1 to 4 Weeks Pregnant

What’s happening this week

Your baby…                                                                                                                                                                                                          

  • is called an embryo
  • consists of two layers of cells
  • amnion develops which will fill with amniotic fluid to surround and protect the embryo
  • yolk sac develops producing blood and nourishment until the placenta takes over.


  • are already technically four weeks pregnant by the time your period is due
  • the embryo continues to implant into your uterus
  • start to produce hCG – a hormone that helps maintain the lining of the uterus – signals to the ovary to stop releasing an egg each month which in turn stops your periods – causes some pregnancy symptoms, ie fatigue, breast tenderness or nausea.

You may suspect you’re pregnant even before you take the test. That’s because your hormones go into overdrive very early on! Most practitioners recommend women planning a pregnancy should supplement their diet with 0.8mg daily of folic acid, at least one month prior to conception and continue until 12 weeks gestation.  Discuss this with your GP as some women require higher doses.

The top signs of pregnancy

Some women say they know the exact moment they conceived, some women notice signs before they miss a period, while others don’t know they’re pregnant for several weeks. In early pregnancy you could notice:

  1. tender breasts that seem to be growing already!
  2. slight bleeding or cramping as the embryo implants in your uterus
  3. nausea or sickness can start very early for some women
  4. extreme tiredness… yes, it might not just be too many late nights, after all!
  5. needing to urinate more often.

You are already four weeks pregnant by the time your period is due. Pregnancies are dated from the first day of your last period because the actual day of conception isn’t usually known. Ovulation generally occurs two weeks before the next period–the missing one.

Home pregnancy tests

A home pregnancy test measures how much of the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) there is in your urine.  This hCG can usually be detected by a home pregnancy test on the first day you miss your period, especially if the urine test is the first one for the day.  Home pregnancy tests are 97% accurate. But there is the other 3% which is why some kits come with two tests.

Folic acid – why you need it

Often before women even know they’re pregnant, the baby’s brain, heart and spine have already begun to form. The spine develops from a part of the embryo called the ‘neural tube’.

If it does not form properly, babies are born with ‘neural tube defects’ such as spina bifida (‘split spine’). Children with spina bifida may be unable to walk or take care of themselves. Folic acid, one of the B vitamins, will help your baby’s spine to develop properly. It’s important to eat more food containing folic acid, eat foods with added folic acid such as breakfast cereals, and take a daily folic acid supplement designed for pregnant women.

How much do I need to take?
Take a daily tablet containing 800 micrograms (sometimes shown as 800 mcg or 0.8 mg). Some multivitamins may contain folic acid, but often not as much as you need, check with your LMC if you are not sure.

When should I take it?
Take it every day from the time you start trying for a baby and for the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy.

Where can I get it?
From chemists, health food shops and some supermarkets. If you have had a previous pregnancy affected by spina bifida, or are taking medication for epilepsy, talk to your doctor as your needs may be different.

Food sources of folic acid

To top up your folic acid levels, eat these:

1. dark green leafy vegetables such as brussel sprouts, spinach or spring greens; don’t overcook the vegetables as this destroys the folic acid

2. citrus fruits (like oranges and tangerines)

3. black-eyed beans, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, peas and nuts

4. bread and breakfast cereals often have added folic acid too; check the information on the label.



Iodine is an essential nutrient for humans and necessary for normal brain development and growth for the unborn baby (fetus). Due to the increased need for iodine in pregnancy and breastfeeding, the NZ Ministry of Health recommends pregnant and breastfeeding women take a 150 microgram (mcg) iodine tablet daily as well as eating foods which are sources of iodine. The tablets are available on prescription from your LMC or pharmacy. Discuss iodine sources with your LMC at your next antenatal visit.

The ‘secret’ time

The first few weeks of pregnancy can be wonderful …. but strange.  It’s a very special time when so much is happening more.

Mind and body changes

Getting used to being pregnant – pregnancy hormones can send you on an emotional rollercoaster.  It may take you and your body time to adjust to pregnancy more.

Smoking and pregnancy

When a pregnant woman smokes, two individuals are exposed to the substances in tobacco smoke, the smoker and her unborn child more.