Pregnancy Time Line
Modern day pregnancy time line calculations begin from your last period even though conception wouldn't have happened until two weeks after your last menstruation. This means that when you're six weeks pregnant, your developing unborn child is only actually four weeks old. The reason for this has to do with our increased scientific knowledge about the process of conception and the growth on a new human.
But determining how far along you are can only be done if you've confirmed that you're pregnant. The most obvious way of confirming pregnancy is several missed periods, one or more positive pregnancy tests, or ultrasounds.
Throughout history there was no such thing as ultrasounds but, surprisingly, various types of pregnancy tests have been used as early as the 1300s BC. They were never as accurate as the ones we have today, but there is some scientific proof that the tests had some merit.
The Barley Test
An ancient Egyptian document recorded a test where a woman urinated on wheat and barley seeds over several days to determine if she was pregnant and ultimately a labor timeline for when she would deliver. It was said that if the barley grows, the woman was pregnant and she would have a male child. If the wheat grows, then the woman was pregnant and she would have a girl. If neither grows, the woman is not pregnant.
Testing done in 1963 showed there was some proof to this theory. In 70 percent of the cases the urine of pregnant women caused the seeds to grow. Researchers suspect that the ancient Egyptians were probably the first civilization to detect a change in the urine of a pregnant woman even if they didn't understand about hormones and estrogen levels as we do today.
Through the Middle Ages through the 17th century, individuals who called themselves piss prophets could detect pregnancy or diagnose diseases and conditions by simply looking at the color of urine. Pregnancy urine was described in a 1552 text as: "a clear pale lemon color leaning toward off-white, having cloud on its surface."
Precursor to the Modern Pregnancy Test
In 1927 the first pregnancy test was created that could determine pregnancy by testing a woman's urine. The downside is that the test also read positive in men with testicular tumors because these types of tumors could produce the same hormone pregnant women do.
Over the next 50 years modification to the test was made making it easier for women to figure out their pregnancy timelines by more effectively determining whether or not they were pregnant. In 2003 what has been described as the next generation of pregnancy tests, the digital kind, made it to the market. They clearly display "pregnant" or "not pregnant" making it easier for a woman to confirm pregnancy and ultimately figure how far along she was in pregnancy.
Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guides
Week-by-week pregnancy guides have broken the nine months of pregnancy down into weekly segments. These types of pregnancy timelines allow the mother-to-be to find out what's happening to her developing fetus each week as well as what to expect in her changing body. This is a modern invention due to the extensive scientific knowledge we have today about conception and the development of an unborn baby.
Throughout history women had a general idea of how long pregnancy would last. In ancient times and still in some severely isolated communities, the length of pregnancy is determined by seasons.
There was no specific date set or even a specific month. A woman would simply know that she would give birth sometime during a season and would watch for the signs. With improvements in science doctors were able to tell women specifics about the length of gestation. But even up until the Victorian era, there were women who were certain that pregnancy lasted 10 to 14 months.
Creating a breastfeeding timeline is also an invention of our modern culture. Historically, women simply breastfed for at least a year after childbirth whenever the child was hungry, or hired a wet nurse to do it for them. In today's world women create something similar to a schedule when it comes to breastfeeding sometimes even setting timers to set a feeding schedule.