Number 1 priority: confirm your pregnancy
A pregnancy test bought from a pharmacy is 99% accurate. Its main advantage is that it gives you an immediate result. Take this test around 10 days after the presumed date of conception or a few days after the date you’d normally expect to get your period (at least three days after).
Alternatively, your chemist or local family planning clinic can carry out a test. This may not be instant and you may have to wait for the results.
Your baby’s development
The egg is implanted in the lining of the womb.
At four weeks, your baby already has a heart and a stomach: this is the start of organogenesis (the development of the major organs).
The limbs aren’t very obvious yet.
The nervous system is developing.
The sense organs begin to develop and the baby is referred to as an embryo, even though it has no eyes or mouth yet.
At this stage, your baby floats inside the amniotic sac, which is connected to the outer part of the egg by the developing umbilical cord.
At the end of the first month, your baby measures two to five millimetres.
Almost 20% of women experience a miscarriage in the first month of pregnancy. Signs of miscarriage include an end to the feelings you associate with pregnancy, pain and a continual loss of blood (although don’t confuse this with intermittent bleeding, which could be normal). Consult your doctor if you experience any bleeding.
Practical steps to take
It’s up to you to decide where you have your baby, so start thinking about your preferred hospital or clinic now. You may also decide to deliver your baby in the safe familiar surroundings of your own home. Once you’ve decided, tell your midwife and she will book you in. Whatever decision you make, it is not final and you can change your mind at any time.
Your health and diet
It’s strongly advised to avoid extreme sports and contact sports in order to limit the risk of miscarriage (skiing, rugby, martial arts, horse riding etc). You should also avoid very long car journeys.
If you smoke and haven't stopped, now’s the time to quit.
Reduce your coffee and tea intake.
Avoid strong alcoholic drinks and at most, allow yourself the odd glass of wine or champagne.
A varied and balanced diet will provide you with all the essential requirements for the embryo’s development and for your own needs.
Avoid soft, mould-ripened cheeses, such as camembert; blue-veined cheeses, such as Stilton; and unpasteurized cheese if NOT made from cow’s milk, which can potentially harbour listeria. Hard cheeses such as Cheddar and soft and processed cheeses such as cottage cheese, Philadelphia and Dairylea are all right to eat.
Throughout the first three months, you’ll need lots of vitamins and minerals. Ask your midwife for advice.
You’re going to feel tired: set aside time to put your feet up.
If you suffer from headaches and/or nausea, always consult your doctor before taking any medication because a lot of medicines are forbidden or not advised during pregnancy. Acupuncture sickness bands, or eating foods containing ginger may help.
If you have bleeding from your gums, see a dentist.
If you have other children, speak to them about the little baby that you have in your belly, and do it soon! Children sense everything and will instinctively know that there’s a big change taking place. Involve them with this change rather than excluding them from it - they won’t understand the reasons for their exclusion. Even if you prefer to wait until you’ve had your first scan to make sure all is going well with your pregnancy, speak to them anyway about having another child so they are prepared for the news.