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Pregnancy Symptoms Week 4: Your Period Is Delayed
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  • For most women, Week 4 is when pregnancy symptoms appear. Number one red flag is a missed period, but you may not even have noticed it yet. After all, delayed monthly bleeding can easily be due to stress or other reasons unrelated to pregnancy. But if you have been watching and waiting, take a home pregnancy test at least six days after you missed your period.

    Pregnancy signs Week 4

    As soon as your single-celled fertilized egg burrowed itself in your uterus's thickened lining, your body will start to produce hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), the pregnancy hormone detected by home pregnancy test kits. Aside from hCG, your body is also producing progesterone and some estrogen to jumpstart your body to 'act' pregnant soon. 

    There is no baby bump just yet. The growth in your womb is still too tiny to form a noticeable bulge. Your body is working double-time to produce pregnancy hormones. It's also beginning to increase your blood production and flow to cover for you and your developing baby. This may even be the main culprit for some early pregnancy symptoms you're already experiencing.

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    Pregnancy symptoms on Week 4

    The early signs of pregnancy can be the same as those typically experienced when you're about to get your period.

    Spotting and mild cramping

    Light brown or pink spotting accompanied with mild cramping may be a sign of implantation. Not all woman experience this, but if you did, it should only last about a day or two max. If you're having significant bleeding and sharp dysmenorrhea-like pains, alert your doctor or go to the hospital as soon as possible as they could be signs of implantation problems or an ectopic pregnancy. 

    Bloated feeling

    Blame the hormone progesterone for feeling bloated. You may now start thinking of prioritizing comfort when it comes to your day-to-day outfits.

    Breast tenderness

    Having sore, tender breasts is another sign that you're about to get your period, so it's difficult to know whether it could be a sign of pregnancy. But if you notice that your breasts are a little heavier than usual, your areolas start to darken, and the veins on your chest are more pronounced, then it's likely you are pregnant all right. 

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    Fatigue

    Feeling tired after a long day is not exclusive to preggos. But exhaustion, where you find yourself out of breath after you had just taken a rest a few minutes ago, is the kind of tiredness many pregnant women experience. This could be a result of your body overworking itself to sustain your pregnancy.

    Nausea and vomiting

    Blame your rising hormones for feeling queasy. Your heightened sense of smell makes certain odors, mostly food, make you want to throw up. That, or it could also be that metallic taste in your mouth that you can't seem to wash off that's making you vomit a lot. Fatigue is also a factor. You can look at these signs as your body's message: you may want to slow down so you can let your body settle into its new role. 

    Mood swings

    You're not going crazy, but your hormones are. Pregnancy mood swings may also be partly due to the possibly overwhelming thoughts since you saw two lines on the home pregnancy test kit. These mood swings can last up to your third month of pregnancy.

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    Your baby's development on Week 4

    If you suspect you are pregnant, an ultrasound still won't turn up much except maybe a tiny dot that's one or two millimeters on week 4 of your pregnancy. 

    Once your single-cell fertilized egg had divided and multiplied into a ball of cells called a blastocyst and implanted itself in your uterus, it will waste no time setting up its home for the next eight months. The book What To Expect When You're Expecting pegs the fourth week of pregnancy wherein the blastocyst divides into two. One part will form the placenta, or the organ responsible for delivering nutrients and oxygen to your baby up throughout the pregnancy while the other will develop into the embryo. 

    Apart from the placenta, a yolk sac and your amniotic sac, or your bag of water, have also begun forming. The yolk sac will produce blood and will help nourish your embryo until the placenta is fully formed. It will later be incorporated in your baby's developing digestive tract.

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    According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), the embryo now has three distinct layers, namely the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm, that will form the baby’s organs and tissues.

    1. The ectoderm, the outer layer, will develop into the baby's nervous system, including his brain, plus his skin, eyes, hair, nails, sweat glands, and enamel for his teeth. 
    2. The mesoderm, the middle layer, will later form the baby's heart, circulatory and blood system, skeleton and bones, muscles and connective tissues, as well as the urogenital system or the kidneys and sex organs. 
    3. The endoderm, the inner layer, will house the baby's lungs and develop into the gastrointestinal tract's lining, liver, pancreas, and thyroid. 
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    Your to-do list on Week 4 of pregnancy

    Now that you're more likely pregnant (or absolutely sure you're expecting), you need to take some crucial steps to take care of you and your developing baby. You're already a month into the pregnancy, so there's no time to waste!

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    Take a pregnancy test (again)

    If you've taken a home pregnancy test kit and it returns a negative result, you should try testing again as your hCG hormones could have doubled and is easily more detectible this time around. 

    Tell your partner!

    If your pregnancy test kit shows a positive result, wait no longer and tell your partner at least the good news. You may be carrying the baby, but both of you are pregnant. Sharing the news confirms it, and it will help both of you to start preparing together for this pregnancy journey. 

    Set your first prenatal checkup

    You should schedule your first prenatal checkup the moment your pregnancy test kit shows two lines, or even one clear and one faint second line. Don't be surprised f your doctor pencils you in only after two to four more weeks. That doesn't give your license to treat your condition as 'not pregnant.'  

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    Keep your healthy lifestyle

    Continue taking your folic acid and prenatal vitamins. Keep eating a balanced diet and getting enough low-intensity exercises. Your baby's vital organs are already on their way to being formed so ensure essential you have the essentials nutrients to support your quickly progressing pregnancy. 

    Give up the vices now!

    If you haven't given up smoking, drinking, or recreational drug use, now is the time to stop cold turkey. If you're still gulping caffeine by the liter, start cutting down on the number of cups you consume daily. Now is not the time to take any new unwarranted risks.

    Manage your pregnancy symptoms

    Take more breaks if you have to, sleep and rest, and slow down your life's pace. This is the time to start listening to your body as it transitions into full pregnancy mode. 

    More on your week-by-week pregnancy:
    Pregnancy Symptoms Week 3: Your Body Is Going Through Changes

    Pregnancy Symptoms Week 5: Your Baby's Major Organs Are Forming

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