Deciding to have a baby and falling pregnant is an exciting time for all who choose to embark on this journey. Doula Donna Bland begins a series about the different stages of pregnancy and what you can expect along the way.
Believe it or not, in the first couple of weeks of pregnancy you are not yet actually expecting.
Pregnancy is measured on a 40-week schedule that starts at the beginning of your last menstrual period. This is the most accurate way for doctors and midwives to estimate your delivery date.
Your period should have finished, and you may start ovulating soon, so by the second week of pregnancy, even though you are not actually pregnant yet, you may be close. Conception usually occurs around the end of week two, or the beginning of week three of the pregnancy calendar.
Becoming pregnant relies on timing. Having sex at your most fertile will ensure your best chance of conception. Most menstrual cycles are based on a 28-day cycle, but this is not the case for many women.
Ovulation generally occurs 14 days before your next period, but working that out can be tricky if you are unsure of your exact cycle. Fortunately, our bodies give us certain signals to alert us when we are ovulating. These may include the following:
- Vaginal discharge – This can look a bit like egg whites in colour and consistency and helps sperm travel to the egg for fertilisation.
- Breast tenderness – Even though some women only notice this after conception, the surge of hormones during ovulation can sometimes make the breasts tender or even a little sore.
- Increased libido – This is not uncommon at this stage and is probably the body’s way of giving us the best chance of conception.
- Pelvic discomfort – Some women experience a slight ache in their pelvis during ovulation. This is caused by the egg being released from the ovary.
This is the ideal time to prepare yourself in every possible way, making sure that you have the greatest chance of conceiving and creating the best possible environment for a healthy pregnancy.
Ensuring that your body and mind are fully prepared to welcome a new life is a good first step towards parenthood. So, what steps can you take to help start your journey?
- Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, exercise and create a healthy lifestyle – this will ensure the best possible outcome.
- It is best to refrain from drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes/vaping once you have made the decision to become pregnant, however this will not necessarily impair the ability to conceive.
- Taking a prenatal vitamin and, most importantly, folic acid daily will ensure good preparation.
- Take care of yourself and reduce stress where possible. Consider calming practices like yoga or meditation – or even reading, if that is what you enjoy.
- Have sex regularly, preferably every second day, at this most fertile time. Enjoy your partner and what this represents between you.
Becoming parents is one the most daunting, exciting and rewarding times of a couple’s life together. Take this early stage of pregnancy to really connect and enjoy one another. Chat about your hopes and dreams for your little one and what the future looks like with them in it.
Most of all, relax and enjoy the process.