The two small lines that appear on the pregnancy test detector are magic that brings in a lot of emotions.

Life can never be understood until it grows inside of you. Sometimes it is difficult when you try to cross a river. But once you crossed safely, you will have a lot of stories to tell. Pregnancy is one such experience.

Every pregnancy is unique. When a mother has two children, rarely they experience the pregnancy period to be alike for both babies. Every mother will have an interesting pregnancy story to tell.

Have you ever imagined what happens every day of your pregnancy?
This is one such pregnancy story and common pregnancy experiences on what to know or expect when pregnant, in three stages. Before starting the three stages, let’s kick start the journey with a brief introduction.

LMP, Conception, and Fertilization

A full-term pregnancy period is usually about 40 weeks or 280 days, starting from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). Two weeks later, the ovaries release a mature egg and the process is termed Ovulation. The egg travels to the fallopian tube and awaits a single sperm from 40-150 million sperms that enter the tube.

Once a single sperm enters the fallopian tube reaching the egg, it penetrates and changes the egg surface preventing other sperms from entering the egg. This completes the fertilization stage, determining the genetic features and the baby’s gender. The process of fertilization takes about 24 hours. The egg continues to multiply its cells and moves into the uterus.

The ectopic or tubal pregnancy occurs at this stage when the egg from the fallopian tube does not enter the uterus. Once the egg moves into the uterus, it attaches to the uterine wall (endometrium). This stage is called Implantation. After implantation, the cells form the placenta and the embryo. It takes 15 days from the Ovulation day to confirm the pregnancy.

Pregnant? How to confirm?

The most common sign is the missed period. Sometimes there can be spotting following conception. Some early pregnancy symptoms may be cramps and bleeding during implantation, breast tenderness, fatigue, morning sickness, headache, mood swings, frequent urination, food cravings, or food aversion.

After conception, the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone is released in the blood. This hormone is released from the cells that form the baby’s placenta and the hormone levels usually increase from the time of conception. The pregnancy blood tests are done to check the presence and range of these hCG levels to confirm the pregnancy.

Scheduling the doctor visits

Usually, when the above symptoms are noticed, it is advisable to take a home pregnancy test using the pregnancy kits available at the pharmacy stores. The hCG levels can also be determined by the urine test and this technique is used to confirm the pregnancy using home kits. Some may notice early symptoms before the missed period. In those cases, doctors may ask you to wait until a few weeks to have the hCG hormone levels raised to confirm the pregnancy.

Once pregnancy is confirmed by the doctor, prenatal vitamins including Folic acid are prescribed to be taken. In a few cases, with a history of miscarriage or fertility issues, when planning for the pregnancy, the folic acid is advised to be taken even before the conception.

The pregnancy story has started. As the birth story progresses through every stage or trimester, let’s take a look at how the baby grows, how the mommy body feels, and what are the things to know in each stage.

First trimester (Conception – 12 weeks)

Do you know how the baby is called in this stage? An embryo. From conception until the eighth week of pregnancy the fetus is termed as an embryo. The features start to form and the embryo is developing itself to form the fetus.

Fetal growth

Several organs start to form at this stage in the first month of the pregnancy. The heart, lungs, arms, legs, spinal cord, and brain are the first to form. In the second month, most of the other baby organs are formed. The ankles, wrist, fingers start to appear. The eyelids and bones form including the genitals and inner ear. The primitive facial features like eyes, mouth, and throat start to develop.

The baby’s head is found to be slightly bigger than the body. The first heart pumping starts and the baby’s heartbeat is usually detected in the sixth week. Don’t forget to hear them in the doctor’s clinic with the help of a Doppler Scan. The faint Lup-tup’s is the first sound that will connect you with your baby and sure it would be ringing in your ears for a few more days.

By the end of the third month, most of the organs are formed and developing. The baby’s reproductive organs develop following the circulatory and urinary systems. The baby’s placenta is formed and acts as a source of energy or food for the baby throughout the pregnancy. It helps in transferring the nutrients from the mother.

At the beginning of the first trimester, the baby is the size of a rice grain and it continues to grow to the size of a pea pod and then to kidney bean size. This should be 3-4 inches long and would weigh 1 ounce.

Changes in the mother’s body

The mother’s body goes through lots of changes visibly and internally. Here’s a list of changes that happens in the first trimester, when you are becoming a mother.

  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Vomiting and morning sickness
  • Stomach upset or Constipation
  • Headache
  • Mood swings
  • Heartburn
  • Cravings or aversion for certain foods
  • Tender breasts or heavy breasts
  • Frequent urination

Again, every pregnancy is different and the symptoms vary from women to women and sometimes pregnancy to pregnancy for the same woman.

Things to know

In the early months of pregnancy, it’s important to avoid taking harmful drugs and make sure not to be stressed. This is the stage many miscarriages and birth defects occur.

Most of the discomforts go away as the pregnancy progresses. Changing the eating patterns and taking rest in between would make you feel better. While confirming the pregnancy, the doctor prescribes for few blood work and urine samples to be given in the laboratory. This is to check for the sugar, hemoglobin, and other hormone levels in the blood.

A Pregnancy Journey – From Conception to Delivery – Part 2

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