You may be thinking about having children. When planning for a baby, you should evaluate both you and your partners lifestyle to make sure you are both in the best physical and emotional shape. If you are planning a pregnancy, this should be done at least one month, but preferable three months, in advance. Before pregnancy, you should:
- Quit smoking, refrain from doing drugs and avoid drinking alcohol
- Be at an ideal weight and eat healthy meals
- Have an IUD removed and do not take birth control pills
Most women do not know the actual date of conception, but they do know the date of their last menstrual cycle. This is the point from which a pregnancy is dated. Your due date will help your doctor determine when to do certain tests and to evaluate the growth of your baby.
Day one of your cycle is the first day of actual menstrual bleeding. This is when the lining of the uterus is shed. Around day five of your cycle, an egg begins to mature inside of a fluid-filled sac inside of one of the two ovaries. Around day 14, the sac ruptures and releases the egg. Because ovulation normally occurs around day 14, a missed menstrual period about two weeks later will indicate pregnancy. After ejaculation, millions of sperm travel from your vagina to the fallopian tube. Only a few hundred make it to the egg and release enzymes that will allow one of the sperm to penetrate the protective coating of the egg . Once one sperm has penetrated the egg, a change takes place and no other sperm can get inside. This is the moment of fertilization. The body of the sperm then dissolves and the DNA from the sperm fuse with that of the egg.
Because pregnancy is dated from the first day of your last period, for the first two weeks of pregnancy you are not actually pregnant. Your baby will be conceived by the end of the second week. Most women do not even know that they are pregnant at this time because they have not missed a period. Even though you are considered three weeks pregnant, your baby is in the first week of development. At this point of the pregnancy, the fertilized egg is very small and does not look like a fetus or a baby. The fertilized egg is actually a group of cells that continues to multiply and grow very quickly. The fertilized egg divides within a few hours to give a two cell zygote, then a four-cell zygote and after about four days a blastocyst. The blastocyst has approximately one hundred cells! It is size of the head of a pin and is about 0.006 inches long. Even though just a few days old, all DNA information is already there, telling your baby what color of hair to make, what sex to be, and even hair texture, eye color, height, and weight (to a certain degree of course). Amazing stuff, right?
Even though you might not know you are pregnant, there is a lot going on inside of you right now! The sperm has fertilized the egg and the sex is determined at the time of fertilization! A Y-chromosome-bearing sperm will produce a baby boy and an X-chromosome-bearing sperm will produce a baby girl. You may have been aware that you were ovulating, but it is too early for you to notice too many changes. Your breasts have not yet started to enlarge and you are not getting any larger yet. However, sometimes women do notice some slight implantation bleeding or spotting when the fertilized egg implants itself in the uterine cavity.
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