Friday, November 30, 2012

5 weeks pregnant

By the time you are 5 weeks pregnant, you may be getting very suspicious that there is something going on. Your period hasn’t come when you expected it to and you are at least a week overdue. You may even be starting to feel distinctly different to how you usually do but could be passing this off as your imagination. If you haven’t already confirmed you are pregnant with a urine test, this is the week to do it. Remember, the best time to check is with your first wee in the morning, when your levels of pregnancy hormone (HCG) will be at their highest.

Many women don’t have their first ante-natal appointment until the end of the first trimester. If you do go to your doctor or midwife now, they will be able to work out your baby’s due date. Alternately, check with one of the on-line calculators which will ask you to type in the first day of your last period and then estimate your EDD (Estimated Date of Delivery). The count down has officially begun.

Although early pregnancy symptoms are fairly classic, e.g. nausea, wanting to wee a lot more frequently, many women just describe just a sensation of feeling strange, as if they are not quite “with it”. Even your partner may have noticed you being a bit more sensitive and moody than you normally are. Although you don’t look any different, you are officially in your 2nd month of pregnancy, with only 7 more to go.

Your baby’s changes this week
Pregnancy Week by Week – 5 Weeks Pregnant
  • This week your little embryo is the size of an orange seed or a nailhead and can just be seen on an ultrasound.
  • The baby looks like a tadpole and has a primitive heart which has already started beating and circulating blood around its little body. It is sometimes possible to see the heartbeat on an ultrasound when you are 5 weeks pregnant. Vaginal ultrasounds pick up more detail than abdominal ones at this stage.
  • Although the heart doesn’t look like it eventually will with its 4 chambers, the tube like channels which are present now are doing a perfect job.
  • Your baby’s brain and spinal cord are forming but are still open. They are yet to close.

4 weeks pregnant

You are likely to become suspicious that you could be pregnant if your period doesn’t come this week when you expect it to. Keeping track of your cycles with a calendar is a good idea. You may be experiencing some early pregnancy symptoms (see below) which alert you that your body feels somehow a little different to what it usually does. Don’t be concerned if you feel exactly the same as you normally do though. Even if you are officially 4 weeks pregnant, your body is still getting accustomed to all of its pregnancy changes.

By the time you are 4 weeks pregnant it’s possible to confirm your pregnancy with a blood or urine test. Both are extremely sensitive to picking up Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin Hormone (HCG) if it’s present in your system. You can check your own wee in the privacy of your own home and the best time to do this is when you wake up in the morning. This is when the concentration of HCG will be at its highest.

Your baby’s changes this week
Pregnancy Week by Week – 4 Weeks Pregnant
  • This week your baby is the size of a full-stop, or a poppy seed. It is still barely visible to the naked eye.
  • In the 4th week of pregnancy there is a lot of organisation and cell separation going on. Three distinct layers of cells start to form. The ectoderm (outer layer), will eventually become the baby’s skin, eyes, hair, their nervous system, their brain, and even the enamel of their teeth. The middle layer (mesoderm) will become their skeleton, muscles and kidneys, tissues and vascular (blood) system. The layer on the inside (endoderm) will eventually become their internal organs.
  • Once a cell has a specific function, it can’t become a different type of cell. Every one is pre-programmed from the start and knows what to do and what it is to become.

3 weeks pregnant

The process of fusion between your egg and a single sperm takes around 24 hours. Only one sperm makes it through to the centre of the egg, although a lot battle it out to be the one and only. At the moment when one sperm is successful, the egg builds up a protective wall around itself to stop others from entering. Eventually, the other sperm give up trying. If one egg is fertilised by a single sperm and divides separately, identical twins are formed at this very early stage.

The newly fertilised egg is now officially called a zygote and it starts dividing into more and more cells, until around the 3rd day, when what was originally 2 cells, have now become 12. The zygote is still in the fallopian tube at this stage, though it is steadily finding its way down to the uterus where it will stay, hopefully for another 37 weeks or so. Little finger like projections of hair called cilia, line the fallopian tube and wave the zygote along to discourage it from settling in where it shouldn’t. It takes around 60 hours for the fertilised egg to weave its way down to the uterus, by which stage there are 60 cells, all with a predetermined job and a specialised function. The outer cells will form the placenta; the inner cells will form the baby.

Around a week after the egg has been fertilised in the fallopian tube, it embeds in the lining of the uterus. By now, there are 100 cells bunched together and it is called a blastocyst. At this early point, the pregnancy hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin is produced and it is this hormone which can be detected in your urine or blood when a pregnancy test is done. If the signals to keep producing HCG aren’t received, the lining of the uterus isn’t needed and is shed in your next period.

Your baby’s changes this week
Pregnancy Week by Week – 3 Weeks Pregnant
So far your baby is barely the size of a pin head. It is still a cluster of cells and doesn’t look anything like what it will become. But, it is rapidly dividing and multiplying over the full 24 hours of each day.

2 Weeks Pregnant

It is still not time to get too excited about your pregnancy just yet. Although being 2 weeks pregnant may sound like you are on your way, there is still a little time to go before it is possible for your baby to be conceived. But, with a couple of well timed interventions and a little luck, you and your partner will be able to make the most of your chances of successful conception.
In the 2nd week of pregnancy, some essential and complex processes are happening within your brain and reproductive organs. Although you can’t see what’s going on and may only feel the slightest twinge, being 2 weeks pregnant is the start of what could be a series of events which lead to your baby becoming a reality. 

Each month one of your two ovaries will release an egg. This is alternated from side to side and in some women, more than one egg is released in each monthly cycle. The egg sits in a “bed” of fluid, known as a follicle. The follicle is influenced by a specific hormone which tells it when to rupture so the egg can be picked up by the fallopian tube. Although many follicles start the process of maturing an egg each month, only one dominant one, from a field of about 20 will make it out.

At the same time as your follicles are busy maturing an egg, the lining of your uterus is building up. Oestrogen is released by unique cells in the follicles and this helps to switch on the process of preparing your uterus, ready to receive a fertilised egg. If fertilisation of your egg with your partner’s sperm doesn’t occur, the blood thickened lining inside your uterus will not be needed and it is shed in the next period. This usually happens two weeks after ovulation.


Fertilisation of the egg with a single sperm usually occurs in the fallopian tube and this occurs in the 3rd week of pregnancy. It is important that the zygote (single cell) continues to move down towards the uterus, because it starts to divide quickly and the cells to multiply. If it doesn’t keep migrating, and implants itself in the fallopian tube, an ectopic pregnancy occurs where there is no room in the microscopic tubes to accommodate it.

Fascinating and complex as it all is, ovulation is only one half of the story when it comes to making a baby and getting to 2 weeks pregnant. When your partner ejaculates, around 100-300 million sperm are present in his seminal fluid. But it only takes one sperm to fertilise your egg and from that precise moment, all of the other sperm give up trying.

Don’t worry if you don’t conceive in the first month or more that you start trying. It can take a while to get to know your cycles and when your most fertile time is likely to be. There is only around a 20 percent chance of falling pregnant each month and it takes many couples up to 12 months or more to conceive.

Your baby’s changes this week

Pregnancy Week by Week – 2 Weeks Pregnant
Your baby has still not been conceived in this week, even though you are officially two weeks pregnant. However, there is potential for it to be when you have ovulated. All of your baby’s genetic information is contained in the single cell you will release from one of your ovaries midway between your cycles.

1 week pregnant: 
  • If you want to conceive, stop using contraception. If you have been using a hormone based contraceptive such as the contraceptive pill, it may take some time for your body to readjust to its normal cycles.
  • Start taking pre-natal vitamins which a include folic acid supplement. The recommended dose in early pregnancy is 500 mcg/day and if possible, start taking this a couple of months before you fall pregnant. Low folic acid intake has been linked with a higher incidence of neural tube defects in babies.
  •  Try to stay healthy and active. Aim to do some exercise each day and eat sensibly.
  •  Have a medical check-up to make sure you are in the best possible shape to conceive. Being overweight, smoking, taking drugs or generally having an unhealthy lifestyle can all interfere with, or delay conception.
  • Make sure your immunisations are up to date. Check with your doctor what you need to have to ensure you are covered and your baby will be protected.
  • Try not to take medication unless it has been prescribed for you. Some medications are harmful to the baby, especially in the early weeks of their development.
Your baby's changes this week:

Pregnancy Week by Week – 1 Week Pregnant