Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
You’ve taken a home pregnancy test and gotten a positive result! Congratulations! You may be feeling excited, overwhelmed, anxious, or countless other emotions. So what now? You’re standing at the very beginning of a pregnancy journey and likely have no idea where to even begin. Relax, pregnancy is long and fortunately you don’t have to figure everything out overnight! Let’s talk about what to do after a positive home pregnancy test.
Table of contents
- Home Pregnancy Tests: How Do They Work?
- What to Do After a Positive Home Pregnancy Test: Call Your Healthcare Provider
- What to Do After a Positive Home Pregnancy Test: Your Due Date
- What to Do After a Positive Home Pregnancy Test: Focus on Health
Home Pregnancy Tests: How Do They Work?
How does a home pregnancy test work? You pee on a stick, some magic happens, and it tells you if you’re pregnant or not, right? Well, sort of. Pregnancy tests, both the urine type you can buy over the counter and the blood type your doctor might use, look for hCG in your blood. Human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, is a hormone that’s only present in your body only during pregnancy (1). It is produced by the placenta and passes into your bloodstream and urine when the fertilized egg implants in your uterus (2). By the 4th to 6th week of pregnancy, you likely have enough hCG in your blood for a urine pregnancy test to detect. You may be able to get a positive result even sooner by using first-pee-of-the-morning urine, because it is more concentrated than during the day after you’ve started drinking water.
What to Do After a Positive Home Pregnancy Test: Call Your Healthcare Provider
After getting a positive result on a home pregnancy test, you’ll want to call your healthcare provider. They can schedule you to come in and have a blood test to confirm the results. They can also give you some basic information to get you started on having a healthy pregnancy until you have your first prenatal visit.
Okay, so you need to make a call, but who do you call? If you have a relationship with an obstetrician-gynecologist or a midwife already, that’s a good start. If not, spend a few days researching options and asking friends for recommendations. Remember that you’re not stuck forever with the person you see first. If you find that you don’t click with them, or if you decide to switch types of providers (for example, using a midwife instead of an obstetrician), you can make the change at any point in your pregnancy.
When is the First Prenatal Appointment?
Your doctor or midwife will likely want to see you for the first time at around the 8th week of pregnancy. Don’t put off calling, though. Many providers have wait times of a few weeks. It’s best to call after you’ve gotten a positive home pregnancy test and get everything lined up for that first prenatal appointment.
What to Do After a Positive Home Pregnancy Test: Your Due Date
One of the very first things you’ll want to know is when your baby will be born. This is done by calculating your estimated due date (EDD). The key piece of information you must have on hand is the date of your last menstrual period. Take a quick break and write down the date now, while it’s fresh in your mind. This will ensure that you have the most accurate information to give your caregiver.
To calculate your due date, count 40 weeks or 280 days from the first day of your last menstrual period (3). If your last period started on January 15th, for example, your EDD would be October 22nd. If your last period started on June 30th, your EDD would be April 7th.
What to Do After a Positive Home Pregnancy Test: Focus on Health
Now that you know your body is creating a baby, you’ll want to focus on creating a healthy, nurturing environment for growth. This means that you, personally, want to be in the best health possible. If you’ve been purposely trying to get pregnant, you may have made some lifestyle changes already. If this pregnancy is a surprise, now is the time to make any necessary adjustments to your lifestly.
Take a prenatal vitamin
A well-balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables is often all a non-pregnant woman needs in order to get the vitamins and minerals necessary to support good health. However, during pregnancy, many caregivers recommend supplementing your diet with a daily prenatal vitamin (1). This helps ensure that both you and baby are nutritionally cared for.
It is especially important in early pregnancy (and before pregnancy, if possible) to get enough folate or folic acid. Fortunately, it’s found in all prenatal vitamins. Folic acid significantly reduces the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly — disorders that develop early in pregnancy (2).
Eat healthy foods
Even if you’re taking a prenatal vitamin, the best way to nourish your body and your baby is with a healthy diet. Now is the time to focus on eating a wide variety of foods, aiming for those that are natural and unprocessed. Choose lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Also drink plenty of water.
You may find yourself completely exhausted in early pregnancy. However, exercise can actually boost your energy levels, reduce some unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy, improve your mood, and help you sleep better. If you didn’t already have an exercise routine, you can almost always start exercising during pregnancy. Just run your exercise plan by your caregiver first, so he or she can give you some medical guidance, if needed.
Don’t smoke or drink
If you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, it is important that you stop right away. In addition to exposing the baby to toxins, smoking causes the blood vessels of the umbilical cord to constrict, decreasing the flow of oxygen to baby. And alcohol can lead to permanent brain damage and growth problems, such as those found in fetal alcohol syndrome.
Many caregivers also recommend giving up caffeine, and almost all suggest decreasing your consumption of it. While studies have yielded conflicting results on the risks of caffeine, it’s sound advice to err on the side of caution. The March of Dimes recommends limiting caffeine intake to no more than 200mg a day.
Be careful with medication
Talk to your doctor or midwife about any medications or herbal supplements you take. This includes essential oils, since only certain oils are safe during pregnancy and others have known risks to your baby. Remember, even if you haven’t yet had your first appointment, you can call and talk to a nurse about medication use. She’ll help you know which medications are okay and which you should avoid.
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1. Simkin, P. (2010). Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, 4th edition. Meadowbrook Press.
2. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2010). Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month, 5th edition.
3. Glade, B.C., Schuler, J. (2011). Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 7th edition. First Da Capo Press.