Your baby will be born approximately 38 weeks after fertilization of the egg. It is customary to include the period between the last menstruation and approximate conception date which adds another two weeks to the term of pregnancy. This brings the total to 40 weeks.
However, for the first two weeks of your pregnancy you are not actually pregnant. The length of the ovulation period is different for everyone thus conception time cannot be calculated exactly. In order to reach the most optimum dates, pregnancy is always counted from the last day of your last menstruation. Calculating 40 weeks from this day will give you the most likely date for the birth of your baby.
Week 0 begins the new cycle and menstruation has begun. At this point you still wont know whether or not pregnancy will occur. Over the next 2 weeks your eggs will be matured in the ovaries and your body will produce hormones which allow the mature egg to `jump`. These eggs are not yet visible to the naked eye and are surrounded by a bubble. These calls are known as follicles and are matured from primary eggs to follicle cells in the ovaries immediately after menstruation has ended. The growth and maturity of the egg cell happens because of the hormones flooding the body. The follicle, along with lutenising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) produces its own hormone, estrogen. The levels of estrogen released into the body are determined by the growth of the follicle. When the body detects large amounts of estrogen it affects the cervix and the mucus plug. Ovulation begins approximately 24 to 36 hours after an estrogen surge and lasts 48 hours. In less than two weeks the follicle will grow from less than one tenth of a millimeter to 2 centimetres and will be visible to the naked eye.
After ovulation the yellow body (corpus luteum) is formed and from this progesterone is released. Progesterone is the hormone which prepare the uterus for implantation and translated literally means `for pregnancy`. If fertilization of the egg does not occur the corpus luteum shrivels and menstruation occurs approximately 14 days later. It is often believed that ovulation begins 14 days after menstruation occurs when in fact it begins 14 days before menstruation.
Example: If you have a regular 28 day cycle, ovulation begins on the 14th day. However, a cycle of 32 days means ovulation occurs on the 18th day and having intercourse on day 14 will not affect your chances of becoming pregnant.
When are you fertile?
If you wish to become pregnant it is important that you know the days when you are most fertile. This is generally three days before ovulation until two days after. It is not possible to determine when an egg will be ready for fertilization, only after it has happened.
There are now special ovulation tests which work almost the same as the more popular pregnancy tests but measure lutenising hormone (LH) rather than hCG (human chorion gonadotrophine). When two dark stripes appear on the tester you know that an egg is ready for fertilization.
In contrast a pregnancy test gives a secondary result for Hcg hormone in your body which is only released after fertilization has occurred. As hCG is not present in the body until after conception has occurred, unless you are pregnant there will be no stripes on the tester, not even light.
It is recommended to anyone trying to get pregnant take 0.5 mg folic acid per day. Although this B vitamin is present in brown bread, spinach, nuts, bananas, meat, fish and eggs the required amount may not be present in your daily diet. It is therefore advised that you obtain folic acid tablets from the pharmacist or chemist which is available without prescription and take the recommended dosage every day to ensure your body is absorbing the required amount. Research suggest Folic acid substantially (60-70%) reduces the risk of spina bifida, anencephaly, fluid in the brain and cleft palate. You should keep taking the folic acid tablets until you are least 10 weeks pregnant although it does no harm to continue throughout the pregnancy.