1. Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy

Many changes in your body can indicate pregnancy. If you have one or more of the following symptoms and you believe you might be pregnant, contact your healthcare provider:

• missed menstrual period

• nausea, with or without vomiting

• food aversions or food cravings

• fatigue

• frequent urination

• breast changes and breast tenderness

• new sensitivity or feelings in your pelvic area

• metallic taste in your mouth

What will you notice first? It’s different for every woman. When your period doesn’t begin, you may think of pregnancy.

2. When Is Your Baby Due?

The beginning of a pregnancy is actually figured from the beginning of your last menstrual period. For your healthcare provider’s calculations, you’re pregnant 2 weeks before you actually conceive! Pregnancy lasts about 280 days, or 40 weeks, from the beginning of the last menstrual period. This can be confusing, so let’s look at it more closely.

A due date is important in pregnancy because it helps determine when to perform certain tests or procedures. It also helps estimate the baby’s growth and may indicate when you’re overdue—this will be really important to you as delivery time approaches.

Your due date is only an estimate, not an exact date. Only 1 out of 20 women actually delivers on her due date. You may see your due date come and go and still not have your baby. Think of your due date as a goal—a time to look forward to and to prepare for.

Most women don’t know the exact date of conception, but they usually know the beginning of their last period. This is the point from which a pregnancy is dated. Figuring a due date can be tricky because periods and menstrual histories can be uncertain.

Calculate your due date by counting 280 days from the first day of bleeding of your last period. Dating a pregnancy this way gives the gestational age (menstrual age), which is the way most healthcare providers keep track of time during pregnancy. It’s different from ovulatory age (fertilization age), which is 2 weeks shorter and dates from the actual date of conception.

Some medical experts suggest instead of a “due date,” women be given a “due week”—a 7-day window of time during which delivery may occur. This time period would fall between the 39th and 40th weeks. Because so few women (only 5%) deliver on their actual due date, a 7-day period could help ease a mom-to-be’s anxiety about when her baby will be born.

You may hear references to your stage of pregnancy by trimester. Trimesters divide pregnancy into three periods, each about 13 weeks long, to help group together developmental stages.

You may even hear about lunar months, referring to a complete cycle of the moon, which is 28 days. Because pregnancy is 280 days from the beginning of your period to your due date, pregnancy lasts 10 lunar months.

Using a 40-week timetable, you actually become pregnant during the third week. Details of your pregnancy are discussed week by week beginning with Week 3. Your due date is the end of the 40th week. Each weekly discussion includes the actual age of your growing baby. For example, in Week 8, you’ll see the following:

Definitions of Time

Gestational age (menstrual age)—Begins the first day of your last period, which is actually about 2 weeks before you conceive. This is the age most healthcare providers use to discuss your pregnancy. The average length of pregnancy is 40 weeks.

Ovulatory age (fertilization age)—Begins the day you conceive. The average length of pregnancy is 38 weeks or 266 days.

Trimester—Each trimester lasts about 13 weeks. There are three trimesters in a pregnancy.

Lunar months—A pregnancy lasts an average of 10 lunar months (28 days each).

EDC—Estimated date of confinement or due date.

Week 8 [gestational age]

Age of Fetus—6 Weeks [fertilization age]

This tells you how old your developing baby is at any point in your pregnancy.

No matter how you count the time of your pregnancy, it’s going to last as long as it’s going to last. But a miracle is happening—a living human being is growing and developing inside you! Enjoy this wonderful time in your life.

Your Menstrual Cycle

Menstruation is the normal periodic discharge of blood, mucus and cellular debris from the cavity of the uterus. Two important cycles occur during the menstrual cycle—the ovarian cycle and the endometrial cycle. The ovarian cycle provides an egg for fertilization. The endometrial cycle provides a suitable site for implantation of the fertilized egg inside your uterus.

Tip for Weeks
1 & 2

Over-the-counter pregnancy tests are reliable and can be positive (indicate pregnancy) as early as 10 days after conception.

There are about 2 million eggs in a newborn girl at birth. This decreases to about 400,000 in girls just before puberty. The maximum number of eggs is actually present before birth. When a female fetus is about 5 months old (4 months before birth), she has about 6.8 million eggs!

About 25% of women have lower-abdominal pain or discomfort on or about the day of ovulation, called mittelschmerz. It may be caused by irritation from fluid or blood from the follicle when it ruptures. The presence or absence of this symptom is not considered proof ovulation did or did not occur.

3. Your Health Affects Your Pregnancy

Your health is one of the most important factors in your pregnancy. Good health care is important to the development and well-being of your baby. Healthy nutrition, proper exercise, sufficient rest and taking care of yourself all affect your pregnancy. 

Some Information May Scare You

The information is not included to frighten you; it’s there to provide facts about particular medical situations that may occur during pregnancy.

If a woman experiences a serious problem, she and her partner will probably want to know as much about it as possible. If a woman has a friend or knows someone who has problems during pregnancy, reading about it might relieve her fears. We also hope our discussions can help you start a dialogue with your doctor, if you have questions.

Nearly all pregnancies are uneventful, and serious situations don’t arise. However, please know we have tried to cover as many aspects of pregnancy as we possibly can so you’ll have all the information at hand that you might need and want. Knowledge is power, so having various facts available can help you feel more in control of your own pregnancy. We hope reading information helps you relax and have a great pregnancy experience.

If you find serious discussions frighten you, don’t read them! Or if the information doesn’t apply to your pregnancy, just skip over it. But realize information is there if you want to know more about a particular situation.

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