It can be tough to know exactly when a pregnancy began. It isn’t always possible to say just when fertilisation occurred, so the start of a pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last period. If we’re going to be picky, then in fact the pregnancy hasn’t begun at that point. Nothing is growing inside the uterus just yet. However, the first week of pregnancy is counted differently if you’ve had IVF: from two weeks before the egg is implanted in the uterus. This is because the egg, which was fertilized outside of the body, has been living in an incubator for 2-5 days before being returned to the uterus.
Most people release a fertile egg every month. The egg matures in one of the ovarian follicles, and when the follicle bursts, the egg is released and caught by the fallopian tube – which is called ovulation. One sign to watch out for if you want to keep track of ovulation is richer discharge, with an almost stringy consistency. This provides smooth sailing to any sperm on their way to the egg. The egg continues on to the fallopian tube, where it is ready and waiting to be fertilized. It can live in this nourishing environment for about a day. If it isn’t fertilized, the egg continues down into the uterus and disappears out through the cervix and vagina, along with the uterine lining, as your period.
If you’re planning to have a baby, it’s a good idea for your partner to start taking folic acid already now. Folic acid reduces the risk of spina bifida in the foetus. If you or your partner smoke, you’ve never had a better reason to quit. Even second-hand smoke can have a negative impact on both fertility and pregnancy.