Early Pregnancy Questions
The first twelve weeks of pregnancy is called the first trimester. In early pregnancy your body goes through amazing changes to support your baby. These changes affect you both physically and emotionally. Even if your pregnancy is planned, your reaction to it may surprise you. You can feel anything from elation through to unhappiness. Feeling a range of emotions in early pregnancy is very normal.
What is happening to my body?
In early pregnancy your baby goes from being a couple of cells to being fully formed. In weeks one and two, you are not actually pregnant, but your body is preparing for your pregnancy. Sometime between week two and three your egg (ovum) is fertilised. By the time you miss your period, you are said to be four weeks pregnant. You may start experiencing the early symptoms of pregnancy like breast tenderness, tiredness and cramps at this time.
Your pregnancy actually begins when your egg is fertilised by sperm. The egg splits into two cells. These cells kept on dividing into two until they form a little ball of cells. This ball of cells travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus (womb) and implants into the wall of the uterus. At 6 weeks the baby’s heart starts beating and the baby is around 13-16mm long. Little buds develop where arms and legs start to grow. By 12 weeks all the baby’s organs have formed and the baby is around 11cm long. Although you can’t feel it yet, the baby is moving around.
Your uterus starts to peek over the top of your pubic bone at 12 weeks and you may just begin to look pregnant.
How do I test if I am pregnant?
There two ways to confirm if you are pregnant. You can see your midwife or doctor who can perform a blood or urine test, or you can buy a home pregnancy test kit from the supermarket or pharmacy.
Home pregnancy test kits are easy to use and are between 90-99% accurate – depending on when you do the test. You can test if you’re pregnant on the first day you miss your period. Some kits can actually check if you’re pregnant even before you miss your period.
Pregnancy tests checks for the presence of the Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG) hormone in your urine or blood. This hormone is produced by cells that eventually become the placenta and its level increases in the first trimester, reaching a peak at 8 to 11 weeks, then lowering and levelling out for the rest of your pregnancy.
Home pregnancy test kits check the presence and level of HCG in your urine. You do this by putting the kit under your urine stream when you go to the toilet. The kit may have two blue lines for positive and one line for negative. Others will have a red and a blue or a plus and a minus sign. There are also digital ones that actually display the results in words as ‘pregnant’ or ‘not pregnant’. The result can take from as quick as 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
A positive result is almost always accurate, while a negative one can be less reliable. Make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instruction to get a reliable result. If you feel you are pregnant, you should wait a week and test again. Alternatively, you can see your midwife or doctor who will perform a blood test.
How do I calculate my due date?
A common question in early pregnancy is how do I calculate my due date? The average length of pregnancy is approximately 280 days/40 weeks, calculated from the first day of your last normal menstrual period. To calculate your due date, determine the first day of your last period, subtract 3 months, then add 7 days
For example, if your last period started on the 1st of January, subtract three months and you get 1st of October, add 7 days to the 1st and you get the 8th, so your due date is 8th of October. This method will only work if your menstrual cycle is regular. Don’t worry if your cycle is irregular; your midwife or doctor can use other means to work out your due date.
However, you should keep in mind that very few babies are born on their due date – your due date is just an estimate. A baby is considered full term (ready to be born) from 37 weeks of pregnancy onwards.