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').

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Last reviewed May 2017.
Last updated May 2017.



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