Pregnancy: Week 3

Conception and fertilization

You ovulated this week, and the moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived: You’ve conceived! Meaning your soon-to-be-fetus has started on its miraculous transformation from solitary cell to bouncing baby boy or girl.

Once the winning sperm makes its way through the egg’s outer layer, the single-cell fertilized egg — or zygote — immediately forms a barrier to keep other sperm out.

But your zygote doesn’t stay single for long. Within hours, it divides into two cells, then four, and so on, until the growing cluster comprises around 100 cells just a few days after that crucial first meeting between sperm and egg. Some will form the embryo, others the placenta, but for now, it’s still just one microscopic ball of cells that’s one-fifth of the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

3 WEEKS PREGNANT SYMPTOMS

When you’re 3 weeks pregnant, symptoms may not have appeared yet either. That’s because most early pregnancy symptoms are caused by pregnancy hormones, and you probably don’t have a very high level of those in your body yet. (Oh, but you’ll get there!) Some signs of pregnancy at 3 weeks—and the few weeks following—are:

  • Implantation bleeding. If your little soon-to-be-embryo has already made it to their new home, you may see a bit of spotting as the fertilized egg burrows into the lining of your uterus.
  • Nausea. As the pregnancy hormone hCG begins to make its way through your newly pregnant body, you may notice some feelings of queasiness—or nausea so bad it makes you puke. Morning sickness should really be called all-day sickness since it doesn’t discriminate by time of day. If you’re feeling this symptom of pregnancy at three weeks, you may be further along than you thought. (Or you may even be three weeks pregnant with twins! That’s because twin moms-to-be often have higher levels of pregnancy hormones and therefore worse nausea.)
  • Breast changes. Your breasts can start to get sore and your nipples may darken as your body starts prepping to make milk.
  • Missed period. If your cycle is typically shorter than 28 days, you may realize toward the end of this week that you could be pregnant. The only way to know for sure is to take a pregnancy test.
  • Positive home pregnancy test. Check the box of your home pregnancy test to see how accurate its results are before your missed period. Most are over 99 percent accurate once you’ve missed it, and some brands promise to detect pregnancy hormones in your urine sooner than that. (For example, when you’re 3 weeks 5 days pregnant or even 3 weeks 4 days pregnant.) Here’s the thing: The amount of pregnancy hormone hCG in your body might not be enough for the test to detect right away—but it doubles every 48 hours. If you get a negative result, follow up a few days and then a week later with another pregnancy test and then another, to be sure it wasn’t just too early to tell.
  • Positive blood pregnancy test. In some cases—like if you’re at risk for miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy—your doctor may ask you to come into the office for a blood draw. Blood tests can detect smaller amounts of hCG than urine tests can, so you may find out that you’re pregnant sooner with a blood test than you would with an at-home test.

RELATED: Life in the womb: Amazing 9 months of Pregnancy in 4 minutes(VIDEO)

3 WEEKS PREGNANT BELLY

You may be excited to start noticing something different about your appearance, but at 3 weeks pregnant, a belly isn’t really a thing. Though you may feel a bit bloated, most pregnant women don’t start to show until around week 12 or later, so you’ve got quite a way to go before you actually look pregnant.

Before you start eating for two, know that doctors only recommend most women gain one to five pounds total in the first trimester—that’s the first 13 weeks. So you definitely don’t have license to start indulging at three weeks pregnant. In fact, you shouldn’t really do anything different except try to eat a healthy, well-rounded diet and to take a daily prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid in it. Doctors don’t recommend increasing your daily calorie intake until the second trimester. Once you hit week 14, you’ll want to add about 300 (healthy) calories per day.

 

3 WEEKS PREGNANT ULTRASOUND

Your now-fertilized egg (yay!) is on a journey through a fallopian tube, dividing and re-dividing into identical cells on its way to your uterus.

A 3 weeks pregnant ultrasound may not detect your soon-to-be-baby. That super-teeny fertilized egg (called a marula) is smaller than a grain of salt and is on the move, but as early as week 4 your doctor may be able to see your uterine lining get thicker, a sign that the little marula has reached their destination for the rest of pregnancy (you guessed it: your uterus).

PREGNANCY CHECKLIST AT 3 WEEKS PREGNANT

Reminders for the week:

  • Calculate your due date
  • Take an early result pregnancy test
  • Keep taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid daily