Pregnancy starts with the process of fertilisation and ends with the birth of the baby.

It is divided into three trimesters which last for approximately 12 weeks each.

Signs of pregnancy

If you are using natural fertility awareness, you can confirm a pregnancy after you see 18 consecutive high temperatures. Some women will know even before they have missed a period. Missing a period is also a good reliable sign of pregnancy, although many women will experience an implantation bleed which may appear to be a light period.

Once you have noticed the date for your next period has come and gone you can use a commercial pregnancy test to confirm you are pregnant. These tests measure the amount of a pregnancy hormone (HCG) in your urine. Sometimes these tests are not accurate if they are done too early and can sometimes give inaccurate readings. It may be a good idea to get a 2 pack and use both tests several days apart if you get an initial negative reading.

Blood tests can confirm a pregnancy within days of conception if pregnancy is suspected and you really can’t wait to find out. Results can be given within 24 hours of the testing.

Other signs

  • The breasts may feel full and can be tender; the area around the nipple (the areola) can become darker.
  • You may need to urinate often, especially at night
  • Morning sickness. Many women feel nauseas especially in the morning but for others the nausea can drag on all day and night (See: natural help for the discomforts of pregnancy). Morning sickness doesn’t begin until implantation has occurred at around 4 weeks past your last period
  • Aversion to particular smells, a common on is tobacco smoke.
  • A feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen
  • Feeling tired

Due dates

A standard pregnancy will last for around 40 weeks although anything from 37 to 42 weeks is considered normal.

Another thing to consider is that pregnancy is generally calculated from the date of the last menstrual period rather than the date of conception. Since the pre-ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle can vary greatly from cycle to cycle, estimated due dates can be way out. You will only get an accurate estimation if you have a 28 day cycle and ovulate on day 14, very few women actually do this. If you have been using natural fertility awareness you will know very accurately when you ovulated and many couples will know the exact date of conception.

The due date will be any where from 38-42 weeks after your last menstrual period. Baby’s like mother’s are unique and will very rarely come exactly 40 weeks from the date of the last menstrual period as is calculated at the very first antenatal visit. What I am trying to say is that estimated due dates are exactly that, estimations. Keep this in mind if you are looking at being ‘induced’ because you are overdue. Even due dates calculated by ultra sound are not especially accurate. Only 4-5% of babies are born on their due date (I was lucky enough to get two!). Ultrasound dating is said to be more accurate than date calculations but only if it is done early in the pregnancy. Dating ultrasounds are best done between 7 and 14 weeks and are usually only out by 3 days. After this point baby’s develop at different rates and the further into the pregnancy the less you can tell about the real age of the baby.

I don’t really feel that it matters too much to know a due date. There are many difficulties that can come about as a result of either expectant parents or health care professionals being caught up in due dates, such as worry that the pregnancy has gone too far over. I like to think of a due month. It saves you having to answer your phone to well wishers every five minutes on your due date and every day after that until you have your baby.