Pregnancy Tracker: Week 4

Pregnancy Tracker: Week 4




This is an exciting week!

You can probably take a home pregnancy test to check if you are pregnant!

But be prepared that early urine testing with some home kits can be unreliable if instructions are not followed closely, if it is done too early in the pregnancy or if you are on certain medication that could affect the results.

After an egg has been fertilised and attaches to the uterine wall, the hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is produced. A pregnancy test will check for this hormone. Some tests can spot hCG before you miss a period, but results will be more accurate if you wait until at least the first day of a missed period. If a negative result is shown, try again in a few days.

Results can be more reliable if you do the test first thing in the morning, when urine is more concentrated. But remember that its best to visit a doctor or a healthcare provider for a definite confirmation as they can conduct more sensitive testing or do a blood test.

What is happening to your body at 4 weeks pregnant?

At 4 weeks pregnant you are one month into your pregnancy and baby is as about 1 mm long and as big (or small!) as a poppyseed! Your baby-to-be will soon transform from a group of cells called a blastocyst into an embryo. 

You may not look or feel pregnant, but your body is very busy. Cells are multiplying and dividing quickly and the tiny ball of cells that is implanted in the lining of the uterus will soon divide into two groups – your baby-to-be and the placenta.

There is no heartbeat at this stage, although a blood vessel has begun to form, which will eventually be the heart. The next 4 weeks are critical for your baby’s development as all the organs will start to develop.

The blastocyst will soon divide and grow into distinct layers. Each layer will form different parts of your baby’s body:

  • The inner layer (endoderm) becomes the organs such lungs, stomach, gut, and bladder as well as the breathing and digestive systems.
  • The middle layer (mesoderm) forms the heart, blood vessels, muscles, sex organs, kidneys, and bones.
  • The outer layer (ectoderm) will become the brain and nervous system, eyes, tooth enamel, skin, hair and nails.

It is amazing to think that all these important foundations are being laid down at such an early stage.

This is the time when your baby will be most vulnerable to anything that might interfere with safe development, and it makes mum-to-be realise how important it is to lead a healthy life, with a good diet, steering well clear of alcohol, drugs and smoking.

The yolk sac and the amnion are two other components that now start to grow.

  • The amnion is filled to the brim with amniotic fluid and its function is to encapsulate and protect the growing embryo. Your baby's initial blood arteries and red blood cells will be created in this sac.
  • The yolk sac will produce blood and contribute to the sustenance of the embryo until the placenta is sufficiently developed to take over this important duty.

Symptoms during week 4

At 4 weeks pregnant, even though your body is going through tremendous turmoil behind the scenes, it is possible that you are not yet experiencing any symptoms. This is completely normal and nothing to worry about as it is still early days.

But the chances are that you are noticing certain PMS-like symptoms, like cramping, bloating, and tender breasts. Extreme fatigue can also be evident at this time and is certainly one of the earliest signs of pregnancy.

Twenty-five percent of women notice implantation bleeding. Rest assured that this is not a sign of anything going wrong and should not be mistaken for the start of a period as it is quite different in nature. It is more like spotting than a flow, usually very light pink, red or brown in colour, of short duration and occurs earlier than the expected period.

Add mood swings to the mix of symptoms!

At times you may think it is your imagination, or you may not understand why your moods seem to fluctuate so much during the day but bear in mind all that is going on in your body, with hormones rampaging about as well as the stress and worry of wondering if you are pregnant not.

Little wonder you don’t know if you are Arthur or Martha! Be comforted by the knowledge that pregnancy mood swings are most extreme during the first trimester, and after that, as the hormones level off, so should your emotions.

A word of caution – if your mood swings seem very severe or if you have a history of depression, mental health problems or over-anxiety, you should discuss this with your healthcare provider at the first opportunity. Keeping in mind that emotional changes in pregnancy can affect relationships, it is a good idea to keep the channels of communication open with your partner and family so that they can understand what you are going through.

Tips on how to look after yourself at 4 weeks pregnant

You are growing a brand-new baby – take care of yourself and give yourself some much-needed TLC.

Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you can schedule your first appointment with your healthcare provider for a month or so ahead. Unless you have underlying medical issues, a check-up before 8 weeks should not be necessary.

If you have not already adopted a healthy style of eating and living, now is the time to do so!

  • Check which vitamin and mineral supplements you should be taking.
  • Folic acid is proven to help prevent birth defects, so find out more about it from a professional healthcare provider.
  • Vitamin D is essential for supporting calcium absorption for building healthy teeth and bones
  • Try to get at least 15 minutes of sun every day and ensure that you eat a vitamin D-rich diet.

If you feel bloated or gassy, try eating smaller meals throughout the day. Eat slowly and chew well, avoid drinking too much water at meals, and cut out carbonated beverages.

If nausea rears its ugly head first thing in the morning, try nibbling on a small snack or dry biscuit before getting out of bed.  If the smell of food makes your tummy turn, perhaps your partner can take over the kitchen duties for the next few weeks.

The months leading up to the birth of your baby will be an undeniably wondrous and life-changing experience. Try to relax and enjoy this special time!

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