By this time you will be very aware that your period is late and as the days pass you will become more sure that you really are pregnant. If you have already done a pregnancy test it will very possibly have been positive. If not, you could do a re-test. Some tests vary in sensitivity, or, it could be that your levels of HCG were not quite high enough to register if you were testing very early.
This week’s article discusses some of the signs of pregnancy which you might be experiencing.
More on signs of pregnancy
Early breast changes
As discussed in week two after conception, some women feel a difference in their breasts even before the first missed period and all breast changes in pregnancy are due to increased hormonal activity in your body. The breasts will probably enlarge further and remain tender with veins appearing on the surface at around week eight.
You will need to increase your bra-size just now to support your breasts as well as for comfort. However, as your size will change between now and after birth, it’s best to wait before you invest in nursing bras especially designed for breastfeeding until you think your bra size has settled down.
This is another early sign of pregnancy. Yes, we mentioned it in Week 2 but it is so important and can be such a problem, it’s worth mentioning it in more detail here. On the positive side, some women don’t have it at all.
This condition is often called ‘morning sickness’ but as some women can tell you, it often comes at other times of the day or even all day. High maternal hormonal levels are blamed for feelings of nausea and vomiting. Possible culprits are Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG), progesterone and oestrogen. The levels of HCG rise quickly at the beginning of pregnancy reaching a maximum at 7-10 weeks before starting to decrease. Nausea and vomiting often subside around 12-14 weeks of pregnancy when the placenta takes over the job of producing progesterone and oestrogen. However if vomiting becomes prolonged and you are worried at all, consult your midwife or GP. Drugs are not usually given for this.
Funny food fads
This is very common. Some mothers go off certain foods – we’ve already mentioned coffee in Week 2 of this series. Some women crave foods that they would normally never touch or ask for things like strawberries at midnight in December. Try to avoid this one if you can, as it must be very inconvenient for your partner! Sometimes you might find that there is a funny metallic taste in your mouth.
A need to pass urine frequently
This is very common in early pregnancy – so common that it is a classed as a presumptive sign of pregnancy. It is because the developing uterus at this stage is still in your pelvis and is growing and pressing on your bladder – also in the pelvis. This also improves as weeks 12-14 pass and the enlarging uterus rises out of the pelvis.
This is not considered to be a diagnostic sign of pregnancy but it is often there. High levels of progesterone make the bowel sluggish and constipation is quite common. Try to eat lots of fibre, wholemeal bread, fruit, vegetables, and pulses like beans and lentils.
Other signs that you may be pregnant and are usually put down to hormonal changes are:
Increased vaginal discharge
This is quite usual but should not be irritating or itchy.
It’s amazing how common this is. Some women feel very tired in the first trimester and pull out of this feeling as the second trimester progresses. Be kind to yourself. And, allow others to be kind to you too.
Feelings of weepiness are very common especially at the beginning of pregnancy. One minute you are feeling delighted with life, the next you are in tears. Make sure your partner understands and is ready to give you a hug when you need it.
Another common sign mentioned in Week two of the series.
This is a very common problem throughout pregnancy. However, backache is often there from the beginning of pregnancy because the high levels of progesterone have a loosening effect on joints, muscles and ligaments. Here are some ideas which might help – some of them at any time.
|Some ideas to help backache:
In the third week after conception your baby is now just visible to the naked eye – at the end of the week he is likely to be about the size of the tip of a pen. All this activity and change for such a tiny living thing. Now the embryo shows what it is made of as your baby’s brain, spinal cord, heart and other organs begin to form.
Layers of cells
Around day 15 the embryo develops three specialised layers of cells. These layers are called:
- the ectoderm, the top layer, which will give rise to the outermost layer of skin, hair and nails and also the nervous systems, eyes, inner ear and many connective tissues.
- the mesoderm, the middle layer, which will form future muscles, bony skeleton, some skin tissue, connective tissue, heart, blood vessels, blood and lymph cells, kidneys and much of the reproductive system.
- the endoderm, the inner layer, which will become a simple tube lined with mucous membranes. It will form the lining of the digestive, respiratory and urinary systems and some cells of organs like the liver and pancreas.
With these basic layers in place, early in the third week, the cardiovascular system with heart and blood circulation begins to develop. Then the brain starts to form from day nineteen with three structures becoming visible: the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain.
Next week, the fourth after conception we’ll look at the next step in your baby’s development and consider how you might be feeling.