Congratulations, you're pregnant! Whether that bundle of cells inside you was planned or unexpected, we hope you have a very happy and healthy pregnancy.
You probably don't look pregnant at all. Most first-time mums don't start showing until at least week 12. However, if this isn't your first baby, then you may start showing sooner, as the muscles in your uterus (womb) and belly may have been stretched from your last pregnancy. Pregnancy is dated from the first day of your last period. For around the first 15 days your body will be going through its normal routine – thickening the womb and releasing an egg or two. You're not technically pregnant then. But around week 2 or 3, if an egg meets sperm and fertilisation occurs, then it's showtime! The fertilised egg then travels down a fallopian tube, dividing and redividing, until it reaches the womb. It will then bury itself into the wall (implantation) where your little bundle will make itself very comfy for the next nine months. At four weeks, your egg is now an embryo – and you are pregnant!
To start with, you might have no symptoms at all – but then the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin starts to kick in. During your first trimester (which is up until week 12), you might experience early pregnancy symptoms, such as
To the outside world, you'll look much the same as usual – there's no tell-tale bump to give the game away. But inside, extraordinary things are happening
Your baby's nervous system is developing, and the brain and spinal cord are taking shape. The tiny heart is starting to form and will beat for the first time around now. Many women realise that they're pregnant around week 5. You might notice that your period's late, you may feel a bit under the weather and think "Hmmm, am I pregnant?" Your suspicions could be confirmed by a home pregnancy test (these are up to 99% accurate). If you're wondering when to take a pregnancy test, then now's a good time, as they're sensitive to changes in your urine from week 3 or 4 onwards. Finding out you're pregnant can be really exciting, but it's very normal to have worries too. More than 1 in 10 mums feel anxious during pregnancy. It's easy to get things out of proportion, as you could feel physically and emotionally exhausted, because of all the pregnancy hormones zipping around your body. Don't bottle things up – talk to your midwife or doctor. If you're feeling stressed, try relaxing breathing exercises. Look after yourself this week, because you and your baby deserve it!
If you've taken a test and know that you're pregnant, then congratulations! It's still early days, and many women won't know they're pregnant at 5 weeks. We don't all have menstrual cycles that work like clockwork, so many women won't realise their period is late. They might see spotting, and think that's their period, it can also be a sign of an embryo burying into the womb (implantation bleeding). Other mums-to-be will really start to feel the impact of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin. In the first trimester, which is up until week 12, many women feel extreme tiredness. Other early signs of pregnancy, which are the same as those in week 4, can include:
This is an exciting time, as the most incredible things are happening inside your stomach. However you may not feel like celebrating much due to your tiredness, mood swings and morning sickness. We've got lots to tips to help you this week…
You'll probably look just the same from the outside – but inside, it's another story. Your baby is growing and changing at a very fast pace and starting to grow arms, legs and ears. The liver, brain and musculoskeletal system are also coming along nicely. To achieve this dramatic transformation, the baby gets everything he or she needs from you. No wonder you feel so exhausted that you can't get off the sofa!
Many women find it really tough being 6 weeks' pregnant. You may be battling morning sickness and tiredness, along with other early signs of pregnancy. Your symptoms could also include:
You won't be showing a baby bump yet… but there's lots going on inside you. For a start, there's more blood pumping around your body than there was 7 weeks ago, which is a strange thought, isn't it? As you go through your pregnancy, the volume will increase by up to 50%. The extra blood will feed your womb with all the oxygen and nutrients that your demanding embryo needs. This can make you feel thirstier than usual. Try to drink 8 medium glasses of fluid a day (water, fruit tea, fruit juice, skimmed or semi skimmed milk). Meanwhile, your womb is now around the size of a lemon while your baby's the size of a grape – and growing very quickly. Most first time mums won't start to look pregnant until around week 12. If you've had a baby before, then you could look pregnant much earlier than you did last time, as your womb and stomach muscles will be more stretched out.
Being 7 weeks' pregnant can be quite a challenge, what with all the morning sickness, extreme tiredness and mood swings (that's your pregnancy hormones!). Then there's the endless trips to the loo as your expanding womb starts to push on your bladder. Your symptoms could also include:
You've changed so much over the past few weeks – but most people won't notice a thing, as all the action is going on inside your belly. You might have a bit of bloating, but there's still no baby bump. If you're getting symptoms, such as morning sickness, then it seems very unfair that there's nothing to show for it! You may have slightly swollen breasts but it will probably take another few weeks before you actually look pregnant. Many women try sticking out their belly in front of the mirror to see what they'll look like in a few months' time. Have fun – it's all part of bonding with your bump-to-be!
You might have missed your second period now, although the pregnancy hormones could make you feel like you've got premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Inside you, big things are happening. Your baby is growing very quickly and now almost looks human. The baby is still very happy in its protective amniotic sac and gets all its nourishment from a yolk sac, but the placenta is getting ready to take over the job, providing nutrients and oxygen and taking away waste. As part of the takeover process, your placenta is sprouting little branches that will enable it to attach itself to the wall of your womb.
Being 8 weeks pregnant isn't easy. On top of feeling sick and tired, you could find yourself in and out of the loo as your expanding womb pushes onto your bladder. If this starts to affect your sleep, then drink lots of fluids in the day, as it's important to stay hydrated, but hold back in the evenings. Your symptoms could also include:
Your baby is now around 16mm long from head to bottom, which is about the size of a raspberry – by next week, they will be twice the size! The tiny head has started to uncurl a bit. The arms are getting longer and right now they're bigger than the legs, as the upper part of the body grows faster than the lower part. The legs are getting longer too, although the knees, ankles, thighs and toes aren't ready yet. Around now, your embryo is given a fancy new name and becomes a "foetus", which means offspring in Latin.
It's starting to feel a bit more real now, isn't it? Maybe your waist is thickening a little. Perhaps your favourite bra isn't as comfy as it was. You may feel elated now that your body's changing… or completely shattered, sick, and more than a bit fed up. It's tough. Your pregnancy hormones are now turned up to max, but thankfully, this won't last forever. In just a month, you'll be entering the second trimester when many women feel on top of the world.
Over the past few weeks, the levels of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin, have been doubling in your body every two or three days. When you're 9 weeks pregnant, the hormone is at its peak. This could make you feel unwell, but it's also doing a great job keeping your baby firmly in place in the lining of your womb. You will also have higher levels of the other female hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone. This powerful combo will help to increase the blood supply to your womb, where all the action is happening. Some women describe this time as being like an "emotional rollercoaster", so hold on to your hat, get lots of rest and accept offers of help from everyone around you…
This is a tough time – but week by week, you should start to feel better. Your signs of pregnancy could include:
Welcome to week 10. Pregnancy is divided into three chunks of time, called trimesters. You're nearing the end of your first trimester, which can feel like a slog, but hang on in there. By the second trimester you will probably have lots more energy and all those annoying signs of early pregnancy will hopefully fade away. Admittedly, they might be replaced by a few more niggles, but we'll deal with that later! Around now, many women will have their first 'booking appointment' with a midwife. You'll be asked lots of questions about your health and medical history – and can ask lots of questions in return, too.
You may be struggling to do up your jeans. Your uterus is around the size of a large orange, while your baby is more like the size of an apricot. You may be feeling a bit bloated, and burping or passing wind – you can blame your hormones for that! (see 'Beating bloating'). The female hormone progesterone is just doing its job, and relaxing the muscles in your womb so that it can expand along with your growing baby. However, in the process, the muscles in your digestive tract also become looser and this can lead to all kinds of symptoms including heartburn. This is particularly likely to strike if you're expecting twins.
The countdown has begun until lucky week 13. That's the start of the second trimester, when most of your first trimester symptoms will start to ease off. Right now, your signs of pregnancy could include:
You're doing brilliantly. The first trimester can be really hard going and you've hopefully got through the worst now. In just two weeks, you'll enter the 'honeymoon period' of pregnancy known as the second trimester. This is when many women start to 'glow' and regain their energy, as their hormones settle down. You'll be offered a range of tests around now that will look at your blood, urine and blood pressure. A highlight for many women is their first ultrasound scan (see 'Your first scan'). These tests provide you with opportunities to get your health, and your baby's health, checked out – but if you don't want to have them, then that's your choice. You can find out more about antenatal checks and tests here.
You'll probably think your 'bump' is really obvious, as your waist starts to thicken – but most people will be completely unaware there's a baby in there. Women who've been pregnant before tend to start showing earlier than first time mums. Don't worry if there's nothing to see yet, your time will come. As you start to bulge out a bit, your muscles and ligaments will stretch, and this could give you pains around your stomach. If it hurts a lot, then see your midwife or doctor as soon as possible. Your body is now pumping around up to 50 per cent more blood than usual. The blood feeds your womb – but it can also make you feel hot, sweaty and dizzy. That's your baby's way of telling you to put your feet up and have a drink! Your baby has previously been fed by a yolk sac, but a new organ called the placenta is now poised to take over, or it may have done so already. The placenta will nourish the baby and remove waste. While the switchover happens, the hormones involved could make you feel really tired and emotional.
You might feel so tired that all you want to do is sleep – but gentle exercise, such as walking or swimming, could help you to feel better. Your early signs of pregnancy could also include:
It's been quite a journey already, hasn't it? Just 12 weeks ago, you had your last period, and now you've got a fully formed baby in your pregnant belly. You are probably seeing a midwife or doctor, and may even have had your first scan and are starting to show. Exciting times ahead!
You are hopefully starting to feel much better as the first trimester comes to a close. There's a good chance that the placenta is now feeding your baby, having taken over from the yolk sac, and once this happens your hormones will simmer down a bit. Your waist is probably thickening, as your breasts grow bigger. As the sickness subsides you may start to feel hungrier and worry if you're eating enough for you and the baby (see 'Weigh to go'). You may wonder if your bump should look bigger or smaller. Try not to compare yourself with other women – there are so many factors that will determine how big your stomach gets including your hormones, pre-pregnancy weight, how many babies you've already had, and the strength of your muscles. You're likely to look smaller if it's your first pregnancy and have an athletic figure, and bigger if you're pregnant with twins and you're a larger lady, but everyone's different!
Many women worry about how much weight they should put on during a healthy pregnancy. The answer is 'not as much as you might think'. Most mums-to-be will put on between 10kg and 12.5kg (22lb-26lb), and that's usually after week 20, but some won't put on any weight at all. You can find out more about healthy pregnancy weight gain here. Right now you should aim to follow a healthy pregnancy diet and don't eat more 'for the baby'. When you enter the third trimester (from week 28) you can add another 200 calories a day to your diet. Even then, that's not much – just two slices of wholemeal toast with margarine. If you stay a healthy weight, then your baby is more likely to be a healthy weight too, and will stay that way as he or she grows up. It's also better for you not to pile on the pounds, as being overweight makes you more prone to getting dangerous conditions including high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. So eat for you – not two.
These include soft cheeses (such as brie, camembert and Danish blue) and undercooked meat.
You may be thinking 'Symptoms? What symptoms?' However some women will be suffering. Your signs of pregnancy could include: