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Oh, hey there! Did you just pee on a stick and get a plus sign result? Welcome to the club. Whether your BFP (that's Big Fat Positive, in Internet lingo) was long-awaited or completely unexpected, you're pregnant and now you probably want to know what is exactly is happening to your body—and your baby!
The First Month
Talking about the first month of pregnancy is a little tricky because for the first two weeks of it, you aren't technically pregnant! As Lizellen La Follette, M.D., OB-GYN at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, Calif., explains, "Prenatal care providers will date your pregnancy from the first day of your last period, but you are not actually pregnant for those first two weeks because you conceived around days 12–14 after the first day of your period." Starting the clock on your pregnancy from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP) is sometimes called your pregnancy's "menstrual age" or your baby's "gestational age."
Aw, what a sweet little ball of cells! Once the magical moment of conception takes place, the fertilized egg begins to rapidly divide as it travels from the fallopian tube (where conception typically occurs) to the uterus. At the end of this 3.25-inch journey, the embryo burrows into the uterine wall. The entire process—from conception to implantation—takes about 10 days.
After implantation? More magic happens as cells attached to the uterine wall begin to form the placenta, the organ responsible for providing your baby with nourishment. Other cells develop into the umbilical cord, the pipeline between the placenta and your baby, as well as the amniotic sac, the fluid-filled membrane that provides baby with a cushion of protection until delivery. As for the main attraction—your baby—its brain and spine will have already begun to develop by the time you notice that your period is late (around week 4 after the first day of your LMP, or approximately 14 days after conception).
Not really feeling pregnant? Not to worry. "Most expecting mothers won't notice much difference during this first month of pregnancy. In fact, many women may not even know that they are pregnant if they aren't keeping track of their cycles," notes Kelly Kasper, M.D., Obstetrics & Gynecology at Indiana University Health.
Still, pregnancy hormones, released soon after conception, can create side effects that some moms-to-be find harder to miss. Early signs of pregnancy that you may notice include:
Breast tingling and tenderness
Light spotting as the embryo implants itself in your uterus
Morning sickness (nausea and/or vomiting)
Things to Start Thinking About
Here are some tips to help you get your pregnancy off to a healthy start.
Put a Priority on Prenatal Care: To kick off to nine months of excellent prenatal care, make an appointment this month with your OB-GYN or midwife for testing to confirm your pregnancy and to talk about the road ahead. "It's good to schedule out your regular prenatal care visits at this time too," notes Dr. La Follette.
Don't Forget Folic Acid: If you haven't started prenatal vitamins, now's the time! Ask your provider about the right supplement for you, and make sure it contains folic acid, a B vitamin that is critical for healthy central nervous system and brain development.