Your Pregnancy, Week 7
By Dr. Jen Lincoln (Bundoo®). Edited by Dr. Kate Dudek
Week 7 is a big week for your baby: typically, a developing baby will go through a growth spurt around this time, doubling in size and beginning to develop the structures that will become arms, legs, and major internal organs. Your baby’s heart is starting to pump blood.
By week 7, your baby will be growing rapidly, even if you are not! At this stage, most women will have gained very little weight and will still not look pregnant. Typical signs of early pregnancy include breast tenderness, the urge to pass urine regularly, and fatigue. If you have been experiencing morning sickness, this is likely to continue throughout the week. Continue to use whatever remedies work for you, provided they are approved by your healthcare provider.
Your diet and exercise choices continue to be important. You should be taking your prenatal vitamins, getting plenty of folic acid, and aiming to get adequate calcium (around 1,200 mg daily) and iron. The current recommended iron intake for pregnant women is 27 mg per day, which can be obtained through a healthy diet. However, if early blood tests reveal an iron deficiency, your doctor may recommend additional supplements.
It is natural to start wondering how pregnancy is going to affect you in the coming weeks and months. Many couples wonder if it is still safe to have intercourse. The answer is it is completely safe as long as you are healthy and your pregnancy is not considered to be high-risk. The developing baby is well protected in the amniotic sac.
During the critical first trimester you should be particularly careful about the use of over-the-counter medications. Some medications, such as antacids and cold remedies containing iodine, have been shown to interfere with nutrient absorption, while a few others can interfere with your baby’s normal development. Although many medications can be safely used during pregnancy, it is preferable to be over-cautious and check with your doctor or midwife before using them, as well as any herbal products or supplements. It is also important, as always, to carefully follow the label instructions and only take the recommended quantities.
Your baby’s foetal age is now 5 weeks and things are starting to happen fast. Around this time, developing babies go through a tremendous growth spurt. At the start of week 7, your baby was about 4.5 mm; by the end of the week, your baby will have almost tripled in size to 12.7 mm, or about the size of a raisin. The amniotic sac has formed, providing additional protection for your baby.
This growth spurt is accompanied by continued development of the baby’s organs and features. At the bottom end of your baby’s torso, small buds have appeared that will grow into his or her legs. Higher up, similar arm buds will appear, already dividing into segments for the shoulders and hands.
Heart development has continued. The primitive tube has now divided into the right and left sides of the heart, working in synergy to pump blood through the baby’s circulatory system. The foramen ovale has also formed; this tiny hole in the muscular wall that separates the right and left sides of the heart allows blood to bypass the lungs. The lungs have formed the bronchi, or main air passages (although these won’t be used for another seven and a half months). Elsewhere, the baby’s intestines are starting to develop, and the appendix and pancreas are already formed. The brain has separated into a divided forebrain.
Perhaps most exciting of all at this time is the development of the baby’s early facial features, including the eyes and nostrils, which are now visible as distinct structures.
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