You should begin by making arrangements to make sure that your pregnancy is off to a great start…

In the first month of pregnancy everything is new and that can be scary. So, as soon as you discover that you are pregnant you should begin by making arrangements to make sure that your pregnancy is off to a great start.

Here are a few things you can do, right from the moment you find out that you are pregnant:

  • Arrange your first prenatal visit. Try to find a doctor that you can trust to accompany you through pregnancy. In the first appointment the doctor does a general checkup and orders a blood test to measure hCG to see if the levels are in the normal range for a healthy pregnancy.
  • Learn about pregnancy symptoms. There are some normal symptoms and others that are reason for alarm, such as strong cramps and bleeding. You should know when you are experiencing something unusual to contact your doctor immediately.
  • Start taking prenatal vitamins. You should start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as possible, preferably when you start trying to conceive, in order to prevent neurological problems. You can buy prenatal supplements over-the-counter before your first prenatal appointment; just make sure that they contain 0.4mg of folic acid. Then, at your first pre-natal visit, talk to your doctor about the vitamins that you are taking so he can check if they are appropriate and recommend you the best ones.
  • Start eating healthier. Inform yourself about pregnancy diets and what you should and shouldn’t eat.
  • Be careful with medications. If you are currently taking any medicine, or if you have to start taking something, check if it is safe for pregnant women. If you cannot find any information about the effects on the medication on pregnancy contact your doctor before starting to take it.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking is a risk factor for ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage and low weight at birth so you should try to quit as soon as you start trying to conceive. Seek counsel with your doctor so he can arrange a stop-smoking treatment plan.
  • Stop drinking alcoholic beverages. Especially in the first three months it is important to cut out alcohol completely since it can cause development related defects on the embryo.
  • Cut out caffeine. You should limit your caffeine consumption during pregnancy. You can still have a cup of coffee but you should be aware that you can’t take more than 200mg of caffeine per day. And, remember that caffeine is not just in coffee, it is present in tea and chocolate also.
  • Try to sleep more. The increase in estrogen can make you feel tired during the day so it is essential to get enough sleep in order to keep working.
  • Be aware of your job risks. In pregnancy you have to avoid chemicals and radiation, so check if your job requires contact with this kind of hazards. Then, you should talk with your doctor and your employer to see what is the best way to keep you and your baby safe.
  • Search prenatal classes. It is a good time to check what prenatal classes there are in your area, if you want to take them it is better to schedule them early.

That all important 1st month

It is good to know what changes in your body you should expect during the first month so you are alert to any strange symptoms. At week one and two, you will not experience any symptoms since this is calculated from the beginning of your last menstrual cycle. This means that in the first two weeks, conception has not occurred yet. In fact, the egg is only mature at day 14 of the menstrual cycle and this is when it is ready to be released from the ovary.

By day 14 of the menstrual cycle, the egg is released from a follicle and starts traveling down your fallopian tube where it is usually fertilized. After week two, you may be tempted to take a pregnancy test but you should wait a few more days, preferably until you miss your period.

Most women have only a 25% chance of getting pregnant in each menstrual cycle, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t get pregnant at the first try. By week 3, the egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube and forms a blastocyst that starts increasing the number of cells even before reaching the uterus. Then, the egg travels through the fallopian tube into the uterus what usually takes 3 to 4 days. You will not have any obvious symptoms by this point, since the first signs can be very similar to what you normally experience before your period.

At week 4, the embryo will attach to the uterine wall and start forming the placenta and the amniotic sac. By this time you will experience the first symptoms of pregnancy when your period does not occur and the hormones start kicking in.  You might have vaginal spotting, breast tenderness, fatigue and nausea. By this time the embryo is about the size of a grain of rice .

When you are one month pregnant the placenta that will deliver nutrients and oxygen to the baby and carry waste products to your body. The amniotic sac forms and starts to fill with fluid that will protect the embryo. At this stage the embryo has three layers composed of distinct cells that will give rise to different tissues and organs of the baby’s body later on. The endoderm is on the innermost part of the embryo and will give rise to the lungs, liver and digestive system. The mesoderm, or middle layer, is composed of cells that will turn into the muscles, kidneys, heart, bones and sexual organs. The ectoderm is the outer layer and will become the skin, hair, eyes and nervous system.

Therefore the first month of pregnancy can feel like that there is not much happening but in fact a lot of decisive development procedures occur. This stage is essential to your baby development and that is why you should take care of yourself and change some bad habits, such as smoking and eating unhealthily, when you start trying to conceive. Just be alert to the signs that your body gives you and contact your doctor if you have any doubts, to make sure that your pregnancy has a great start.