Your Pregnancy, Week 6
Heading into Week 6, it may seem like little has changed from last week. If you’ve been suffering from morning sickness or fatigue, they are unlikely to have eased off (conditions like these are usually present until around Week 13). Although you may have started to notice differences in your own body, you still don’t “look pregnant.” Yet whilst things seem quiet on the outside, the last week has been a very busy one for your baby!
As you’re nearing the halfway point of the first trimester, you might find that, whilst your abdomen is still not forming a characteristic ‘baby bump’, you have gained a bit of weight and your breasts are feeling larger and more sensitive. Even though your uterus is far too small to be seen, you might experience bloating, which makes you look more than 6 weeks pregnant. For many women, this becomes more obvious in the evening after a full day of eating and drinking. As with most pregnancy changes, this can be blamed on pregnancy hormones, which stop your intestines from working as efficiently as normal, causing a build up of wind and food and meaning you have to loosen your trousers.
You will have either had your first prenatal appointment by now, or it will be coming up in the next week or so (if you have only just found out you’re pregnant, make an appointment ASAP). This is a useful opportunity to ask lots of questions; your first appointment will probably be one of the longest, as your midwife/gynaecologist will take a detailed medical history. It might also be helpful for you to prepare a list of questions before your appointment, so you remember to ask everything you want to know. Make sure you have your full medical history available, including past pregnancies (including miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies), health conditions, and any medications and/or dietary supplements and herbal preparations you take.
Remember to keep up your exercises and maintain a healthy diet; your body and your baby will thank you later.
Your baby’s foetal age is now 4 weeks. The baby’s “crown to rump” length is about 2 to 4 mm, approximately the size of a large sesame seed.
Last week, the primitive muscular tube that will form your baby’s heart fused together. During week 6, the heart tube will begin to bulge out and form the very earliest signs of heart chambers. The same is happening with the brain; your baby’s brain is now dividing into the different chambers and areas, that will comprise the forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain. The spinal cord has already been established, and blood is beginning to flow through an early network of veins. Finally, your baby’s eyes are continuing to develop and look like small discs on either side of the head.
If you could see your actual baby, you would not only see tiny bulges where the limbs will form, but also a rather pronounced tail. During pregnancy, this tail will gradually disappear, until all that remains is the “tailbone”, or coccyx, that all humans have.
In terms of developmental health, these early weeks are critical. It is during these early stages, when the organs are starting to form, that your baby is most vulnerable to damaging substances. This is also the time when the majority of birth defects occur. This is why it is so important to avoid alcohol and illicit drugs, to only take prescription medications under the advice of your healthcare specialist, and to keep taking folic acid.
“This is a partnership that lasts for about 40 weeks, so you need to feel that you can trust your healthcare provider.”
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