Discovering you're pregnant & telling other people
Women's feelings about discovering they are pregnant are influenced by many factors, such as whether it is a first pregnancy and whether it is planned or unplanned. Individual circumstances and reactions will vary.
People who had been trying to become pregnant were generally delighted and excited. However, they also sometimes felt taken aback or overwhelmed by thoughts of how being a parent would change their lives. One woman was upset and could not work out why, but was reassured other people had felt the same. (See also 'Symptoms and feelings in the early weeks').
It was exciting to discover she was pregnant, but hard to imagine herself having a baby.
Great, really great. We'd actually had, I, I felt really great when I discovered I was pregnant. My husband was really excited too. We had had a few false alarms a couple of months previously and that had really got us warmed up for the idea of being pregnant. And we'd actually been disappointed when the tests had come out negative on previous occasions, so that when it came out positive on, on, on the occasion it came out positive, we were really excited.
In the very early stages of your pregnancy how were you feeling physically?
I think I was running on adrenalin during the early stages of my pregnancy to some extent and from my reading I know that, that the early stages of pregnancy can be really tiring for many women. But I, I experienced tiredness definitely and my friends told me I was looking tired, but actually I didn't feel as tired as they said I looked. So, it wasn't too bad.
What about emotionally, I mean what sort of hopes and fears did you experience at the outset?
I would say at the outset of the pregnancy I experienced, well, as I say, great excitement and hopes for the child. And, and a few, a few reality checks were necessary to really try to realise that this was real and to, to imagine, imagine myself not just as alone any more but as hosting another human being. And at the same time I was concerned about motherhood and whether or not I was ready for it, because many of my friends would, would say that I would be too young, even though in my opinion I'm just the right age, I'm 25 years old.
Even though her pregnancy was planned, she felt upset at first. Friends reassured her feelings...
Well, when I found out I was pregnant I was, I sort of had an idea, and I was in a dilemma in a sense that I was, I was, thirty-six when I was pregnant so, I wasn't sure whether I wanted the baby or I didn't want the baby, but I knew that I should have the baby. So there's all, all that sort of thing. But when I found out that I was, I was quite upset. I got upset about it and I don't know why I, I was - and then I got upset because I was upset, why I got upset about it. I couldn't understand why I got upset about it. And I think, and then my husband, he just laughed because he thought it was just funny. He was going, “Oh you're being daft now. There's nothing wrong with being pregnant.” And then I didn't really want to talk to my family as they're sort of in Manchester and I didn't want to really say anything to them. So I did speak to a friend here, who was sort of, I don't think she really understood me, and then when I spoke to her about it she sort of made me feel that I should be grateful, and that made me feel even worse. And then I spoke to a couple of friends from work they were more or less the same age as me, and they were saying, “Oh, with the second one I've, we felt exactly the same, and here's how you're feeling. It'll all be normal, don't worry about it, and go and read magazines” and that. And upon reading the magazines I felt, “Oh it's just, can, this is a normal reaction.” And then when I got used to it I was really sort of all excited and all protective of my stomach, [laughs] even though there wasn't anything there yet.
So when you say you felt you should, you should have a baby, what did you mean, and why did you feel you should have the baby?
Because it's like something a part of me and my husband, and then our religion as well, you know, our having children. And, you know, like it's something I've got to, really, I think. You know, I want - what, what it would be like to be a mother and to be pregnant and to have a child.
Mmm, so you kind of think of it as part of being a woman?
I think that was stronger, but I tried to hide the fact. “But I don't want any children, I'm fine, duh-duh-duh.” But that was sort of really deep inside, and that I really that I did want to know what it felt like.
Can you say a bit more about the religious side of it, what does the religion say?
The religion says that we should have children and as, I mean sort of have as many as you sort of can and not to worry about the financial side of it, because God provides, and all that. So it was about that bit as well and it, it is a wonderful feeling having a baby and I could understand why, why to have children as well.
As home pregnancy tests are nowadays reliable very early in pregnancy, this is how most people found out. However, some people felt that they just knew they were pregnant, or were aware of early symptoms, such as feeling sick or tired, having tender breasts or getting a strange taste in their mouth.
The first symptom of pregnancy was a strange taste in her mouth, before she knew she was pregnant.
What went through your head at the time?
Just like confusion, you know - sort of happy but 'Oh my God, I actually am pregnant', you know, even though we were trying, so sort of mixed emotions, really.
Where women had been having fertility problems, discovering they were pregnant created a whole range of emotions, from joy and relief to anxiety about whether the pregnancy would last. Some people found it hard to believe they really were pregnant and had to repeat the pregnancy test to be sure, as one father described.
After IVF, they were so anxious and excited they did the pregnancy test in the middle of the...
Ecstatic. We had, we had to do a pregnancy test. It was very specific; it had to be 2 weeks after implantation. They implanted 2 embryos so, basically, of the 4 eggs they harvested that, that I was allowed to keep 3 of those eggs fertilised, 3 out of the 4 and there's usually a 66% fertilisation rate so 3 was good. Then they watched the way those 3 embryos grew and of the 3, 2 were, one was described as excellent and one described as very good so those 2 were put, were put back inside and that process is, takes 5 minutes and there's no anaesthetic needed for that. I found that very emotional, just having the embryos put inside because, technically, you're pregnant at that point.
Then we had to wait 2 weeks before doing the pregnancy test and I actually did the pregnancy test at 3 o'clock in the morning because I had decided that, really, what could be the difference who, who defines at what point that 14th day begins? Does it begin at 6am; does it begin at 3am? I was unable to sleep anyway so I just sat up in bed and then eventually did the test at 3am. My husband and I sat in our beds crying until 6am when we felt it was a reasonable hour to start phoning the family, at which point they all said, 'thank goodness you phoned us, now we can go to bed.' The hospital did warn us, of course, to be, to be cautious at this point because you're still subject to the 1 in 4 miscarriage rate, 25% miscarriage rate, which in my case you could say was higher, realistically. So we had to wait a further 3 weeks to have the first scan. And that first scan showed that there was a heartbeat. It showed that what, the, the two embryos had implanted and had grown. One of them had grown properly and had a heart-beat, the second one had stopped growing and didn't have a heart-beat so it was going to be a singleton pregnancy. But again, the doctor was happier with that because there are less, less risks associated. So at that point I knew I could stop worrying, even though I was only 7 weeks pregnant there was a heartbeat so I was very happy. But I would say my husband didn't stop worrying until the baby was born. I became confident at that point, really.
They could hardly believe the pregnancy test was positive and had to repeat it. He was so happy...
We waited a bit and it said, it was a, one we hadn't tried before, this particular make of stick, pregnancy test and it said on there, you've got to go, make sure it goes across both windows and once the colour fades from the second window, if there is any dot at all then you are definitely pregnant. And we saw that the colour go across the second one but I thought it will be like all the others because we've done this quite a few times in the past. We got to the stage of making sure we had two sticks in all the time in case we decided to do a test and we didn't trust the first one. So we got, not obsessed about it but we had them in. So we'd done it a number of times and the thing came out and it began. The colour began to fade away. And I said, 'Oh, there's, isn't there, no, no surely not. No, no, no it can't be.'
I went back into the bedroom from the bathroom. Had a look at it under the light, 'You know, you know I think there is a bit. No, no it can't be right. Put it in the bin'. 'You know I think when you took it out, I think there really is a'. It was we did this for ages and I have to say the England game paled into insignificance. I mean England, very important winning a game but really compared to, to this it, it was nothing. And that was really difficult was, because we, having decided that it was true. We looked at it in the morning. It was still there, so ok, fine. We had of course the second stick in. So did that and that was very clear. There was no question about that and we were just grinning to ourselves. And I'm trying to think maybe England even lost. The, the problem, they'd lost. That's what it was. We were depressed about it and she peed on a stick and it was, that's right. So I can't even remember the story right. Went in the next day to work and had to pretend I was really down, really sad. That's what it was, because England lost so I had to pretend I was really sad and it was impossible. I just kept smiling to myself. I had to, to, to keep smiling and pretend nothing else mattered than the England game but. So, yes. I can't even remember the football. It's the, it's been, it was that good news.
Amanda describes how she and her partner “couldn’t believe it” when they found out she was pregnant.
I had to go to the doctor’s to just double-check it. And I was about 5 weeks, 6 weeks gone. And we, we couldn’t believe it. We just like started getting baby stuff in all ready, like pushchair and car seat and things like that. And then when we went for our first scan we were actually amazed at how amazing it was and how difficult it was to see the babies head and, and everything like that. But then when we went for the second scan you could see the baby a lot clearer. I wanted a boy but Mitchell wanted a girl. So I’m pleased that he’s got a girl and I love her to bits. I wouldn’t change her for the world really. We were so pleased really. But they were, they were concerned about my BMI, which was quite high for my height and weight. So, but I did have a good support team around us.
Previous problems such as a history of miscarriage or genetic abnormalities could lead to anxiety that the same thing would happen again. People were often reluctant to tell others about their pregnancy until they felt confident everything was going to be all right (See also 'Bleeding and miscarriage'). One woman felt she bonded particularly closely with her youngest child who was born after she had a miscarriage.
When she became pregnant again, they decided not to tell many people till they knew the baby was...
Well, I because we, we told everybody last time, I just didn't want to raise people's hopes up again, because our friends were as upset as we were. And, you know, I just wanted that reassurance from the doctors first before I broadcast the news to everybody. Obviously I told the closest people to me, like my mum and that, my mum and my family, they, they knew. But I was very particular about who I told. And I think a lot of people managed to then find out when I was about 5 months, the majority of people found out. They did, they were shocked because I wasn't showing. So that was good. That was the only way I could get away with it [laugh] yeah.
Gemma said to her unborn child, ‘You’re gonna stay in here’ after she’d had a miscarriage.
Even when there had been no previous history of miscarriage some people chose to keep the pregnancy quiet for a few weeks. Up to one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage (Miscarriage Association 2014), and some people felt it would be awkward explaining to friends that they had lost the baby. Some people wanted to enjoy having a secret just between themselves for a while. Often people waited until they had a scan at 12 weeks. Others felt that if anything did go wrong it would be better for friends and family to know and be able to offer support. Although this woman chose not to tell work colleagues early on, other people found it helpful to explain at work why they were feeling sick or tired.
They decided to tell friends and family she was pregnant early on, so they could support her if...
And I was very tired during those first few weeks. And we also made the decision to tell friends and family really quite early on, in fact before we'd had the first scan, because we knew that there was a high chance that I might miscarry, and we're both quite close to our family, and we thought it would be an awful lot to expect them to support us, if they didn't know that I was pregnant, you know, to phone up one day and say, you know "Mum, I've had a miscarriage, oh and by the way, I was pregnant, briefly". Because they - all the family had known what we were going through.
They knew we were trying, obviously, so, and again we had a couple of raised eyebrows that we told people when I was only probably - we didn't really quite know - but it was probably seven or eight, seven, eight or nine weeks when we told people. I didn't tell work then, obviously, but close friends and family. And I'm really glad I did because we also wanted to celebrate, anyway, you know, because as I said, we did feel it was such a positive event, even if it didn't, you know, come to fruition, so we told people at my niece's first birthday party, which was lovely, and everyone was so, so happy for us and so supportive. So I think it was a good decision.
We talked to several people whose pregnancy had not been planned. Some of them, although shocked, were able to adjust quite quickly to the idea. Others found it harder to come to terms with how their lives were going to change, including one woman who had planned to join the army and train as a nurse. Telling other people that about the pregnancy in these circumstances could be difficult, and some people worried about how it would affect relationships with their family.
Stacey did not think she could get pregnant because of polycystic ovaries and worried about telling her family.
I took a test two weeks after we had sex, because I knew I didn't come on then, when I was supposed to come on.
Can you remember how you felt?
Shocked. Because I've been diagnosed with POS, so. Yeah.
So then what did you do? You went to the chemist, bought the test?
Yeah, yeah. And I had to go to the doctors surgery and they had to do another test. And, yeah. Came back.
And what did you feel? Can you remember? Came back here?
Kind of surprised. Bit worried about telling my family and that.
So when did you tell them?
The day, day before Christmas. 24th.
When did you do the test then?
It would be on my phone, because I took a picture of it [laugh]. [Pause whilst checking phone] 20th December.
Oh, okay. So it was just a few days.
And it said I was one to two weeks, yeah.
Yeah. And were they - how did your family take it?
Not as I would have expected. My Grandad still doesn't like the idea, he still talked to me about it over the weekend. But everybody else seems to be fine with it, it's just him.
Discovering she was pregnant unexpectedly was a big shock - she was upset to have to cancel plans...
A really big shock, because I wasn't expecting it. I wanted a career, I wanted to be a midwife. I was crying my eyes out for about three weeks saying, 'I didn't want it, didn't want it, don't want it'. And then when it really like sunk in it was 'It's mine, it's my baby, I've got to have it. I love her. Do you know what I mean? I wouldn't change her for the world now she's come along. But, you know, she was a really big shock.
Not to my family though, all my family were made up, they were all brilliant. Especially my mum, my mum was the best. My dad, he had a bit of a scream and a shout and that, but he realized that he couldn't do nothing. I'm an adult, he can't stop me from doing anything. But her dad was the best as well, her dad was like made up and things like this. Because he's quite old, well, he's a few years older than me, but he was made up, do you know what I mean?
And I wasn't at first. I didn't want it. But now I wouldn't change her.
So it was quite difficult when you found out that you were pregnant?
Yeah, because I was going into the, I was, I was going into the army to train to be a nurse, to come out to become a midwife. And I was all set to go in the army, I only had like a couple of exams to go and then I would have been in. And it was actually the day before I was going into the army exams that I done the pregnancy test and found out I was pregnant. So that was a big shock for me, because it was like I had to phone them and tell them 'No, I can't go', and explain to them why. So it was a shock because then I thought my career's going down the pan now and things like this. But now I'm back at work I know I'm not. It's better for me and it's better for her, really, because if she needs anything, I'm there for her, I've got the money. So I'd rather just do it that way.
When she discovered she was pregnant unexpectedly it was hard to tell her family, but they were...
When I first discovered that I was pregnant I told my partner straight away, and then I went to the doctor to confirm it. And then I rang a friend of mine who I lived with, throughout my time at university and talked to her. And after that I didn't talk to anyone apart from my partner for a long time, I didn't tell anyone else for weeks. And then after I'd known that I was pregnant for about five weeks, I told my, my mum. And then I started telling my other friends. And it took me about two months, three months from when I was pregnant to, to tell everyone, slowly. It took me quite a long time to, and it's not because I wasn't, or it's not because I was unhappy about having a baby, it was more that I was getting my head round having a baby, and I wasn't happy or sad, I was just confused and, and that's why I think it was so slow. And like I said, I think I was slightly in denial about the whole situation as well.
Was it, was it quite tough telling your parents that you were pregnant?
Even though I'd finished my degree and I was 24, telling my parents that I was pregnant was still really hard because they've always had quite a traditional line on things. And I wasn't married and they'd only met my partner twice before and they had quite big ideas about what I was going to go on to do. And so to tell them that I was pregnant was difficult. But I was relieved, and I did actually go and see them three times to tell them, before I actually told them. And I was glad when I told them in the end. Their initial reaction, although they were shocked, was that they would support me. My father was much better than my mother, which is surprising I think. I was surprised. But, but now they're both very supportive, extremely supportive and, yeah it was difficult to tell them. I don't know if it was because I was worried about what they were going to say, or because I was, that would make it real for me, telling them as well, so. But I felt that I was old enough to get on with it, and it was my decision.
Last reviewed May 2017.
Last updated May 2017.