Understand your pregnancy

Understanding Pregnancy

A pregnancy normally lasts between 38-42 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period before conception. At the moment of conception (female egg and male sperm unite), the embryo embarks on a journey of development. During this time the pregnant woman will experience physical, emotional and hormonal changes.

The following is a brief look at embryo and fetal development.

Day 1: When conception (fertilization) occurs, features and all genetic blueprints, including sex, hair and eye color, have already been determined.

Week 3-4 (5-9 days after conception): The fertilized egg (ovum) attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. This developing embryo will start releasing hormones to signal its presence.

Week 5 (3 weeks after conception): By the 18th day the heart is beating. The nervous system, spine and brain, eyes, ears, nose and digestive tract begin to develop. 8 weeks

Week 7-8 (5-6 weeks after conception): Brain activity can be recorded using medical equipment. The bones of the arms and legs are developing and fingers and toes can be seen through a web of skin.

Week 9 (7 weeks after conception): The embryo is about 1 inch long. The limbs and fingers continue to grow rapidly and nipples can be seen on the chest.

Week 10 (8 weeks after conception): All major internal organs, such as the lungs, kidney and liver, are in place. The embryo begins to respond to touch and moves away from painful contact.

Week 12 (10 weeks after conception): The major internal organs continue to develop. The brain and muscles are working together to kick, curl toes, and make facial expressions.

Week 16 (14 weeks after conception): Gender can be determined by ultrasound.

20 weeks Week 22 (20 weeks after conception): Eyelashes can be seen and the lungs are developing. Fetal movement can be felt. Physical growth continues until reaching full term and birth.

No matter how far along you are in your pregnancy, you will want to talk to your health care provider about getting regular prenatal care. Some centres listed on this website also provide prenatal instruction classes and pregnancy support services.

Please connect with an online peer counsellor if you have more questions or would like a referral to a local centre.