Give yourself some time to celebrate, because reaching the 3rd week means conception! Being 3 weeks pregnant means that one of your partner's sperm and one of your eggs have combined and you are in the earliest of stages of pregnancy. If, by chance, you have released two eggs and they have both been fertilised, you will be pregnant with non-identical twins. You won't know it though; all this activity is going on deep within one of your fallopian tubes at a tiny, microscopic level. At 3 weeks pregnant, you are still a few weeks away from starting to feel the effects that pregnancy hormones will have on your body.
The process of fusion between your egg and a single sperm takes around 24 hours. Only one sperm makes it through to the centre of the egg, although a million are released. When one sperm is successful, the egg builds up a protective wall around itself to stop others from entering. Eventually, the other sperm give up. If one egg is fertilised by a single sperm and divides separately, identical twins are formed at this very early stage.
The newly fertilised egg is now officially called a zygote and it starts multiplying the cells, until around the 3rd day, when what was originally 2 cells have now become 12. The zygote is still in the fallopian tube at this stage, though it is steadily finding its way down to the uterus where it will stay, hopefully for another 37 weeks or so. Little finger like projections of hair called cilia, line the fallopian tube and wave the zygote along to discourage it from settling in where it shouldn't. It takes around 60 hours for the fertilised egg to weave its way down to the uterus, by which stage there are 60 cells, all with a predetermined job and a specialised function. The outer cells will form the placenta; the inner cells will form the baby.
Around a week after the egg has been fertilised in the fallopian tube, it embeds in the lining of the uterus. By now, there are 100 cells bunched together and it is called a blastocyst. At this early point, the pregnancy hormone, ‘Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin’, is produced. This hormone can be detected in your urine or blood when a pregnancy test is done.
Your physical changes this week
- Some women are convinced that they can tell as soon as they conceive. They report a strange taste in their mouth, just feeling different or odd, or a sense that something has happened. Being 3 weeks pregnant is still so early that hormonal changes probably aren't responsible for symptoms at this stage, but we cannot discount what a lot of women swear to be true.
- Nature is set up to succeed. You don't need to be extra careful about physical activity or changing your usual routines. If one of your eggs has been fertilised, it already knows where to go and what it has to do.
Your emotional changes this week
You may be feeling slightly "on edge" because you want time to go faster so you can tell if you've been successful. Sit tight. If you are 3 weeks pregnant, this is an essential early stage of your baby's development. It cannot be rushed.
Tips for the week
- If you're going to the dentist for a check-up, let them know you may be pregnant. X-rays in the early stages of pregnancy are not recommended.
- Be aware of any hazards around you. There are risks with some environmental factors such as pesticides and poisons which can have a negative effect on early cell division in pregnancy.
- Try to avoid drinking any alcohol or taking any medication unless it has been specifically prescribed.
- Don't forget to start taking a pre-natal vitamin with a folic acid supplement included. We cannot stress this enough!