baby!

How to focus on body acceptance and body appreciation

Focusing on body acceptance and body appreciation during pregnancy can be difficult, but research suggests that a combination of exercise, looking after your wellbeing and having a good support network can really help. If you are lucky to have a reassuring support network, it is definitely worthwhile sharing your body issue worries with them, as it is likely that many of your friends and family can relate. Being prepared with maternity clothes can also increase your confidence. Prioritising comfort will make you feel better in yourself and today as much of a fashion-focus is given to maternity wear, so you do not have to compromise style for practicality!

body image during pregnancy

Relieving pregnancy stress

Life stresses can get the better of all of us. Yet, when you are pregnant, you may feel the effects of stress even more when preparing for your new life chapter. Your body is changing and growing a baby can naturally cause your body to feel tired as you get further into your pregnancy experience. Here we advise how you can relieve some stress during pregnancy…

Yoga and meditation

Pregnancy yoga is a great way to stay active whilst pregnant and can improve your posture without putting too much strain on your body. With relaxation and breathing techniques a key part of a yoga session, you can wind down and calm your mind. Yoga has been recognised for reducing anxiety and can even prepare you better for labour. Meanwhile meditation at home can also be great for stress reduction. Mobile apps such as Calm or Headspace can help you zone out from your worries and free your mind. Mindfulness should not be underestimated throughout your pregnancy.

Take a break

You may feel like you have particular tasks to achieve or complete before your baby comes, for example at work or in your home, but try not to push yourself too far. Recognise when you’re tired and listen to your body – take the time out to sit and watch your favourite TV show or pamper yourself when you need to. If you’re also used to being a social butterfly, it isn’t unusual to find yourself struggling to keep up with your busy events diary. Friends and family will understand if you want to ease off from evening dinner dates or Saturday shopping sprees. Relax whilst you can!

Sleep, sleep, sleep!

Without sufficient sleep each night, we can feel more stressed by everyday situations. One of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy is the craving for more sleep, and it’s unsurprising – it’s hard work for your body to grow a baby! You should try to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, although this can become more difficult if you are in discomfort towards the third trimester and beyond. Have a warm bath, try a pregnancy pillow and wind down before bed to increase the chance of a good night’s sleep.

Talk to friends and family

It is good to talk! If you have any worries that are causing you stress in your pregnancy, the best thing to do is talk to people you can trust rather than hold it in. Your friends and family are sure to be understanding and offer you help or advice to ease your woes. If you feel that talking to a professional would suit you better, confide in your midwife or GP for support. You are certainly not alone!

Relieving pregnancy stress

You’re pregnant – what next?

You have taken a pregnancy test and your result has shown a positive reading. It is likely that you feel shocked or slightly overwhelmed, whether it is the result you hoped to receive or not, and this is only natural. You should take some time to let the news settle in and confide in a loved one before you think about your next steps…

 

If you’re happy to be pregnant

This is the news you’ve been hoping for or you’ve been trying to conceive for some time. This is a new chapter in your life, and it is exciting how things will change for you. Make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. When you confirm with your doctor that you are pregnant, your antenatal care will begin. The midwifery team will be informed that you are pregnant, and you will receive an appointment to meet with them around week 8-10 of your pregnancy.

Your health can have a heavy influence on your growing baby’s development, and so avoid drinking alcohol, taking illegal substances and smoking cigarettes throughout your onward pregnancy.

 

If you don’t want to be pregnant

It’s okay to feel this way and you should not hide from it. Everybody’s circumstances are different, and your doctor will not judge you, but booking an appointment with them is an essential first step. You may have already made your mind up about what you want but there may be other options available to explore. Your final decision should be carefully considered as it can ultimately change your life either way. Your options are…

• You have the baby – you may feel that your circumstances aren’t perfect, but you’re going to make it work.

• You have the baby, but you opt for adoption – this is a way of providing your child with new legal parents, which you see as the best outcome for you and baby.

• You end the pregnancy – you feel it is the right thing to do in your circumstances and you’ve thought a lot about it. To get an abortion you will need a referral from your doctor.

The important thing is that you stay calm and think rationally about your next steps. You’re not alone. If you still feel uncertain, there are organisations that can help. Visit our Contacts for Help page for more information.

 

You're pregnant - what next