Frequently asked questions

In this section we have gathered the most frequently asked questions about pregnancy.

Have a look at the questions here, and if you can't find what you're looking for, you can get in touch with Ask Brook. Ask Brook is confidential. That means we won't tell anyone you contacted us unless we think you're in really serious danger.

FAQs about being pregnant

FAQs about abortion

FAQs about adoption

Pregnancy FAQs

I think I am several weeks pregnant. Is it too late to take folic acid?

Folic acid is particularly needed in the early weeks of pregnancy. Women are encouraged to take 400mcg a day before they become pregnant and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Start taking the supplements daily from now until you have had your scan and know you are beyond 12 weeks. You can keep taking it throughout the pregnancy if you wish.

Help! I'm already pregnant and I still smoke. Am I harming my baby?

The sooner you can give up smoking the better. You need to understand that smoking does put babies at risk. Ask your doctor or midwife for advice; you may be able to see a specialist for help. Or call the NHS specialist pregnancy smoking helpline on 0800 169 9 169.

When should I go and see my doctor?

Right away. You should go and see your doctor as soon as you've had a positive pregnancy test. The advantage of going to see your doctor straight away is that you'll be given advice, folic acid and support right from the start, and you'll be referred for your first scan. If the hospital scan department is busy, seeing your doctor early means there is more chance of getting a scan earlier.

How common is it to have a miscarriage and is there anything I can do to stop it happening to me?

Sadly, miscarriages are quite common. It is thought that one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage. But, many of these happen very early and some women may not even realise that they have been pregnant.
Happily, the majority of women who have a miscarriage go on to have successful following pregnancies.
In terms of preventing a miscarriage, there is very little that you can do, although it is important to stop smoking, drinking alcohol and using recreational drugs. You should also rest and eat sensibly. If you have already had more than one pregnancy that has ended in miscarriage, you should talk to your doctor.

I think I got pregnant on a night when I was very drunk. How will this affect the baby?

Firstly, you should stop worrying. It's not possible to put the clock back and stress won't help you or your pregnancy. It's very unlikely that, if this is a one-off incident since you've become pregnant, you would have done any lasting harm.

You should now avoid alcohol. If this is a problem, seek help. As your baby's development will be assessed using ultrasound scanning, you will soon be able to get further reassurance.

I have very irregular periods. Does this mean I will take longer to conceive?

Many women have irregular periods and still find that they can conceive. In some cases, conception may take a little longer as you may not ovulate so frequently. This means it can be useful to know when you are at your most fertile.

Keep a diary of your periods because you may find that even though your periods are irregular, there is still some sort of pattern to them. You may also find it helpful to keep notes of changes to your cervical fluid; this can help you predict your fertile time. Some women, however, may have a very confusing pattern of cervical mucus.

Abortion FAQs

How do I get an abortion?

To get an abortion on the NHS, you will need to be referred by a doctor to your local hospital or clinic. Your own GP, or a doctor at a local family planning clinic, or at a Brook service (if you are under 25) can refer you. But it is important to go along as soon as possible. If you want to pay to have an abortion privately, you can refer yourself to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) or to Marie Stopes.

I'm 13 weeks pregnant. Can I get an abortion on the NHS?

It's important you act quickly. The normal legal limit for abortion is 24 weeks of pregnancy. But it's usually easiest to get an abortion through the NHS if you are under 12 weeks pregnant. Remember, the length of a pregnancy is worked out from the first day of your last period. There is usually a waiting list of between 2-4 weeks for an abortion on the NHS. So it is easier to arrange if you are under 8 weeks pregnant when you first seek help.

Do I have to pay for it?

Abortions are free on the NHS, so you won't not have to pay for an NHS abortion. But you will have to pay if you are ineligible for an NHS abortion or if you choose to go privately. Costs start from around £450 and go up the later it is into the pregnancy.

My doctor said it's too late for an abortion. What can I do?

You should straightaway get a second opinion from another local doctor. If you're under 25 and live near a Brook service, you can see a doctor there. However, you may still be past the cut-off point in your area. If you are too late for an abortion on the NHS, but are within 24 weeks of pregnancy, you can still arrange it privately.

How is an abortion performed?

Different abortion methods are used depending on the stage of your pregnancy. It's best to discuss your questions with the doctor who refers you or at your consultation.

Is abortion safe? Can it make me infertile?

There is very little risk associated with abortion, particularly in early pregnancy. The commonest risk is from infection after the procedure. But this can be reduced by following the instructions given by medical staff. Having an abortion should not affect your fertility at all.

What is the abortion pill and where can I get it?

The abortion pill is a form of abortion available to women who are under 9 weeks pregnant. The woman will be given a pill to swallow and 36 to 48 hours later a tablet will be placed in her vagina. These two drugs will end most early pregnancies within the following four hours. A minimum of 2 visits to a hospital or clinic are involved.
This method is not always available on the NHS. So you should check with your referring doctor. Because it is available privately.

Adoption FAQs

How do I find out about adoption?

It is a good idea to get expert advice as soon as possible. You can get this advice from:

  • Social workers from the social services department (or social work department in Scotland) of your local authority
  • A voluntary adoption agency
  • Hospital social workers who work with maternity clinics

How is an adoption arranged?

If you decide that adoption is right for your baby, the social worker at the agency will spend some time with you to help you with your decision. You will, in due course, need to give some personal information about yourself, your family and your family's health, for the adopters to be able to share with the child as s/he grows up.

However, although preparations for the adoption can begin before your child is born, nothing will be definitely arranged until after the birth. You will be completely free to change your mind.

Must the father of the baby give his permission?

If you are unmarried and the father is not named on the birth certificate, his formal permission isn't necessary. The social worker will need to contact him, if possible, as the adoption agency and the court will want, if possible, some information on the father and his family health / medical history so they can pass it on to the adopters and the child. However, you won't be forced to reveal the father's identity.

  • If you are married, and your husband is the father of the child, his formal agreement to the adoption is necessary.
  • If you are unmarried and the father is named on the birth certificate, his formal agreement to the adoption is necessary.
  • If you are married but your husband isn't the father, the law will still consider your husband the legal father unless he has signed a declaration otherwise. In this case your husband's consent to adoption is necessary. The adoption agency and the court will also want, if possible, some information on the actual father so they can pass it on to the adopters and the child.
  • The baby's father may not agree with your adoption plan and may want to bring up the child himself.
  • If you and he are unable to agree the court will have to decide whether it thinks adoption or a life with the father is likely to be best for the child in the long term.

What sort of people will adopt my baby?

There are so many people who want to adopt a baby that it should be possible to find an excellent home for your child. The social worker will discuss with you the kind of family you want your child to grow up in.
You should talk to the social worker about the possibility of meeting the family (if you want to), or about other sorts of contact such as exchanging letters.

What happens after my baby is born?

When you leave hospital after the birth your baby may be looked after by a temporary foster carer or may possibly go straight to his or her adoptive parents.

Your social worker will have discussed this and agreed with you what the best plan is. Your social worker will make regular visits to the child to check everything is going well and offer support.

When the baby has settled down with his or her adoptive parents, they will make an application to the court.
The court will then arrange for you to be visited by someone who will make sure that you understand what adoption involves. You will be asked to sign a formal document. You cannot give this formal agreement until the baby is at least six weeks old.

The agency will have to provide a report to the court about how the child is settling in, and if the court is satisfied that all is well then an adoption order will be granted. This can't happen until the baby is at least 19 weeks old and has lived with the adopters for 13 weeks.

There is another procedure, called 'freeing', which may be used if you are sure that you want your baby adopted, because it may be quicker for you.

Your social worker will be able to advise you on which procedure is best for you.

Can I arrange the adoption myself?

No, unless your child is to be adopted by a close relative. To protect the child, all other adoptions must be arranged by an approved adoption agency, which can make full enquiries about the new parents. All adoptions must be agreed by the courts.

What if I change my mind?

  • If you change your mind before your baby is placed with adopters you can ask for his or her immediate return to you.
  • If you change your mind after your baby has been placed with adopters but before they have made an application to the court the baby would also normally be returned to you, unless there are very good reasons.
  • Even when the adopters have made an application to the court for an adoption order and you have given your agreement you can still change your mind. However, the court will have to be convinced that it is in the child's best interests to be returned to you. If you want your child back at this stage, you should tell the adoption agency at once and get legal advice.
  • When the adoption order has been made by the court you will no longer have any legal relationship with, or responsibilities for your child and won't be able to have the child returned.

Will I see my child again?

Adoption can sometimes involve continuing contact between the birth parents and the adoptive family, either face to face or by letter.

The agency will usually try to find a family for your child, who are happy with having the sort of contact that you would like, as long as this is also in your child's best interests.

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