The first stage of placental development-your baby's life support system-is shown here. The image shows nuclei (blue) within a continuous network of cells that will become the placental villi. At first the tiny villi are solid; later, they will contain blood vessels.
The ball of cells, known as the blastocyst, that will form the embryo has now completely embedded within the lining of the uterus and the lining has regenerated over it.
Unfortunately, in the complex process of conception, only about half of all fertilized eggs progress to become a blastocyst and only about half of these go on to become successfully implanted in the uterus.
When the blastocyst embeds, there may be some bleeding, known as "spotting." This often leads to confusion regarding the dating of the pregnancy, not least because it can occur around the time that you would normally start your period.
The color of the blood can vary. In most cases it is pinkish, although bright red blood (fresh blood) can occur, as can brownish, old blood. As long as it is not profuse, the color really doesn't matter. If the bleeding lasts for a short period, and you don't experience discomfort, it's likely that things are just fine, but do see your doctor for a checkup.
Around 25 percent of women will experience some bleeding in early pregnancy, but most go on to full term. However, in some cases, bleeding does mean a miscarriage is occurring so always report the fact that you've bled to your doctor.
As with many parents, you probably thought long and hard about trying to conceive your second child. There's no ideal age gap between children, but consider:
It is thought that around 50 percent of pregnancies might miscarry before implantation.
Up to a third of pregnancies miscarry up to the fifth week and around a quarter will end in miscarriage between the fifth and seventh week. Thankfully, the risk of miscarriage becomes much lower as the weeks go by, decreasing dramatically after the 12th week of pregnancy.
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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