Pregnancy Week 1
It is surprising to note that the start of a woman’s last period is actually the first week of her pregnancy. Since conception transpires about two weeks after the menstrual cycle commences, due dates are calculated by including the last week of the period in the 40 weeks of pregnancy. Common symptoms during the first week of pregnancy occur after about 10-14 days after ovulation and include cramps, a higher amount of vaginal discharge than usual, an increase in body temperature to about .6 degrees, fatigue, nausea, tenderness of breasts, frequent urges to urinate, a metallic taste in the mouth, and a missed period.
The early weeks of pregnancy bring about a vast amount of changes in the body. Hormone levels fluctuate in order to guarantee a thick lining of tissue to sustain the fertilized egg. Ovulation occurs around the 14th day of the 28 day menstrual cycle. One or more eggs are dropped by the follicles into the Fallopian tubes where they await fertilization by a single or more sperm. Gender is determined by whether the sperm is carrying a Y chromosome, which produces a male, or an X chromosome, which produces a female. As the fertilized egg multiplies, it develops into a ball of cells called a blastocyst and from that ball a recognizable baby form eventually emerges.
Alcohol, second-hand smoke, and drugs, even many over the counter medicines, are potentially harmful for the growing baby. It is important to discontinue these bad habits as soon as the potential for pregnancy is apparent. Smoking is known to cause an increase in the baby’s risk of being underweight and underdeveloped for the proper gestational age. It also prevents the absorption of folic acid into the baby’s body. Risks such as pulmonary diseases and placenta previa are also very real threats caused by pregnant smokers. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to speech problems in the baby’s life later on and motor development disabilities. Fetal irregularities can occur even when there has been very little alcohol consumption. Also, in order to prevent neural tube defects, soon-to-be mothers should begin taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid as soon as they become aware of their pregnancy.
Pregnancy Week 2