Pregnancy tests, bleeding and gestation
This is the first week when, if you are pregnant, you are likely to get a positive pregnancy test result as your period will now be two weeks late. Congratulations!
You’re already four weeks along (it’s complicated, see below), and in the early pregnancy stages there’s lots to be learned as you prepare for the three trimesters of pregnancy. One newly-pregnant lady explains what this time meant for her.
One month down, eight to go.
My period was two weeks late before I took a pregnancy test. Although I wanted to be pregnant so much, I’d heard too many horror stories of false early positives and chemical pregnancies to want to risk it. I didn’t want to have a positive result and then spend the next few days wondering if my tiny embryo would stick. I wanted to stay calm and relaxed. So I ignored any potential early pregnancy symptoms and when I finally did it, my pregnancy test came up strongly positive.
It was important to me that I was conscious of my body and what it was doing at each stage of the pregnancy, so at just four weeks, I settled down to do some planning – and quickly learned that even if I wasn’t worried about being pregnant, there were plenty of other things to occupy me along the way!
The first thing was ‘implantation bleeding’. I had never heard of this before. It basically describes the very small amount of blood which you might find in your knickers as the embryo burrows down into your uterus, making it shed some of its lining. Having been conditioned to believe that any blood during pregnancy automatically means disaster, I was quite comforted to know that a little bit of light red, pink or brown blood can be totally normal and nothing to panic about. It happens to about 1/3 of expectant mothers apparently.
And the same goes for slight cramping, I read. Severe and painful cramps obviously need urgent investigation but gentle twinges here and there are to be expected as the ligaments in your uterus stretch and relocate to accommodate your changing uterus.
I ran my hand over my still-flat stomach thoughtfully, marvelling that all this was going on for something which was about the size of a poppy seed! I looked at the bagel next to me to put that into perspective with its tiny black seeds and was astonished all over again at just how much growing my body would be doing over the next few weeks and months.
There were 40 weeks of pregnancy, I learned, but confusingly I would only be pregnant for 38. Apparently, doctors need a firm date from which to calculate the length of the pregnancy and the first day of the mothers last period was selected (LMP) because so many women don’t know when they actually ovulated or conceived. It seemed a bit weird to me, but hey ho, it meant that I could instantly count myself as four weeks pregnant rather than two.
It wasn’t like I could create an actual timeline to stick to though, the EDD (estimated due date) is just that – an estimate. My tiny embryo would get ready in his own time. It was a strange thought that within two weeks the blastocyst of initial conception had separated into two halves – one for the baby and one for his placenta. And the baby half of the miniscule ball of cells already had three different layers which would grow to form distinct parts of his body (I did a lot of reading). All this within fourteen days of fertilisation
And then for the next bit – shopping.
It didn’t matter how long my pregnancy was, or what date he chose to arrive, he would still need the same things. Which were terribly expensive, I saw. Prams alone could cost over £1,000 and then there are other essentials such a cot, car seat, changing table, breathing monitor, clothes, blankets, nappies…..the list was almost seemingly never ending.
I was pleased that I’d discovered all of this at only four weeks pregnant as it meant that my financial planning could be very exact. As I swiftly totted up a rough calculation of initial spending, I wondered briefly how people could afford to have multiple children. Some things could obviously be used twice, but you’d probably need to have a double pushchair, or some way of transporting a toddler and a baby together. I pushed that thought out of my mind as quickly as it had entered. There’s nothing wrong with having an only child, is there.
Of course, in early pregnancy you just don’t know how many babies you could be carrying.