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The BFP after IVF – what’s next, before the 12-week scan?

Jessie Day, Senior Editor  |   9 Feb 2023

A positive pregnancy test – also known as the BFP (big fat positive) – after IVF is incredibly exciting. Once you’ve set the test down however, and probably done another for good measure (yep, guilty here too!), what’s next?

Whether it’s symptoms support – metallic tastes and cramping, anyone? – or ticking off those key milestones after IVF, plus the earliest noninvasive prenatal tests, we’ve got you covered with our seven-point IVF early pregnancy support guide. 

From scan options, therapies and holistic support – think visualization, breath work, supportive nutrition and gentle yoga – there’s lots to keep you busy before the 12-week scan.

Here’s what you need to know and the tests, support and lifestyle tweaks to look into. 

Pregnant after IVF – now what? Here’s our team’s to-do list

The time between a BFP and the 12-week scan can be a strange time. Exciting, on one hand, but for some of us, early pregnancy can be a little lonely too, and nerve-wracking. You may even ‘graduate’ from your fertility clinic during the first trimester, and while this is a really positive milestone, it’s also where the minute-to-minute hand holding stops. So, what happens next?

Contact your clinic or care team

Our first must-do, based on very personal experience, is to get in touch with your clinic care team as soon as you feel ready, after your BFP. Let them know your amazing news, and ask them to run through what happens next, whilst you’re in their care. Ideally, they’ll follow up with a super-clear email too, because (let’s face it), none of us are taking much in, after the BFP. At the very least, it’s helpful to pin down your due date. 

Every clinic is different. Some will wrap prenatal checks, scans and appointments into your care package right up to the 12-week scan mark (and beyond, in some cases). For others, this may be an optional extra, or there may be just some minimal support. Either way, running around trying to get answers when you’re four, five or six weeks pregnant isn’t ideal, so confirm everything with your clinic before settling into early pregnancy. 

Calculate your IVF due date

With IVF, it’s far easier to work out exactly when you conceived, and therefore that all-important due date. Your clinic will be able to calculate this for you, but your IVF due date will depend on your transfer or retrieval date and the type of transfer you had. 

In general, clinicians tend to add 38 weeks (266 days to be exact) on to an egg retrieval date to calculate an IVF EDD (estimated due date) – if you had a frozen embryo transfer (FET) they’ll then subtract the ‘age’ of your embryos from that. So if you had a 3-day FET, the calculation looks like this: 

Transfer date + 266 days MINUS 3 days

There are lots of online calculators available for this, but it makes sense to align with your clinic, especially if you’ll be under their care up to that 12-week scan mark, and beyond. 

Prepare to be fascinated

Did you know that by week six of pregnancy, your baby’s ear canals are being formed? Amazing, really. 

There is so much going on in your body right now, and while your baby is the size of a poppy seed at four weeks of pregnancy, at the end of week six they’ll be averaging the size of a sweet pea. That’s a huge amount of rapid growth and development, and the cause of some pesky early pregnancy symptoms, too. Here are a few highlights (even if they don’t feel like it!)

Implantation cramping

Feeling a bit of cramping, or some abdominal pressure? Try not to worry. Cramping is very common in these early weeks, and often a sign that your embryo is implanting (fantastic!) Gas pains are also normal right now, so it could be that, too. Some women even experience implantation bleeding, to round it all off.

If you’re at all concerned, do chat to your doctor. 

PMS-like symptoms

One of the frustrating facts about early pregnancy is that your symptoms can feel identical to a bad case of PMS. There are a few differences, but key things to look out for are sore breasts, cramping, headaches, and the usual hormonal changes – a tell-tale sign can be a skin outbreak, or feeling much more tired than usual. 

Nausea and food aversions

Pregnancy nausea – or ‘morning’ sickness (from experience, there’s very little ‘morning’ about it!) really depends on the individual. Some women get away with zero nausea, while others can be bedridden for weeks on end (we are so sorry, if this is you!) Remember, your body is working ultra hard. And nausea or sickness is usually down to some seismic hormonal shifts. Rest, hydration and eating little and often are a good baseline for handling it. 


Organize prenatal testing

Safe, accurate and early. As early as possible. Those are our priorities, when it comes to prenatal testing. 

Your individual testing schedule will depend on you, your medical history and a few other important factors. We recently wrote all about prenatal testing and timelines, so bookmark that post for later.

 You may already have a noninvasive prenatal test (NIPT) booked in as your pregnancy gets underway, but for those of us who’ve been on a fertility journey – IVF or otherwise – the waiting game and accompanying anxiety can be difficult. 

Talk through your early ultrasound (scan) options

With prenatal testing checked off, you may also want to chat to your care provider about an early ultrasound, or scan. Most clinics will schedule a first ultrasound four to five weeks after embryo transfer (which translates to six or seven weeks of pregnancy – those dates can be confusing, so ask all of the questions!) 

It’s at this point that your team may be able to detect a fetal heartbeat (another incredible milestone), and whether your pregnancy is single or multiple – plus a few other developmental details. 

After this ultrasound, your clinic may book you in for further scans. How many will depend on their policy and your individual treatment plan, but many will ask you to come in at week eight to nine for another check, before the 12-week scan. 

Knowing what’s coming up and plotting the dates into your calendar can be a really helpful way of checking things off. Trust us – we’ve had the countdowns on our phones and the paper calendars to strike through, too. And it really helped. So once you’ve got that BFP, ask your clinic for a clear timeline. 


Look into holistic support

Dates, scans and tests are all serious stuff. But early pregnancy is an amazing time, and one to be in the moment for, too. 

While you’re waiting for the calendar to tick forward, there are some wonderfully beneficial things you can do to support your first trimester. Here are our team favorites and go-tos: 

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – from acupuncture for early pregnancy to Chinese herbs, this field of medicine is famous for its supportive  impact on early pregnancy 
  • Nutritional therapy – continue your good work with that fantastic fertility nutrition baseline. If you need further support – or are keen to step things up a notch – chat to a nutritionist who’s experienced in supporting early pregnancy
  • Visualization – it can be difficult to trust the process when you’re waiting for a scan and your baby’s the size of an orange seed. There are some phenomenal tools out there to power your journey and help you visualize all that growth and development – some free and others come with a subscription 
  • Meditation – this technique is famous for its dynamic impact on mental health during early pregnancy. Couple with mindfulness practice, it helps you to ground racing thoughts and anxieties, and find calmness in the present. Just think – your baby is growing cheeks right now (and hold that thought!)
  • Gentle yoga and light exercise – we wrote all about yoga and pilates during the two week wait recently – so do catch that. In general, we like to ease off some of that pesky IVF bloat with walking, and some very gentle, guided poses 

Wrapping it all up

That’s our team’s current 12-week wait toolkit kit. And yes, one or two of us are there right now, or hope to be very soon. 

For us and so many in this community, early pregnancy and the BFP after IVF is all about keeping busy (but building in plenty of rest time!) and connected to our support network, and care provider.

Give yourself grace to feel the feels during this time – anxiety is totally normal, after all, and perfectly ok. 

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