Third week of pregnancy: what to look forward to
You are now pregnant, well done! The third week of pregnancy is marked by a remarkable transformation inside your body. Find out how the egg and sperm unite in one of your fallopian tubes. The fertilized egg then lodges in your womb. If you have had more than one egg fertilized during ovulation, the result could be twins, or in extremely rare cases triplets. The third week of pregnancy is too early to feel clear symptoms like morning sickness - which usually starts around the sixth week of pregnancy.
Fertilization process – survival of the fittest
- The sperm’s journey to fertilization has to be completed within 12 to 48 hours, before the sperm die. Many sperm envelop the egg in the fallopian tube. The head of each sperm releases an enzyme that tries to penetrate the egg.
- Once a sperm has penetrated the egg, the cell membranes of the egg change its characteristics. They puff up and shove the remaining sperm far away from the egg. This guarantees that only one sperm fertilizes the egg. The remaining sperm die within 48 hours.
- Identical twins form if the single fertilized egg splits into two. Fraternal twins develop when two eggs are fertilized by two separate sperm.
- The fertilized egg is now called a zygote. Once the nucleus from the egg and the nucleus from the sperm unite, cell division takes place immediately.
- By approximately three days after fertilization, the zygote has about 12 cells. The dividing zygote in the fallopian tube slowly gets pushed along to the uterus. The fallopian tube is lined with hair like structures called cilia. They are responsible for pushing the zygote down the fallopian tube.
- It takes around 60 hours for the zygote to reach the uterus by which time the zygote has multiplied to 60 cells. Each cell has a predetermined function in the scheme of things. The inner cell forms the baby. The outer cell layers form the membranes and placenta that nourish and protect your baby.
- By four days after fertilization, the zygote has about 100 cells and is called a blastocyst. The blastocyst reaches the uterine lying, and floats for two days before finally implanting in the uterine wall. All this takes approximately a week to happen.
- Once implanted the blastocyst secretes a hormone called HCG which indicates that a successful pregnancy has begun. The implanted blastocyst continues developing in the uterus for nine months.
Find out about the changes in your body this week
Experts suggest it’s too early to confirm if you are pregnant at this stage. They advise it’s better to wait another week or so before pregnancy tests can be done. Some women swear they could tell that they were pregnant at this stage. Maybe this is what they call a woman’s intuition.
How to take care of yourself during this exciting week
- Change in emotions: You may want to hurry up things and find it difficult to wait to know if you are pregnant. To cope with such feelings remind yourself that your feelings are normal. It’s natural for you to worry about the crucial development stage of your baby.
- Dental check ups: Be careful of getting dental x-rays at this stage. Advise your dentist you may be pregnant so that they can take suitable precautions.
- Your surroundings: Be wary of risks like germs, pesticides and poisons which can have an effect on the fertilization process.
- Prenatal vitamins: It’s vital that you continue taking your vitamins making sure you are getting enough folic acid to avoid neural tube defects at this stage.
- Change old habits: Stay away from caffeine, alcohol and smoking. If you are on medications, check with your doctor, if it’s safe to continue taking them.