Congratulations, and welcome to your pregnancy! Here’s what to expect each week and how to have a healthy, happy pregnancy.
Gearing Up to Ovulate
No, there’s no baby or even an embryo in sight (at least not yet) — just an anxious egg and a whole bunch of eager sperm at their respective starting gates. But in weeks one and two of pregnancy — the week of and immediately following your last menstrual period — your body is working hard to gear up for the event that paves the way for the baby: the big O, or ovulation. Right now, your uterus has begun preparing for the arrival of a fertilized egg, though you won't know for sure if that egg has successfully matched up with sperm until next month.
Calculating Your Due Date
How can you call this your first week of pregnancy if you're not even pregnant? It’s extremely hard for your practitioner to pinpoint the precise moment pregnancy begins (i.e. when sperm meets egg). While there’s no mistaking the start of your period, the exact day of ovulation can be hard to nail down. What’s more, sperm from your partner can hang out in your body for several days before your egg comes out to greet it. Likewise, your egg can be kept waiting for up to 24 hours for tardy sperm to make their appearance. So in order to give all pregnancies some standard timing, most practitioners use the first day of your last menstrual period as the starting line of your 40-week pregnancy. Still confused? Think of it as a head start — you're clocking in roughly two weeks of pregnancy before you even conceive!
Protect unborn brains! Women who get 400 micro-grams of folic acid daily this early on reduce baby’s risk of neural tube defects by up to 70%.
YOUR BODY AT WEEKS 1 AND 2
Your Last Menstrual Period
You've just started your last period (at least for a while): The lining of your uterus is shedding, taking with it last month's unfertilized egg. But that's not all that's happening. A new cycle is beginning, one that is the starting point for your pregnancy.
Your menstrual cycle is orchestrated by a symphony of hormones working in concert with one another. The first to kick in is FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which — you guessed it — stimulates the follicles to mature, some faster than others. Each follicle contains an egg and each month, only one follicle becomes the dominant one, destined for ovulation. As the follicles mature, they produce another hormone: estrogen, which does two things. First, it encourages the lining of the uterus to begin thickening again. Second, once a high enough level of estrogen is reached, it will trigger yet another hormone called LH (luteinizing hormone) to be produced. This surge of LH causes the egg from the most mature follicle to burst through the ovarian wall (a process you probably know best as ovulation, which generally occurs about 24 to 36 hours after the LH surge) to meet Mr. Right — the lucky sperm that will turn that eager egg into a baby-in-the-making and make your body's prep work worth all the effort. Believe it or not, the countdown to delivery day begins now, during the period before fertilization — even though your egg and his sperm haven't even been in the same room (or womb!). And if you don't get pregnant this time around, don't stress: Women have about a 25 percent chance of getting pregnant with each cycle.
In the meantime, while your uterus is preparing for its new tenant, be a good landlord. Consider these two weeks of waiting as a final walk-through before baby takes over the keys. You may not technically be pregnant yet, but it isn't too early to act like you are. So if you haven't taken your prenatal vitamin, start now. It's also a good time to give up alcohol and smoking and embark on a healthy prenatal diet and exercise routine.
TRY THIS: TURN DOWN THE HEAT TO BOOST FERTILITY
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