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Pregnancy: 6 Weeks
At 6 weeks pregnant, you aren't showing yet, but amazing changes are happening inside you - including your baby’s first fluttering heartbeats!
This week, your baby's placenta continues to develop and the yolk sac continues to provide nourishment for your little one. At the beginning of your pregnancy, the yolk sac is this balloon-like structure that is as large as your fetus, but it slowly gets smaller as your pregnancy continues. By pregnancy week 9 and 10, the yolk sac starts to disappear completely as the placenta take over its role.
Your little baby's face is developing. The eyes are taking shape. Small pits have developed on the side of your little one's head, which will eventually form into his or her beautiful eyes. If you were to peak inside your belly, you would see tiny indentations at the sides of the head, where your baby's ears will sprout.
Most babies look a bit uneven during the early stages of pregnancy. Don't worry! Your baby will grow more symmetrical as he or she continues to develop in your womb.
Your future baby now measures about 0.15 inches from crown to rump. Isn't it amazing that only a few short weeks ago, your baby was just a ball of cells?
At 6 weeks of pregnancy, your baby has developed a curved tail. You may think your little one looks like a tadpole, but this "tail" is the beginnings of his or her spinal column. In a few short weeks, this tail will disappear as your baby's spine straightens.
Your baby will develop more in the first trimester than at any other time during pregnancy. In the first 13 weeks, your baby develops his or her arms, legs, fingers, and vital organs. He or she may pack on the pounds and fat in the second and third trimester, but these next few weeks are a very critical time in fetal development.
Remember that it's more important than ever to stay healthy and avoid any toxins (such as smoking, alcohol, and drug use) that can interfere with your baby's early development.
Baby's First Heart Beat
Your baby's heart is making its first heartbeats. Because your baby is so tiny right now, it may take a few more weeks before your doctor or healthcare provider can hear the heartbeat using a Doppler ultrasound, but you can see flutters of the heart with an intravaginal ultrasound now. The heart rate usually is slow around 100 beats per minute at 6 weeks pregnant.
You will often have your first ultrasound at your first prenatal visit, around the 8th to 12th week of pregnancy. The fetal heartbeat is often heard at the 12th week and seen earlier with a transvaginal ultrasound.
During a transvaginal ultrasound, a scanning probe is inserted into the vagina to confirm your baby's health. Early scans don't show a lot of detail, but they are helpful to doctors. They are performed in women with a history of miscarriage, history of multiple births, and to verify your due date.
If you have an ultrasound this early in your pregnancy, your doctor will likely offer pictures of your tiny baby! While your baby may look like a blob, if you look carefully, you should be able to see the cavern of your uterus and a large head attached to a tiny body. Just think - this tiny "blob" will be a 6 to 8 pound baby in less than 34 weeks!
Your waist will start to feel larger, particularly if this is not your first pregnancy. You are not showing yet, although you will be able to detect subtle changes. Your jeans may start to fit less comfortably around the midsection. It will be quite some time, however, before you will actually need to purchase maternity clothes.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms
Are you experiencing early pregnancy symptoms yet? Some pregnant women notice that their breasts are more tender than normal, while others feel the slight twinge of nausea. Don't worry if you haven't noticed any change yet. A lack of symptoms does not mean that anything is wrong.
Keep in mind that early pregnancy symptoms can range, from the very severe to the very mild. Some pregnant women never experience any symptoms at all, and they go on to deliver healthy babies.
Early signs of pregnancy include:
- A Missed Period
- Frequent Need to Urinate
- Nausea and Vomiting (also called Morning Sickness)
- Sore and Tender Breasts
- Food Cravings and Food Aversions
- Mood swings and irritability
- Raised basal body temperature
Symptoms vary from pregnancy to pregnancy. You may have experienced all of these in your last pregnancy, but only one or two in this one.
Spotting may or may not occur in the early weeks of pregnancy as the maternal fetal circulation is developing. Although freighting the spotting is usually nothing to worry about. Make sure you always call your healthcare practitioner to report any unusual bleeding, as it may be a sign of impending miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
Weight Gain at 6 Weeks Pregnant
As you follow your pregnancy week by week, keep in mind that an average woman will gain between 25 to 35 pounds during her pregnancy, though some may gain more and some less. Try to stay in that range if you are of normal weight. If you are underweight, aim to gain between 28 to 40 pounds. Overweight pregnant moms should only gain between 11 and 20 pounds.
If you gain too much weight, you have an increased risk of c-sections and you may deliver a huge baby. Although fat babies are cute, your infant will be at risk for developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes later in life. On the other end of the token, if you don't gain enough weight, you face premature delivery and smaller size baby.
Pregnancy Health Section
Nutrition During Pregnancy
Remember that just because you are pregnant, this doesn't mean that you should "eat for two." Most doctors and healthcare providers recommend that pregnant women add only 300 extra calories during pregnancy to help support their growing baby.
In the first trimester, you may not feel like eating anything due to your morning sickness. Eating mini-meals and snacking during the day can help combat your nauseous stomach while giving you the calories that you need to stay healthy.
You may also want to stick to eating more bland foods and try foods or drinks with ginger.
When you do feel better, you can add those 300 extra calories easily! Eating a cup of yogurt and half a bagel with peanut butter will give you what you need.
For an added health benefit, try to add more fruits and vegetables to your regular diet. Some vegetables, such as leafy greens, contain folate, which is an essential nutrient that aids in preventing neural tube defects. Get creative with your vegetables! It doesn't have to be the traditional salad.
When to Share the Big News
Right now you and your partner are probably the only ones that know that you've got a bun in the oven! Have you thought about when you want to spring the big news to your family and friends? This is often a very personal choice. Some couples are so overjoyed that they can't wait to tell everyone, while others prefer to wait until after the first trimester, when the threat of miscarriage decreases. The choice is up to you.
In some cases, it may be difficult to keep your pregnancy a secret if your pregnancy symptoms are severe. If you are often vomiting due to morning sickness, you may have no choice but tell the people around you. Or if your job requires you to do strenuous labor (such as heavy lifting), you may need to tell your boss that you're expecting.
However, if you are the only one that knows you're pregnant, you may want to plan a big surprise for your partner. Perhaps whispering it over a candlelit dinner or something equally as romantic. Have fun celebrating your pregnancy!
Beyond the Basics - Pregnancy
How your Pregnancy is Dated
The term gestational age (your weeks pregnant) refers to your baby’s age that is calculated from the first day of your last normal menstrual period. Do not confuse the gestational age (GA) with the true age of your baby from the conception date. Gestational age (GA) is widely used by obstetricians and throughout Women’s Healthcare Topics to date your pregnancy. In other words, if you subtract 2 weeks from the gestational age (GA) you arrive at the true baby’s age.
When can the Baby and Heartbeat be seen with Ultrasound?
Using state of the art vaginal ultrasound the threshold for detecting the baby is between 5 and 6 weeks GA. The heart beat begins at 36 days GA and can be seen by using a trans-vaginal ultrasound during 6 weeks GA. If your physician is using an abdominal approach then the baby’s heart beat will be seen around 8 weeks GA.
When is a Home Pregnancy Test Accurate?
The placenta produces a pregnancy hormone called hCG (Human Chorionic gonadotropin). The amount or concentration of hCG in your blood and urine increases exponentially each day following implantation. Pregnancy tests work by detecting the concentration of hCG. The test will not be accurate until hCG levels reach a specific concentration in your urine and blood.
Blood pregnancy tests can detect hCG concentrations of 12.5mIU/ml or the concentration found at the time of a missed period. Whereas, home urine pregnancy tests require a much higher concentration of hCG to be accurate, around 100 mIU/mL. Since the concentration of hCG doubles every 1.4 days it takes 8 days to reach 100mIU/mL before the urine pregnancy test will be accurate. Thus, the home urine pregnancy test will become accurate 8 days after a blood pregnancy test (8 days after you miss your period).
Severe Morning Sickness – Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Morning sickness during pregnancy is perfectly normal, though some women experience a severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. This is a pregnancy complication characterized by nausea and vomiting that is so severe that you may require hospitalization. Women affected by hyperemesis gravidarum may experience dehydration, electrolyte deficiencies, and higher weight loss than normal. The common symptoms include rapid weight loss, a fast heartbeat, weakness, and frequent vomiting.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown, though some studies suggest that younger maternal age, obesity and first time pregnancy are potential risk factors for the condition.
Typically hospitalization will be necessary to help restore fluids that you are losing through vomiting to help replace electrolytes. Your healthcare provider may also have to provide hyper alimentation, a procedure in which you will receive nutrients and vitamins through an IV line
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Pregnancy A to Z
To increase your chance of carrying a healthy baby to term, remember to get extra rest, eat healthier foods, and read about pregnancy.