This week you can look forward to implantation! The embryo, which is now called a blastocyst, has found its way to the uterus and is looking for a suitable place to nestle in for the next 36 weeks or so. Implantation usually happens at around the time you would be expecting your period, so don’t be surprised if you have a slight bleed in the 4th week. But, it could be an implantation bleed only if it's only slight spotting not a regular period. The uterine wall is so engorged with blood at this stage that any disruption can cause a light bleed. Some women say they can feel the moment when the blastocyst embeds!
Is it time to announce a baby shower yet?
- You are likely to confirm that you could be pregnant if your period doesn't come this week when you expect it to. Keeping track of your cycles with a calendar is a good idea. You may be experiencing some early pregnancy symptoms (see below) which alert you that your body feels somehow a little different to what it usually does. Don't be concerned if you feel the same as you normally do though. Even if you are officially 4 weeks pregnant, your body is still getting accustomed to all its pregnancy changes.
- By the time you are 4 weeks pregnant it's possible to confirm your pregnancy with a blood or urine test. Both are extremely sensitive to picking up Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin Hormone (HCG) if it's present in your system. The best part about a urine test is that you can do it in the privacy of your own home. Take the test when you wake up in the morning. This is when the concentration of HCG will be at its highest.
Your physical changes this week
- You may feel some lower pelvic cramping and a sensation of "fullness". You may feel bloated or have more wind than you usually do.
- This is when that tell-tale nausea, or morning sickness will kick in, especially if you haven't eaten for a while. The smell or thought of some foods may turn you off, even if you usually love them. Coffee, fish, red meat and even pet food smell can be enough to make you feel like you want to throw up.
- Your breasts may be tender and your nipples more sensitive. Your breasts may even look fuller and more rounded, especially if your breasts are usually a small size.
- You may want to go to the toilet to pee more often. You don't seem to be able to hold on for as long as you usually do and only pee small amounts. This is because of the increase in your blood volume and the pressure of your full uterus pressing down on your bladder underneath.
- You may have some slight spotting from an implantation bleed.
Your emotional changes this week
- You may be feeling major apprehension and excitement. Waiting to see if your period starts can seem like an eternity, with frequent stops to the bathroom to check.
- You may feel similar to how you usually do before you have a period: A lot more emotional, easily irritated and generally feeling extremely moody.
- If you want to conceive, but have a negative pregnancy test, you may be feeling disappointed with the result. Talk with your partner or a supportive friend. Alternately, if you didn't plan on getting pregnant, but find out that you are, this can be a stressful time.
Your baby's changes this week
- This week your baby is the size of a full-stop, or a poppy seed. It is still barely visible to the naked eye.
- It’s time to get scientific: In the 4th week of pregnancy there is a lot of organisation and cell separation going on. 3 distinct layers of cells start to form. The ectoderm (outer layer), will eventually become the baby's skin, eyes, hair, the nervous system, their brain, and even the enamel of their teeth. The middle layer (mesoderm) will become their skeleton, muscles and kidneys, tissues and vascular (blood) system. The layer on the inside (endoderm) will eventually become their internal organs.
- Once a cell has a specific function, it can't become a different type of cell. Each one is pre-programmed from the start and knows what to do and what it is to become. Nature has its pre-planned route.
Tips for the week
- Buy a pregnancy test or two from the chemist or the supermarket. The most expensive is not necessarily the best. Try to choose one which has 2 sticks, so you can repeat the test. It is unlikely to get a false positive reading, though in the very early stages you can get a false negative result. So don’t worry if you end up with a negative at first, try after some days!
- Make the first of your many ante-natal appointments. This will initially be with your GP who will refer you to an obstetrician for ongoing care.
- Avoid getting overheated and try to stay well. An elevated temperature in the early weeks of pregnancy can sometimes carry a risk to the baby as it is forming. Get lots of rest, light exercise and eat healthy!