You’re pregnant — congratulations! You probably have as many questions as you do emotions right now. One of the first things pregnant women wonder when they find out they’re carrying new life is what to expect in the first weeks of pregnancy.
From eating a balanced diet to taking regular exercise, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the significant changes that pregnancy and having a baby will bring. So we’ve put together everything you need to know about pregnancy at one week, including how your baby is growing, changes to expect in your body and pregnancy health, nutrition and wellness advice.
1 Week Pregnant – Your baby, your body & you
The probability of conception is estimated at less than 40-50% per menstrual cycle. In over 200 million sperm, only one or maybe two extra lucky, healthy, and fit sperm will fertilize your egg.
The number of fertile days in a woman’s cycle is unknown; however, it is believed that ovulation generally occurs between days 14-16 of a woman’s menstrual cycle (counting the first day of her period day of the process).
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Preparing for conception
- If on any medication, check with your GP whether it’s ok to continue taking during pregnancy
- Wash hands after contact with cat litter or animals
- Aim for 8 hours sleep a night
- Drink alcohol from the moment you know you are pregnant.
- Don’t overdo strenuous exercise. Intense exercise of more than five hours a week has been associated with a decrease in ovulation.
Spaced between 13-week trimesters, a full round of pregnancy lasts up to 280 days, i.e. around 40 weeks of the term period. Kick-starting from the very first day of your last menstrual period, as of now, you haven’t even conceived, according to your physician’s evaluation. This is because ovulation occurs two-week post your menstruation date. Your first day of pregnancy is during your last menstrual period.
As of now, what you have is an anxious egg and a whole bunch of eager sperms standing at the starting gates while your body is working hard to gear up for the event that paves the way for the big O, Ovulation.
As of now, you won’t notice anything remarkably changed in your body yet, but you must schedule an appointment with your gynaecologist soon for a blood test and your first prenatal appointment. Take a list of questions with you. And yes, totally avoid drugs (even if they are over-the-counter medicines), alcohol. Cigarettes, excessive sugar and smoke, and replace it all with prenatal vitamins.
Be geared up to embrace all things magical as, by this time next year, you will be holding in your arms your 16-week old baby.
As of now, your baby is a significant glimmer in your eyes, but your body starts to change little by little. Starting with your next period due in the last week of the first week of your pregnancy, some women might also suffer from slight cramping or implantation bleeding. Women might also suffer from nausea or vomiting, which generally eases around the 14th to 22nd week of pregnancy. Women also tend to suffer from extreme tiredness at times, accompanied by dizziness – a scenario in which they can’t stand for a more extended period or can faint easily. Apart from this, women might suffer from breast tenderness, as the veins in the breasts might appear blue and prominent. Lastly, women might feel the need to pass urine more frequently during the first week of pregnancy – a feeling that subsides when the uterus grows past the pubic bone. But having said this, most changes in your body are primarily unnoticeable in the first few weeks.
Emotionally, this can be a real roller-coaster ride for women, depending upon whether the pregnancy was planned or not. It is mainly seen that only after the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriages considerably reduces, mothers start feeling more emotionally connected to their little bundle of joy.
Indulge in positive activities. Yoga, meditation or reading, performing any constructive action that chills you out should be your go-to activity. Choose anything that helps you calm your nerves and recollect your thoughts. Also, keep in mind to stay as positive as you can. This is essential to calm your nerves, overcome your anxiety and be well-prepared for your pregnancy in an overall manner.
Nutrition for you
- Treat nausea – During the first week of pregnancy, you might suffer from constipation or indigestion, meaning that your stomach isn’t getting empty as quickly as it ideally should. Nausea is linked with human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone that is detected in large quantities in your blood or urine even after a missed period. During this time, women may find drinking ginger and lemon tea as a soothing dietary habit. Also, consult with your gynaecologist about special Vitamin B6 tablets or acupressure wristbands, which can help with nausea.
- Heal headaches – Due to the increased progesterone levels in the body, headaches might occur due to not drinking enough fluids/liquids or if you are anaemic. Do make it a point to drink enough water and water-based liquids, and if headaches persist, do ask your doctor for Tylenol medicine.
- Add folic acid to your diet – Popping in a minimum of one (400mg) folic acid will help nurture the fetus and deliver a healthy baby and spinal cord. Apart from this, do start taking a lot of leafy green and curtailing junk food intake to stay away from nauseous or gassy occurrences.
Nutrition for baby
Don’t start ‘eating for two’ yet – To avoid any complications later in the form of gestational diabetes(diabetes occurring during pregnancy), delivering a large baby or getting overweight, aim for a fit and healthy pregnancy.
Even though you are processing some major news and your body is adapting to this new journey, loaded with a riot of hormones, you might be all over the shop. But trust us, this is entirely normal!
- Wait to tell people: The minute you find out that you are about to embark on this precious journey, stay away from calling everyone and breaking the news to them. Especially stay away from sharing this news from your rooftops on social media platforms. Play it safe and try to wait until the first three months before sharing this life-changing news.
- Bond yourself with other mums-to-be: First time getting pregnant? We are sure there’s a truck-load of experiences you would want to share and gain with your newly pregnant friends. Join a social media community of freshly pregnant moms or join a yoga class for pregnant women to discuss your journey and share your experiences in detail.
- Mixed emotions might be your current state of mind: And believe us when we say this is entirely normal. You might be excited one minute thinking about the future, but you might be terrified the next minute thinking about what bad might happen.
Buy a journal.
Journaling is known for its multitude of benefits, from supporting us to be more mindful and helping us connect more to our thoughts, values and emotions.
This has been shown to help us feel happier. We can be more objective and get a deeper perspective of ourselves and our thoughts when we ‘get it out of our head’ and onto paper.
Journaling through your pregnancy and during the process of becoming a mother is a beautiful way to document your journey. This is for you. This is for your thoughts, feelings, experiences, notes and lists.
- Empty your brain before you go to sleep
- Take notes in appointments.
- Plan and prepare
- What are you grateful for?
- Check-in on your long term and short-term goals. What is it you want to achieve this week? What is one thing you’re going to do for yourself today?
- Your Relationships
- Schedule some time to spend together – sometimes we need to diary time together.
- What are some of the things you enjoy doing with each other? Come up with three creative activities, each that do not involve alcohol, write them on a piece of paper and pop them in a jar. Come date night, take a turn choosing the activity and have fun!
What to expect in the first weeks of pregnancy?
The first weeks of pregnancy can mean uncomfortable physical symptoms and changes to your energy levels. You may feel more tired, sleepy, or fatigued than usual, and you may experience bloating nausea and tender breasts. However, some women feel no difference between the first weeks of pregnancy and when they weren’t pregnant. Pregnancy symptoms tend to intensify by the second month of pregnancy.
Here are some specific symptoms you should be aware of in the first weeks of pregnancy.
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Cramping: first weeks of pregnancy
Light cramping in the first weeks of pregnancy is usually nothing to worry about. Your uterus is a muscle, and a fertilized egg is a foreign body for it. So when a fertilized egg comes to the uterine cavity trying to implant into its inner layer (endometrium), the natural reaction of the uterine muscular layer is contracting to get rid of a foreign body. These contractions usually don’t lead to abortion because of progesterone levels, which inhibit uterine muscle contractions.
If the cramps during the first weeks of pregnancy are mild, intermittent and feel similar to ones you get right before your period, they could be a sign that you’re pregnant!
Bleeding: first weeks of pregnancy
It’s normal for women to feel concerned if they see they’re bleeding in the first weeks of pregnancy. But during this time, vaginal spotting or light bleeding can be pretty standard. It can sign the fertilized egg implantation into the inner uterine layer (endometrium), which usually happens 7 to 12 day after fertilization. Around 20% of women experience some vaginal bleeding in the first trimester.
At the same time, bleeding can sign some severe complications, like extrauterine pregnancy or a missed miscarriage. If you notice spotting or light bleeding when you are pregnant, inform your doctor to make sure that everything is going well. Use a panty liner or pad instead of a tampon or menstrual cup if you’re bleeding during the first weeks of pregnancy.
Lower back pain: first weeks of pregnancy
Like cramping during the first weeks of pregnancy, having some pain in your lower back is a common and typical symptom. There are a few reasons you might have lower back pain first weeks of pregnancy, including hormonal changes and stress. As your pregnancy develops, your back pain will be due to the changing shape of your hips, weight gain, and the position of your spine as your centre of gravity shifts with your growing baby.
Many women experience slight bleeding, cramping and lower back pain in the first weeks of pregnancy. Speak to your doctor if any of your first weeks of pregnancy symptoms are so severe that they cause you significant amounts of pain or discomfort.
What to do in the first weeks of pregnancy?
The first weeks of pregnancy are a good time to get a full health workup from your doctor. After you’ve taken a pregnancy test, your doctor will do a blood or urine test to confirm pregnancy and may perform a pelvic exam.
If your family doctor is a general practitioner, you’ll likely want to find a prenatal doctor or obstetrician-gynecologist to have routine checkups throughout your whole pregnancy. These checkups will include scans and other laboratory tests to ensure you and your baby are staying healthy.
In the first weeks of pregnancy, your ultrasound scans can already give you information about your pregnancy — you can see a gestational sac in the uterine cavity on about day 7 of your missing period (if you have a regular menstrual cycle), and in several days a yolk sac can be seen on ultrasound. During the second week of your missing period (6th week of gestation), ultrasounds can detect an embryo and even a fetal heartbeat. As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll start to see your baby taking shape and will eventually get to find out their sex.
Your prenatal appointments also are a chance for you to ask your doctor or midwife any questions you have about pregnancy and childbirth.
Arrange your first appointment with your midwife
As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, let your GP know so that you can book your first appointment with a midwife.
The timing of your first official antenatal appointment, called your booking appointment, depends on where you live. You should have your booking appointment by the time you’re ten weeks pregnant, but it may happen any time between eight weeks and 12 weeks.
Your booking appointment usually takes one to two hours and could occur at your home, a hospital, a children’s centre or your GP’s surgery. Your midwife needs to get a clear idea of your health, your partner’s health and both of your families medical history. So be prepared for plenty of questions!
Take a supplement
Start taking a daily folic acid supplement straight away. Folic acid is an essential nutrient that protects your baby against brain and spinal cord problems such as spina bifida.
It would help if you had a 400 microgram (mcg) supplement of folic acid (vitamin B9). You can buy these over the counter from pharmacies or supermarkets.
It’s also recommended that you take a supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D every day. You can also take a pregnancy multivitamin if you like, but eating a balanced diet should help you get all the vitamins and minerals you need.
Check before taking medicines.
It would help if you were careful about taking medicines, even over-the-counter ones. They may be harmful to your unborn baby. Talk to your GP or midwife about any prescription medicines you’re taking and ask your pharmacist for advice when buying over-the-counter remedies.
If you smoke, it’s time to quit.
Smoking during pregnancy puts you at higher risk of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and premature labour. The smoke you inhale can also affect how your unborn baby grows, resulting in low birth weight.
It’s never too late to give up, and if you need help, talk to your midwife or doctor. They’ll be able to put you in touch with your local stop-smoking support scheme.
We don’t yet know much about the effects of using e-cigarettes while pregnant, but it’s safest not to use one as the vapour usually contains nicotine and other toxins. If you’re using an e-cigarette to help you quit smoking, speak to your midwife about alternatives.
Cut out alcohol
There is no way to know for sure how much alcohol is safe during pregnancy. That’s why experts advise you to not drink any alcohol at all while you’re expecting.
Cut down on caffeine.
You can still enjoy a cup of coffee during your pregnancy. But you should limit yourself to 200mg of caffeine a day, which is two cups of instant coffee or one cup of brewed coffee.
If you regularly have more than 200mg of caffeine a day during your pregnancy, it could increase your risk of miscarriage.
This 200mg limit includes all sources of caffeine, so as well as coffee, you’ll need to have teas (including green tea), cola, energy drinks and chocolate.
Learn what to eat and what not to eat
A healthy, balanced diet will ensure that you get all the nutrients you and your developing baby need.
It may surprise you to know that you don’t need extra calories in your first trimester or second trimester. But you will need to avoid certain foods in pregnancy because they may contain bacteria, parasites or toxins that could harm your baby. This includes some cheeses and unpasteurized dairy products, raw or undercooked meat, liver and pate, and raw shellfish.
Get relief from pregnancy sickness.
Many mums-to-be suffer from sickness during their first trimester. To ease your nausea, eat little and often. Try to work out which foods suit you and which ones make you feel queasy.
Snacking on plain biscuits, crackers or breadsticks may help. Your sickness should ease between 16 weeks and 20 weeks. If you are vomiting many times a day and cannot keep anything down, contact your doctor or midwife as soon as possible. You may have severe morning sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
This Week’s Preparation
- Track your menstrual cycle
- Stop smoking, vaping, drinking and using drugs.
- Stop drinking alcohol – if you are trying to get pregnant, it is highly recommended that you avoid alcohol.
- Start taking a prenatal vitamin and additional folic acid if there isn’t 800mg in your vitamin.
- Cut back on your caffeine intake.
- Increase your consumption of fruit and vegetables and cut back on sugar and fat
- Get enough sleep!
- Move your body and exercise each day.
- Buy a journal
The first weeks of pregnancy are an exciting time, so enjoy all the perks of your changing body and new lifestyle!
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