Women's Healthcare Topics
James Brann, MD. Ob/Gyn

3 Weeks Pregnant

In This Article

Pregnant Belly Changes

By pregnancy week 3, it has been three weeks since your last menstrual period. If you ovulated last week and egg met sperm, you are officially pregnant. Congratulations! Many women don’t realize that they’ve conceived until next week – when they miss their period. You probably aren't noticing many changes except for some slight bloating which is also a premenstrual symptom.

Between five and 12 days after you ovulate, the fertilized embryo (baby during the first eight weeks of pregnancy is called an embryo) will be busy burrowing itself into your uterine wall. During this time, you may start to experience some implantation discomfort.

Learn about your symptoms and changes during the 3rd week of pregnancy.

Mild abdominal cramping is normal early in pregnancy, and it's a sign of implantation. Your body is adjusting to your new pregnancy hormones, and the new little one growing inside of you. Implantation cramping can be one of the first signs that conception has taken place. Your cramps are typically mild and brief (only lasting one or two days).

You probably won't know yet if you have successfully conceived and are pregnant. If you take a home pregnancy test this week, it may give you a negative result. The level of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) may not be high enough yet. After implantation, the level of hCG will quickly increase, doubling its amount every few days. So, if you first test negative with a home pregnancy test, wait a few days and try again.

Pregnancy Symptoms

Mom's symptoms at 3 Weeks

By now you are probably anxious to start feeling some physical changes of pregnancy. Most women will not start experiencing physical symptoms however until they miss their period. You may however experience some slight spotting during implantation. This is perfectly normal and may be a very early sign that you have successfully conceived.

Implantation spotting or light bleeding may occur in early pregnancy, and it can come with mild cramping. Implantation bleeding isn't anything to worry about, and it's often caused by the fertilized egg burrowing into your uterine lining. Spotting should be very light, and it may be pinkish or light brown in color. (It is never bright red or heavy like a normal period.)

In addition to signs of implantation, there are several early pregnancy symptoms to expect. Although you haven't missed your period yet, you may start to feel the effects of pregnancy hormones this week.

Nausea and vomiting -This is a common early pregnancy symptom of pregnancy. You may begin feeling nauseous right away. Some women may experience both nausea and vomiting. Roughly 75% of pregnant women will experience some form of vomiting or nausea in their first trimester of pregnancy.

Elevated body temperature is a universal symptom during the early weeks of pregnancy. If you have been tracking your basal body temperature, and you've noticed that it has stayed high for over 15 days in a row, there's a good chance that you're pregnant.

Fatigue is a very common early pregnancy symptom. Soon after conception, you may feel exhausted and tired for no reason. Fatigue will last throughout your first trimester, and it's due to the increased levels of progesterone surging through your pregnant body.

Tender, swollen breasts are another pregnancy symptom that you should expect now. Your breasts may feel sore and painful to touch, similar to how they feel right before your period, but early pregnancy breasts tend to be 10 times more uncomfortable.

Urinary frequency - Most women notice they have to pee more urgently and frequently now. The constantly need to urinate is a classic early pregnancy symptom that almost all pregnant women will experience to some degree. It may feel like your bladder has shrunk, and you may be running to the bathroom every ten minutes.

Feeling bloated - You will have a sense of bloating that is similar to the feeling you have during menstruation.

Home Pregnancy Tests

Home pregnancy tests are more accurate the longer you wait. They test a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone begins to enter the mother’s system about five to seven days after the egg is fertilized. If your last period was only three weeks ago, your body may be just beginning to secrete hCG, which can make it hard to get an accurate pregnancy test. The amount of hCG you secrete in your urine will double every 29–53 hours for the first 30 days after implantation. Waiting just a few extra days before taking a home pregnancy test can improve your chances of getting an accurate result.

Which Brand Offers the Most Accurate Home Pregnancy Test?
If you take a home pregnancy test at just three weeks after your last period, many pregnancy tests may give a negative result even though you may be pregnant. Most women may only secrete about 12.5 mIU/mL of hCG in their urine at this point in the pregnancy, and the vast majority of home pregnancy tests can’t reliably detect such a small amount of hCG (most require up to 100 mIU/mL).

In a clinical study examining 18 different tests, only First Response: Early Results home pregnancy test reliably detected pregnancies with 12.5 mIU/mL of hCG. Other sensitive (but less accurate) test brands included Clear Blue Easy: One Minute and Clear Plan Easy. Many other brands become very reliable once you are just a few days further along in your pregnancy—with each passing day, your home pregnancy test results will be more reliable. By waiting as long as you can, you can save yourself both frustration and money.

Pregnancy Weight Gain

Pregnancy week 3 weight gain

As your pregnancy continues, you'll find your waistline expanding. Some women enjoy keeping track of the incredible shifts in their size and shape during their pregnancy, whereas others dread the inevitable weight gain. Remember that it is natural and healthy to have weight gain during pregnancy.

Most women will gain between 25 and 35 pounds during their pregnancy, more if they are carrying multiples. Much of this weight is distributed among the placenta, uterus, amniotic fluid, fluid in the tissues and your baby. You will also put on about 7 pounds of maternal fat stores, to help support breastfeeding.

Pregnant and Plus Size

If you’re overweight and newly pregnant, you probably want to have the healthiest pregnancy possible. Although being plus-sized does put you at risk for certain pregnancy complications, your weight doesn’t automatically doom your pregnancy. There are many overweight and plus-sized pregnant women who have normal pregnancies and healthy babies. It is possible for overweight moms-to-be to have healthy pregnancies. You can overcome the statistics by eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising regularly in pregnancy, and staying within the recommended weight gain guidelines for your body size.

Pregnancy Complications When You’re Plus Sized

When you’re overweight, you are at higher risk for pregnancy complications. Keep in mind that just because you’re in the higher risk group, this does not automatically mean that you will experience obstetric complications. You can minimize your potential risk with lifestyle modifications.

Obesity in Pregnancy

Obesity in pregnancy puts you at risk for the following complications:

Gestational Hypertension High blood pressure is a common pregnancy complication that can affect overweight women. Research studies have indicated that 10 percent of obese women (who have body mass indexes of 30 or above) will experience high blood pressure in pregnancy.

You will be diagnosed with gestational hypertension if you have high blood pressure (140 over 90 or higher) after 20 weeks pregnant, but there is no protein in your urine. Gestational hypertension can increase your risk of preeclampsia (a more severe form of high blood pressure in pregnancy), intrauterine growth restriction (your baby doesn’t grow properly in the womb), preterm birth (delivering a baby before 37 weeks pregnant), placental abruption (a serious complication in which the placenta separates from the uterus before your baby is ready to be born), and stillbirths (your baby dies in the womb).

If you develop gestational hypertension, don’t freak out. There are ways to manage high blood pressure in pregnancy. At every prenatal visit – make sure you show up to each one, especially if you’re having complications – your healthcare provider will take your blood pressure. You may be placed on some degree of bed rest and prescribed medication to lower your blood pressure.

Preeclampsia If you develop high blood pressure in pregnancy, and the doctor finds protein in your urine, you will be diagnosed with a complication called preeclampsia. The severity of this complication can range from mild to severe. In the most severe cases, you can start to have seizures – this condition is called eclampsia. Women with severe cases of preeclampsia may also have organ failure, placental abruption, poor fetal growth, and decreased amniotic fluid.

Being overweight can increase your risk for developing preeclampsia. Clinical studies have found that 9 to 12 percent of plus-sized pregnant women will develop preeclampsia. (This is compared to 4 to 5 percent of women with a BMI in the normal range.)

To manage mild cases of preeclampsia, you may be asked to stay on bed rest, perform daily fetal kick counts, and pay attention to your symptoms. Severe cases of preeclampsia will require you to stay in the hospital, where your pregnancy will be monitored. You may also be given medication to lower your blood pressure. You also may be induced to protect your health and the health of your baby.

Gestational Diabetes Roughly six percent of overweight women will develop diabetes (high blood sugar) in pregnancy. (This is compared to 2 percent of women with a normal BMI.) Uncontrolled diabetes can lead macrosomia – an overly large baby. Your baby may be too large to go through the birth canal, and this can lead to problems during delivery. Shortly after birth, your newborn may experience low blood sugar and he or she may also suffer from breathing problems at birth. There have been several studies that have linked severe gestational diabetes with an increased risk of stillbirth in the last trimester. Gestational diabetes also increases your risk of developing preeclampsia.

Fortunately, gestational diabetes can be controlled with eating a well-planned diet, moderate exercise, and insulin injections (if exercise and diet aren’t enough).

Neural Tube Defects Plus sized pregnant women have a higher risk of having a baby with neural tube defects (which are birth defects of the brain and spinal cord). Researchers aren’t sure why overweight women are more at risk for this birth defect, but it’s believed that they have lower blood folate levels than average-sized woman. (Folic acid has been linked to preventing neural tube defects from occurring.) For this reason, it’s highly recommended that overweight and obese women start to take folic acid supplements one month before and throughout their pregnancy. Because obese women are at higher risk for neural tube defects, it doesn’t hurt for them to take 1,000 micrograms of folic acid to reduce their risk.

Big Babies Although many overweight women can have average-sized babies, being plus-sized can put you at risk for giving birth to an overly large baby (over 9 pounds, 15 pounces). Women who have undiagnosed or uncontrolled gestational diabetes, women with a family history of large babies, and women who go past their due date are more likely to give birth to big babies.

When you have a big baby, you’re at increased risk of a long and arduous labor. If you opt to have a vaginal delivery, you’re more likely to experience perineal tearing, increased blood loss, and bruise or break your tailbone. There’s also a chance that your baby’s shoulder will get stuck behind your pubic bone (a complication called shoulder dystocia). Because of all these risks, having a big baby increases the likelihood of a cesarean delivery (C-section).

If your healthcare practitioner believes that your baby may be large, you should discuss your labor and delivery options with him or her. Some physicians may recommend that you have a C-section, but others may allow you to have a trial of labor, in which you attempt to have a vaginal delivery.

Longer, More Difficult Labor – When you’re overweight, you may face a longer, more difficult vaginal delivery. According to a 2004 research study, published in the journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology, overweight women are in active labor for 80 minutes longer than their skinner counterparts. Obese women will have in active labor for 105 minutes longer. (Active labor is the stage of labor in which your cervix dilates from four to ten centimeters.)

To reduce your chance of having a longer labor, you can exercise regularly (if your doctor says it’s OK and you’re not having any other complications), eat a healthy diet, and gain the ideal amount of weight for your body size.

Cesarean Delivery Along with a longer labor, plus-sized pregnant women are at higher risk of giving birth via C-section. Several research studies have indicated that 26 to 35 percent of overweight and obese pregnant women will have a C-section (compared to 20 percent of women with a normal BMI). This increased likelihood of C-section is often due to the other complications (like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and other health problems) that plus-sized moms-to-be are at risk for.

Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Complications if Plus Size

Although all of the pregnancy complications associated with obesity can be frightening, most of them are manageable. There are also several ways that you can reduce your risk and improve your chances of having a normal, healthy pregnancy without any problems.

Gain the Recommended Weight for Your Body Size – If you are overweight (with a BMI between 25 and 29.9), it’s recommended that you gain between 15 to 25 pounds by the end of your pregnancy. Overweight women (with a BMI of over 30) should gain less than this – only 11 to 20 pounds by the time they deliver. When you gain more than your recommended weight, you’re 50 times more likely to develop gestational diabetes and other complications.

Don’t Diet – Although it may be tempting to try to shed a few pounds, pregnancy is not the time for you to diet. Restricting your diet can deprive your unborn baby of the nutrients and vitamins that he or she needs to develop properly.

Don’t cut back on calories and limit nutrients for your growing baby. Eat healthy, but don’t literally “eat for two.” Overeating can make you gain too much weight.

Moderate Exercise on Most Days of the Week – To help you stay within the recommended weight gain for your body size, you should exercise regularly. A daily 30 or 40-minute walk can go a long way in helping you minimizing your risk of complications. Don’t overdo it with the exercise, especially if you haven’t exercised before. Walking, swimming, prenatal yoga, prenatal Pilates, and low-impact aerobics are all wonderful ways for you to exercise and stay fit in pregnancy.

Baby Section

Your Baby (embryo) at 3 Weeks of Pregnancy

Baby at 3 Weeks Pregnant

The Business of Conception: Sperm Meets Egg

Pregnancy isn’t possible without conception – an intricate and complex process that involves the release of an egg from the woman’s ovary, fertilization by the man’s sperm, and implantation in the lining of her uterus. Conception is a beautiful process that joins one egg to one single sperm cell to create life.

The Release of an Egg (Ovulation)

Conception begins with ovulation – the release of a mature egg from one of your ovaries. Immediately after the egg ruptures from its follicle, it is literally brushed into the fallopian tube by the fimbriae (the tiny finger-like ends of the fallopian tube). The egg travels down the fallopian tube in the direction of the uterus. The journey from ovary to the uterus can take five days, but during the course of this time, the egg will be fertilized by the sperm. If the egg isn’t fertilized within 12 to 24 hours after ovulation, it will dissolve and you’ve missed your chance of pregnancy for that month.

At the same time that the egg is making its way through the fallopian tube, the ruptured follicle transforms into a structure called the corpus luteum, which begins to secret progesterone and estrogen. Both of these hormones start to thicken the lining of your uterus, in preparation for implantation.

The Sperm’s Long Swim

After each ejaculation, a fertile man will release between 20 million to 250 million sperm into a woman’s vagina. Each sperm has an oval head and a long tail, which work as a team to propel it towards the fallopian tube, where the unfertilized egg is waiting. The journey from the vagina to the fallopian tube may take 45 minutes for the fastest swimmers, and up to 12 hours for the slow sperm. If you haven’t ovulated yet, sperm can stay alive in your reproductive tract for three to five days.

Although your partner will release millions of sperm, only a few hundred will actually make its way to the fallopian tube. Some will die in your vagina – which is acidic and deadly to sperm. Others get caught in your cervical mucus, which can act like an impassable barrier in which sperm cannot swim through. It’s only during the one or two days that you’re most fertile that the cervical mucus becomes more receptive to allowing the strongest swimmers to enter the uterus. But even after entering, these strong sperm still have to travel roughly seven inches from the cervix, through the uterus, up to the fallopian tubes. Some sperm will get lost or die along the way. Of the 200 that survive, they all must fight each other to penetrate the egg’s outer shell.

Fertilization – The Moment of Conception

All of the sperm will cluster around the egg and attempt to penetrate its tough outer layer. Each works frantically to beat the others and get inside. The strongest of the bunch will succeed and fertilize the egg. Once this happens, the outside of the egg automatically thickens so that no other sperm can enter. It becomes like a protective shield that keeps out the competitors, so that your future baby is the result of only one sperm and one egg.

Within 24 hours after sperm and egg meet, the egg will be fertilized. Genetic material from the sperm and the genetic material from the egg will create a new single cell, called a zygote, which starts to divide very quickly. The fertilized egg is now a bundle of cells.

{Fun Fact:
At this point, your baby’s gender has already been determined. If a sperm with a Y chromosome fertilized the egg, you will end up with a little boy. If the lucky sperm had an X chromosome, you will end up with a little girl.}

The ball of cells makes its way down the fallopian tube and enters the uterus. This journey takes three to four days. In rare circumstances, the ball of cells will stay in the fallopian tube. The pregnancy that results is called an ectopic pregnancy (or a tubal pregnancy), and it’s a dangerous pregnancy complication if left untreated.

Within a week of fertilization, the developing embryo will signal its presence to the pituitary gland in your brain by producing a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which turns off your menstrual cycle. This hormone also keeps the levels of progesterone in your body high to support your pregnancy.

Implantation – You’re Officially Pregnant!

Once the ball of cells (called a blastocyst at this point) arrives in your uterus, it will attach itself to the lining of your uterus, very loosely at first. At this early stage in fetal development, the blastocyst produces enzymes that allow it to dig its way deeper into the uterine lining, where it will lie safely beneath the surface. During implantation, a chemical exchange also takes place between the blastocyst and your body to signal the presence of this new life. This exchange temporarily suppresses your immune system so that it cannot create antibodies that may attack the blastocyst as foreign matter.

Once the blastocyst embeds itself firmly and permanently, you are officially pregnant – though you won’t know it for another week or so. After implantation, some cells of the blastocyst will eventually become the placenta and others will become the embryo (your future baby).

At three weeks pregnant your tiny baby is roughly .006 inches long – the same size as the head of a sewing pin. The amniotic fluid is starting to collect around your baby and the amniotic sac (bag of fluid that your baby will swim in for the next nine months) is developing.


Pregnancy Health Section

Video: 3 Weeks Pregnant

Your Diet and Nutrition in Pregnancy

What is a healthy diet in pregnancy?

Your diet and nutrition in pregnancy are vital elements of a healthy pregnancy. The healthier you eat, the healthier your body is and the higher the likelihood that you’ll give birth to a healthy baby in 40 weeks.

Eating a balanced diet during pregnancy will ensure that your baby has the best environment to grow in for nine months, and it also decreases the likelihood of nutritional deficiencies that can complicate your pregnancy.

When you’re pregnant, you will want to follow the USDA’s MyPlate recommendations. MyPlate is divided into five food groups:

* Grains – Foods within the grains group are made with wheat, rice, oats, barley, cornmeal, or another cereal grain. Examples of grain products include breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, oatmeal, grits, and tortillas. For a balanced diet, make sure that you eat whole grains (when you can).

* Vegetables – Eat plenty of different vegetables or 100 percent vegetable juice for a healthy diet. Vegetables are organized into five subgroups: dark green vegetables (which are plentiful in folic acid, so make sure you get them into your diet); red and orange vegetables; beans and peas; starchy vegetables; and other vegetables. Half of your plate at each meal should be fruits and vegetables.

* Fruits – Along with vegetables, you will want to eat a wide assortment of fresh fruit or 100 percent fruit juice. Fruits can be a substitute for a sugary dessert, and they can be eaten fresh, canned, frozen, and dried.

* Dairy – Calcium is a vital nutrient in pregnancy, so make sure that you eat dairy products into your everyday diet. You may want to drink one glass of milk with breakfast, or enjoy a milk-based dessert (pudding, ice milk, frozen yogurt, ice cream) for a treat. Cheese and yogurt are also included in the dairy food group.

* Protein – A balanced diet must include protein. You can find protein in both vegetable and meat. Protein can be found in lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and seafood. Make sure that you choose lean, low-fat sources of protein. Vary the different protein sources that you consume as well.

To have a healthy pregnancy, you’ll want to have adequate nutritional stores. Eating healthy is the way to go.

Nutrients You Need during Pregnancy
In the perfect world, you would meet all of your nutritional needs by eating a healthy and balanced diet. Unfortunately, it’s hard to eat right all of the time. Work and family life can sometimes interfere with your eating plans. To make sure that you get all the nutrients that your body requires for healthy pregnancy, make sure to take a prenatal multivitamin. If you’re a vegetarian, you may need to take an additional vitamin D and vitamin B12 supplement. Your doctor can give you guidance on the right prenatal multivitamin for your needs.

A prenatal multivitamin does not replace a healthy diet. It serves as added protection. You will want to still eat as healthy as you can, whenever it’s feasible.

When you’re pregnant, there are three major nutrients that you will want to pay attention to:

* Folic Acid Women who are pregnant should get 800 micrograms (0.8 mg) of folic acid into their diet every day. Folic acid is found naturally in certain foods, but you’ll want to ensure you’re getting your daily amount by taking a supplement. Folic acid will decrease your baby’s risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

Over-the-counter prenatal vitamins typically contain between 600 and 800 micrograms of folic acid. Folic acid (also called folate) can be also found in food, including leafy green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, kale, mustard greens), fortified cereals, and beans and peas.

Fortunately, folic acid is water-solvable, so if you get too much folate, your body flushes out the extra that you don’t need.

* Iron Many women in their reproductive years have low iron stores (not enough iron in their blood). You may not have enough iron due to menstrual bleeding and a poor diet. You’ll want to build up your iron stores, because iron is vital to build healthy red blood cells – which are responsible for carrying oxygen to the cells in your body, and to the womb. Half of all pregnant women don’t have enough iron in her body, and this can lead to premature birth and a low birth weight baby.

Good food sources of iron include lean meats (beef, liver, pork, lamb, and organ meats), poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), fish, and iron-enriched grain products (breads, pasta, rice, and cereals). Your prenatal multivitamin should include iron.

* Calcium You will want adequate stores of calcium in your body before you try to conceive. Women who are pregnant should aim for 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. This equals to three or more servings of dairy products each day. You can find calcium in milk products, low-fat yogurt, and cheese.

During pregnancy, if you don’t have enough calcium, your unborn child will draw the calcium from your bones. This can put you at risk for osteoporosis (brittle bones) later in your life.

Although healthy eating can sound like a bore, especially if you’re used to eating junk food and sugary snacks, you should keep your future baby’s health and well-being in mind. You are the sole nutritional source for your baby, so you need the nutritional stores to support a growing baby for 40 weeks!

How Twins are Conceived

Learn about twin pregnancy conception.

Though you will not know whether you are carrying twins or a singleton until your first prenatal visit it is fun to think about this idea.

In the United States, 1 in 32 births result in twins. The rate of twin births has increased 70 percent since 1980s, and it is mostly due to more and more women taking fertility drugs and using assisted reproductive technologies (like in vitro fertilization, or IVF) to help them conceive. A majority of the twins born today are fraternal twins. The rate of identical twins is one in 250 – which is roughly the same statistic since the 1980s.

Twin pregnancies accounts for over 90 percent of all multiple births in the United States. There are two types of twins – identical and fraternal (non-identical).

Conception of Identical Twins

Identical twins (also called monozygotic twins) develop when one fertilized egg (a single zygote) splits into two separate embryos. This occurs within the first 12 days after fertilization. Experts believe that identical twins occur by chance, and unlike with fraternal twins, it’s not influenced by your age, race, or family history.

Because of how identical twins develop, they share the same genome (genes). They have the same blood type, and a majority of them have the same hair color, skin color, and eye color. They look very similar to each other, but many have different personalities. Despite common belief, identical twins don’t always look exactly the same. In some cases, environmental influences can change the appearance of twins. Identical twins are always the same gender. Identical twins do not share the same fingerprints.

In a majority of cases (70 percent), identical twins will share the same placenta. Each baby will have his or her own umbilical cord. Most identical twins will develop in two separate amniotic sacs. In rare cases, twins can share the same amniotic sac.

Monozygotic twins – identical twins – are less common than fraternal twins, but this type of twin can occur in triplet, quadruplet, and higher multiple pregnancies as well.

Conception of Fraternal Twins

Fraternal twins (also called dizygotic twins, and sometimes non-identical twins) occur when a woman releases two eggs at ovulation, and different sperm fertilizes each egg. Because of this, fraternal twins are no more alike than other siblings. They just happened to be conceived at the same time. They do not share genetic material, since they do not come from the same egg.

Non-identical twins can look similar, especially if they are the same gender, but many look very different. They can be different genders (one girl and one boy, or two of the same sex). They can have different blood types, and their eyes, hair, and skin color aren’t always the same.

There is a genetic component to fraternal twins; they tend to run in families. If someone in your family gave birth to fraternal twins, you’re at higher risk of having them. Other risk factors for fraternal twins include advanced maternal age (you’re over 35); you’re African-American; and using fertility drugs or assisted reproductive technologies (like in vitro fertilization).

Sometimes when you are carrying two babies, you may face extreme bouts of morning sickness (nausea and vomiting). You can sometimes feel more fetal movement than in previous pregnancies. Your belly and uterus will also grow faster or larger than expected.

With a multiple pregnancy, you have an increased risk of certain pregnancy complications, including pre-term labor, high blood pressure, anemia, premature rupture of membranes, and fetal growth problems. You may also need a cesarean section.

When you are pregnant with twins, you will need extra calories and nutrients than a regular pregnant person. You will need to get more calcium and folic acid in your diet. Talk to your doctor about your dietary concerns.

If you have twins in your family, you want to start toying with the idea that you could possibly be carrying twins. Raising twins can be lots of fun!

Vanishing Twin Syndrome

Sometimes a pregnancy can start out with twins, but you have a very early miscarriage. Often occurring in the first trimester, this phenomenon is called "vanishing twin syndrome." The incidence of this strange syndrome is higher than you might think - some estimate that the rate is as high as 30 percent in all multiple pregnancies.

In some cases of vanishing twin, the pregnant woman never knows she was expecting two. Before ultrasound technology, doctors were not aware of this phenomenon.

In other cases, an ultrasound indicates that you're carrying two babies with two heartbeats. You may be overjoyed with this news, but then your hopes are crushed several weeks later, when only heartbeat can be detected.

When vanishing twin occurs in the first trimester, you may not have any symptoms at all. You may experience some cramping or light spotting, but that's it. Without ultrasound, you would have never known!

Often, the miscarried twin had a chromosomal abnormality that caused its death. In most cases, the surviving twin is healthy and will be fine. Research indicates that older moms (over 35) are at higher risk for vanishing twin syndrome.

As you progress through your pregnancy week by week, try not to worry about miscarriage or vanishing twin syndrome. Chances are you will have a healthy baby, if you eat right and abstain from unhealthy habits.

Doctor's Corner

Pregnancy questions about early pregnancy

Commonly Asked Questions about Week 3

Q. How accurate are home pregnancy tests?
Home pregnancy tests can be quite accurate. Although some products claim that they’re over 99 percent accurate and that you can use them on the first day of your missed period, this isn’t always true. Some brands are more sensitive at detecting the presence of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) – the pregnancy hormone produced by the cells of the placenta – in your urine.

To check for the sensitivity of the home pregnancy test you’ve bought, you can check the package inserts, which sometimes report the lowest concentration of hCG that the test detects. As a rule of thumb, the lower the number, the more sensitive the test. For instance, a home pregnancy test that can detect hCG at 20 mIU/ml is more sensitive than one that says 50 mIU/ml.

Most home pregnancy tests on the market can’t accurately detect pregnancy on the day of your missed period. You will get the most accurate results the week after your expected period. You can also boost the accuracy of the home pregnancy test by testing your urine in the morning, when you first empty your bladder.

Q. My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for months now. We always have sex around my fertile time, but I’m still not pregnant. Why can’t I conceive?
Conception is a complicated process, and it’s not always easy for every woman. For you to successfully conceive, several things have to fall into place. For one, you must have a healthy reproductive system. Your hormones should be balanced to foster the development of your egg in the ovary. Second, you have to ovulate that month. If you don’t ovulate, there’s no egg for your husband’s sperm to fertilize. Third, you need to have sex at the right time in your menstrual cycle. Although you may think that you’re having sex during your fertile time, it’s possible that stress or other lifestyle factors caused you to have delayed ovulation. If your timing is off, it’s unlikely that your egg and sperm will meet. Fourth, your husband needs to produce plenty of healthy sperm that are strong enough to swim past your cervical mucus and reach your egg.

It’s also possible that your egg was fertilized, but for some reason, implantation did not take place that month. In order for you to become pregnant, the blastocyst must implant securely in the wall of your uterus. Sometimes, there was a chromosomal problem with the fertilized egg, and you had a very early miscarriage and didn’t realize it. The “menstrual blood” that you experienced after that miscarriage was actually a failed pregnancy.

So you see – lots of things can go wrong when it comes to conception. Be patient, and you’ll soon get pregnant. If you haven’t conceived within a year, you may want to contact a doctor to help you get down to the root of the problem.

Q. What are the early signs of pregnancy?
During pregnancy week 3, you haven’t missed your period, and it’s often too early for you to notice any signs of pregnancy. Next week, you’ll want to pay close attention to any subtle symptoms you may experience. A missed or delayed period is often the first sign that you’re pregnant. If you always have regular periods and never, ever miss a month, you’ll want to take a home pregnancy test and confirm your pregnancy.

Morning sickness is another early sign of pregnancy. You can begin to feel nauseous as early as two weeks after conception. This pregnancy symptom is the result of rapidly rising hormones in the first trimester. Fortunately, it doesn’t last forever and your symptoms should abate by the second trimester.

Tender breasts, fatigue, and frequent urination are other early signs of pregnancy. You may start to notice these symptoms as early as three weeks pregnant, and it can be difficult to distinguish these symptoms from normal PMS. This is the reason you’ll want to take a home pregnancy test if you think you might be pregnant.

Q. I’m having some abdominal cramping and discomfort. Is this implantation pain? Am I pregnant?
At 3 weeks pregnant, it’s possible that the mild abdominal cramping and discomfort that you’re experiencing is implantation pain. When the fertilized embryo embeds itself into your uterine wall, it’s common for pregnant women to notice some cramping, and they may even notice light spotting or staining. Implantation bleeding shouldn’t be bright red or heavy like a normal period.

You may notice implantation cramping and pain between five to twelve days after you ovulate. The cramping and discomfort that you feel should be mild and only last one or two days. If your pain is severe, you should call your doctor right away. There are many other reasons why you may experience severe abdominal pain – including ectopic pregnancy.

Q. I think I might be pregnant, but I had a few alcoholic drinks before I started noticing pregnancy symptoms. Did I accidentally harm my baby?
Try not to worry. Your baby is likely perfectly healthy, and the alcoholic drinks that you consumed did not affect his or her development at all. There is no safe level of alcohol consumption in pregnancy, but you should stop drinking alcohol the moment you plan to become pregnant.

Alcohol consumption in pregnancy can cause physical and mental birth defects. Because your baby is undergoing major developmental changes in the first few weeks of pregnancy, it’s vital that you don’t consume anything that could harm him or her. When a pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol passes through her placenta to her baby. Because a baby has an immature body, he or she cannot break it down. This can lead to lifelong permanent damage.

Although the few drinks that you had before you realized you might be pregnant probably won’t harm your child, stopping alcohol consumption now will go along way in ensuring you have a healthy, happy pregnancy.

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How Early are Twins born on Average?
There is a chance you can carry your twins up to 40 weeks, but there is a higher chance of delivering your twins early. 50% of twins are born before week 37, and 11% before week 32.
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Ovulation to Conception
The timing of conception is remarkable. The egg will only be available for fertilization for 12 to 24 hours after it is released. Also remarkable, is the journey of millions of sperm that are trying to reach the egg for conception. Only a few survive the journey and only one penetrates the egg for fertilization and conception.
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Ovulation to Conception
A must view video: How soon can you take a pregnancy test? How early is too early to take the test?
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