6 Weeks Pregnant
The embryonic period begins
6 weeks pregnant:
yolk sacYolk SacYour baby's first circulatory system. The tiny primitive heart pumps blood into this nourishing sac and then it's returned to the body of the embryo.
heart bulgeHeart BulgeThe little heart bulges out from the chest in the earliest stages of development, but it will move into the body as the baby grows. The tiny heart is pumping at a rate of 90 to 110 beats per minute.
embryonic headEmbryonic HeadSmall indentations show where the eyes and ears are forming and the bulge at the top of the head shows where the brain is growing.
What's happening with you:
Mood swings and spurts of anxiety are becoming more frequent by week 6, and now your emotional change is coupled with some physical changes. Some women will notice they've gained a few extra pounds this week, but morning sickness may lead to weight loss in other moms-to-be. In either case, you'll likely notice some physical changes, whether it's in your abdomen, breasts or legs. You've been pregnant for one month now, and your organs and tissues are getting stronger and focusing more on supporting your baby.
Between fluctuating pregnancy hormones and your growing uterus, you may find that your gastrointestinal tract is becoming a major site of discomfort by week 6 of pregnancy. Heartburn could strike you this week, as the food you eat moves more slowly through the intestines now and your uterus will start to compress your stomach. Hormones can cause constipation, which can combine with heartburn to make for a particularly lousy day. However, slight changes to your eating habits (include some more bulk in your pregnancy diet) and sticking to small, well-spaced meals can help ease your irritation.
What's happening with your baby:
This week marks the start of a crucial stage of development, one that will last until week 10. Although Baby is still only a few millimeters long from head to tail, there are the beginnings of eyes, ears, mouth and nose (though these are all just slight indentations right now) and Baby's blood is beginning to flow with the help of his pumping heart. Your baby is entering the embryonic period, a vulnerable time for the fetus: the brain, heart and limbs are growing more complex, and a number of factors can interfere with their development. Taking good care of yourself is the best thing you can do for your baby right now.
Things to do this week:
Stop and smell the roses! Pregnancy can fly by (although you may feel like it's never-ending at times) and your memory loss, a major part of what some call "pregnancy brain", may leave you with only fleeting memories once your journey is over. This is a good time to start documenting your pregnancy -- photos, journals and videos are fun ways to keep track of everything you and your partner are going through. Get creative in your memory-making with a pregnancy memory album or schedule a maternity photo session to celebrate your curvy body.
Speaking of curves, have you begun a fitness routine to keep your body strong and supported? If so, think about adding some light free weights or resistance bands, along with a few different pregnancy exercise videos to keep your workouts interesting and effective. Concentrating on proper form and posture in your exercises is more important than lifting more weight or moving more quickly, and prenatal exercise videos can help you correct your form by prompting you to mimic the instructor's movements.
If you've scheduled your first prenatal visit for this week, expect to go through some important tests to rule out certain health conditions. A full physical exam will ensure that you have no signs of a health problem and that you're at an appropriate weight for six weeks pregnant. Your healthcare provider will also test your blood for sexually transmitted diseases, any nutrient deficiencies such as anemia and any diseases that may not have brought any symptoms.
You'll also need to have your blood tested to determine your Rh-factor, a protein in the blood that's genetically passed along. Your Rh-factor doesn't have an impact on your own body -- whether you are Rh-positive or Rh-negative won't affect your health, longevity or vulnerability to disease. However, Rh-negative blood can have an effect on your pregnancy.
If you're Rh-positive, there's nothing to worry about. If your baby is Rh-negative, there's no danger either. However, if you're Rh-negative and your baby is Rh-positive, there's a chance that you could become Rh-sensitized, which means your body will start producing antibodies that won't harm you but could attack your baby's blood. What this means for you is an extra injection during week 28 to prevent any problems for you or your baby if your blood mixes at any point during pregnancy or delivery.
Tips for your partner:
Now that the pregnancy is becoming more obvious, you may feel a little jealous of mom-to-be -- she's starting to get all the attention, plus she gets to experience something exciting and new in a very intimate way. It's totally natural to feel a little left out, but why mope about something you can't have? Instead, look at it as a great opportunity to foster a new, exciting goal for yourself, something to work towards as your partner moves through her pregnancy. Find a project that will stretch over a few months so that you can focus on completing it by the time the baby arrives. You'll feel productive, creative and excited as you work towards your goal and you'll gain a real sense of accomplishment at the end.
This week's FAQs:
What will happen at my first prenatal visit?
While some tests may be conducted, the first prenatal visit will typically begin with a discussion about you, namely your medical history and your current state of health. Your doctor or midwife will need to know about your previous birth-control methods, if you've had an abortion or miscarriage and whether you've had any surgery to determine any risks you may face. And since your medications and your family's medical history can be directly related to how your pregnancy will progress, be upfront and honest with your doctor during this important first visit.
In fact, honesty is probably the most significant aspect of the doctor-patient relationship, especially when it comes to pregnancy. Take your time when choosing a caregiver and don't shy away from embarrassing or "silly" questions. No question is too trivial to ask, and this is when you should start sharing ideas and opinions with your doctor to establish a friendly and trusting relationship. After all, you'll be working together for the next several months: you'll likely need to return every four weeks for the first seven months, then every two weeks for the next month and then every week as you approach your delivery.
Do I need to eat meat to support my baby's development or can I continue with my vegetarian diet?
It's very possible to get the vitamins and nutrients that your baby needs from a meatless diet, but it can be challenging if you don't pay close attention to your menu. Protein and calcium are two of the most important nutrients to consider, and if you do not eat eggs or milk, you will have to choose your vegetables very wisely to make sure that you're getting the 60 to 70 g of protein and the 1200 mg of calcium you need every day.
Even though you may pride yourself on your nutrient-dense vegetarian diet, there are a couple of crucial vitamins that you simply cannot get from vegetables, fruit or grains. Vitamin B12, which is found primarily in eggs and other animal products, can be taken as a supplement. Also, your body gets a good amount of vitamin D from the sun, but what if you shield all your skin from the sunlight or rarely venture outside in the cold winter months? Well, if you don't eat fish or drink fortified milk, you must make sure your prenatal vitamin includes some vitamin D, and it wouldn't hurt to choose a version of soy milk or orange juice with added vitamin D from here on in.
How can I treat my heartburn without hurting my baby?
Since heartburn and indigestion are so often caused by the slow movement of food through your gastrointestinal tract, it's pretty difficult to avoid it during pregnancy. Your relaxing muscles are largely responsible for the pain and discomfort, and there's little you can do to combat that reality. On the other hand, there are some proven methods to minimize the severity and frequency of your heartburn.
Overindulgence is a common cause of heartburn whether you're pregnant or not, so try to limit your portion size and only eat until you're full. Eating an appropriate amount through your pregnancy will also work in another way -- too much pregnancy weight gain can put extra pressure on the stomach, which will aggravate heartburn. After you eat your small meal, be sure to stand or sit upright for several hours to let your food settle and avoid clothing that's too tight around your tummy. Chewing gum after a meal can also help fight stomach acid, and bending with your knees instead of at your waist will keep it in your stomach instead of your esophagus.
Asking for help can make you and your baby healthier in a number of ways. For one, asking your doctor to point you in the right direction will save time and ensure your baby's safety. Secondly, your partner, friends and family are likely waiting with great anticipation for you to invite them to get involved, and allowing them to take part will help them understand what you're going through so they can be more supportive. Finally, accepting extra help will allow you to relax, and relaxation will protect your baby from the harmful effects of physical and emotional stress. Basically, there's no good reason to take on everything yourself, but there are plenty of reasons to lean on those around you.