4 weeks is just a few steps towards being a mom. For now, taking an in-depth peek at the what-abouts inside the womb will guide the mom-to-be in this miraculous journey that is pregnancy.
Deep in the womb
A woman who is now 4 weeks pregnant - and knows it – should be happy that her baby is the size of a poppy seed! Fruits and vegetables are usually used to mirror a developing baby’s weight and height. At this stage, also known as the embryonic period, the uterus’ tiny resident is getting cozy and settled in. However, this is also a critical and vulnerable period of development so levels of caution should be taken. The little one’s organs will be developing from this week to the tenth and will somehow begin to function than just exist. Given this, it is an absolute must for the mom-to-be to take that first prenatal visit especially when holding a relevant history of miscarriages, problems with previous pregnancies, or health problems. It won’t hurt to pray for normal fetal development too as it is, as mentioned, a very delicate stage.
To sustain nutrients and oxygen the growing baby needs, the soon-to-be-placenta cells are forming tunnel-like structures into the uterus lining. This is where the mom-to-be’s blood flows until the real placenta takes over and begin performing its function. It can be best said that this phenomenon will take place at the end of week 4. For now, the yolk sac or the cavity acts as the carrier of nutrients and producer of red blood cells. Aside from the placenta, the baby’s cushion – the amniotic sac is now making its presence. Of more essence, the embryo at this point appears to be two layers of cells called the epiblast and hypoblast. From these layers, the little one’s organs and body parts will soon emerge.
Home pregnancy tests will now come in handy for those who do not have a clue yet that they are indeed 4 weeks pregnant. Usually, a more accurate result is at hand when a test is done a week after the expected menstrual period. This is when the pregnancy hormone HCG or human chorionic gonadotropin starts to kick in and turns a pregnancy test positive. Although not all women will get a positive result at this point, perhaps trying a different urine test that is more sensitive to detect pregnancy as early as now.
Being 4 weeks pregnant, it is of uttermost importance to make the first visit to a doctor or healthcare provider. Although some won’t probably approve of the visit at this early point in time, booking an appointment will still be a good idea especially if there is a medical history that needs to be considered for the baby. In line with this, special medical prescriptions - like maintenance medicine, for instance – should be approved by the healthcare provider to guarantee that it will not be harmful for the developing baby. Note that the embryonic stage is a crucial one.
Folic acid is every pregnant woman’s new best friend. The multivitamin intake should at least be at 400 to 600 micrograms of folic acid unless of course specified otherwise by a doctor. Prenatal vitamins are also essential for a baby’s proper growth and are prescribed depending on a pregnancy. However, some pregnant women find it difficult to stand any capsule, tablet, or form of supplement. If this is the case, there can always be an alternative. Finding a diet that is packed with the nutrients present in prenatal vitamins, especially best buddy folic acid, will be a good bet. Although there is no harm in satisfying cravings once in a while (well, probably not pica cravings or non-food objects), it still pays to be mindful of what is consumed because it may be good for the taste buds but not necessarily healthy for the little one.
Breast tenderness or soreness is common for pregnant women. It usually starts during this week and stays in the entirety of the pregnancy for some cases. There’s no need to be alarmed, though. This is just brought about by the hormonal changes and increase in blood flow. It usually hurts more than the monthly bothersome breast soreness experienced before a period. Aside from soreness, veins under the breasts’ skin will start to appear. Luckily, breasts grow about 2 cup size bigger than usual to accommodate milk for breastfeeding. The first trimester marks the production of colostrum or breast milk. Itchiness will also be a minor effect of this growth as the skin stretches, not to mention those stretch marks. Nipples will get darker and bigger as well. Little islands or bumps on the areolas – called Montgomery’s tubercles - will also be noticeable at this point.
In the aim to somehow reduce soreness, it is advisable to stay away from those snug bras for a while and invest in supportive bras available in maternity sections of department stores. Saying no to underwires is also of good help. More importantly, maternity and nursing bras will do the trick. With this, be sure to get a larger cup size since there are still two trimesters to go.
A 4 weeks pregnant woman should now be watchful of weight gain now that she is with a precious load. It is a common misconception that one has to eat twice as much when pregnant since two people will share the nutrients. A wrong notion this really is. Remember that the other person being fed is no adult like the mother.
If the pre-pregnancy weight was proportion to the height, a total of 25 to 35 pounds should be gained. The first 5 pounds will be put on during the first trimester while the rest, specifically a pound per week, is for the rest of the pregnancy. 28 to 40 pounds should be gained for mothers who were underweight for their height during conception and obese moms-to-be should gain around 11 to 20 pounds. These are all for those who are carrying singletons, not multiples.