Last week, your body released an egg (ova) when you ovulated, approximately two weeks after the start of your most recent period. In a Fallopian tube, the egg was fertilised by a sperm.
This week, that fertilised egg is starting it's journey through your body and is growing and changing all the time. The egg now slowly travels down the Fallopian tube towards the uterus, taking up to a week to do so. As it goes, this one cell splits into two, and then subdivides again and again. By the time the egg reaches the womb, it has become a cluster of over 100 cells known as an embryo. If more than one egg happens to have been released and both (or more!) get fertilised, this leads to a multiple pregnancy. Multiple embryos also occur if one fertilised egg splits, thus creating identical siblings.
By the time the egg reaches the womb, it has become a cluster of over 100 cells known as an embryo. If more than one egg happens to have been released and both (and more!) get fertilised, this leads to a multiple pregnancy.Once the embryo reaches the womb, it will plant itself into the uterine lining within a few days’ time. The lining, known as the endometrium, is normally shed as blood during menstruation if an embryo does not implant. When implantation of an embryo into the uterine lining does occur, some women experience a very light spotting of blood, usually the only external sign that something amazing is happening in the womb. Don’t worry if this implantation spotting happens to you; it is totally normal and not a sign of anything untoward. Conversely, you may not notice any spotting at all in early pregnancy, which is perfectly normal as well.
Some women also experience a little pain or cramping during the implantation process, but again, not everyone does and it’s certainly nothing to worry about if you don’t. However, this pain should never be severe—a great amount of pain and discomfort can be a sign of dangerous complications such as ectopic pregnancy (where the egg implants outside of the womb). If you experience severe pain, chills, fever, or heavy bleeding in early pregnancy, seek medical advice immediately.
After implantation is complete, your body will send out hormone signals to prevent the lining of the womb falling away to give you a menstrual period, as would normally happen each month. The site of implantation will now become the place at which your baby’s placenta attaches to the wall of your uterus.
Once the embryo has implanted, it is known as a blastocyst and is around 0.01 centimetres in diameter—the size of a tiny speck of dust. The blastocyst is invisible to the naked eye, but growing rapidly. Still very small, but already around 50% bigger than it was only a week ago!
The majority of women are still likely to be unaware that they are pregnant at this point, although if you are charting (measuring the very fine fluctuations in your temperature that occur around ovulation and when you get your period), you may have an idea that something different is going on this month. Over the next week or so, you may start to see some more noticeable symptoms of pregnancy.
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