Finding out you're pregnant can create a mixture of emotions – joy, fear, nerves, excitement and above all, a certainty that things will never be the same again. Add into this mix uncertainty about who the father of the baby is, and you can start to feel overwhelmed.
Not knowing the paternity of your child can be a very stressful situation and one that you may not feel comfortable discussing with others. However, it’s important to remember that this is a common dilemma, which lots of women experience and which can be resolved.
We consider all of the options available to you, to determine the father of your child.
Determining the Conception Date
Working out the day on which your baby was conceived can help you to determine who the father is, if you can be certain which man you were engaging in sexual relations with around that time.
You can roughly establish your conception date in a similar way to how your due date is calculated. Doctors calculate the due date at around ten months from the first day of your last period. For women with regular periods, the conception date is generally around 11-21 days after the first day of the last period.
There are lots of online conception date calculators – but these rely on a similar method to the one above.
Although this method dramatically narrows down the likely period of conception, it is only an estimate and can still be problematic if you were with more than one partner during those ten days.
Looking at Your Ovulation Cycle
Being aware of your ovulation cycle can also help you to determine the likely date of conception. Natural Family Planning regularly uses this method as a way to determine when a woman is most likely to conceive, and this can therefore indicate the most likely time during which you became pregnant.
The most 'fertile' time in a woman's cycle is approximately eight-nine days long, and begins seven days before ovulation and ends one-two days after ovulation.
Ovulation occurs once a month, when a woman releases an egg from an ovary. The egg can only survive for around 24 hours – however, sperm can survive for up to seven days inside a woman's body, so if you have sex during the seven days before you ovulate, you could still become pregnant.
If your cycle is very regular, ovulation normally occurs around 12-16 days before a period. If you know when your next period was due, you can roughly determine the time period during which you were most likely to have conceived.
However, Natural Family Planning is a method that is generally used before pregnancy, rather than in hindsight, looking at factors such as body temperature and cervical secretions. If you weren’t analysing your ovulation cycle prior to your pregnancy, it may be very difficult for you to predict reliably when you were most fertile.
Paternity by Blood Type
Blood types can't determine paternity for certain; however, they can rule a man out as the father. Red cell antigens are inherited as dominant traits, and therefore a child can't possess a blood group antigen which isn't present in one or both parents.
For example, if the child is group O and the mother and potential father are both group A, it is not possible that the man is the father.
Blood groups can be useful for ruling men out. However, this method relies on you knowing the blood groups of potential fathers.
DNA Paternity Test
If you want to be completely certain who the father of your child is, then you will have to get a paternity DNA test. This will mean taking a DNA sample from yourself, the child and the potential father/s.
At DNA Worldwide, we offer a number of different paternity tests that guarantee 100% accuracy:
Home Paternity Test
The Home Paternity Test is simple to use and can be carried out in your own home, once the child has been born. Simply return your samples in the pre-paid envelope and we will send your results within 3-5 business days.
Prenatal DNA Test
The Prenatal DNA Test can be carried out before the child is born by our dedicated Foetal Medicine Centre in Harley Street, London. A genetic sample is taken from the foetus using CVS or Amniocentesis and is compared with a mouth swab from the mother and potential father.
Legal Paternity Test
The Legal Paternity Test is designed especially for use in a court of law, and may be court ordered in a child custody or child support case.
Getting a paternity test isn't a decision to be taken lightly, and you should carefully consider if it's the best thing for any children involved.
Not knowing who the father of your child is can be a stressful experience – however, there are things you can do to resolve the problem. Whilst a DNA test is the only way to be certain of paternity, other methods such as calculating your conception date can provide added peace of mind.
Are there any other methods which can help determine paternity? Let us know in the comments.