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Week #1 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 1

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

Your Baby
           During this week of your fertility cycle, your baby is still just a glimmer in your partner's eye.  Over the next few weeks, however, one of your eggs will meet with one of your partner's sperm and in that moment, your life will be forever changed.  Then after forty miraculous weeks of marvelous growth and one big delivery day, your family will welcome home a precious gift, wrapped in pink or blue that is just waiting to melt your heart!  Let the journey begin!


Your Body
           This week you are probably feeling a bit anxious and excited at the idea of becoming pregnant and ultimately welcoming a little one into this world.  It is normal to feel both of these emotions, as well as a slew of others as you contemplate the wonders and unknowns of parenthood.  Allow yourself permission to feel deeply and process through all of the different thoughts that you may have about what this next season of your life is about to entail.  If you would like to, talk to friends and family members who have young children and ask them to share their pregnancy experiences with you.  Remember, no woman ever started their pregnancy as an "expert" but with great friends to cheer you on and edHelperBaby walking you through this journey week-by-week, you might just be an expert by the time your little one is born.

       One of the best things that you can do this week as you anticipate your future pregnancy is to prepare your body.  Strive to be in the best shape of your life.  Make every bite of food count by making sure that your meals are nutritious and delicious.  Visit your doctor for a pre-pregnancy check-up where you can discuss any health concerns and double check that all of your vaccinations are up to date.  Avoid known pregnancy "no-no's" such as alcohol, cigarette smoke, and excessive caffeine.  By preparing your body now, you will be able to help insure your sweet one the best of all environments to grow in for her 40 week stay, and you will feel great all at the same time!


  You're Wondering. . .
           I feel like my biological clock is ticking and I am nervous that it is going to take me a long time to get pregnant.  Is there anything that I can do to speed up the process?

       Most women, especially those attempting to become pregnant for the first time, share this concern with you.  It is a very awkward position to be in; you desire to become a mother and yet you are at the mercy of your partner's body and your own to help make this dream become a reality.  Rest assured that 95% women become pregnant within twelve months of trying to conceive, and if it takes a bit longer, think of all the fun you will have "trying"!

       A great way to help take charge of your fertility is to begin charting your basal body temperature.  Your basal body temperature is your body's temperature first thing in the morning.  This is pre-coffee, pre-tooth brushing, pre-good morning kiss.  By charting this all important morning number, you will be able to better understand your body's monthly cycle, identify when on average you ovulate, and greatly increase your likelihood of conceiving in any given month.  Charting your daily basal body temperature is quick, inexpensive, and easy.  Before you begin, here are a few important facts that will help you understand why this trick-of-the-trade works.
  1. First, your monthly cycle is controlled by two main hormones; estrogen and progesterone.  Estrogen, the star of the show for the first half of your cycle, helps your body produce the egg that will be released by your ovaries during ovulation.
  2. The hormone progesterone takes over the second half of your cycle and if you conceive, its levels will stay elevated throughout your pregnancy.  If you do not conceive, your progesterone levels will decrease with the beginning of menstruation.
  3. Estrogen is your body's "cooler" hormone.  When your estrogen levels are high, your basal body temperature will be low.
  4. Progesterone, on the other hand is a "warm" hormone.  As your progesterone level increases, so does your basal body temperature.
  5. When you begin charting your daily temperature, you should begin to notice a pattern.  Your morning temperature should begin in the 97.0-97.6 range.  These first few weeks of your cycle will be when your estrogen is at its peak.  Once you ovulate, and your progesterone increases, you should notice a jump of at least .2 degrees Fahrenheit in your basal body temperature.  If this jump in temperatures occurs, and is sustained for at least three consecutive days, you have most likely ovulated.

       So how does this morning method help you conceive?  First, it will help you identify when in your cycle you are most likely to ovulate.  Many women assume that they ovulate around day 14 of their cycle.  If, in fact, you tend to ovulate on day 11 or on day 18, you and your partner may be missing your most fertile moments each and every month and not even know it.  By charting your cycle for a few months, you should be able to detect a pattern in your ovulation and then time your sexual intimacy accordingly.       

       These basal body temperature charts can also be very beneficial for your doctor.  If after several months of charting, you are not beginning to see a pattern indicative of ovulation, your physician may be able to intervene and assist you in your parenthood quest.  My husband and I found this to be the case.  Unbeknownst to me, my ovulation was particularly irregular.  After spending nearly a year trying to conceive our first child, I began charting my cycles and learned that I did not ovulate on my own.  My doctor was able to study my charts and prescribe the drug Clomid which one miraculous cycle and ten months later allowed us to finally welcome our beautiful baby girl into the world.       

       So how do you get started?  First gather the following:
  • A basal body thermometer These easy-to-use thermometers can be purchased at most drug stores for less than ten dollars.  I prefer using a digital one that beeps when it is done reading your morning temperature and stores the all-important number for a while.  This allows you to record and chart your temperature later in the morning when you are "really" awake.  You know, post-coffee, post-tooth brushing, and post-good morning kiss!
  • A graph for charting Feel free to use a simple piece of graph paper with columns labeled for each day (and date) of your cycle.  Label the rows in one-tenth degree increments ranging from at least 97.0 up to 98.6.  If you prefer to have one created for you, there are several books on basal body temperature charting available with sample charts and graphs included within them.

       Then, let the charting (and conceiving) begin!  Start charting your fertility cycle on the first day of your period.  The key to using this tool is to take your temperature at the exact same time everyday.  If you normally get up for work at 6:00 am, it will be important to set your alarm clock for 5:55 am all week long...including the weekends.  In order to get accurate data to analyze, you must keep your daily temperature time the same.  The good news is that you don't have to start your day that early on the weekends...you just have to take your temperature.  Feel free to pop in the thermometer, wait for the beep, then roll right back over and go back to sleep.  As long as you remember to record your temperature later in the day, you are just fine!  Then begin looking for patterns.  Some women notice a slight dip in their morning temperature the day before they ovulate and therefore peak.  As you become more familiar with your unique fertility cycle, you and your partner may find that it will be much easier to conceive your baby than you ever imagined.


  Your "To-Do" List
           One of the most important things that you can do throughout your pregnancy is to take a daily prenatal vitamin. Prenatal vitamins are specially formulated to make up for any vitamins or minerals that your body may be lacking during this critical time.  It is important to go ahead and prepare your body for pregnancy by taking your prenatal vitamins even before your little one is officially on the way.  This is in large part due to the immediate importance of folic acid.  Increased levels of folic acid in a woman's body have been found to greatly reduce her risk of having a baby born with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.  Because the neural tube closes approximately 28 days after conception (and often before a woman even knows that she is pregnant), it is vitally important that high levels of folic acid be present in a woman's body at the moment conception occurs.  If you have not already begun doing so, top this week's "to-do" list with this: Start taking prenatal vitamins.  There are several different kinds of over-the-counter prenatal vitamins available, as well as many that can be prescribed by your doctor.  When looking for a prenatal vitamin, be sure to check the label and make sure that it contains the following:
  • 4,000 and 5,000 IU (international units) of vitamin A
  • 800 and 1,000 mcg (1 mg) of folic acid
  • 400 IU of vitamin D
  • 200 to 300 mg of calcium
  • 70 mg of vitamin C
  • 1.5 mg of thiamine
  • 1.6 mg of riboflavin
  • 2.2 mcg of vitamin B-12
  • 10 mg of vitamin E
  • 15 mg of zinc
  • 30 mg of iron


Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           While it is extremely important to prepare yourself for nine months of pregnancy, it is perhaps more important to prepare yourself for a life-time of parenthood.  Every week, edHelperBaby will dedicate this section of your weekly pregnancy update to activities designed to be done with your partner or on your own that will help to prepare you for parenthood.  Think of it as "homework" so that your little one can arrive into a "home" that "works."

       This week, as you begin your pregnancy journey take a moment and think about all of the different roles that you currently fulfill.  You are probably a daughter, sister, friend, partner and employee, as well as many others.  As you reflect on the different roles that you play in life, think about the skills that you use in each of those arenas that will help to make you the best parent possible.  As a friend, you may be a great listener and compassionate.  As a partner, you may put the needs of your partner above those of your own.  While reflecting on these different roles, make up a mock resume of all of the skills that you already have, some that you may not have even been aware of, that will help to make you a wonderful parent.  Set the page up in such a way that if you were "applying" for a new job as a mommy, people would be able to see all of the positive characteristics that make you a sure win for this job.

       As you peek at your resume, you should feel your confidence grow as you reflect on how prepared you really are to bring a little one into this world and nurture him or her toward adulthood.  If, after peeking at your resume, you feel that there are a few areas that need a bit of work, don't worry.  We will give you plenty of opportunities to prepare yourself for parenthood over the next 41 weeks.  And your baby will give you tons of practice over the next 41 years!


  My Experience
           Grant and I both knew that we wanted children at some point in our marriage, but were initially unsure when.  Five years after we said, "I do" we decided we were "ready" (whatever that means!).  As we tried to become pregnant, we both found ourselves a little anxious about what the future would look like and wondering whether or not we really had what it would take to raise a child.  Grant is the youngest of three children, so he was never around little ones while he was growing up.  I was a first grade teacher, who loved children, but if I was totally honest, at times was ready for them to go home at the end of the day.  What was I going to do with a child that didn't hop on the bus at 2:15 and leave me to myself until the next morning?   One night, after a lengthy discussion, we decided to make a list of all of the reasons why we thought we would be great parents.  After thinking about all of the things that we already did and the types of roles that we already played, we realized that we possessed a whole lot more parenting skills then we thought we did!  We were both in occupations that required us to be kind, yet firm.  Can you say "parenthood"?  We both knew the importance of compromise and shared responsibilities.  That pretty much summed up the "newborn in the house" phase!  We both knew that nothing in life is perfect, but everything contains beauty and deserves a celebration.  We were "officially" ready for the toddler years!  After peeking at our resumes, we realized that even though we didn't know everything about being great parents, we were off to a great start and would thankfully have 40 wonderful weeks of pregnancy and a lifetime of hands-on experience to help us figure it out!


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