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    Pregnant but not: Untangling the difference between gestational age and fetal age.


    Your baby's development

    Pregnancy actually begins before conception.
    The countdown to birth begins at the start of your last menstrual period. Why? Because pinpointing exactly when your egg becomes fertilized is quite difficult, even for a doctor. So most doctors use an age estimation method called gestational age, instead of your baby’s actual fetal age. So let’s untangle the difference, shall we?

    Gestational age calculates a due date by counting 40 weeks from the start of the mother’s last menstrual period. More precise. More consistent.

    Fetal age begins when your egg is fertilized, which will be two weeks less than gestational age. So, when you're 8 weeks pregnant, your baby's fetal age is actually 6 weeks.

    Your nutrition and health

    Think balanced meals. And folate.
    During preconception, your body is preparing for your baby, setting the stage for your pregnancy. In the months to come, you can take action now to make sure you are getting the exercise and nutrition your body needs:

    • Be sure to eat balanced breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners.
    • To gauge your diet's nutritional balance, try writing down your meals and snacks for a week. Then, compare that to what's recommended on ChooseMyPlate.gov
    • Supplement your balanced diet with prenatal multivitamins that include folic acid and other essential minerals and vitamins needed for pregnancy. Folate is found naturally in lentils, dark, leafy green vegetables, peas, and citrus fruits. Folic acid (the synthetic form of folate used in fortified foods and supplements) is added to fortified foods such as breads and cereals. Talk with your OB/GYN about prenatal vitamins if you haven't already.
    • Address any medical conditions. If you're taking prescription medications, consult your doctor or OB/GYN prior to becoming pregnant.

    Things to think about now

    Exercise should be a priority.
    Pregnancy puts extra physical demands on your body. During Week 1, and throughout your pregnancy, a balanced exercise program might be as important as a balanced diet.

    The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has some good recommendations here.

    Focusing on muscles in your lower back and stomach may be particularly good when preparing for pregnancy. However, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.

    What happens next week?

    Your body is getting ready for pregnancy.
    There's no baby yet. Your egg is actually still awaiting fertilization in your fallopian tube, and your body is preparing for conception.