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There’s no doubt about it: pregnancy can be one of the most exciting times of a woman’s life, but also one of the most anxious.
Whether your pregnancy was planned or unexpected, you’ll be dealing with a wide range of challenges over the next nine months.
Naturally, you’ll be thinking about your growing baby and how to care for him or her, but you’ll be going through a lot of physical and emotional changes, too.
If you’re finding pregnancy difficult for any reason, Flo feels for you — and in the spirit of complete empathy, here’s our friendly guide to week 3 of your pregnancy:
Let’s give a quick recap of what got you here in the first place!
Even if your high-school sex-ed class is still vivid in your memory, don’t skip this part — it will lay a good foundation for everything that follows.
Your pregnancy began when an egg, or ovum, was released from one of the two ovaries on either side of your body.
The egg then traveled down a fallopian tube — this is a long duct that runs from the ovary at one end to the uterus, or womb, at the other.
Your egg remained in the fallopian tube for up to 24 hours — fertilization of the egg by a single sperm occurs during this time.
Your baby at week 3 of pregnancy
You’ll notice from what we’ve already mentioned that it’s very difficult to tell exactly when conception has occurred.
You know that an egg will be released from your ovary around 2 weeks before your next period, but there’s no way to know the precise time that this happens.
On top of this, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few days for your partner’s sperm to make its way up to your fallopian tube.
The problem of not knowing when conception has taken place is solved by doctors timing pregnancy from the beginning of your last menstrual cycle.
Odd though this may seem, it means that your doctor starts the clock on your pregnancy before you’ve even conceived!
By week 3, your early-stage baby (doctors refer to it as an embryo) exists as a tiny collection of about several hundred cells that are dividing rapidly and will continue to develop over the course of the coming weeks and months.
The outer cells develop into the placenta, which supplies nutrition to your baby and provides other functions, and the inner cells develop into the fetus.
And as you’d expect, the embryo is tiny at this stage: no bigger than the head of a pin!
Your body at week 3 of pregnancy
It’s very early days in your pregnancy, so don’t expect to feel too different.
Remember that at week 3 you may not have missed your period yet and may have little idea that you’re pregnant.
Even if you’ve been trying to conceive with your partner, you won’t find any physical signs of pregnancy to reveal that you’ve got a little person growing inside.
If you’ve been trying for a baby, or even if you haven’t but think you might be pregnant nonetheless, why not take a pregnancy test to make sure? Nowadays, home testing kits are as accurate as a urine or blood test at the clinic and a lot more convenient.
Just be sure to carefully follow all the instructions for doing the test and reading it afterwards.
If the result is negative, don’t assume you’re not pregnant – you may have just tested too early.
(Tests are more likely to give an accurate result if you wait a few days to a week after you miss your period.)
Pregnancy symptoms, week 3
If your menstrual cycle is regular, then the first and most reliable indication that you’re pregnant is likely to be missing your period after you’ve been having unprotected sex (without a condom or other barrier method of contraception).
However, there are many other reasons for a delayed or missed period and the only way to know for sure is to take a pregnancy test.
These are cheap and accessible at your local drugstore, but you may prefer the discretion of your clinic instead.
You may also notice any one of the following general symptoms of early pregnancy:
nausea or vomiting
soreness in the breasts
3 weeks pregnant ultrasound: do you need it?
3 weeks of pregnancy is a little early for an ultrasound scan.
In most countries, the first scan of a pregnant woman takes place between weeks 8 and 14.
It’s usually followed by another scan at 18-21 weeks.
3 weeks pregnant lifestyle
Give your baby the best start in life by taking the following steps:
Take a folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms (400 mcg) per day until week 12.
After that, the dosage will increase.
Consume a healthy diet.
Make sure this includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, and try to minimize foods that are high in sugar and fat
If you smoke, STOP!
This is one of the best things you can do for your child’s health (and your own).
3 weeks pregnant checklist
Here’s a quick run-down of your week 3 pregnancy checklist:
Take a pregnancy test as soon as you miss your period or if you have any other reason to think you might be pregnant.
If your test is positive, calm your nerves — and go talk to your doctor!
Take your healthcare provider’s advice about diet and supplements during pregnancy.
What to ask your doctor?
Once you’ve confirmed that you’re pregnant with a test, your next priority is to check in with your doctor.
Although you’re only at the start of your journey towards becoming a mother, your healthcare provider will be able to offer you expert advice and counsel you on the best way to take care of yourself and your baby for the whole duration of your pregnancy.
3 WEEKS PREGNANT
Sperm met egg last week, and voila—you’ve made a baby!
It’s so ridiculously early that when you’re 3 weeks pregnant, you may have no idea that you’re actually pregnant.
Conception just happened a few days ago, and there probably hasn’t been time for you to miss a period yet at week 3 of pregnancy.
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 his or her new home, you may see a bit of spotting as the fertilized egg burrows into the wall of your uterus.
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 really 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—not to freak you out or anything, but—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 boobs can start to get sore and your nipples may darken as your body starts prepping to make milk.
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% 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.
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, 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 three 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 either.
Once you hit week 14, you’ll want to add about 300 (healthy) calories per day.
3 WEEKS PREGNANT ULTRASOUND
Your now-fertilized (yay!) egg 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 his or her destination for the next nine months.
You guessed it: Your uterus.
Conception and Fertilization
This week you ovulated, and the moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived:
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 a fifth the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
Tiny? Yes. But don’t underestimate its potential.
As it divides, the blastocyst as it’s now called (don’t worry, you’ll come up with a cuter name soon) travels this week from your fallopian tube to your uterus — a trip that takes about six days.
Spoiler alert: Once it arrives during week 4, it will implant itself in the uterine wall and grow for the next nine months.
In other words, congratulations! You’ve got yourself a baby-in-the-making, ready to begin the incredible journey that will end in your arms.
Boy or Girl?
So will your lone little cell miraculously become a girl or a boy? Though it will be months before you can find out for sure (if you decide to before delivery day), that remarkable determination has already been made, believe it or not.
Ready for a crash course in biology? The fertilized egg contains 46 chromosomes — 23 from you, 23 from Dad.
The mother (that’s you!) always provides an X chromosome, but the father can provide either an X or a Y.
If the sperm that fertilizes your egg carries an X, the XX zygote will be a girl.
If the sperm is Y-bearing, your XY zygote will be a boy.
Your Body at Week 3
The Corpus Luteum and Pregnancy Hormones
For now, it will seem like nothing is happening on the outside — but only for the next couple of weeks.
If your timing is right and you’ve had sex during ovulation, your egg has been fertilized by one lucky sperm and your body is gearing up to host the blastocyst (which will soon become your baby!) that’s heading for the uterus, its home for the next nine months.
So what’s happening inside this week?
Just after the egg is released, the follicle it came from gets a new tenant called the corpus luteum, a yellowish body of cells that occupies the space left by the egg.
The corpus luteum starts to produce progesterone and some estrogen, enough of both pregnancy hormones to nourish and support the future baby until the placenta takes over in about 10 weeks.
In the meantime, about a week after fertilization, the blastocyst (or soon-to-be embryo) implants itself in the uterine lining and the placenta starts to take shape.
Within six to 12 days after snuggling into the uterus (around week 4 of pregnancy), the cells of the newly developing placenta begin making human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
HCG surges during the first trimester before dipping in the second, tells your ovaries to stop producing eggs and triggers the production of more progesterone and estrogen — which keep the lining of the uterus from shedding and support the growth of the placenta.
As you’ll later see, all these hormones play an important role throughout your pregnancy and cause a whole host of body changes, plus symptoms like morning sickness (yay?).
Traces of hCG can be picked up in urine and blood — which explains why home pregnancy tests have you pee on a stick and your OB runs a blood screening at your first appointment — but you probably won’t get a positive result on a pregnancy test for another week or two.
Pregnancy and Sense of Smell
Do scents suddenly seem stronger to you than ever? It could be a sign that you’re pregnant!
A heightened sense of smell is a very real side effect of pregnancy caused by the hormone estrogen, which magnifies every little fragrance (the good, the bad and the ugly) wafting in the air around you.
Whether it’s the food your neighborhood restaurant is cooking up, the garbage on the street corner or your husband’s cologne down the hall, your keener-than-ever nose might be picking it up.
The downside of your new superpower?
It can ramp up your morning sickness even more.
If that’s the case, steer clear of the kitchen and local eateries as much as possible, make friends with the microwave (which tends to cause less of a stink) and open the windows.
You can also try washing clothes more often and switching to unscented toiletries.
And don’t be shy about asking your spouse, family and friends to clean up after a workout, go easy on the perfume and brush their teeth after chowing down on that garlicky pasta or onion-loaded burger.