Week-by-Week Highlights - First Trimester
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Your First Trimester: Week-by-Week Highlights
Week of pregnancy
This is the week of your menstrual period. The first day of significant bleeding is considered the official start date of the pregnancy
As it does each month in anticipation of new life, the uterus forms a lush, blood-rich lining of tissue. At the same time, the ovaries ripen eggs in fluid-filled sacs called follicles.
Around mid-cycle (day 14 of the typical 28-day cycle), one of the eggs is swept into the fallopian tube. this is ovulation. If in the next 24 hours, 1 of the 350 million sperm in the average ejaculate can trek all the way from the vagina through the uterus and to the fallopian tube to penetrate the egg, fertilization. The fertilized egg, called a zygote, immediately closes its outer membrane to the other 300 or so sperm that have made it this far and begins dividing into identical cells as it floats down the fallopian tube to the uterus.
The fluid-filled cluster of cells, still multiplying madly, is now called a blastocyst. It nests in the uterus, where it divides into two parts. The half attached to the uterine wall becomes the placenta, the blood-vessel-filled support system that nourishes the developing life, and the other half will become the baby. By the end of this week, you miss a period, though slight staining called implantation bleeding is possible.
The ball of cells has become an embryo. The placenta and umbilical cord, through which the baby will receive nourishment and oxygen, are on the job. Many women now first suspect pregnancy.
The embryo looks more like a tadpole than a human. Its heart, no bigger than a poppy seed, has begun to beat. Other major organs, including kidneys and live, have begun to develop and the neural tube closes. The physical sensations of pregnancy such as nausea and sore breasts kick in. The first prenatal checkup is usually scheduled between 6 and 10 weeks.
The embryo has an oversized head in proportion to the body, dark spots where the eye and nostrils are beginning to form, pits that mark the ears, and protruding buds that will become the arms and legs.
The embryo has distinct fingers and toes, slightly webbed. Its skin is thin as parchment. Your expanding uterus is now the size of a peach.
By now you'll be spilling out of your old bra and need better support. The strawberry-size being is now called a fetus. It is constantly moving, though you won't be able to feel the movements for some time.
In both shape and size, the fetus looks a bit like a medium shrimp. Its genitals begin to form, though you can't yet tell the sex by looking at a sonogram. The prenatal test chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is usually performed around 10 and 12 weeks.
Your uterus is the size of a grapefruit. The fetus, about 2 inches long and weighing less than half an ounce, is swallowing and kicking. Its vital organs are fully developed. Each day more minute details fill in, such as fingernails and hair. Beginning about now, its rapid "whooshing" heartbeat can be heard through a Doppler, a hand-held sound-wave stethoscope.
For you, nausea begins to wane and energy picks up. The uterus moves up to front-and-center of your abdomen, from its usual spot on the pelvic floor, which relieves pressure on the bladder. Now about 21/2 inches long the fetus is fully formed - from toothbuds to toenails. Its primary task during the next 6 months will be to grow larger and stronger until it can survive on its own. With the most critical development past, the odds of miscarriage drop considerably after 12 weeks