You have been carrying your baby for two weeks by the time your period is due. But because pregnancy is calculated from the date of your last period, you are already one month pregnant!
At 3 weeks pregnant, your body will begin to change but it’s likely that this will only be noticeable by you.
Now that you have conceived you may not feel any changes physically, but there’s a lot happening inside you. You may notice a slight swelling on one side of your belly, or even a slight bit of spotting known as implantation bleeding – caused by the fertilised egg burrowing into the uterine lining. Not every woman will experience implantation bleeding, but rest assured that this is completely natural. Your body will also release an immunosuppressant protein called Early Pregnancy Factor (EPF), which will prevent your body from mistaking Baby as an invader.
Adequate intake of certain nutrients, such as folic acid, protein, calcium, and iron, is essential for nourishing your baby. A folic acid supplement — which, ideally, you’ve been taking since before you conceived — is particularly important because folic acid helps prevent defects of the neural tube (the structure that gives rise to the brain and spinal cord), which forms very early in pregnancy.
Your intake of protein, which is used to create new tissue, should increase during pregnancy. In addition, calcium is necessary for the development of bones and teeth, so make sure you’re getting a good dose of dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and legumes. Iron is essential during pregnancy as you support the continual increase of your baby’s blood volume. Good sources of iron include red meat, legumes, eggs, and leafy green vegetables.
Your Baby’s Development
The sperm and egg meet forming a zygote! Congratulations on your conception! The gender is determined at fertilization and depends entirely on the sperm which carries either an X or Y chromosome. If an X sperm joins the egg (always X), then the gender of the zygote is female, and if a Y sperm joins the egg, the zygote is male. After just 24 hours the newly formed zygote consists of a cluster of cells and will commence a one or two week journey through the fallopian tubes to the uterus.
Your baby is a whole 500 cells big at the moment. The fertilised egg has spent approximately seven days travelling down the fallopian tube and to the uterus. Cell division began immediately and continues throughout the journey. Once it has implanted into the uterine lining, your baby is called a blastocyst and meausres 0.1 – 0.2mm in diameter.
Even though you may not feel that you’re pregnant yet, you have a baby growing and developing inside of you! Although your baby was just conceived, he or she is working overtime. The fertilized egg goes through a process of cell division. About 30 hours after fertilization, it divides into two cells, then four cells, then eight, and continues to divide as it moves from the fallopian tube to the uterus. By the time it gets to the uterus, this group of cells looks like a tiny ball and is called a morula.
The morula becomes hollow and fills with fluid — it is then known as a blastocyst. Near the end of this week, the blastocyst will attach itself to the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. This is called implantation. The implantation in the uterus creates an essential connection — the endometrium will provide the developing embryo with nutrients and will remove wastes. Over time, this implantation site will develop into the placenta.