The Incredible Journey of the First Seven Weeks of Pregnancy

So many special and amazing things happen in the first magical seven weeks of pregnancy - and it’s a wonder that some women might not even know they are pregnant in those first exciting weeks! A lot of development is happening as a fetus is created from just a sperm and an egg in these seven weeks. Moms-to-be also face many different changes as their bodies prepare for baby!

7 Week One

Week one, most women don’t know they’re pregnant yet. Why? Because they’re not actually pregnant.

Wait, what?

Your pregnancy is counted from the date of your first date of your last monthly cycle. This confuses a lot of people, so when someone says, “I’m six weeks pregnant,” the egg has only really technically been fertilized for four weeks.

But - we count from this week!

This date is immensely useful for calculating your due date.

But remember, even though your egg hasn’t been fertilized yet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start acting like it hasn’t been.

Talk to your doctors about any kind of medication you take to make sure it doesn’t conflict with your anticipated pregnancy. Even check about any over the counter medicines you might take on occasion, like cold medicines, allergy medicines, herbal supplements, and even medicines you take for headaches.

Be sure you’re already taking folic acid. Ideally, it's recommended that women take folic acid at least a month before trying to get pregnant. (My doctor even recommended one full year!) Just be sure that whatever folic acid supplement you take doesn’t have more than 700 mg of vitamin A - some studies have found this linked to birth defects.

Oh, and if you have any sort of bad habits, like drinking, or smoking, or drinking too much coffee/tea, now is the time to stop or cut back (stopping drinking and smoking, cutting back on caffeine). While you can drink some caffeine during pregnancy, if you drink a lot of caffeine, you’d need to lower your coffees! You don’t want to start pregnancy as a caffeine-deprived cranky woman! 

Ideally, 150-300 milligrams (or less) of caffeine a day are okay. So start cutting back on those cups of coffee, if you haven’t already.

6 Week Two

Week Two is very similar to week one. Your period has ended, and your body is starting to prepare for potential pregnancy. One follicle has a sudden growth spurt, and just before ovulation, the egg detaches itself.

Most women notice no changes during this time. Like week one, it’s advisable for women to focus on eating healthy, drinking lots of water, getting regular rest. participating in moderate exercise, and all around, being as healthy as possible. Treat your body right - and enjoy how great you feel. (Most women struggle at various points during their pregnancy - enjoy how normal you feel!)

Even though you’re not technically pregnant, think of this as your introduction and get ready for all that’s to come!

5 Week Three

So even though your doctor calls this “Week Three” of pregnancy, you know it’s technically week one! Congratulations, you’re now officially pregnant!

So, we know you know what happened, but just in case, here’s the summary: sperm meets egg, and they joined!

Even though you won’t be able to know for at least a few months (or nine months, if you want a surprise!), the sex of your baby has now been determined! The sex of the baby is determined by the father, actually; both the mother and the father each provide 23 chromosomes; the mother always gives the x chromosome, and the father can give either an x or a y, which will determine if you’re having a girl (xx) or boy (xy).

Your child’s inherited genetic characteristics, like eye and hair color, skin and body type, are also set at conception.

Interestingly, most women don’t even realize they are pregnant in week three. Any pregnancy symptoms they might have - like slight cramping - are the same as other premenstrual syndromes, so most women have no idea. And some women also experience spotting, so they think they have their period and even believe that they are not pregnant.

Post-fertilization, the embryo will flow down the fallopian tube and attach itself to the uterine wall to get nourishment. If you’re going to have more than one baby, this has already been determined. When two separate eggs are fertilized by two different sperm, fraternal twins are formed. Identical twins occur when one fertilized egg splits and develops into two fetuses.

4 Week Four

Many women begin having signs of pregnancy at this point, like a missed period, light-headedness, exhaustion, breast tenderness, sensitivity to certain smells, morning sickness, and mood swings. Some of the first-trimester symptoms might seem overwhelming, but a lot is happening in your body at this point. Be sure to get lots of rest and drink plenty of water during this critical and exhausting time.

This is a good time to determine if you are actually pregnant, so either get a home pregnancy test (which might not show a positive result until week five, but many women take their chances to check) or visit your gynecologist. 

Even though it’s very early in your pregnancy, this is an important stage in development for the fetus: organs, vascular network, teeth, muscles, tissues, spinal cord, and bones are developing. Make sure you aren’t taking in any toxins like drugs, unapproved medicine (talk to your doctor about what’s safe for you to take and not take), alcohol or cigarette smoke, and be sure that your diet is a healthy pregnancy diet.

During the fourth week, the placenta is formed - this is what nourishes your baby during these critical nine months.

Even though so many things are happening, your baby is only .4mm long - or about the size of an apple seed.

3 Week Five

Week five is a very exciting week - many women get their first ultrasound, which will conclusively show that you are indeed pregnant!

Even though you’re not showing yet, you might feel a bit bloated, or, as a friend of mine said, “I don’t look pregnant, just a little bit fat.” The increased pressure on your bladder might make you feel like you have to go to the bathroom more.

The baby grows a lot since the fourth week - now, it’s somewhere between 1 and 5 mm, and looks like a tadpole. (Don’t panic, no woman has ever given birth to a frog! Kissed one, yes, but gave birth, no.)

In this week, the eyes, ears, nose, fingers, and toes begin to grow.

Occasionally, pregnant women will experience spotting during this time, but don’t hesitate to get it checked out by your doctor just to verify that everything is okay.

2 Week Six

Week Six is another big week for baby!

Your baby’s heart is now the size of a poppy seed! It might be able to be detected by an ultrasound. Interestingly, your baby’s heartbeat is 160 beats a minute - twice the rate of your heartbeat!

Your baby’s skin starts to form, and arm and leg buds pop up.

Although it’s too subtle for you to notice, baby begins making their first movements.

For mom, morning sickness, exhaustion, and sleepiness might be dominating the daytime. Because of this, it’s a good time to make sure you’re taking care of yourself with proper nutrition and rest. Remember: your health is very important to your baby’s health! Putting yourself first means putting baby first!

1 Week Seven

Many compare baby at week seven to being the size of a blueberry.

By week seven, your baby has already been through three pairs of kidneys, but is now on their final pair. Afterwards, baby’s waste will go into the placenta.

You’ll also notice changes in your body. Your breasts will increase in size - some women increase as much as an entire cup size in their first seven weeks. Your nipples might feel sensitive and painful to touch as well, and your areola might grow larger and darker. Some women even find ice packs (or packs of frozen peas) gently sooth the soreness of their breasts.

You’re highly susceptible to sickness at this point, so steer clear of anyone who might be sick. Also, be careful around certain animals, like ewes and lambs, and steer clear of the litter box!

Those First Seven Weeks...

Even though the first seven weeks might have lots of work happening without the mother even knowing, there are so many important and exciting changes. Know that there’s a lot of changes happening, so be sure to treat your body right, eat healthy food, get lots of rest, and seek your doctor’s advice for further medical advice.

Remember, only thirty-something-ish more weeks of pregnancy to go!

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