Week 4 of Your Pregnancy

A look at your body, your baby, and more

Welcome to week 4 of your pregnancy. This is when many women learn the big news. You either took a home pregnancy test as soon as you missed your period, or you took one a few days beforehand. It is important to note, however, that for some women it can take two to three weeks after a missed period before they produce a detectable level of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

week 4 pregnancy highlights
Illustration by Verywell

Your Trimester: First trimester

Weeks to Go: 36

You This Week

The level of hCG in your body is on the rise, which not only brings about the positive pregnancy test, but also early pregnancy symptoms. “During the first trimester, hCG levels double every two to three days and peek around week 10,” says Allison Hill, M.D., a private practice OB-GYN in Los Angeles. “This hormone’s job is to spur the ovaries to produce progesterone, which is critical for fetal development."

Unfortunately, this process is also directly—and indirectly—responsible for feelings of nausea and fatigue, breast tenderness, cramping, and headaches. But know that some women don’t experience any of these symptoms, and that in no way reflects the health and wellbeing of their growing babies. “There’s actually no way of knowing who will suffer which symptoms,” says Dr. Hill. Even experiencing symptoms in a prior pregnancy can’t predict how you will feel this go-round.

Your Baby This Week

Though still microscopic at just .078 inches in length, the ball of cells growing in your uterus is officially an embryo, containing two distinct layers called the epiblast and the hypoblast. Now through week 10 (a.k.a. the embryonic period), those two layers will evolve into all of baby’s organs and tissues. In fact, the fetal nervous system is one of the very first systems to develop and is already progressing rapidly.

Baby’s neural tube closes by the end of the week, and baby’s brain and spinal cord begin developing. That’s why it’s imperative to continue consuming 400 micrograms of ​folic acid daily, which greatly reduces baby’s chance of a developing a serious neural tube defect.​​​​

At the same time, an early incarnation of the placenta—which consists of the amniotic-fluid filled amnion and the yolk sac—appears. This protects and nourishes the embryo until the placenta is fully developed and takes the reins.

Taking Care

Whether you’re excited to learn you’re pregnant or not, it’s important to know that pregnancy—and trying to become pregnant—can be emotionally complicated. “There’s no one universal emotion that every pregnant woman feels,” assures Dr. Hill. “In my practice, I’ve seen pregnant women who are euphoric, depressed, easy to anger, filled with Zen-like calm, or riddled with anxieties. I’ve also seen women cycle through every emotion on the spectrum within one trimester.”

Just remember that your reaction—whether positive, negative, or ambivalent—is normal. “You may even surprise yourself by your reaction,” says Shara Marrero Brofman, PsyD, a reproductive and perinatal psychologist at the Seleni Institute. “The most imprint thing is that you don’t feel guilty about how you feel.”

At Your Doctor's Office

Once you learn that you are pregnant, go ahead and make your first prenatal appointment for about week 8. “While not every woman wants company, if you do, be sure to schedule your first prenatal appointment for a day and time that your partner or a friend or family member can join you,” says Dr. Brofman. If you don’t want someone in the exam room with you, they can still offer support in the waiting room.

Don’t forget to come prepared to share the start date of your last menstrual period.

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

You’ll be seeing your healthcare provider a lot for the duration of your pregnancy. In general, you’ll go in every month until you are 28 weeks along. From weeks 28 to 36, your visits will increase to two appointments a month. Once you hit the ​36-week mark, plan on a weekly check-up. (This, of course, is not true for all pregnancies. If you are considered high risk, you may be seeing your healthcare provider more often.)

For Partners

Learning that you and your partner are soon-to-be parents is heavy for both of you, whether your pregnancy was planned for or not. While she may be going through the physical symptoms, both of you are going through a natural emotional roller coaster. Compassion and empathy all around is always the way to go.

“Try your best not to minimize stresses or insecurities,” says Dr. Brofman. “At the same time, both parties should seek out emotional and practical support from books and friends.”

Verywell Checklist 

Overview of Pregnancy Week 5
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