Pregnancy can be an exciting time, and for many, it’s also a time of great anxiety, even before a baby is born. With all of the information available on pregnancy, including stories from friends and family members, it can be challenging to understand what is truth and what is fiction. To ensure you’re getting the right information, you need to do your research before, during, and after your child is born. Pregnancy is a time of many joyful moments, and educating yourself can help you enjoy the process more fully.

Conception and Pregnancy

Pregnancy begins when you conceive in the womb, which might not be something you’d planned on doing in some cases. What happens is that the sperm fertilizes the egg that is released each month, and then this new combination of cells travels to implant itself in the uterine lining, where it can grow. If you’re looking to become pregnant, you can do a number of things to boost your chances, including:

• Learn your approximate ovulation date – You can use an ovulation test from a drugstore, chart your basal body temperature, look at your cervical mucus, or count two weeks from the start of your period to find out when you’re most likely to become pregnant.

• Having sex more often to increase changes of conception.

• Take care of your health to promote overall reproductive health.

There is much you can do to increase your chances of pregnancy, allowing you to be on the right path toward becoming the parent you’ve always wanted to become.

Early Signs of Pregnancy

For many, pregnancy can be a bit of a surprise, even if the pregnancy is planned. Some of the first signs of pregnancy include:

• Fatigue

• Breast swelling

• Nausea

• Headaches

• Missed period

• Abdominal bloating

Pregnancy is different for each woman, so even though you might have all of these pregnancy symptoms, your friend may not. Though for many women the first pregnancy test they take is after their first missed period, if you notice these other early signs of pregnancy, you might want to take a test to see if you’re starting your pregnancy.

Pregnancy Week by Week

If you’re a woman who is starting a new pregnancy, it can help to understand what might happen at each week of your development and your baby’s development. For the forty weeks of your pregnancy, a lot happens in your body. First of all, once you have seen your doctor to confirm the pregnancy and start prenatal care, you should use a pregnancy calculator to determine the expected due date. While these pregnancy calculators aren’t perfect, they can give you a rough estimate of your current week, based on your last period.

Here is a general idea of what happens during each week of a pregnancy:

• 1 and 2 – Your pregnancy begins.

• 3 – Fertilization of the egg takes place.

• 4 – The cells split to form an embryo and a placenta.

• 5 – The baby’s circulatory system develops.

• 6 – Your baby’s face begins to form.

• 7 – The baby’s brain begins to develop and grow.

• 8 – The baby begins to move around in the womb.

• 9 – Your baby is starting to grow muscles.

• 10 – Bones and cartilage are forming.

• 11 – The baby continues to develop and begins to look more human.

• 12 – Your baby will double in size.

• 13 – Your baby is about the size of an apple or peach.

• 14 – Baby’s hair begins to grow on its body.

• 15 – Baby begins to kick inside of you.

• 16 – The eyesight of baby is developing.

• 17 – Your baby is beginning to practice swallowing and sucking.

• 18 – Your baby is beginning to move around and you can feel it.

• 19 – Your baby’s skin develops a coating to protect it.

• 20 – During this week, you can see whether your baby is a boy or a girl.

• 21 – Baby continues to develop and grow.

• 22 – Your baby’s senses are developing more rapidly.

• 23 – Baby continues to put on weight.

• 24 – The baby’s face becomes even more defined.

• 25 – Your baby is beginning to practice breathing as its lungs develop.

• 26 – Baby is now able to open its eyes.

• 27 – Baby has a growth spurt during the pregnancy.

• 28 – Many believe baby can dream at this point.

• 29 – Baby continues to put on weight.

• 30 – The baby’s brain continues to develop.

• 31 – The baby continues to develop its senses.

• 32 – Braxton Hicks contractions can begin.

• 33 – Baby’s immune system begins to strengthen.

• 34 – In baby boys, this is the week when the testicles will descend.

• 35 – Baby’s head begins to grow more as the brain expands.

• 36 – The baby’s bone structures are nearly complete.

• 37 – Baby starts moving around in preparation for labor.

• 38 – Baby is preparing to take his/her first breaths.

• 39 – Labor signs can begin

• 40 – This is the official end of pregnancy, though it may be delayed.

In a healthy pregnancy, these weeks will fly by and the baby will grow more rapidly with each passing week of the pregnancy calendar. All the while of your pregnancy, your body will also be changing in response to what’s happening in your womb.