On its arrival, it becomes known as a blastocyst and floats freely within the womb cavity for about three days before embedding in the wall lining and linking to the blood supply. Once attached, conception is complete and from this moment your growing baby is called an embryo. Already it has grown from a single cell to a mass of hundreds of cells. A primitive placenta begins to form around it, though this will not be fully-functional until around week 14. The inner cells form three layers that become different parts of the baby’s body. One layer becomes the brain, nervous system, skin, eyes and ears; the second becomes the lungs, intestines and stomach and the third becomes the heart, blood, muscles and bones.
A plug of mucus has formed at the entrance to the womb acting as a barrier to infection. Seven days after implantation, chemical signals called hormones prevent a period from starting. The placenta produces a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) that passes into your urine. The presence of this hormone, detected by a pregnancy test, confirms a positive result 12-16 days after fertilisation. Some women notice a small amount of bleeding following implantation and mistake it as a period. It may not be until a second period is missed that pregnancy is confirmed. Many women say they know instinctively that they are pregnant the moment they conceive.
The embryo is now floating in the amniotic fluid attached by strings of blood vessels that eventually form the umbilical cord. Through this cord, your body provides nutrients and oxygen to your baby and in return receives waste products. Measuring 2-4mm, the embryo would be visible to the naked eye and at this stage, a rudimentary brain and spine is forming.
Your first signs of pregnancy may include slightly enlarged, tender or tingling breasts, a heightened sense of smell and a strange, metallic taste. A need to pass more urine is likely, due to a combination of increased blood flow to the kidneys producing more urine, your enlarged womb pressing on your bladder, as well as pregnancy hormones relaxing the bladder itself. It’s common to catch colds now as your immune system is slowing down to ensure you do not reject the baby nestling inside you.
Your baby has more than doubled in size in the past week. Its tiny heart is forming and will already have the power to pump blood around its own body. The jaw and mouth are developing and ten dental buds are growing in each jaw. Small limb buds are beginning to appear from which your baby will develop hands and feet.
Morning sickness, which despite its name may occur at any time of day and last all day and night may continue for the next six weeks or more. It is a most common symptom of early pregnancy and is thought to be caused by the digestive enzymes reacting to the HCG pregnancy hormone. Naturopaths believe the severity of morning sickness reflects the health of the maternal liver. Hormones may also cause the intestines to relax and become less efficient causing constipation. Drink 2-3 litres of water daily and eat lots of vegetables to relieve this problem.
It is likely that your vagina becomes bluish or violet colour in response to hormonal changes and increased blood flow.