Pregnancy: Weeks 1 to 4
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Does that at-home-pregnancy test show double yellow lines? Congratulations, you're pregnant! Here's what to expect during weeks one through four.
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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Understanding week by week fetal development is important as your baby continues to grow during the first month. Learn more by watching this video.
Transcript: In the beginning, you won't even know you're expecting yet. Meanwhile, your baby will be busy moving...
In the beginning, you won't even know you're expecting yet. Meanwhile, your baby will be busy moving in! The beginning of pregnancy may be confusing-after all, the first week is medically just your menstrual period. Calculation of gestational age depends on a number of factors and generally assumes a 28-day menstrual cycle length. Because your baby's expected delivery date is determined from the FIRST day of your LAST period, this week counts as part of your 40-week pregnancy even though your baby hasn't even been conceived yet! That will happen during the end of week two--again, assuming a 28-day cycle length-when one of your ovaries will release a ripe egg, which will pass into a fallopian tube. There, your egg will wait for 12 to 24 hours for the arrival of one of your partner's tens of millions of sperm. After the sperm arrives in your fallopian tube, it will combine with your egg, and merge into a fertilized egg, or zygote. It's interesting to note that it is the sperm that carries the chromosome that determines sex! At this point, the zygote's sex has been determined by either a male Y-chromosome, or female X-chromosome. At this point, your little zygote will begin the journey from fallopian tube to uterus. As it travels, the zygote will divide until it becomes a mass of 16 identical cells, which-upon reaching the uterus-is called a morula. The morula fills up with what will become amniotic fluid and changes monikers yet again. You're now carrying a blastocyst. Near the end of your third week after the first day of your last menstrual period, the blastocyst will attach itself to the endometrium, or the lining of the uterus. This process is called implantation and creates an essential connection between you and your baby. The endometrium will eventually develop into what will sustain your baby throughout the pregnancy-the placenta. But in the meantime, this lining will provide nutrients and remove wastes for the blastocyst. The newly implanted pregnancy produces hCG, human chorionic gonadotropin, which tells your ovaries to stop releasing eggs, and triggers the production of estrogen and progesterone. hCG is the chemical which shows up in your urine to turn a pregnancy test positive, so if you test at this point you may already see a positive result. Congratulations, mom-to-be. The end of this third week marks the OFFICIAL beginning of your pregnancy journey.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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This is the week most women find out they are pregnant. It is also the time when the embryo is just about the size of a poppy seed. Learn more about fetal development week 4.
Transcript: You probably just found out that you're pregnant and now you want to know what your little guy-or girl-is...
You probably just found out that you're pregnant and now you want to know what your little guy-or girl-is up to! Even though you didn't know you were pregnant, your baby has been growing since the moment of conception! By now, your baby is an embryo the size of a poppy seed -that's 10,000 times as big as she was at conception! The embryo now has distinct layers that will eventually develop into your baby's organs and body parts. All around your baby, a support system is coming into place. Your placenta is actively developing now. In fact, placental cells are actually tunneling into the lining of your uterus, creating a way for your blood flow to supply the placenta with the nutrients and oxygen that the placenta will then provide to your growing baby. Three other key parts of your baby's support system are also now present: the amniotic sac, which will surround and house your baby for the next nine months the amniotic fluid, which is inside the amniotic sac and protects and supports your baby. And the yolk sac that is delivering nutrients to your baby while your placenta - which will eventually produce your baby's red blood cells - forms. Check back in next week for your baby development video update!More »
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Week 6 of pregnancy is quite exciting as you will be able to listen to your baby’s heart beat for the very first time. Watch our video for more information.
Transcript: Exciting news! Your embryo's heartbeat is detectable now! As a matter of fact, the average neonatal...
Exciting news! Your embryo's heartbeat is detectable now! As a matter of fact, the average neonatal heart rate is 130 to 160 beats per minute. That's about twice as fast as the average adult's resting heart rate.! By the end of your embryo's sixth week, it will be about the size of a lentil bean. Dark marks visible on your baby's face are the optic vessels, which will later become eyes, as well as the beginning of nostrils. Your embryo has also developed small depressions on the side of the head, which will become ears. Equally exciting are the growth of four teeny buds, which will eventually become your baby's arms and legs. Plus, your embryo's digestive tract and the bud of tissue that will become lungs have both appeared. What a week! Check back in seven days for the next installment of your baby's developing body!More »
Last Modified: 2013-05-03 | Tags »
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By fetal development week 7, you and your baby will be connected through a life line called the umbilical cord. Watch this to see what else is happening with your baby.
Transcript: This week your embryo is making some important connections! By this week, your embryo's umbilical cord,...
This week your embryo is making some important connections! By this week, your embryo's umbilical cord, which will connect the two of you throughout your pregnancy, has fully formed. The umbilical cord will provide oxygen and nourishment to your little one, as well as dispose of all waste. A few days after your baby is born, the umbilical cord will fall off, leaving an indentation in the abdomen that we call the belly button! Your embryo has doubled in size from last week. It's now about the size of a blueberry. And remember those arm and leg buds? They'll sprout the beginnings of paddle-like arms and feet this week. Your baby's brain is also bulging, as both hemispheres begin to form. And by the seventh week, the embryo ALSO has a pancreas, liver, and an appendix! Last but not least, your embryo has developed eyelid folds, which will partially cover teeny eyes that already have some color. Check back in next week to see what your busy baby has in store for the end of your second month!More »
Last Modified: 2013-08-15 | Tags »
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During week 8 you will be growing a kidney bean sized fetus that has started to develop fingers and toes. Learn more about this through the video.
Transcript: ...More »
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The changes during week 9 of pregnancy will determine what your baby's face will look like. Watch this video about the transformation your baby will go through.
Transcript: In the early stages, your baby's head develops much faster than the rest of its body, so he or she will...
In the early stages, your baby's head develops much faster than the rest of its body, so he or she will be quite top heavy in this, the ninth week of your pregnancy. At this point your embryo's facial features are becoming more distinctive by the day! The eyes are fully formed now, though they're still fused shut. And earlobes, nose, nostrils, and mouth have all begun to form. By the end of this week, your embryo will measure 2/3 of an inch and weigh just a fraction of an ounce...in other words, that baby in your belly is about the size of a grape. Also changing this week is your baby's heart, which will finish splitting into four chambers and begin to form valves.More »
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Your fetus is busy doing a number of things during week 10 of pregnancy. Find out what your baby is up to in this video.
Transcript: Tiny baby teeth buds also start developing, as do internal reproductive organs, like testes or ovaries....
Tiny baby teeth buds also start developing, as do internal reproductive organs, like testes or ovaries. Your embryo's other systems and organs are all essentially present and accounted for by now, though they will, of course, continue developing. And the news in terms of your placenta, is that it is now mature enough to fully support the developing pregnancy, which means it can produce hormones, as well as feed your baby. What a busy few days for you and your little one! For more video updates, check back next week.More »
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