Positive pregnancy test: when do I need to see a doctor?

I've just found out I'm pregnant! What happens next? Should I see my GP now? Here's everything you need to know - plus guidance from our mums

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You’ve taken a pregnancy test and it’s come up positive. Wow! So the obvious next step is to make an appointment to see your GP, isn’t it?

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When should I tell my doctor I’m pregnant?

The NHS advice is that you let your GP know as soon as you find out you are pregnant, so that your details can be entered into the NHS antenatal system, your appointments and ultrasound scans set up, and your care plan tailored to your health needs.

So, call your GP surgery and make a (routine) appointment to see your GP. (If you’re not registered with a GP, then now’s the time!)

Don’t worry if you can’t get an appointment for a week or so. Most of the official NHS antenatal appointments don’t start till you’re at least 8 weeks pregnant.

So, if you’re, say 5 weeks pregnant, it won’t make a lot of difference if you don’t seen your GP till you’re 6 or 7 weeks pregnant – though, of course, if you’re anything like us, you may be feeling very impatient to ‘do something’ that make your pregnancy medically official.

If, however, you have a serious pre-existing health problem, a history of miscarriage or think you are already quite far along – 10 weeks or more – then do make sure you stress this when you call to make the appointment, as your GP may think it’s a good idea to see you sooner rather than later.

Do I have to see a GP if I’m pregnant?

No. “You don’t have to see a doctor when you are pregnant,” says Gail Johnson, midwife and professional adviser at the Royal College of Midwives.

“If you have a positive pregnancy test, you can choose to just see a midwife, so if you contact your GP surgery, they can put you straight in touch with midwifery services to arrange your 1st appointment.”

Will my GP do another pregnancy test? 

Probably not. Home pregnancy-testing kits are generally so accurate these days that, if it’s positive, you are almost certainly pregnant.

“The doctor will not need to repeat the test,” says midwife Gail. “Shop-bought tests are very efficient these days!”

Your GP won’t need to see your home test, either. Keep that stick at home; he or she will take you at your word!.

As MFMer Corrine says, “When I went to the docs after I found out I was pregnant, she said, ‘We don’t need to do another test. We’ll just book your scan.'”

And don’t avoid doing a home test because you think a GP’s test is more official or accurate, midwife Gail says:

“The general advice is to do a test at home. If you go to the surgery thinking you might be pregnant, they will probably send you to the chemist to get a test!”

If you’d still like the doctor to do a confirmatory test for you, it may take up to 5 days to get the results back. “If your GP does the test for you,” adds Gail.

“He or she will need a urine sample from you, or they might do a blood test. Either way, the samples will be sent off to the lab for testing, and you will have to wait.”

What should I do while I wait for my GP appointment?

Carry on as normal! And, if you’re not taking folic-acid supplements, now’s the time to start.

You’ll probably find yourself paying closer attention to your lifestyle and diet. You’ll also find there are lots of people giving you advice about what you can and can’t do – and often they’ll tell you different things!

So, we’ve made it clearer with lots of What’s Safe info that’s regularly updated with the very latest research:

What can I expect at my first GP appointment?

For most of us, the first GP visit is an important milestone in our pregnancy journey: an ‘official’ confirmation of sorts.

But, brace yourself: even though you’re probably brimming with the excitement of it all, for your GP, this is just a routine appointment where not an awful lot happens.

Judging by the experiences of some of the mums on our Chat forum, we’d say best not to expect too much…

“I had my 1st doctor’s appointment today at 4/5 weeks and was really excited,” says Rachie101. “I got in and told him I was pregnant, and all he asked was when my last period was. Then he went on to tell me what not to eat and to make an appointment with the midwife. He didn’t even ask if I had done a home test.”

“All my doctor did was test my blood pressure and send me on my way,” adds Nicola Hague. “I was 5wks when I found out and 11wks when I had my 1st midwife appointment.”

Hopefully, your doctor will spend a bit more time with you than this, asking general questions about your health and medical history that might impact your pregnancy.

You should be asked the date of your last period, so have that ready if you know it. But don’t worry if you don’t or can only guesstimate, as your due date will be confirmed later and more accurately when you have your 12-week dating scan.

What if I have questions? If you have any particular worries or health concerns, write them down and ask your GP.

Do bear in mind, though, that, at this very early stage in your pregnancy, it’s unlikely your GP will be able to help you with anything very baby-specific – and you will have the opportunity to discuss this kind of thing in detail with your midwife at your booking-in appointment.

Will I hear my baby’s heartbeat? Sorry but this is very very unlikely, as it’s not standard practice and the baby’s heartbeat will be almost definitely be too faint for it to be picked up at this stage anyway.

What happens next?

Once you’ve seen your GP, he or she will contact the local midwife services team, and the wheels will be put in motion for your booking appointment and dating scan. Both of these will usually be scheduled for between 8 and 14 weeks into your pregnancy.

“With our GP surgery, the receptionist is given a list of all new pregnancies,” says MFM forum user theoldwomanwholivesinashoe.

“She passes this on to the midwife once a week. The midwife then contacts you to arrange a booking-in appointment at around 10 weeks, and the scan is at 12 to 13 weeks.”

Image: Getty Images

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