Getting Pregnant

If you are planning a pregnancy, then hopefully this section will help to support you:

Planning your pregnancy

If you’re planning on getting pregnant, you can improve your chances of conceiving and having a successful pregnancy by following the steps on this page.

Folic acid

Take a 400 microgram (400mcg) supplement of folic acid every day while you're trying to get pregnant, and up until you're 12 weeks pregnant. This is advised due to the fact that folic acid reduces the risk of your baby having a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida. A neural tube defect is when the fetus's spinal cord (part of the body's nervous system) doesn't form normally. Women with epilepsy, diabetes and other medical conditions are recommended to take 5 milligram (5mg) supplement.

You can get folic acid tablets at pharmacies, or talk to your GP about getting this on prescription. Don't worry if you get pregnant unexpectedly and weren't taking folic acid supplements. Start taking them as soon as you find out, until you're past the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Find out more about a health diet in pregnancy and foods to avoid when you're pregnant.  

Stop smoking  

Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to a variety of health problems including premature birth, low birth weight, breathing problems/wheezing in the first six months of life, miscarriage and cot death (also known as sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS).

Quitting can be hard, no matter how much you want to, but support is available. The NHS  Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044 offers free help, support and advice on stopping smoking when you're pregnant. It's open from 12 noon to 9pm every day, and a specially trained person will talk to you. They can send you a free information pack and give you details of your local NHS stop-smoking service. 

Smoke from other people's cigarettes can damage your baby, so ask your partner, friends and family not to smoke near you. Find out more about smoking and pregnancy on the CAMQUIT,  Healthy Solutions Smoking Cessation website and Today is the Day.  

Cut out alcohol

Don't drink alcohol if you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Alcohol can be passed to your unborn baby, and too much exposure to alcohol can affect your baby's development. 

If you choose to drink, protect your baby by not drinking more than one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week, and don't get drunk. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advises women who are pregnant to avoid alcohol in the first three months in particular, because of the increased risk of miscarriage. Find out more about alcohol and pregnancy, alcohol units and tips for cutting down.

Keep to a healthy weight

If you're overweight you may have problems getting pregnant, and if you're having fertility treatment it's less likely to work. Being overweight or obese (having a BMI of over 30) also raises the risk of some pregnancy problems, such as high blood pressure, blood clots, miscarriage and gestational diabetes. Before you get pregnant you can use the BMI healthy weight calculator to work out your BMI. But once you're pregnant this may not be accurate, so consult your midwife or doctor instead. 

Having a balanced diet and exercising moderately are advised in pregnancy to maintain a healthy weight, and it's important not to gain too much weight. 


Some infections, such as Rubella (German measles), can harm your baby if you catch them in pregnancy. Most people in the UK are immune to Rubella. If you're thinking about having a baby and don't know whether you're immune, you can ask your GP to check. They can offer you the MMR vaccine to protect you against Rubella. The MMR vaccination is not suitable for women who are already pregnant or who become pregnant soon after (within one month) vaccination. You can find out more about infections during pregnancy that can harm your baby. 

If you have a long-term condition

If you have a long-term condition, such as epilepsy or diabetes, it could affect the decisions you make about your pregnancy, for example where you might want to give birth. 
While there is usually no reason why you shouldn't have a smooth pregnancy and a healthy baby, some health conditions to need careful management to minimise the risk both to you and your baby. Therefore it's best to have a pre-conception discussion with your specialist or GP. If you're taking medication for a condition, don't stop taking it without consulting your doctor. Information syndicated from the NHS choices website.   

Am I pregnant? The signs and symptoms

Early signs of pregnancy

For women who have a regular monthly menstrual 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. Some of the other early pregnancy signs and symptoms are listed below. Every woman is different and not all women will notice all of these symptoms.

Whether or not you've done a pregnancy test, you should see a GP or midwife as soon as you think you're pregnant. 

Your pregnancy will be treated confidentially, even if you are under 16. Your GP or midwife will tell you about your choices for antenatal (pregnancy) care in Cambridgeshire. Being pregnant may affect the treatment of any current illness or condition you may have or go on to develop. 

Feeling sick during pregnancy

You may feel sick and nauseous, and/or vomit. This is commonly known as morning sickness, but it can happen at any time of the day or night.

Around half of all pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting, and around three in 10 women experience nausea without vomiting. For most women who have morning sickness, the symptoms start around six weeks after their last period.

If you're being sick all the time and can't keep anything down, contact your GP.

Feeling tired is common in pregnancy

It's common to feel tired, or even exhausted, during pregnancy, especially during the first 12 weeks or so. Hormonal changes taking place in your body at this time can make you feel tired, nauseous, emotional and upset.

Sore breasts in early pregnancy

Your breasts may become larger and feel tender, just as they might do before your period. They may also tingle. The veins may be more visible, and the nipples may darken and stand out.

Peeing more often suggests pregnancy

You may feel the need to pee (urinate) more often than usual, including during the night.

Other signs of pregnancy that you might notice are:

  • constipation 
  • an increased vaginal discharge without any soreness or irritation
  • a strange taste in your mouth, which many women describe as metallic
  • craving new foods
  • losing interest in certain foods or drinks that you previously enjoyed, such as tea, coffee or fatty food
  • losing interest in tobacco
  • having a more sensitive sense of smell than usual, for example to the smell of food or cooking

Knowing that you're pregnant

When you find out you're pregnant, you may feel happy and excited, or shocked, confused and upset. Everybody is different; don't worry if you're not feeling as happy as you expected. Even if you've been trying to get pregnant, your feelings may take you by surprise. 

Some of this may be caused by changes in your hormone levels, which can make you feel more emotional. Even if you feel anxious and uncertain now, your feelings may change. Talk to your midwife or GP. They will try to help you to adjust, or give you advice if you don't want to continue with your pregnancy.  

Men may also have mixed feelings when they find out their partner is pregnant. They may find it hard to talk about these feelings because they don't want to upset her. Both partners should encourage each other to talk about their feelings and any worries or concerns they may have.  

However you're feeling, contact an NHS professional (for example a midwife, GP or practice nurse) so that you can start getting antenatal (pregnancy) care. This is the care that you'll receive leading up to the birth of your baby. Find out more about your schedule of antenatal appointments.

Information syndicated from the NHS Choices website

Taking a pregnancy test

When you can do a pregnancy test

You can carry out a pregnancy test on a sample of urine from the first day of a missed period. If you're pregnant, this is about two weeks after conception. Some very sensitive pregnancy tests can be used even before you miss a period. You can do the test on urine collected at any time of the day - it doesn't have to be in the morning. Collect the urine in a clean, soap-free, well-rinsed container.

Where you can get a pregnancy test

You can get pregnancy tests free of charge from your GP or community sexual health clinic, which are sometimes known as contraception, family planning or GUM (genito-urinary medicine) clinics. In Cambridgeshire see the Sexual health advice service website. Pregnancy tests are also available at NHS walk-in centres. Many pharmacists and most pregnancy advisory services also offer tests, usually for a small fee.

You can also buy do-it-yourself pregnancy testing kits from pharmacists. They can give a quick result, and you can do the test in private. A range of tests is available. The way they work varies, so check the instructions first. 

Please do not come to our Accident and Emergency (A&E) department for a pregnancy test.

Pregnancy test results

A positive test result is almost certainly correct. A negative result is less reliable. If you get a negative result and still think that you're pregnant, wait a week and try again, or see a GP.

Continuing with the pregnancy

If you're pregnant and want to continue with the pregnancy, contact your GP or a midwife to start your antenatal care. You can use the pregnancy due date calculator to work out when your baby is due.

If you're not sure you want to be pregnant

If you're not sure about continuing with the pregnancy, you can discuss this confidentially with a healthcare professional. Your options are:

  • continuing with the pregnancy and keeping the baby 
  • having an abortion
  • continuing with the pregnancy and having the baby adopted

As well as a GP or a nurse at your GP surgery, you can also get accurate, confidential information (even if you’re under 16) from the following:

All these services, including community contraceptive clinics, are confidential. If you're under 16, the staff won't tell your parents. They'll encourage you to talk to your parents, but they won’t force you. 

If you're under 25 and would prefer advice that's aimed specifically at young people, the sexual health charity Brook provides a range of services for young people. The Brook website contains information on pregnancy choices. You can also email them via the Ask Brook website.

Information syndicated from the NHS Choices website.

Having a baby if you are LGBT+

The number of LGBT+ people becoming parents is increasing.

If you're thinking about having children, you can find an overview of the various routes to parenthood available to you on the NHS website.


The path to parenthood isn’t always as simple as many people envision it will be. Unfortunately, there can be problems that arise and make it difficult, or impossible, for couples or individuals to have a baby. Surrogacy is when a woman carries and gives birth to a baby for another person or couple. It is an option for couples who can’t conceive naturally. Surrogacy is an arrangement, often supported by a legal agreement, whereby a woman (the surrogate mother) agrees to bear a child for another person or persons, who will become the child's parent(s) after birth.

The Pregnancy Book