Congratulations! Your baby officially exists, albeit as a microscopic ball of cells floating down your fallopian tube. Although your baby is brand new, you are already three weeks pregnant. You are in your first month of pregnancy.
During week 3 of pregnancy, your baby begins life as a fertilized egg or zygote as your partner’s sperm meets with your egg. Your soon-to-be bundle of joy starts out no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. However, the zygote will soon divide into a ball of sixteen identical cells and, upon entering your uterus from your fallopian tube, becomes known as a morula. After a day or two, the morula will begin burrowing into your uterine lining through a process known as implantation. Those sixteen tiny cells will continue to divide, quickly turning into a ball of about a hundred cells known as a blastocyst. Over the next thirty-eight weeks, that tiny ball of cells will continue to divide and growth, eventually becoming your bouncing baby-to-be and his or her life-sustaining placenta.
During the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle, the hormone estrogen suppressed the production of luteinizing hormone (LH). However, once your egg matures, your body begins producing a large amount of LH in a process known as an LH surge. This rapid increase of LH in your body causes your egg to finish maturing. One of your ovaries (which ovary, the right or the left, is random) then realizes the mature egg through an ovarian follicle into your fallopian tube. The egg will then float down the fallopian tube, waiting for a sperm to fertilize it. If a sperm successfully penetrates the wall of the egg, then the fertilized egg becomes a zygote that will soon develop into your baby. Your body will begin producing the hormone progesterone, which will sustain your baby until his or her placenta can take over the job.
During week 3 of pregnancy, some women will experience mittelschmerz, which is a German word meaning middle pain, as the egg erupts through the follicle. Some women may also experience some light bleeding known as ovulation spotting, which is thought to be caused by either hormonal changes or from the egg erupting from the ovary. If you are using the fertility awareness method (FAM), you will notice a spike in your basal body temperature that signals that you ovulated. Your cervical fluids will also become clear or white, thin, and stretchy with a consistency that resembles egg whites. Some women also report breast tenderness and fatigue, although the majority of women will not have any symptoms of pregnancy just yet. Continuing to take care of yourself is the best way that you can take care of your baby-to-be.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace the professional medical advice of your health care provider.
Curtis, Glade B. & Judith Schuler. 2011. Your pregnancy week by week. 7th edn. Philadelphia: Running Press.
Stone, Joanne & Keith Eddleman, eds. 2003. The pregnancy bible: Your complete guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. Willowdale, Ontario: Firefly Books.
Week three: Cells join, divide – New life begins: http://www.baby2see.com/development/week3.html
Week two: Fertilization: http://www.baby2see.com/development/week2.html
Your pregnancy: 2 weeks: http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-2-weeks_6000.bc
Your pregnancy week by week: Weeks 1-4: http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-1-4
Your pregnancy: 3 weeks: http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-3-weeks_1049.bc
Week 3 of Pregnancy: Week by Week Pregnancy Calendar © The Parenting Patch
Embryo with Eight Cells: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Embryo,_8_cells.jpg
Human Fertilization: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Human_Fertilization.png