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Mother and Baby

1 week pregnant – what to expect

1-2 weeks pregnant - what you need to know

There’s no embryo yet, just your egg and hopefully sperm ready to fertilise it, but this will be the week immediately following your last period and your body is getting ready to ovulate. So, even though you haven’t actually conceived at this point, this is your first week of being pregnant.

What is my body doing?

The average menstrual cycle lasts around five to seven days. What you shed during this time is a combination of the lining of your womb (called the endometrium) and actual blood. Here’s the scientific part: the hormone changes that are stimulating your period to start also encourage the brain to produce luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), both key to helping you get pregnant.

What is my baby doing?

Right now, there is no baby and you won’t know for sure if your egg has been fertilised for another month. Medical professionals will use the first day of your last period as the start of your pregnancy, as it’s impossible to know exactly when you conceived.

What should I be doing to help my body conceive?

  • Start taking folic acid: To protect your future baby from spina bifida, medical experts recommend you start taking folic acid for three months before you want to conceive. Research also suggests women who get 300 micrograms of folic acid reduce the risk of neural tube defects by up to 70%.
  • Eat a balanced diet: Your fertility diet needs to give you all the nutrients you need, especially zinc. 
  • Avoid too much caffeine: your morning late is fine, but no more than three cups a day.
  • Shake off your vices: Quit smoking and cut down on alcohol if you’re trying to get your body ready for a baby.
  • Turn down the heat: Discourage him from taking steamy hot showers or baths as this can affect sperm quality. The bath water should be no hotter than body temperature for optimum sperm. It’s also a good idea for you to turn that electric blanket off and stop putting your laptop on your lap – studies show prolonged and excessive heat can slow down sperm collection.
  • Go and see your doctor: Although you’re not pregnant, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment and talk about prescription drugs, environmental and lifestyle hazards that could all be putting your baby-to-be at risk.
  • De-stress: Whether you book a few extra yoga classes, or download a meditation app, if you’re stressed, you’re biologically less likely to get pregnant.
  • Get to know when you're ovulating: Knowing exactly when you’re ovulating can help you conceive. We’ve developed a handy tool to help

How can I work out my due date?

As a rule, we usually say you’re ovulating around two weeks after the first day of your last period. Your egg will ususally be fertilised around 24-36 hours after ovulation. To read more about how to work out how many weeks pregnant you really are, we’ve written this handy guide on pregnancy math here

Take me to week 2

Read next - 19 facts about ovulation you need to know: 

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The average woman’s’ cycle is 28 days, but your cycle can be anything from 22 to 36 days long. Ovulation normally happens about two weeks before your next period, so if your cycle is 28 days, you will ovulate around day 14. Work out when you are ovulating by using our ovulation calculator. 
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Your egg lives for up to 24 hours after leaving your ovary, so if you are having sex around your most fertile days, you’ll have the best chance of conceiving. 
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That said, your partner’s sperm can live for up to five days, so it’s a good idea to also have sex before ovulation occurs if you are trying to conceive. 
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Your partner will release around 250 million sperm during ejaculation, however only around 400 of these sperm will make the ten-hour journey from your vagina, through your cervix and up the fallopian tube, where it can penetrate the egg. Only one can burrow through your eggs outer membrane. 
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Ovulation can be affected by a number of different things including stress and illness. If you’ve been trying for a baby for a while, it might be time to take a look at your job stresses, or workout routine. 
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The sex of your baby is actually determined from the moment your partner’s sperm meets your egg – if the sperm is carrying a Y chromosome, you’ll have conceived a boy and if it’s an X chromosome, it’ll be a girl. 
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Every woman is born with millions of immature eggs – half of these will be absorbed by your ovaries before you reach adolescence, the other half will sit waiting for your ovulation cycle to begin. Only 300 to 500 of these eggs (medically referred to as oocytes) will become mature eggs in your lifetime.  
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You can have a period even if you haven’t ovulated and you can ovulate without having a period. 
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Some women experience some bleeding as their fertilised egg burrows into the lining of their womb, this is called implantation bleeding and can often be confused with a period. Here's how to tell the difference between implantation bleeding and a period
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If an egg is not fertilised by a sperm during the ovulation period, it will disintegrate and be absorbed into the lining of the uterus or pass out with the menstrual flow. 
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Ovulation happens thanks to two different hormones – during the most fertile week of your cycle, your levels of lutenising hormones (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) will rise. This stimulates the production of follicles in your ovary. 
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Each month, one follicle will become larger than the others and produce an egg. Usually only one egg will be released during each cycle. This follicle will also start to produce oestrogen, which tells your body to start thickening the lining of the womb for implantation. 
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Once the egg has been released, the same (now empty) follicle will produce another hormone – progesterone, which prevents the release of any more eggs this cycle. The empty follicle is medically referred to as corpus luteum. This level of progesterone remains high enough to prevent any more eggs from being released for the next 12 to 16 days, after which your cycle will start again. This is the same horomone that is in birth control pills. 
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Your egg is smaller than the head of a pin when it is released during ovulation. 
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Although a lot of women do not experience any physical signs of ovulating, one in five will experience lower abdominal pain, known as mittelschmerz – a German word meaning ‘middle pain’. 
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Another physical sign you are ovulating is a clear, somewhat elastic discharge in the days leading up to ovulation. It might sound gross, but try stretching it between two fingers so you know what to look out for each month. 
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If you want to be really sure when you are ovulating, monitoring your basal body temperature (BBT) is a good indicator. Your basal body temperature averages around 36.1-36.4°C before ovulation, and rises to between 36.4-37°C after ovulation. The downside to this method is that your body temperature changes 12 to 24 hours after ovulation has actually occurred, meaning there can be little time left to conceive. 
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Research has proved your sense of smell increases when you are ovulating. Science tells us you also look more attractive to your partner when you’re ovulating. 
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Home pregnancy tests work by checking your urine for the hormone hCG, that your body starts to make once a fertilised egg has been implanted in your uterus. However, this process can take several days, so if you take a test straight away, you might want to re-take it nearer to when your period is due. Find out more about when to take a pregnancy test here. 

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