Pregnancy 101: Weeks 1 to 4
From TTC to BFP
Ahh, the acronyms… If you’re new to the baby-making game and feeling a little — or a lot — overwhelmed, here’s everything you need to know about those first few weeks of pregnancy: from fertilization to implantation to that all-important BFP (“big fat positive” pregnancy test).
And don’t worry: if you’re having a hard time telling your TTC from your BBT, check out this handy guide to common abbreviations from our blog archives.
Need To Know
Here’s a head-scratcher for you: you’re not technically pregnant at all until you’re already three or four weeks along. Medical professionals calculate the 40-week span of a typical pregnancy from the first day of your last period, approximately two weeks before your body releases an egg to be fertilized, and three to four weeks before that fertilized egg implants in the uterus.
You’re highly unlikely to get a positive pregnancy test result until at least 10-14 days after ovulation; in fact, most brands recommend testing the day after your missed period. It’s easy to drive yourself crazy symptom-spotting, but try to hold off testing early for the sake of your sanity — and your wallet!
You may not know you’re expecting yet, but these first few weeks are actually the most critical time for the development of your future bundle of joy. Right now, the tiny, poppyseed-sized ball of cells in your uterus is busy dividing and developing at an incredible rate. The placenta, which will feed your baby for the next nine months, is starting to form, as is the amniotic sac, which will cushion and protect them as they grow.
It’s important to start taking key vitamins and minerals like folic acid and vitamin D as soon as possible — preferably before you even start TTC. Folic acid, or folate, is vital for the healthy development of your baby’s brain and spine, and taking the recommended dose of 400 micrograms daily for at least the three months before and after conception has been shown to reduce the risk of severe birth defects like spina bifida by as much as 75%. Foods like leafy greens, whole grains and citrus fruits are naturally high in folate, and you can also add fortified foods like breads, juices or cereals to your diet for an easy folic acid fix.
Good To Have
The easiest way to ensure you’re getting all of the vital nutrients you and your baby need is to take a daily multivitamin supplement specifically for pregnant women. Some brands can be pricey, but there’s no need to break the bank: they should all contain the recommended levels of key vitamins and minerals for a healthy pregnancy.
Many of our members swear by TTC gadgets and gizmos like basal body temperature thermometers, ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), and fertility-tracking apps like FertilityFriend, Ovia and Glow. Used correctly, they can optimize your chances of conceiving, but proceed with caution if you’re the sort of person who tends to obsess over things.
Home pregnancy tests: which brand is best? It’s all a question of concentration. Some pregnancy tests will detect the pregnancy hormone hCG in urine at levels as low as 10miU/ml; others, like most dollar store tests, need higher levels of between 20-50miU/ml to give a positive result. Digital tests tend to be slightly less sensitive, but also less ambiguous: sometimes, it’s worth waiting an extra day or two to see that clear “Pregnant/Not Pregnant” result.
Time To Do
As well as taking those all-important prenatal vitamins, you should review any medications, supplements or herbal remedies you’re currently taking as soon as you start trying to conceive. Some may not be safe to use during pregnancy.
“Sober til it’s over” or “Drink til it’s pink”? No matter where you stand on drinking during the two-week wait, it’s a good idea to at least cut back on alcohol and caffeine if there’s a chance you could be pregnant. Time to swap your afternoon americano or evening glass of red for an herbal tea… or maybe a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. After all, you are eating for two!
It may be early days, but now’s a great time to make first contact with your maternity healthcare provider. You probably won’t have your first proper prenatal appointment until around 8 weeks, but it’s a good opportunity to get to know your provider and ask any questions you might have.
Get Ahead Of The Name Game
Two-week wait dragging on? A productive way to pass the time is to open the baby naming conversation with your partner, if you haven’t already.
Now is the perfect time to get a feel for each other’s naming tastes, discuss what’s important to you in a future child’s name, and even set some baby naming ground rules before things get too heated. “No Exes” is a common one, but you might also want to consider your stance on popularity, family names, non-standard spellings and more, before the pressure of a fast-approaching due date starts to take its toll.
And don’t forget, you can always bounce your early ideas off fellow moms and name-lovers over on the Nameberry Forums. We’re a friendly bunch!