You and Your Baby at Week 1 of Your Pregnancy

(10 minute read)

Article at a glance

  • Understanding week 1: The Menstrual Period
  • Find out your estimated due date
  • Ovarian activity
  • Nutrition and health considerations

You and Your Baby at Week 1 of Your Pregnancy

Welcome to Butterbean's new series of articles on pregnancy. Expecting a child is very exciting and scary all at the same time. In each article, we will break down in detail every week of pregnancy and walk you through the process of growing a new human. If this is your first baby, you may be wondering what changes are going to happen to your body, how you will feel, and how your baby is developing along the way. We hope this article series will be insightful, and fascinating and allay some of your fears.

So, let's get to it...

Week 1 of pregnancy is unique because it's before conception. That's right, you're technically not pregnant yet. You may have heard that 94% of due dates are incorrect. This is true because pregnancy is counted from the time you're not even pregnant, which means your due date is likely to be wrong. Most babies are born between weeks 37 and 42 of gestation; however, some are born before 37 weeks and some after 42 weeks.

In Western society, your due date is counted from the first day of your last menstrual period. This dating convention is used because it's often difficult to determine the exact date of ovulation and conception. Here's a look at what happens in your body during this initial stage of pregnancy.

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Understanding Week 1: The Menstrual Period

Your period and pregnancy...

The Start of Your Menstrual Cycle:

  • Week 1 of pregnancy begins on the first day of your menstrual period, the start of your menstrual cycle. Of course this is just a technical start time which has been created by the modern health care system. As far as your body is concerned, you're not pregnant at the moment, but you might be within the next few weeks.
  • The uterus sheds its lining during this time, resulting in menstrual bleeding or your period.

Hormonal Changes:

  • The levels of oestrogen and progesterone, hormones responsible for pregnancy, are low at this stage.
  • The pituitary gland (which sits in your brain) starts to produce follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH plays a crucial role in preparing your ovaries to release an egg.

Find out your estimated due date

As mentioned in this article, your due date is likely wrong. 94% of babies are not born on their due date! Use this calculator to work out when your baby might be due, but expect them to be born within 1-3 weeks of your due date.

Ovarian Activity

Follicle Development:

  • Inside your ovaries, follicles (small sacs that contain your eggs) start to mature due to rising FSH levels.
  • Usually, one follicle becomes dominant and continues to mature, while the others recede.

Preparing for Ovulation

Uterine Lining Thickening:

  • Although your period marks the shedding of the previous cycle's uterine lining, the process of building a new lining begins almost immediately.
  • The endometrium (uterine lining) starts to thicken in preparation for potentially receiving a fertilised egg.

Cervical Mucus Changes:

  • Cervical mucus may be minimal during this week, but as you approach ovulation, it will increase and change in consistency.
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Nutrition and Health Considerations

Folic Acid:

  • It is a very good idea to take folic acid while attempting to conceive in order to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.
  • Eating a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals is important at any stage of life, but especially during pregnancy.

Lifestyle Adjustments:

  • Obviously, it is very important to avoid alcohol, smoking, and other harmful substances throughout the entirety of your pregnancy.
  • Limit your intake of caffeine to the equivalent of 1 or 2 cups a day.
  • Tune into your body and listen to what it needs. This means resting and taking care of yourself if you're feeling worn out.

Emotional and Physical Well-being

Mental Health:

  • The journey of pregnancy, even in its earliest stages, can be emotionally taxing. It's important to take care of your mental health. Talk to friends and family about how you feel, and if you feel able to, share the news of your pregnancy with those closest to you.
  • If you need mental health support, contact your GP or use the counselling directory to find local support.

Physical Symptoms:

  • During week 1, you might experience typical menstrual symptoms such as cramps, bloating, and mood swings.
  • These are not directly related to pregnancy but are part of your regular menstrual cycle.
  • It's unlikely you would have any further physical symptoms at this stage.

Wrapping up Week 1

While Week 1 of pregnancy doesn't actually involve a fetus or typical pregnancy symptoms, it's a crucial time for your body. The focus is on the menstrual cycle and the exciting anticipation of preparing your body for the possibility of pregnancy in the coming weeks. Understanding these early stages can help you optimise your health and prepare for the journey ahead. Remember, each woman's body is different, so experiences can vary widely. If you're planning a pregnancy or think you might be pregnant, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider for personalised advice and guidance.

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