Pregnancy Month by Month

Pregnancy Month One

Baby's Growth

Weeks 1 & 2

The average length of gestation is 266 days, which means your baby will be born around 38 weeks after conception. Because many women are not familiar with their fertility cues and do not know when conception happened, pregnancy is generally measured from the first day of the last menstrual period. The average length of pregnancy is 280 days, which means your baby will be born around 40 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period. By this standard of measuring, your first two weeks of pregnancy happen before your child is conceived.

During this time, the egg that will become your child begins the maturation process and the sperm that will become your child is being produced.

Week 3

This is the week the sperm and egg meet. Some of the decisions about your child, such as gender and if he or she will have any chromosomal problems, will be decided at conception. After the sperm and egg combined, your newly created baby begins a process of cell division that could rightly be called "explosive." In these first weeks, perhaps before you even realize you are pregnant, your baby has begun to develop everything it needs to survive until birth. By the third week of life your baby 's heart is already pumping blood on its own.

Week 4

The creation of your baby begins before he is even attached to your uterine lining. As the egg divides and grows, cells begin to be specialized. The fertilized egg will create your baby, the placenta, the amniotic sac and the amniotic fluid. Approximately 10 days after fertilization, your baby implants in the uterus. The lungs, heart and spinal cord begin to form. By the end of the fourth week your baby is less than .03 oz, and is approximately 1/8 of an inch long.

Confirming Pregnancy

If you have been trying to become pregnant for a while, or were trying not to become pregnant, you are probably very interested in knowing how to confirm a pregnancy. Here are some of the ways pregnancy is confirmed.

Your midwife will assume you are probably pregnant if she sees:

Pregnancy Test The presence of HCG in the urine or with a blood test done after 14 days gestation. A negative test in a woman who is convinced she is pregnant should be repeated one week later.

Uterine Enlargement With a vaginal exam, uterine enlargement can be detected around 7-8 weeks pregnancy (5-7 weeks gestation), uterine enlargement can be detected from abdominal exam at 12 weeks. You may not be aware of an increase in uterine size until 16 weeks pregnancy (14 weeks gestation). The uterus will continue to enlarge at a regular rate.

Cervical Softening With a vaginal exam, the softening and discoloration of the cervix can be detected around 8 weeks pregnancy (6 weeks gestation).

Your midwife will be certain you are pregnant when:

Fetal Heart Tones Using a Doppler ultrasound device, your baby's heart beat can be heard for the first time around 12 weeks pregnancy (10 weeks gestation). Using a special stethoscope pressed on the abdomen, your baby's heart beat can be heard around 25 weeks pregnancy (23 weeks gestation).

Feeling the Baby Your baby's body parts, such as the head and limbs, can be felt (palpated) through the abdomen from about 26 weeks pregnancy (24 weeks gestation).

Ultrasound (sonography) images Actually seeing the baby proves you are pregnant. This is generally only done early in pregnancy if there are concerns of a problem, closer to 11 weeks for dating in a normal pregnancy. Many healthy women also have an ultrasound around 16-18 weeks pregnancy (14-16 weeks gestation). This is when the baby is big enough to determine the sex and recognize the most common problems, but small enough to still confirm baby's age.

Mom's Changes

Donít forget about the importance of being as healthy as possible during this exciting time of your life. Be sure you are eating a variety of foods, staying active and getting as much rest as necessary for the healthy functioning of your body. Remember, you and your baby will both be using your body, so it is vitally important to stay as well nourished and rested as possible.

When the egg becomes fertilized, your body begins producing higher levels of progesterone which prevent menstruation and keep the pregnancy healthy. It is initially produced by the ovary, but production will eventually be taken over by the placenta.

In response to the progesterone, the uterine lining thickens and the blood supply to the uterus increases. The cervix plugs with mucus to provide a protective barrier. Your uterus begins to enlarge and soften to allow implantation.

As your uterus begins to change, you may notice some pre-menstrual type cramping. The increased metabolic rate and the growth of the uterus causes an increased need to urinate. You will probably be more tired than usual and may even have short periods of faintness. The pregnancy hormones trigger the maturation process in the mammary glands, which may cause breast tenderness or soreness.

During this first month, you may wonder if you are pregnant. You can watch for the early signs of pregnancy and confirm your pregnancy with your midwife if you want to be sure.

Common Concerns

The following concerns are commonly experienced during this month. Please click an item to learn why it happens and what you can do about it.

Urinary Frequency
Breast Soreness
Increased Fatigue
Decreased Libido
Faintness
Nausea and Vomiting
Pregnancy Symptoms

To Do List

  1. Familiarize yourself with the common early symptoms and signs of pregnancy to help you know when you have successfully conceived. If conception is taking longer than you anticipated, consider taking a class in natural family planning to fine tune your conception efforts.
  2. Make sure you are eating right. By the time you have a positive pregnancy test, about two weeks of important development have already occured.
  3. Check your insurance coverage. You may find you have more options than you thought. Depending on the laws in your area, your insurance may cover a birth center birth, a home birth or a doula. Your insurance may cover the entire birth and prenatal visits, or you may be responsible for a co-pay or co-insurance. Make sure you know ahead of time how much money you will need to pay for the services you want to receive. If you don't have insurance, check into state aide programs. Generally, maternity care will be covered in some way.
  4. Continue your exercise regime, or begin one. Women who exercise before pregnancy are more likely to exercise during pregnancy. It will also help you prevent problems with weight gain and prepare you to return to a healthy weight after pregnancy.