4 Weeks Pregnant
All About Baby
Some women swear they feel the fertilized egg hunker into the lining of the uterus and get cozy. (The official term: implantation. The feeling: A twinge similar to ovulating). The rest of us won’t have any notion we’re pregnant for at least another week. While we’re oblivious, Baby’s getting busy. During week 4 the blastocyst burrows into the womb and separates into cells that will become the placenta and cells that will become the baby. The Great Divide isn’t all that happens this week. The layers of the embryo itself actually start to differentiate into specialized parts. The outer layer will become baby’s hair, skin, eyes, and nervous system; the middle layer will soon be the heart, reproductive organs, bones, muscles, and kidneys; and the inner layer the baby’s liver, lungs, and digestive system.
All About You
Are you? Are you not? Are you? Are you not? You can pull petals off a daisy if you like, but only a pregnancy test will give you a definitive answer. If you’re dying, you can take a home pregnancy test (or three or four) even before you’ve missed your period but don’t pay too much attention if it’s not positive. Your body needs to make enough pregnancy hormone (human chorionic gonadotrophin, or HcG) for that second pink line to appear. If the test is negative you may want to try again at the end of this week. One way or another, you’re probably feeling hormonal, obsessing about whether you’re pregnant, and surreptitiously squeezing your breasts like Charmin to see if they’re getting bigger. And distracted. It may be hard to think about anything else, especially if you’ve been trying to conceive for a while.
This Week: Here Comes Morning Sickness!
Remember that queasy feeling during that first rollercoaster ride when you were 10? Hang on. Nausea, inaccurately known as morning sickness (because you can get it morning, noon, or night) is one of the earliest–and most notorious–signs of pregnancy. If you throw up in your purse at the mall, remind yourself it will make a good story to tell your grandkids someday. That’s right—we said grandkids!
(Almost) Everyone Gets Morning Sickness
If you’re feeling queasy, you’re not alone. Up to 3.6 million women get morning sickness every year. “Fifty to 90 percent of women have some degree of [morning sickness],” explains expert Miriam A. Erick, author of Managing Morning Sickness: A Survival Guide for Pregnant Women. But if you’re not sick, don’t worry. Not feeling nauseous is usually not an indication that anything’s amiss.
Are We There Yet?
Usually morning sickness ends with the first trimester, but experts agree that nausea can linger into the second trimester (or even longer).
How Not to Hurl
- Avoid strong smells. The oh-so-odorous smell of onions, fried meats, and heavily seasoned foods may throw you into dry heaves. Even sweet smells like laundry soap and cologne can trigger nausea in pregnant women with sensitive sniffers.
- Eat little bits, often. Low blood sugar can exacerbate nausea. Even if you’re anything but in the mood for food, try nibbling on healthy snacks throughout the day. Whole grain crackers, pickles, or a protein boost like cheese or nuts often help battle the nausea.
- Taking it slow, sucking ginger candy, and trying acupuncture can also help.
When to Worry
If you’re vomiting around the clock, you may have hyperemesis gravidarum. Be sure to let your doctor know if your morning sickness is keeping you from eating or drinking or impeding your everyday life.
You may also already have sore breasts, a tender tummy, and some other aches and pains (bathroom break anyone?) as your body adjusts to the New You (plural). But there’s good news in all this suffering. If this is your first pregnancy, everyone in on the secret—especially your partner—is treating you kindly. Enjoy the attention. Let them feel sorry for you. When you get to Baby #2 you’ll suffer just as much, but without the sympathy.
Q & A
Got questions about Week 4? Other women have asked this…
“This may be an exciting (and scary) thought: you could be pregnant! Before you go out and buy a home pregnancy test (HPT), let’s quickly talk about how they work. HPTs check for the presence of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). This hormone is produced after fertilization occurs and is responsible for many of the early symptoms of pregnancy…” Read More
“The urine pregnancy tests available at drug stores use a chemical reaction to turn a color when they detect enough of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). Every test has its own threshold of how much hCG is needed to show positive, so it’s possible to be pregnant and still have the test come up negative until a certain hCG level is reached…” Read More
“Women who are trying to get pregnant may be super sensitive to physical changes or early signs of pregnancy. For those who experience a surprise or unexpected pregnancy, the symptoms at first may be unnoticeable or chalked up to fatigue or PMS. When fertilization occurs and the embryo implants in to the wall of the uterus…” Read More
“As the fertilized embryo burrows itself into the wall of the uterus, many women experience some mild implantation pain or cramping. While your body is adjusting to your new pregnancy hormone levels and your uterus is turning into your baby’s new home, it is natural for a little cramping or discomfort to occur. Some women also experience…” Read More
Is She Pregnant?
One mother-to-be first suspected she was pregnant when sipping a drink with her friends on vacation almost caused her to throw up. Another began to wonder if she were pregnant after her mother told her about a dream in which she, the daughter, was pregnant. It turned out to be true.
Sometimes it is a strange clue that makes her begin to suspect, but often it is your partner’s missed period that is the first giveaway that your life is about to change. This time is filled with uncertainty. Should you begin to think about your new baby? Is it only a false alarm? The most reliable way for your partner to verify any suspicions of pregnancy is by making an appointment to have a blood test at her OB’s office.
Of course, after the test, there is her first prenatal appointment to get confirmation. But in the interim, the uncertainty remains, leaving most potential parents swirling with questions that can’t be answered just yet.
Patience is the key here—patience and trying to stay as much you can in the here and now. It is easy to get caught up thinking about your possible future, but remain in the moment, taking it one day at a time, and do everything you can to support your partner (make sure she’s eating well, getting exercise, taking her prenatal vitamin, and getting plenty of rest). More likely than not, this is more emotionally overwhelming for her than for you right now. If she is pregnant, her body is being inundated with unprecedented levels of hormones that can truly affect her physical and emotional state in profound ways. She needs you very much right now, and the best thing you can do is be there for her.
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