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3 WEEKS, 4 DAYS

255 days to go...

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Your baby today

To embed itself in the lining of the uterus, the embryo-to-be needs the help of progesterone, secreted after ovulation by the empty egg follicle, the corpus luteum (shown in pink in this cross section of an ovary). Progesterone helps the lining thicken.

Do you feel different? You'll find yourself analyzing every twinge in your body as you look for signs that you're pregnant.

It's still very early and you're unlikely to have pregnancy symptoms yet-although you may have some light spotting (see You are 3 Weeks and 5 Days). Some women claim to "feel" pregnant, even before changes to their breasts are noticeable or before they start feeling sick. Some women say that they just "know." You may be very in tune with your body and may notice that your body is changing even before you are able to take a test. Unfortunately, sometimes our minds can play tricks on us: you may want to be pregnant so much that you can sometimes convince yourself that you're feeling different. If you don't feel any different, don't worry, this is also completely normal.

Either way the only definitive way to know whether or not you are pregnant is to take a pregnancy test (see How to use a home pregnancy test). You don't need to go to your doctor to confirm your pregnancy since the tests that they use are the same as those bought over the counter. If the test is positive, you're pregnant!

Ask A... Nutritionist

Should I give up coffee in case I'm pregnant?

The March of Dimes advises pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant to drink no more than 200 mg of caffeine a day (that's a 12-ounce cup of coffee). Going without your caffeine fix is a good thing when you're pregnant, since research shows that, in high doses, it can increase the risk of miscarriage.

One study discovered that pregnant women who consumed two or more cups of coffee (or a caffeine-rich equivalent) were twice as likely to miscarry as those who gave up caffeine. Before switching to decaff, be aware that decaffeinated drinks may raise cholesterol. The good news is that many women find they naturally stop wanting coffee in early pregnancy.

Focus On... Nutrition

Diet ban

If you were dieting before you conceived, it can be tempting to continue once you find out you're pregnant. Don't diet: Your baby may become undernourished and is more likely to be premature and underweight at birth. Do, however, eat a healthy, balanced diet (see Your recommended daily intake). Don't eat junk food when you're pregnant since this can increase the risk of your baby developing weight problems.

If you are overweight or obese, your doctor may recommend that you gain less weight than other pregnant women. The recommended weight gain for overweight women is 15-25 pounds. And for obese women, the recommended weight gain is at least 15 pounds. (By contrast, normal-weight women should gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy.)

In an ideal world, you should lose excess weight before conceiving, because obesity makes you more prone to diabetes and high blood pressure and means you're more likely to need a cesarean.

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Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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