7 Weeks Pregnant
Baby's first growth spurt
7 weeks pregnant:
arm budsArm BudsSmall bumps sprout at the side of the body where the arms will grow.
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.
umbilical cordUmbilical CordThe digestive tract is beginning to form, including the bulge of intestine that will grow into the umbilical cord to connect your baby to the placenta.
What's happening with you:
Still feeling a little sick and tired? Unfortunately, you may find that your symptoms continue to escalate this week, even though your baby bump has yet to arrive. Also, food cravings might start to creep up on you and some smells can have a surprisingly powerful effect on your appetite and your emotions. This can combine with morning sickness to make you pretty miserable, so keep in mind these three principles of pregnancy dining to ward off discomfort: eat small meals, eat slowly and eat frequently.
On the other hand, this period of pregnancy may not bring what you expect. Weight gain or weight loss, morning sickness or no nausea at all, food aversion or extraordinary appetite -- you can't always predict which symptoms you will experience or when to expect them, even if you've been pregnant before. So, if you're not suffering from morning sickness or you're not getting up to pee five times every night, count yourself lucky and rest assured that this has no bearing on the health and development of your baby.
What's happening with your baby:
Your baby is developing at an incredible rate, and by the end of this week he will have doubled in size to about ½ inch or 1.3 cm. Last week marked the start of eye, ear, mouth and nose formation and this week those features are becoming more refined. Little leg and arm buds appear as short fins on a 7 week old fetus, the heart protrudes from the body as it continues to pump rapidly and the lungs start to form.
You may be nursing a queasy stomach, but your baby's digestive system is doing just fine. The pancreas has formed and the intestines are developing, including the bulge of intestine that will become the umbilical cord. Even though he's still an embryo, your fetus is starting to resemble a baby inside and out.
Things to do this week:
Are you wondering how you'll ever have the energy to get the nursery finished and your baby gear stocked up in time for baby's arrival? You're likely struggling with discomfort, fighting fatigue and preoccupied with emotions that eat up most of your time and energy. There's no harm in dreaming about the perfect haven for baby, but don't even think of squeezing shopping into your busy day when you're not feeling up to the task. You're only seven weeks pregnant, so there's plenty of time to get everything in order.
If you're aching to buy something for baby's first days, get something that you can use in the meantime. A nicely cushioned rocking chair is a staple of the nursery, but it can also do wonders for your stress and discomfort: the rocking motion will lower your blood pressure, slow your respiration and trigger the pleasure center of your brain. And of course, once baby arrives you'll be happy that you have a comfy rocker to get through the late night feedings and calm him to sleep.
Stop taking over-the-counter medications without your doctor's approval. Some women tend to take seemingly harmless medication at the first sign of discomfort, but during pregnancy these are as risky as any other drug. It can be hard to tell which remedy is safe and which could be dangerous, so rely on the expert advice of your doctor, midwife or pharmacist and avoid anything that could harm baby during this very important phase of development.
If your familiar medicine is no longer an option, explore some alternative remedies for your early pregnancy symptoms. A homeopathic approach may be just what you need to calm your morning sickness or increase your energy stores, and there are several holistic treatments for pregnancy to choose from. One popular non-invasive method is reflexology, which manipulates pressure points on the feet to treat specific zones and even adjust hormonal output. Acupressure is a related technique, focusing pressure on the invisible energy pathways of the body, and acupuncture is its semi-invasive counterpart.
If you'd like to stay away from physical manipulation, there are other ways to have a holistic pregnancy. You may be interested in herbal remedies for relaxation or aromatherapy for a natural pick-me-up, but while many plants have been safely used by pregnant women for ages, keep in mind that some herbs are very hazardous and some scents may disagree with you. Like over-the-counter medication, alternative therapy should be treated with caution: be sure to speak with an expert about any therapy or natural remedy during pregnancy to determine the risks, proper usage and effectiveness so you know what you're getting yourself into.
Tips for your partner:
The rate of fetal development is up and your partner is likely in a state of discomfort most of the time, so adjust your actions and reactions accordingly. Empathize with her morning sickness, let her vent her feelings freely and try to clear her path of undue stress and concerns. Sure, there will be worries and annoyances that pop up throughout the first trimester, but don't let these get out of control.
The trick is to understand where the distress is coming from and how best to handle it. In many cases, her outburst, criticism or breakdown is brought on by a hormonal shift, so she really can't help herself. Of course, simply acknowledging the cause of her overreaction won't calm her down, regain your sanity or make peace with the poor soul who caught the brunt of the violent episode. It's important to comfort her, and sometimes the best thing to do is join her side with a nod and an empathetic smile. At other times (in a busy public space, for instance), it's better to gently bring her back to earth by pointing out the reality of the situation instead of getting carried away along with her.
This week's FAQs:
Is it safe to have sex at this point in my pregnancy?
If you haven't been deterred by morning sickness or painfully tender breasts by now, you may be eager to find out if and when you can have sex. Generally, sex during pregnancy is perfectly safe for healthy moms-to-be who have low-risk pregnancies. The amniotic sac will keep your baby safe, and your strong uterine muscles will protect her from any pressure or force. Rest assured that your body uses effective natural barriers to separate the womb from the outside world.
But while your cervix is strong and thick, additional blood vessels form on the mouth of your uterus during pregnancy, which can be irritated during intercourse. Sometimes this irritation can lead to light spotting, which is probably nothing to worry about. However, if you do bleed or experience any unfamiliar pain during or after sex, you should play it safe and contact your doctor to rule out any problems.
My breasts and legs are covered with bright blue lines. Am I developing varicose veins?
No, many of those blue lines crossing your body are extra veins that have formed to carry an increasing amount of blood, and they will last throughout your pregnancy. In fact, this is a good sign that your body is adapting quickly to support your growing baby.
Any small, wispy veins that tend to pop up on your legs are likely spider veins, which are quite common, typically temporary and much less problematic than varicose veins. In contrast, varicose veins are bulging, deep blue or purple, sometimes painful vessels that can result from a mixture of gravity, hormones and weakening valves. Unfortunately, varicose veins are often hereditary and can pose some problems in pregnancy if you are carrying a lot of extra weight, so take care to exercise regularly through the next eight months and speak to your doctor early if these veins run in your family.
My mood swings are becoming more frequent. Is there anything I can do about them?
Unfortunately, mood swings start early for some women, and they often stick around until the very end of your nine months. If you find that you get weepy at the drop of a hat or you're feeling guilty about your outbursts, take a close look at your daily routine and try to avoid some common triggers.
The first thing to do is remove the stress from your life -- or remove yourself from the stressful situation. Begin by talking through your feelings and trying to deal with problems and challenges quickly and logically. If someone or something tends to trigger a flurry of emotion, stay away if you can.
In addition to stress, many women are affected by certain foods, and when it comes to plummeting emotions and sudden changes in mood, caffeine and sugar are the worst offenders. If you're craving sweets, stick to fruit and ask your doctor about herbal teas that could help to relax your body and mind.
The waistline is one of the first things to change in pregnancy, and emotional instability can soar in the first trimester. The result? Major upset, of course. Your abdomen can begin to widen well before it rounds into a baby bump and your breasts may have grown considerably to make for a rather rectangular body shape. But instead of weeping every time you look in the mirror, put away your form-fitting outfits, get some new supportive bras and begin to snap a full-body photo each week or two. That way, you can feel comfortable in your clothes and take comfort as you watch your tummy (and baby) growing faster than the rest of your body as pregnancy progresses.