Pregnancy - conception to 8 weeks gestation
What is happening to mother
Many women do not realise that they are pregnant during the first month or so, and only begin to suspect this when the onset of their next period is delayed. If you have consciously been trying to become pregnant however, you are more likely to be vigilant of the first signs.
The absence of menstruation, a feeling of tenderness or fullness in your breasts, feeling emotionally up and down and extremely tired can all be normal signs that you are pregnant. You may find that you need to pass urine more frequently and that you start to experience nausea, sometimes with vomiting, which can also be signs that you are in the early stages of expecting a baby.
What is happening to baby
During the first two months of pregnancy your baby develops rapidly from being a collection of living cells to a recognisably tiny human form. Her essential organs including her liver, lungs and kidneys are being established; her muscles and nervous system as well as her facial features and limbs are beginning to form; her brain is developing and her heart begins to beat. By the time she has reached 8 complete weeks of gestation, your baby measures around 3cms long.
Things to think about
You may choose to have your pregnancy confirmed by your midwife or GP with a urine sample. Midwives are trained to wholly care for women and their babies from conception through to one month following birth, so long as everything remains straightforward. Should you need specialist medical care for any reason, your midwife will refer you to an appropriate doctor and share your care alongside the medical staff. This is the same if your midwife is NHS or Independent (see Association of Independent Midwives).
During this first brief visit, your midwife or GP may discuss diet, including your intake of folic acid, and give you advice about exemption of prescription fees. They may also issue you with some pregnancy literature and information about antenatal screening tests and ultrasound scans (USS), but generally your midwife will go into these in much greater detail at your booking visit.
Maintaining a balanced diet of fresh foods with plenty of water to drink will help provide your baby with optimum nutrition during this time, as well as some gentle daily exercise in the fresh air and rest when you need it. Ideally smoking, recreational drugs and alcohol are best avoided even before conception, but certainly through pregnancy and with a new baby, as it is known that these substances are harmful to babies both inside the womb and after they are born.