Pregnancy: Weeks 1 to 4
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During weeks 1 to 4 of pregnancy, your baby is in its initial stages of development. To learn more about this stage, watch this video.
Transcript: It may seem strange, but it's true: By the time you see that positive result, you've already been pregnant...
It may seem strange, but it's true: By the time you see that positive result, you've already been pregnant for nearly four weeks! It's difficult for doctors to pinpoint the EXACT moment when sperm meets egg. So to keep things consistent, most consider the start date of your 40-week pregnancy to be the first day of your last period. For the first two weeks before your egg is fertilized, your body is training itself for your pregnancy...even if you don't plan to have a baby! During this time, your uterus sheds its lining and your body releases estrogen, which promotes the growth a new one. You also release a hormone called LH, encouraging your ovaries to release an egg 24 to 36 hours later. Once your egg is released, you have a 7 to 10 day window to conceive. If a sperm meets the egg during this time, you will be "officially" pregnant. The fertilized egg will spend the next two weeks making its way down your fallopian tubes into your uterus. There, it will burrow into the uterine wall to make its home for the next nine months. By the end of the first month, your baby will be about the size of a poppy seed. But don't let that tiny size fool you...That baby has already made significant strides! He or she...yes, sex has already been genetically determined!...has developed specialized cells, which will become bones, organs, muscles, hair, and skin. Your baby is also forming its placenta, which is the organ that provides food and oxygen, as well as its amniotic sac, which are thin membranes filled with fluid to cushion your baby. Expect to feel pretty normal those first two weeks after conception, as your body continues its usual cycle. After your egg is fertilized, you may experience typical PMS symptoms, such as mood swings, bloating, and cramping, although some women don't even notice this. During week four, some women experience very light bleeding as the egg burrows into the uterine wall. This can be completely normal, and may not be an indication that something is wrong. Because the changes during month one are so miniscule, it's unlikely you'll know you're pregnant before seeing that positive test. But if you're trying, it's never too early to ACT like you're pregnant! That means eating nutritious foods and exercising moderately. It also can't hurt to start taking a prenatal vitamin, since the folic acid in it may help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. At the same time, restrict your alcohol intake and avoid smoking and other potentially harmful activities. As soon as you know you're pregnant, it's time to make that initial appointment with an obstetrician-gynecologist. He or she will guide you through the following months and help to ensure your healthiest child!More »
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You look forward to hearing about your baby's development at every appointment. But if you want the highlights of the next several months now, instead of later, flip through this slideshow. Find out what's in store for your baby, and for you!
Last Modified: 2011-11-03 | Tags »
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Morning sickness? Unfortunately! This video shows you what to expect during month two of your pregnancy.
Transcript: Even if you havent taken a pregnancy test yet, youll still have some confirmation of your condition this...
Even if you havent taken a pregnancy test yet, youll still have some confirmation of your condition this monthin the form of a missed period. But if youre pregnant, a missed period means there is plenty going on inside your body! At this time, youre producing estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones at record levels to help your baby grow. By the end of month two, your baby will be as big as a raspberry, which is 10,000 times bigger than it was at conception! This month brings continued growth spurts for your baby-to-be. Your baby is getting smarter, as well. By the end of month two, he or she is generating roughly 100 new brain cells every minute! That tiny heart is already completely formed, too, and is hard at work pumping blood to other developing organs. Arm and leg buds are now growing into full-fledged limbs, while fingers and toes are separating into individual digits. All that growth is great for your baby, but its bound to leave YOU feeling exhausted. And youre probably having some trouble sleeping, due to pregnancys infamous side-effects. As your uterus expands, it puts more pressure on your bladder. The result? Youll need to urinate more frequently. Nearly 75 percent of pregnant women also experience morning sickness. Despite its name, though, this queasiness and vomiting can strike at any time of day. These symptoms are unpleasant, but dont worry: Theyll become less frequent during your second trimester! Despite morning sickness, youll probably begin experiencing food cravings. Pickles and Jell-O? Bring it on! You may also find yourself desiring foods you dont usually like. Fulfilling these cravings (within reason, of course!) will help you gain the two to five pounds you need during your first trimester. By far the most noticeable changes this month are happening with your breasts, which are getting ready to feed your baby. They may have grown a full cup size by now! Your nipples and the surrounding area will be darker, and will stick out a bit more. Your breasts will also become extremely tender to the touch, so go easy on them! At your first visit with your ob-gyn this month, your doctor will conduct a full diagnostic workup on both your blood and urine. Your vagina will be examined, and a Pap smear may be taken. Your doctor will also test you for genetic abnormalities that could affect your child, such as sickle-cell anemia or Tay-Sachs disease. Are you ready for the big news? This visit is also the first time youll see your babys heartbeat, as the doctor confirms your pregnancy with an ultrasound. Remember to take care of yourself during month number two of your pregnancyand every month thereafter! Your healthy baby is worth the work (and the wait).More »
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During weeks 9 to 12 of pregnancy your little one will grow rapidly. Find out how your baby will grow in this video.
Transcript: If you've felt like you're asleep on your feet during the past three months, it's little wonder. Your...
If you've felt like you're asleep on your feet during the past three months, it's little wonder. Your rapidly growing baby has just made the progression from embryo to fetus! That means that your little guy or gal is just that...His or her genitals are beginning to show definitive signs of male or female gender. And your baby is bigger, as well. It's grown to about two and a half inches, or the length of a plum. Although that may sound small, it represents a doubling in size during this month alone! During this period, your baby will begin to move his or her arms and legs, but you won't feel these butterfly movements yet. You'll have to wait another two months or so for that! Bones and cartilage are forming inside your baby, and knees, ankles, and elbows are present now. In addition, teeth are developing under your child's gums, although they won't make an appearance until after birth. Guess what else? Your baby is producing urine, digestive juices, white blood cells, hormones and, if it's a boy, testosterone! During the last week of month three, your baby's body systems are almost completely formed. At this point, he or she will enter the maintenance phase, during which all of these systems will continue to mature and grow. While your baby is having a grand time growing, you're probably feeling the sleepy effects. That "drag-your-feet" feeling is a normal and frequent symptom of early pregnancy. The reason is simple: Growing a baby is hard work! While your metabolism and hormone levels have increased, your blood sugar and blood pressure have dropped...leaving you feeling like you ran a marathon. In addition, some of pregnancy's more awkward side effects are probably starting to show: Burping and passing gas. The pregnancy hormone progesterone relaxes the muscles in your digestive tract, allowing more time for nutrients to be absorbed. This slowed digestion is great for your baby, but may leave YOU feeling bloated and gassy. You may also experience bouts of dizziness, also due to progesterone. The hormone increases the blood flow to your baby, but slows the return of blood to you. This can lead to that light-headed feeling. You can often lessen dizziness by sitting with your head lowered between your knees while taking deep breaths. Once the feeling passes, have something to eat or drink. While dizziness and gassiness are no fun, you'll be happy to hear that the nausea, constant urination, and breast-tenderness that were with you in the beginning will usually start to abate by the end of month three. And you may have started to notice a slight rounding of your lower abdomen. After all, your uterus has now reached the size of a grapefruit and is rising up from the pelvis into this area! Congratulations! You've almost completed your first trimester. Your baby is now a fetus and you have 28 more weeks to grow and change together!More »
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In pregnancy weeks 13 to 16, your baby starts to develop senses such as hearing. Watch this video to learn more ways your baby is changing and growing.
Transcript: Thank goodness! Your baby is settling in and getting down to the serious business of growing, so you're...
Thank goodness! Your baby is settling in and getting down to the serious business of growing, so you're probably much more comfortable than you were during the first few months of your pregnancy. Now that you've reached week thirteen (and beyond), your baby will begin to grow at his or her own pace, although all fetuses do follow a similar pattern. During your fourth month, your baby will grow to be up to four and a half inches in length...that's the size of a large orange! Eyebrows, eyelashes, and even some hair...by now, your baby has them all! And it's not limited to your little one's head: Babies in the womb are covered with a downy layer of hair called lanugo, which is mostly for warmth and is usually shed before birth. And maybe it's time to start singing in the shower...your baby's ears have moved from the back of his or her neck to the sides of the head and, because tiny ear bones are now in place, he or she may be able to hear you! Your little one is also developing vocal chords, and his or her backbone and neck are becoming more erect. So, aside from growing, what does your baby do all day? The answer is simple...Practice! He or she will spend the day rehearsing movements, sucking and swallowing...skills that are vital to survival once that baby is ready to leave your womb.While all these changes take place in your baby, you'll probably notice few changes in your body...a break at last! At this time, most women do begin to experience vaginal discharge, which is known as leukorrhea. This milky, odorless or mild-smelling liquid is normal and helps to protect the birth canal from infection. If the discharge is significant, or if it makes you uncomfortable, you can use a panty liner to absorb it...remember NOT to use a tampon! Some mild side-effects you may experience this month include sensitivity or bleeding in your teeth and gums and congestion in your nasal passages. Both of these side effects are due to those pregnancy hormones and should be cared for gently: With a humidifier for the stuffiness and good oral hygiene for your gums. As your uterus grows, its supporting ligaments stretch to accommodate the weight. This can manifest as achy discomfort on one or both sides of your lower abdomen. Rest in a comfortable position when you experience these round ligament pains...relief usually comes fairly quickly. By the end of this month, your little baby is 16 weeks old...and getting less little by the day! Hopefully, you're experiencing a break in symptoms and enjoying the view as your belly expands!More »
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During pregnancy weeks 17 to 20, your baby is growing fast and has now developed his or her own fingerprints. Learn more about this stage of pregnancy by watching this video.
Transcript: As you enter the half-way point of your pregnancy, you may notice some mild effects, but considering...
As you enter the half-way point of your pregnancy, you may notice some mild effects, but considering your baby's rapid growth this month, you'd be amazed that you don't feel even more! By the end of your twentieth week, your baby will weigh about 10 ounces and be around six and a half inches long...officially the size of a small cantaloupe! Your little gymnast is now equipped to do cartwheels! Arms and legs that are at last proportionate to the body, combined with new bone growth, give your baby the ability to kick and stretch in your belly. At last, you'll likely experience quickening, which is the ability to feel those fetal movements! During the end of your fifth month, your baby will also begin to develop a protective "coating" called vernix caseosa. This "varnish" is made up of your baby's downy hair, oil and dead skin cells. It may sound a little unappetizing, but the vernix protects your baby's thin skin from the amniotic fluid that surrounds it. Two particularly neat things happen this month: The first is that your little individual will actually develop his or her own unique fingerprints. By week twenty, if you're having a little boy, his testicles will begin to descend. A baby girl's uterus will be fully formed this week, and she'll have developed eggs in her ovaries. All of this development means that if you want to know your baby's sex, an ultrasound exam should be able to tell you what color to paint the nursery! So much rapid growing is hard work, and your baby is hungry. That means that you're probably hungry too, and eating everything in sight! While it's good to eat more when you're pregnant, remember that moderation is key. You don't ACTUALLY get to eat for two, because your baby IS only the size of a cantaloupe! During month five, you're probably also starting to experience pain in your back and cramping in your legs that gets worse at night. Doctors aren't sure exactly where those nighttime leg cramps come from, but the back pain is often caused by a shift in the uterus that pulls your lower back forward. Isn't it about time pregnancy caused a GOOD change in your body? You'll probably have noticed that your hair and nails look great! You can thank your increased circulation for bringing more nutrients to these areas, but, unfortunately, those lustrous locks and long nails will probably disappear once your baby makes his or her debut. By the end of month five you're halfway to your due date. Day-by-day your baby is becoming a real little person and you're doing just great at housing him or her while that happens!More »
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During weeks 21 to 24 of pregnancy, your growing fast and gaining weight. Check out this video to learn more about this stage of pregnancy.
Transcript: Weeks 21 through 24 of your pregnancy bring some huge changes for your growing baby. He or she has probably...
Weeks 21 through 24 of your pregnancy bring some huge changes for your growing baby. He or she has probably broken the one-pound mark! By the end of month six, your baby will weigh up to a pound and a half and be approximately eight inches long, the size of a standard letter. Have you ever wondered how your baby eats? Believe it or not, he or she is swallowing several ounces of amniotic fluid each day, an exercise that helps the digestive system mature and provides practice for life post-womb. The taste of your amniotic fluid differs based on what you've eaten, and research has shown that babies who are exposed to certain foods in the womb are more likely to eat them later. See, it's never too early to get your little guy or gal to eat veggies! And speaking of eating, your baby may now get bouts of the hiccups! You might perceive them as a small repetitive and rhythmic movement that occurs for a few minutes at a time and then recedes, a common and harmless occurrence. Although your baby's eyes are still fused shut, he or she can perceive lightness and darkness now. Your little one is also developing a sense of touch. By the end of your sixth month, your baby's transparent, saggy skin will become less so, as your fetus gains weight from fat and growing organs, bones, and muscle. In fact, he or she will start gaining about three ounces a week! The most fun part of this month is that you'll probably be able to hear your baby's heartbeat through a plain old stethoscope (forget that Doppler!) While your baby grows, so do you...and your feet! That growth can be attributed to normal pregnancy swelling and many expectant moms find that their feet balloon up a full size...and stay that way post-birth. That's because relaxin, the hormone that loosens the ligaments in your pelvis, also loosens the ligaments in your feet. Pregnancy hormones may also cause some temporary skin discolorations. You may have noticed a dark line, or linea nigra, which runs between your belly button and pubic bone. Some women may also experience discoloration around the face, known as "the mask of pregnancy," or melasma. And you may have started to notice the literal marks your baby is leaving on your belly, buttocks, thighs, hips, and breasts...stretch marks! These reddish, purplish streaks are caused by tiny tears in the tissue under skin that has been stretched to its limit. More than half of women get stretch marks, and the tendency to do so is genetic. Take heart though: Stretch marks DO fade over time and should be worn as a badge of honor...40-weeks of pregnancy is no easy feat! You're almost done with your second trimester and your little one is getting bigger, and more ready to leave your belly and snuggle in your arms.More »
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By weeks 25 to 28 of pregnancy, your baby will likely be able to hear and see. Check out this video to learn more about this stage of pregnancy.
Transcript: As you near the end of your second trimester, you're probably unlikely to call your condition "comfortable!"...
As you near the end of your second trimester, you're probably unlikely to call your condition "comfortable!" But you can be proud of your baby's progress in this month. He or she is really growing now! By the end of your 28th week, your baby will weight in at around two and a half pounds, with a length of about 16 inches. Your baby is starting to develop blood vessels in the lungs, bringing them even closer to working on their own. In addition, the nostrils are opening, allowing him or her to practice breathing. Your baby's eyes, which have been closed up to this point, will open this month, so he or she will be even more sensitive to light than before. In addition, your previously transparent baby is turning pinker. This happens as his or her tiny capillaries begin to fill with blood. While your baby has had the capacity to hear muffled sounds for some time, stronger nerves leading to the ear and advanced brain-wave activity are now developing. That means that your baby may be able to hear and respond to your voice! So try reading and talking to your tummy this month. What else is going on in there? When not practicing for life outside your body, your baby is sleeping. And brain wave scans show that he or she is experiencing dreams. Aside from that protruding navel...which occurs when your uterus swells enough to push your abdomen forward...what else will you notice during your seventh month? As unpleasant as it may be, if you're like more than half of pregnant women, you're experiencing an embarrassing pregnancy symptom on the backside: hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids, which are really varicose veins in your rectal wall, can cause itching and pain, especially during a bowel movement. They occur as increased blood flow to the pelvic area causes swelling. For hemorrhoid relief, increase your fluid and fiber intake to ensure that you don't become constipated. Over-the-counter hemorrhoidal creams or a witch hazel compress may also help. As you enter your third trimester at this month's end, you will probably notice an increase in edema, or swelling, to your hands, feet, and ankles. Another unpleasant symptom that some women notice this month is sciatica, a sharp pain that radiates from the buttocks to the legs. Sciatica pain may occur as your fetus grows and puts pressure on the sciatic nerve in your spine. Gentle stretching exercises, physical therapy, or massage may ease the pain. Two trimesters down...one to go! Before you know it, your baby will be in your arms and annoying symptoms, from swelling to sciatica, will be a distant memory.More »
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Your baby’s senses are fully developed by the eighth month of pregnancy, so you should expect a lot of movement. Learn more in our video on Pregnancy Weeks 29 to 32.
Transcript: By your eighth month, you're probably feeling your active baby's movements all the time ...and it's little...
By your eighth month, you're probably feeling your active baby's movements all the time ...and it's little wonder: all five of his or her senses are now responding to stimuli! At this point, your baby weights about four pounds and measures up to 19 inches long! He or she is also developing white fat deposits. White fat is the same kind of fat in your body. It smoothes out your baby's wrinkly skin and turn it opaque, while also serving as an energy source. No wonder your Energizer Bunny is doubling up on pokes, kicks, and jabs. Now is a good time to ensure that your baby is moving about as much as he or she should be. After a snack, lie down and keep track of your baby's movements for about an hour...you should feel your baby move at least ten times in the sixty minutes. Your baby is also making "headway" in the brain department. The formerly smooth brain will start to develop grooves this month, a sign that tissue mass is increasing. During the squirmy days of this month, your baby will typically settle into a head-down position in your uterus. This is partly for comfort and partly for birth preparation. So how is all this movement making YOU feel? Probably pretty worn out! During the eighth month of pregnancy, many of those unpleasant symptoms, like an increased need to urinate, tender breasts and fatigue, all return with a vengeance. You may also be experiencing bouts of heartburn. That's because your muscles are relaxed, causing digestive juices to splash up into your esophagus. Add your pushed up tummy to the mix and...OUCH! You can ease the pain of heartburn by eating smaller meals and avoiding triggers, like chocolaty, spicy, fatty, and acidic foods. Antacids can also help. If you're like 40 percent of pregnant women, you're also dealing with swollen, varicose veins this month. Increased blood volume during pregnancy is responsible for this hereditary condition. Gentle daily exercise, refraining from staying in one position for too long, and support stockings may all help to ease the discomfort of veins. An exciting change in your body this month is the start of Braxton Hicks contractions. These mild spasms in your uterus help your body to gear up for the big day and are a normal part of your pre-labor process. As you get closer to that due date, Braxton Hicks contractions may become stronger and last longer, even causing mild pain. Remember though, if the contractions don't go away, or if they become stronger and painful, you may be in REAL labor, so consult your doctor! You're on your last leg now, mom, and doing great! Your baby's five senses are ready to go and will soon see, feel, touch, taste, and smell you, from the outside, at last.More »
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Is it hard for you to go to sleep as you move into the last quarter of your pregnancy. Don’t worry, these symptoms are quite common in pregnancy weeks 33 to 36. Watch this video and learn more.
Transcript: You would do anything to get some sleep, but your little passenger isn't making that easy. Up to 70%...
You would do anything to get some sleep, but your little passenger isn't making that easy. Up to 70% of pregnant women experience third trimester insomnia. Now that you've reached month 9, you're probably ready to burst. By the end of week 36, your no-longer-little baby will weight about 6lbs and measure 20'' or more in length. Expect weight to continue to increase, but your baby doesn't have room to get much longer. These days, your fetus is acting more like a baby, closing his or her eyes while asleep and opening them while awake. Your baby has also finally developed his or her own immune system, a must for those upcoming days on the playground. And if your baby is a he, he'll reach an important milestone this month: his testicles should be dropping from abdomen to scrotum. Now that your baby's bodily systems are close to fully mature, he or she will focus on expansion, both in weight and in brain power. It's interesting that both the head that houses that brain and the bones that hold that weight are still quite soft. This is so your baby can push easily out of your birth canal. Thinking about that impending birth, not to mention dealing with heartburn, leg cramps, and a gigantic belly may be keeping you up at night. Third trimester insomnia is very common. Try to avoid exercise too close to bedtime. It can also help to enjoy a banana or glass of milk in the evening, because both contain sleep-enhancing hormones. Remember in the beginning of your pregnancy, when you couldn't stop going to the bathroom? You're probably experiencing the same need to urinate constantly once again. Because your baby's head is now pressing squarely against your bladder, this is very normal. One place you could use some extra moisture, is your eyes, as they may suddenly become dry and uncomfortable. You can blame those pregnancy hormones for this irritation which is due to a decrease in tear production. But take heart, the finish line is in sight and soon you'll be holding that little boy or girl in your arms.More »
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You're now approaching your due date and will be welcoming your baby very soon! Learn what to expect in pregnancy week 37 and later in this informative video.
Transcript: Youve reached your 37th week and that means your pregnancy is technically full-term. You could safely...
Youve reached your 37th week and that means your pregnancy is technically full-term. You could safely go into labor at any day, but some pregnancies may stretch out as long as 42 weeks. At this point your baby is probably between 20 and 21 inches long, and could weigh in at 6 and a half pounds or heavier. He or she is now gaining about half an ounce a day. Your babys systems are pretty much ready to go, so what is he or she doing all day? More practicing, of course! Your little one is simulating breathing, sucking on his or her thumb, blinking, and moving from side-to-side. While your baby gets ready to make his or her debut, youre getting ready, too! You may have noticed that your breasts have started to leak a yellowish fluid, which is called colostrum. Colostrum is a precursor to milk that will arrive during the end of your pregnancy or in the early days of your nursing. Not all women experience this leakage before delivery, but if you do, you can wear nursing pads in your bra. Youll continue having those practice Braxton Hicks contractions this month, but they are probably becoming more frequent and can be mildly painful. One of the first signs that your baby is ready is your bloody show. This is a mucous-y discharge that is tinged with blood. Your bloody show occurs when the blood vessels in your cervix rupture as it dilates and prepares for delivery. While youre pregnant, your cervix becomes blocked with mucous that prevents bacteria from getting to your baby. As your cervix starts loosening, this mucous is dislodged, and you may or may not notice the discharge. Another event that may occur is your water breaking. Less than 15 percent of pregnant women experience this prior to the onset of labor. But if it DOES happen, it may be a large push or just a trickle of fluid. What people call the water breaking, is actually the rupturing of the amniotic sac. The fluid is usually clear and means that your baby is DEFINTIELY on the way. You may be wondering if youll know when you go into labor, and the answer is yes! You will feel contractions as a rhythmic pain that often begins in your back and radiates in the front of your abdomen. Contractions tend to occur irregularly and far apart at first, and then become progressively stronger and more consistent. Whether its week 37 or week 42, your baby is really on the way. You can be proud of providing a wonderful environment for your little one to develop in. Congratulations, Mom!More »
Last Modified: 2014-01-27 | Tags »
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Calculating your due date is simple if you remember the date of your last period. Watch this video to find out how this date is important in the calculation.
Transcript: Congratulations-you're pregnant! But how will you know when to expect your bundle of joy? Once your pregnancy...
Congratulations-you're pregnant! But how will you know when to expect your bundle of joy? Once your pregnancy has been confirmed, what you most want to know is your due date. Luckily, calculating your baby's due date is pretty easy to do at home. The average length of a pregnancy is 40 weeks, or 280 days, from the FIRST day of the LAST menstrual period, or LMP. Calculating the due date, or expected date of delivery, for a pregnancy is quite simple, then, if you know that date. Simply add nine months and seven days to the date, and you've got your pregnancy due date.Here's an example of how it works: say the first day of the last normal menstrual period was February 1st. Add seven days to that number, and you get February 8th. Add nine months, and you get November. The expected due date of that pregnancy, then, is November 8.Many factors play into determining the exact day you may have conceived. If your cycle length is irregular, you may not be able to use the first day of your last menstrual period as a marker. And similarly, if you have no idea when your last period was, don't worry!In these types of circumstances, your doctor will likely use an early ultrasound to measure the fetus' size and thus determine its gestational age. You may be wondering why you use your period, and not the day you CONCEIVED the baby, as a starting point. This is because it's rarely possible to gauge the PRECISE day that you got pregnant. After all, your ovulation schedule may be unpredictable, and sperm can live inside you for a few days. Remember, though, that your baby's estimated due date is just that-an estimate. In fact, only 5% of babies make their debut on the EXACT day predicted for their birth! So don't worry if your baby is born before or after that big X on your calendar.More »
Last Modified: 2013-04-15 | Tags »
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