Pregnancy Week By Week
Early pregnancy is no joke! So many amazing things are taking place inside your body to create and sustain new life. And the most incredible thing of all is that you’re totally unaware of most of them.
During the first week of pregnancy, your last period for quite some time begins. And while you’re not truly pregnant with an actual baby just yet, your healthcare provider calculates week 1 of your pregnancy from the first day of your last period to make things easier on them. After all, it’s nearly impossible to know when the exact moment of conception takes place. It varies from person to person and pregnancy to pregnancy, so your pregnancy will be measured from the beginning of your most recent menstrual period instead—making it far simpler for everyone in the end.
In week 2 of pregnancy, your ovary releases a mature egg, the sperm swims up the fallopian tube, and fertilization takes place. The newly fertilized egg then quickly starts making its way down the fallopian tube and into the uterus, where it will begin the arduous process of implantation. The exact day this process starts and the amount of time it takes to complete also depend on your personal circumstances.
During week 3, the real fun begins. Around 8 to 10 days after conception, the blastocyst becomes an embryo. That embryo will then complete the implantation process by the end of this week. Some women will even notice implantation bleeding or spotting when this occurs, which can be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy long before other pregnancy symptoms may appear. Plus, the amniotic sac will be in the early stages of development and will even start to fill with amniotic fluid in order to cushion your growing baby over the next few months.
After all that takes place, you’ve now reached the fourth week of your pregnancy.
4 Weeks Pregnant
Right around 4 weeks pregnant, you may notice that something is up.
Pregnancy hormones are getting a boost at this time, especially your levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and these ever-increasing levels of hormones can contribute to symptoms at 4 weeks pregnant. However, unless you make a point to learn about pregnancy symptoms at this early stage, you may just brush them off—thinking they’re premenstrual symptoms since your period is about to start.
Around the time all this is happening, your placenta is starting to form. The yolk sac is providing nourishment to your baby and is gearing up to serve many more important functions starting next week. And you’re halfway to your first appointment with your Ob/GYN, even though you don’t know it yet.
Once you’ve missed your period, all of that changes. A missed period is typically the first sign of pregnancy that simply can’t be ignored. While early symptoms of pregnancy can easily be dismissed, most women know when to expect their period, so being late is a pretty good indicator that it’s time to buy a home pregnancy test.
Depending on the hCG levels in your urine, you can receive a positive pregnancy test by the end of this week. Of course, you may need to test several times over the next two weeks to know for sure. And once you get a positive pregnancy test confirmed at the doctor’s, there’s no looking back from there.
As early as 4 weeks into your pregnancy, signs and symptoms start to appear. Most women experience early pregnancy symptoms like cramps, bloating, fatigue, and tender breasts. While others jump right into nausea and vomiting this early in the game.
Symptoms during the first trimester certainly don’t leave you feeling your best. But, the truly uncomfortable symptoms like back pain, heartburn, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids won’t show up until much later.
Pregnant Belly at 4 Weeks
No cute little baby bump just yet. Even though you might know you’re pregnant by the end of week 4, any changes to your belly will look more like bloating than anything else.
That being said, there’s no rush to buy maternity clothes at this time. Of course, stretchy pants are pretty comfortable, so you certainly can if you want to. You’re pregnant, after all.
Baby Development at 4 Weeks
Once you’ve reached week 4 of pregnancy, your little baby is the size of a poppy seed.
Recently beginning the embryo stage, but not yet considered a fetus, your baby’s development is occurring at a rapid pace. But, all of these impressive changes are still too small to see with the naked eye.
Over the next two weeks, the outer cells, or trophoblast, turns into the placenta and the inner cells divide into three separate layers of cells. The inner layer develops into the lungs and digestive system, the middle layer develops into the heart, muscle, and bones, and the outer layer develops into the brain and nervous system, including the neural tube, among other things.
Healthcare Provider at 4 Weeks of Pregnancy
Even at this early stage, it’s recommended that you take folic acid on a daily basis. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you need at least 600 micrograms of folic acid per day, so pregnant women should take a supplement that provides at least 400 micrograms in addition to eating foods high in folic acid like dark leafy greens and beans.
And while it’s generally considered to be too early for an ultrasound, your doctor may order an ultrasound at 4 weeks if they suspect an ectopic pregnancy, a defect, or an impending miscarriage.
In a healthy pregnancy though, most women will have their first prenatal doctor’s visit around week 8 and their first ultrasound between weeks 18 and 22. No matter what schedule your doctor prefers, be sure to take good care of yourself and attend all scheduled appointments throughout your 40 weeks of pregnancy.
Wondering what else to expect at 4 weeks pregnant? Expect a major life change coming your way!