The following information—and much more—can also be found in the free Lamaze Pregnancy Week by Week email. Sign up now to receive helpful information for your stage of pregnancy. Subscribers will be given the opportunity to complete a Lamaze Parent Satisfaction Survey after their pregnancy and receive a Lamaze Toys coupon. We want to hear about your birth experience and the impact that childbirth education may have had so that we can continue to make sure parents have the information they need for the safest, healthiest birth possible.
Week 0 marks the start of your last menstrual period, when your baby is still just a ‘twinkle in your eye.’
So that we are all on the same page, let’s begin with the pregnancy timeline. Pregnancy supposedly lasts for 40 weeks or more, or about 9 months. When you do the math, things can get confusing! To get to 40 weeks, you have to count week 0, when you are definitely NOT pregnant, at the time of your last period. This starts the count some two weeks before conception even happens!
Pregnancy is usually divided up into trimesters, each roughly spanning three months. Your first trimester goes from “0” weeks to about 12 to 14 weeks. The second trimester starts at the 13th week (or so) and extends to around 24-25 weeks, and the third and final trimester goes until 37 weeks or more, to a time when it is considered optimal for baby to be born.
At 40 weeks, pregnancy is considered full term, but it can extend beyond that to 41 or 42 weeks. Babies will decide when they are ready to be born, based on when ovulation occurred way back in the first trimester, how well they have matured and grown ready for life in the big world, and on your body’s hormonal cycles.
So, let’s pick up the story here, with the last period. This may be the change in the upcoming chapters of your life, or the start of a whole new book! Your uterus and hormones have prepared a wonderful place to shelter and nourish a baby. When you get your period, your body starts the whole cycle of preparing for a baby all over again, and this is when and where pregnancy CAN occur. There is potential for this opportunity every month or so.
Let’s Talk: Contemplating Pregnancy
There are many helpful websites that will help you walk through the possibility of pregnancy. Let’s talk about three sites in particular:
1.) Ready or Not focuses on the very intentional contemplation of whether your life circumstances are right for pregnancy. The website will walk you through a number of considerations for you, your lifestyle and your close relationships. There are very interesting questions asked, and certainly ones that will help you in determining if you are indeed “ready or not.”
2.) Health Before Pregnancy is a great site for anyone considering having a baby. It reminds us that we owe it to ourselves to be as healthy as possible. You can update your reproductive life plan, find information about relationships, health and lifestyle and find information specifically for male partners.
Are you a member of the LGBTQ+ community? Check out the LGBTQ Parenting Network for fertility information as well!
3.) Our own website, Lamaze.org, has content to help you from pregnancy to parenting, including our Giving Birth with Confidence blog with up-to-date information and pregnancy stories shared every week. To start: explore the signs of pregnancy so you understand what your body may be telling you soon!
Story from a Mama Who Has Been There
I suppose, just like most other people, I always imagined that someday, I would be a mother, be a parent. It seemed like a given, way back then. Now that I am older, it does not seem as straightforward and idyllic as I dreamed when I was little. I have so many questions. How will I know when I am ready? Do I wait? How long? Should I go ahead? When is it too late? How will my life change? The word cloud in my head gets bigger and bigger."
Q & A with an Experienced Childbirth Educator
Question: “I don’t know if I am ready to be a parent or not; it is such a big step. I am not even sure if I want to get pregnant and be pregnant. It looks so easy and cool in the magazines and on YouTube, but I watch my friend and she had (and still has) such a hard time. How do you know you are ready for all of that? How does anyone know? It almost seems easier to avoid pregnancy for a while or just not plan for pregnancy and “kind of let it happen”. What do you think?”
Answer: As with every one of life’s milestones or transition times, contemplating pregnancy and parenthood is no different. Optimally, it would be great for you to be in the most envied position, like “livin’ the dream” of sorts. Most of us do not feel like we are consistently in that category! No matter where we are in life, or what issues or decisions we face, at the very least, it is always wise to take care of ourselves: physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
Consider the following self-care areas:
- Are your work and home surroundings safe?
- Are you at your optimal weight? Health?
- Are there some habits you want to reduce or stop (smoking, drugs alcohol)?
- Are you taking any medications (over the counter or otherwise) that could impact your chances of getting pregnant?
- Are you financially OK?
- How is your job? Living arrangements? Intimate relationships?
- Do you have any infections or sexually transmitted infections that need to be taken care of?
- Are you taking a folic acid supplement?
- Would a genetic counselor be helpful before pregnancy happens?
- Do you feel emotionally and mentally ‘settled’?
A visit to your health care provider for a check-up is also always a good idea. Or, consider a midwife for pre-conception counseling.
If you work towards the best “you”, then no matter what happens, you are better equipped to handle whatever life hands you. Of course, there is no right or wrong answer about the right time to become a parent or get pregnant, but you can certainly do the best you can to take care of YOU before that! Whenever you can, try to follow the Scout’s Motto: “Always be prepared.”
Sharon Prusky, RN, BN, MEd, LCCE, FACCE
Sharon Prusky is a childbirth educator as well as a registrar for the College of Midwives of Alberta. A mother of a teenage daughter and a teenage son, Sharon has been involved in Lamaze for many rewarding years. She also served as Lamaze’s the first-ever Canadian president in 2010-2011. Sharon has worked as a Maternity Nurse Educator in a low risk facility for experiencing amazing physiologic birth. You can feel Sharon’s passion for all things childbearing in her words and actions. She is presently helping build and move forward the profession of Registered Midwives in Alberta, Canada.
A Touch of Inspiration
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” - Reinhold Niebuhr
TagsPregnancy Early pregnancy Lamaze Pregnancy Week by Week