You are now into the 3rd week of your pregnancy, which means it is more than 14 days since the 1st day of your menstrual cycle of previous month. By this time the ovulation and fertilization of the ovum has either taken place or is going to happen soon enough. The end of 2nd week and beginning of 3rd week is a very high fertile period for woman. If you are not one of those lucky couples for whom pregnancy happened naturally; this would be the time to try your luck.
Wrong timing and wrong sexual positions can shoo the stork away. This is the time when the one lucky sperm among the approximately 250 millions manage to fertilize the egg in the fallopian tube. Your real pregnancy after conception lasts only 38 weeks, hence 3rd week of pregnancy would be the real beginning of your pregnancy.
Changes In Your Body:
There are no overt symptoms, signs or changes in your body yet. In fact, you do not even know you are pregnant in the 3rd week. But there are many changes taking place within your body to felicitate the proper development of your baby. At this stage you will go through the ovulation, fertilization, germinal period and implantation stage of your pregnancy.
[ Track Your Baby’s Growth: Pregnancy Due Date Calendar ]
What Happens During Ovulation?
In the 3rd week of pregnancy, unknown to you, your uterus is enthusiastically getting ready for the baby. After the process of oogenesis, the matured ovum finally raptures itself away from the ovary. As the ovum is helpless motionless being, it is swept into the fallopian tube by the fimbria which is a fringe of tissue covering the end of fallopian tubes. The ovary and fallopian tubes are not directly connected; hence the fimbriae play an important role of transporting the ovum from the ovary into the fallopian tube.
During ovulation, the fimbriae gently tap the ovary in a sweeping motion, causing the ovum to move. The ovum is thus carried by the sweeping motion of the fimbriae into the fallopian tube. It is amazing that just one fimbria known as fimbria ovarica reaches up to the ovary which is very crucial in carrying the egg cell to the fallopian tube. If this one thin line of thread fails in performing its duty, you will not be able to conceive.
On the other hand, the uterus is getting ready to nourish and protect the fertilized egg. The endometrium, also known commonly as the uterine wall, thickens to felicitate the embedding of embryo in it. The whole process is accompanied by a great surge in the FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) which is released from the pituitary gland.
What’s even more amazing is the fact that even if you don’t notice, this happens in your body every month, whether you are trying or not to conceive. But the only difference is that, if the ovum is fertilized the process continues to felicitate your pregnancy, if not it will change your body in preparation of the menstrual period.
Fertilization Of The Ovum:
Though this happens very silently, unnoticed by anyone, the fertilization of ovum by a spermatozoon is one of the most magical events taking place in your life. This is the time when your baby comes to life. The ampulla, which is the widest region of your fallopian tube, is where the union of your ovum and sperm of your partner takes place.
From the cellular point of view, the fertilization of ovum by the sperm could be a very chaotic occurrence that takes place inside your body. The ovum with a life span of just 24 hours waits motionless in the ampulla for the sperm to arrive.
When the ejaculation takes place, millions of sperm travel through the vagina to reach the fallopian tube. Only a few hundreds of them reach their destination, whereas others lose the race. Among them, a lucky few reach the egg in the fallopian tube and surround it with hope of getting a chance at life. This moment will determine whether they will be born as a loving baby or die as a single cell.
The egg which is waiting for fertilization doesn’t make the process any easy for the sperm. It is covered by jelly like layer which needs to be broken by the tiny sperms. The fiercely competing sperms try to break in head first by releasing an enzyme from their acrosomes.
The enzyme will then eventually break the egg membrane, and only one sperm succeeds and penetrates the cell membrane, though there will be others vying for this honor. When one of the sperm finally enters the ovum you are officially pregnant. It is amazing to know that the fertilization process takes nearly 18 hours to be complete.
The Germinal Period:
A germinal period is the time between the fusion of two gamete cells and implantation of the embryo in your uterus. For nearly a day, there is no change taking place in the fertilized ovum in your body. It is only after nearly 30 hours of the fertilization, the zygote first divides through mitosis to become a double celled organism. Further, both the cells divide change into four celled organism and process continues with further divisions. The process of division and multiplication continues rapidly throughout the germinal period. This process will finally lead to the development of the baby in your womb which initially was just a single celled organism.
For about 72 hours the zygote reproduces itself rapidly to reach a multi-cellular stage. At this stage it is usually referred to as Morula. Following this, there comes 4 days of rapid cell division, and a cluster of cells is formed, which will be known as the Blastocyst. At this stage the baby will embed itself cozily in your uterus.
Implantation In Uterus:
After fertilization, the zygote embarks on its journey of safely reaching your uterus. Without movement of its own it is pushed by the hair-like structures known as cilia which line the fallopian tube.
The zygote takes nearly a day to travel from the fallopian tube to the uterus, but it does not implant inside the uterus yet. At this stage, your baby has a 40% chance of developing into an embryo, since nearly 60% of the conceptions fail when the zygote does not succeed in implanting itself properly in the uterus. You will not know about this at all, since it will be followed by another menstrual period like usual.
Sometimes the fertilized egg gets stuck in the fallopian tube and does not reach the uterus. This will result in a life threatening condition for the woman known as ectopic or tubal pregnancy.
By the end of the 3rd week or approximately 5-6 days of fertilization, the blastocyst firmly implants in the thickened walls of your uterus. Finally the hazardous journey has come to an end and your baby is safe in the comfort zone of cushioned womb. Though all these procedure takes place even without you knowing you are pregnant, without any overt signs or symptoms; you should know that this is very crucial period in the life of your baby. Once the delicate journey from the fallopian tube to uterus is completed, the blastocyst begins to develop speedily as it now gets all the required nutrients from your blood supply.
If you are on birth control pill or plan to follow an emergency contraception method, then you should know that they work before the blastocyst implants itself in the uterus. Once the implantation has taken place, the birth control pills have no effect on the growing baby.
The cortical reaction is the natural process of the body which ensures that only one sperm will fertilize the egg. Once the sperm enters the cell membrane, the egg immediately emits electrical signals which cause small sacs known as cortical granules to release their contents into the area surrounding the egg.
These released contents swell and push the failed sperms far away from the egg, and the shunned away sperms die away within the next 48 hours.
Hormonal Changes In Your Body:
Even though your baby is at the stage of zygote, it will be smart enough to send a signal of its existence to the pituitary gland in your brain.
On receiving the signal from the fertilized egg, the pituitary gland responds by switching off your menstrual cycle and producing a new hormone called hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin). The hCG prevents the involution and regression of the corpus luteum. With the secretion of hCG, the corpus luteum remains intact and produces high levels of progesterone and estrogen. Corpus luteum plays a important role in the beginning and last stages of pregnancy.
There is rise in the production of progesterone which is very important for the safe progress of your pregnancy. In case there is no pregnancy, this would be the time when the levels of progesterone will start to decline which will cause the endometrium to degenerate and flush out as menstruation.
The hormone progesterone is responsible for the growth and development of your baby in the uterus. In week 3, the blastocyst will depend on your hormones as it is still not capable of making its own hormones.
Signs and Symptoms of Implantation:
Though most of the women realize they are pregnant when they miss their monthly menstrual cycle, some women who are on a lookout will experience some peculiar signs of implantation. Watch out for implantation symptoms in the 3rd week of pregnancy, but do not allow your hopes and expectations to run wild, as they are very similar to the symptoms of PMS.
Disappointment can lead to worry, anxiety and stress which is going to affect your fertility. The following may be the signs of implantation
- 30% of women experience spotting in the form of scanty bleeding which appears light in color
- Pain or cramps in the lower back
- Bloating, headaches and mood swings
- Frequent urination
- Tenderness in breasts
[ Read: 4th Week Pregnancy Symptoms ]
Now that you are aware of 3 weeks pregnant symptoms and signs, now lets get into the changes that occur within the body of an infant.
Changes in the Baby:
After the two gamete cells are fused in the fallopian tube, the resulting one single diploid cell is known as zygote. Lo behold! Your baby just reached the first ever milestone of her development.
There are two more weeks left before the zygote (your baby) will be referred to as an embryo, but the zygote has the entire required DNA derived from both partners. As the sperm and ovum each contain 23 chromosomes, the resulting diploid cell contains a total of 46 chromosomes.
That is all the genetic information required by the cells which will help in development of the new individual. Most of the baby’s characteristics are already determined and it is only time before they are fully evolved. The zygote does nothing for a day, but then it is ready to divide itself into two. The baby now reaches the 2-cell stage in its development. Technically, this is the first step in the life of your baby.
The two cells further divide to reach the stage of 4-cells and by the end of day 3, the baby would have reached 16-cell stage. Your baby in the 3rd week of pregnancy is just hollow ball of cells which continues to divide and grow.
Care and Tips:
As you are yet unaware of the little life blossoming inside your nurturing womb, there is nothing much you can do in the 3rd week of pregnancy.
Without your knowledge, from the day one the baby is being fed with nutrients, water, oxygen, all the required hormones, vital vitamins and minerals in your uterus, so that it will have healthy growth.
Before you start getting the nursery ready for your baby, work on getting the first room (your womb) she is going to live in, safe for her. The womb can be affected by the food you eat, work you do and lifestyle you follow. The general lifestyle you choose and how you take care of yourself will have great effect on your growing baby.
[ Read: First Month of Pregnancy Diet ]
If you are planning on motherhood, then you can take care of both your mental and physical health by following a healthy lifestyle.
- Eat healthy food and drink plenty of water.
- Exercise moderately.
- Do not indulge in activities that may cause stress or harm to your abdomen.
- Quit bad habits like smoking, taking over the counter medicines and excessive consumption of alcohol
- Take control of your anxiety and stress
- Be positive towards parenting and life in general
Though the baby is well protected in your womb, it is not completely protected from the hazards of the outer environment. You form the connection between your baby and the outside world. Along with the nutrients, everything you experience physically, mentally and emotionally enters your womb.
Anything and everything that you do during the 38 weeks after conception will play a huge part in the physical, intellectual, neurological and emotional development of the baby. Do not forget that these effects are going to be permanent.
If you do the right things, you will feel proud watching the strong and healthy baby grow into a healthy adult. Good luck with your pregnancy! Hope you got a clear idea of 3 weeks pregnancy symptoms and what are the body changes you undergo. Do let us know more about your experiences in the comments section below! Good luck!!
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