Welcome to week 4. 36 weeks to go!
Your baby is the size of a poppy seed this week. Believe it or not, they have grown a lot already. By this time, the egg is a tiny ball of cells that will divide into an embryo and the placenta. The placenta is essentially your baby’s lifeline. It is an organ that delivers nutrients and oxygen to your baby and carries out waste in the womb. The part that will develop into the placenta starts producing the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). hCG tells your ovaries to stop releasing eggs and triggers increased production of estrogen and progesterone. Get ready for a wild ride, hormones are no joke, and you will feel their effects during pregnancy. hCG is also the hormone that turns a pregnancy test positive.
From now until ten weeks, your baby’s organs will begin to develop, and some will even start to function. There is a crazy amount of development going on right now. The healthier and less stressed you are, the better for your baby.
This is very likely the week you will miss your period. One of the perks of being pregnant is putting menstrual products away. There will not be any visible signs that you are pregnant, but you may be able to start feeling some of the effects. Some early signs can be tender and swollen breasts, fatigue, frequent urination, heightened sense of smell, and nausea. Many symptoms like bloating, cramping, and mood swings are attributed to your period until that doesn’t show up, and you figure out something else is happening. Some women notice these changes, and others have no clue they are pregnant.
Sometime this week, you might be able to find out you are pregnant with a test. For the most accurate results, wait until the end of the week to take a home pregnancy test. There is no harm in taking one earlier, but you may get a negative result. You are more likely to get a positive result a week past your expected period. For some women, it can take two to three weeks after a missed period before you produce enough pregnancy hormones for a positive pregnancy test. If your period is late and you test negative, retest next week.
Your first prenatal appointment usually isn’t until you are eight weeks pregnant. For many expecting moms, there are weeks between a positive home pregnancy test and a visit to a midwife or an Ob-gyn. These weeks can feel like an eternity and leave you with anxiety about your pregnancy, worrying about your baby’s health, and many questions about what you should be doing now that you are pregnant. See this article for what to do while waiting for your first prenatal appointment.
The next six weeks are especially critical to your baby’s development. A lot of what you put into your body goes to your baby through the placenta. See this article for a breakdown of everything you need to know as soon as you find out you are pregnant. There are many separate episodes on things you should be cautious about, including foods, drinks, alcohol, caffeine, essential oils, skincare, and safe cleaning products. You should also be mindful of any medications and always run any over-the-counter or prescription medicines by your doctor or midwife. An article on over-the-counter drugs in the American Family Physician Journal summarizes the generally accepted guidelines. The CDC has an initiative called Treating for Two that addresses the lack of information about taking medications during pregnancy. Overall, their advice is to talk to your doctor.
Tip for Dads and Partners
Taking a pregnancy test can be a nerve-wracking experience with mixed emotions about the results, whether they are positive or negative. Offer to be there when mom takes the test.
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