Once you know that you are expecting a child, the next question is when you became pregnant. Figuring out when you conceived is important because it helps you calculate your potential due date. In addition, you will be able to look at what pregnancy symptoms you may experience week by week.
Some women need to calculate their conception to figure out the paternity of their child. Other mothers need to calculate their pregnancy out of curiosity or a desire to estimate the due date. Whatever the case, there are ways to narrow down your conception date.
When Did I Get Pregnant?
Calculating an exact day is not easy. Even though ovulation is supposed to occur on a single day in your cycle, there is no way to know for sure if your body actually ovulated when you expected it to. The average menstrual cycle is about 26 to 32 days long. For our purposes, we will work with a 28-day menstrual cycle.
From days one to five of each month, your have your period. The uterine lining is shed by your body unless you become pregnant. From days 10 to 14, ovulation occurs. Your body releases an egg from the ovaries that travels down the fallopian tubes to be fertilized. This is your fertile window each month. If the egg is not fertilized now, you will not be able to get pregnant until next month.
Afterward, from days 15 to 28, your body waits to see if you are pregnant. Even if you have conceived, your body does not realize that you are pregnant yet. Around a week passes before the egg is implanted in the uterus and your body starts to release pregnancy hormones. If implantation does not occur, your body sheds the uterine lining and another menstrual cycle begins.
Each woman is different, so this cycle can vary. Some women ovulate at different times of the month, and other women have longer or shorter cycles. If you have a very regular cycle, tracking your cervical mucus and using a calendar can help you figure out when you will ovulate. If you have irregular cycles, the only way to really see when you could ovulate is through a blood test or one of the over-the-counter ovulation predictor tests.
When Did I Ovulate?
Unfortunately, there is no way to know when you actually ovulated after the fact. Unless you took a hormone test to calculate your ovulation date before, you are basically going to guess when your ovulation could have happened. Women can generally guess that their ovulation time happened between day 10 and day 14 in their menstrual cycle. While the exact moment when ovulation occurred is not possible to figure out, you can narrow down a window determining when ovulation was most likely. In addition, you can take ovulation predictor tests beforehand so that you know if you are currently ovulating or not.
How to Calculate Ovulation
Ovulation is the process when your ovaries releases eggs into your fallopian tubes. This occurs around day 10 to day 14 in your menstrual cycle. You can use this information to calculate when you are most fertile. Assume that your menstrual cycle is normally 28 days long and it recently started on February 1. This means that day 10 to 14 of your cycle would be from February 10 to February 14. You would want to have sex during this time period to increase your chances of conceiving. While sperm can stay in the body for up to five days, you would be more likely to conceive by having sexual intercourse more often during your fertile time.
Using dates is only a way to estimate when you will ovulate. While these dates are normally when women ovulate, ovulation can vary from when it is “supposed” to happen. Women with irregular periods may not ovulate at the right time, and some women do not ovulate every month. If you are trying to conceive, buy an ovulation predictor kit so that you have a better idea about when you are actually fertile.
Other than tracking the date or using an ovulation predictor kit, you may notice other symptoms that indicate ovulation. You may experience:
– Changes in the position and texture of your cervix
– Changes in your cervical fluid
– Mild cramping
– Mild bloating
– Changes in your basal body temperature
– Light spotting
How Long Can Sperm Live?
Another factor in determining your changes of getting pregnant is the viability of sperm. For your egg to become fertilized, sperm must be present within your body. In general, sperm can live for several days within the female body. In perfect conditions, they may be able to live up to five days in your body and still fertilize the egg.
Once the male ejaculates, it takes healthy sperm only 30 minutes to reach the woman’s fallopian tubes. Sperm that are less healthy or weaker may take days to reach the same spot. If the egg is there at the same time, conception can immediately occur. If the egg is not present yet, the sperm can hang out in the fallopian tubes for several days in the hopes of meeting the egg.
When Does Conception Happen?
It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment of conception, but you can reach a close estimate. The sperm will burrow into the egg within the first 24 hours after ovulation. Depending on who you ask, conception truly happens when the egg is fertilized or when it is implanted on the uterine wall. If you count only implantation as conception, the actual conception date could be a week after the sperm and the egg have joined together. If you are looking at actual conception, it occurs when the egg is released from the fallopian tubes and is fertilized by sperm.
Let’s assume that you have sexual intercourse on day 10, but ovulate on day 12. Most likely, conception happened at some point of day 12 or 13. If you have sex on the day that you ovulate, you could potentially conceive that day. Since you cannot be certain of when you ovulated for sure, it is best to have sex multiple times in the week leading up to your expected ovulation date.
How Does Conception Happen?
We all know the general idea about how conception happens. Two people get involved in some horizontal dancing and before long, a baby is born. While this may be the general idea, the actual process is a bit more difficult. To start with, conceiving a child can actually be quite hard. Did you know that you only have a one out of four chance in getting pregnant on any given month of having sex without protection? In the first year of trying, about 85 percent of couples will conceive. Still, that means that a number of couples take months to conceive and an unfortunate 15 percent of couples take longer than a year.
Conception requires the sperm to meet up with the egg and fertilize it. Once the sperm burrows into the egg, the egg hardens so that other sperm cannot get in. After this process is complete, the egg travels down the fallopian tubes to the uterus where it implants on the uterine wall.
How Do I Know If I Am Pregnant?
A surprising number of women say that they “feel” pregnant the day after having sex. Before anyone tries to comment with a similar problem, we should say that this is impossible. Your body will not produce hCG until the egg implants in your uterus. This could take 7 to 10 days after the egg is fertilized. Until the egg implants, your body does not know that it is pregnant and your hormones have not changed. It is impossible for you to know if you are pregnant or have any symptoms until implantation.
At implantation, some women experience very light cramps or light spotting. This is the first sign that you could be pregnant for about a third of women. For the other two-thirds, a missed period will generally be the first sign. After the egg implants around day 17 to day 24, hCG levels start to rise in your body. These hormones will double every few days in early pregnancy, so they will soon be high enough for a pregnancy test to show a positive result. You should wait to test until after the date your period was supposed to start so that there will be enough hCG in your body for the test to read.
If you are one of the women who does experience symptoms during implantation, look for the following signs:
– Brown, pink, red implantation bleeding
– Slight cramping
After implantation has happened, the embryo will start to grow and develop. It is normal to experience some cramps in early pregnancy because your uterus has to make room for a growing baby. These cramps should not be severe, however. If you experience severe cramps or heavy bleeding, go to your doctor because it could be a sign of an early miscarriage.
When Will My Due Date Be?
One of the main reasons to figure out when you became pregnant is to calculate your future due date. Your doctor will calculate your pregnancy starting from your last menstrual period. If you had a period on June 1 and found out you were pregnant a month later, then the first day of your pregnancy is considered June 1.
Obviously, there is an obvious flaw in this counting system. On June 1, you were not pregnant. You did not even conceive a child for at least a week and a half. If you were not pregnant yet, why did doctors start counting at this date?
The main reason is for convenience. Even if you used an ovulation predictor, it is hard to know exactly when the egg was fertilized and when it was implanted in your body. For the many women who do not track their fertility at all, it is even harder to tell when you actually became pregnant. Because of this, doctors generally start counting your pregnancy from a date that they actually know: the day of your last menstrual period. From there, the doctor adds 40 weeks to the date to figure out when you will go into labor.
While your due date estimates when your baby will be born, it is generally not going to be perfectly accurate. The due date is just an estimate. Most women do not actually have a baby on their scheduled due date. Technically, your baby could be delivered fairly healthily anytime between week 22 to week 41 of your pregnancy. Ideally, it is better for you to deliver the baby later in your pregnancy because it will be healthier and more ready to meet the outside world. If it is delivered too soon, medical interventions may be necessary to help your baby survive.
Your conception date does not change if you deliver early. For example, if you deliver two weeks earlier than your due date, that does not mean that your conception date was any different. It only means that your baby decided that it wanted to meet you a bit earlier than your doctor expected.
What If I Do Not Remember When My Last Period Was?
Life can be hectic, so there are a number of women who cannot remember when they had their last menstrual period. Luckily, there are some ways that your doctor can help you narrow down the conception date. In the first two months of pregnancy, your doctor will generally give you an ultrasound scan.
During the ultrasound, they can take measurements of the baby and of your uterus. While there may be slight variation, most women have uteruses and babies that grow at an average speed. This means that your doctor can estimate when you conceived and your due date by taking measurements during the ultrasound.
Since babies can vary in their size and growth habits, the estimate may not be exactly perfect. Often, the estimate may be off by a few days. This is quite normal because the ultrasound only looks at measurements and cannot actually know the exact minute that you conceived. Short of renting a time machine, there is no way to know exactly which moment conception occurred.