Pregnancy: Week 7
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Mom's Pregnancy Changes and Symptoms
Are you on the lookout for your "bump at 7 weeks pregnant?" If you are like most newly pregnant women, you are probably spending a lot of time standing in front of the mirror, trying to spot your pregnancy bump. Though it will be weeks before you start showing, you may notice a tiny pooch or belly in your lower abdomen. (It will resemble your belly when it bloats during PMS).
Pants Getting a Little Tight?
Some women may also find that their waists feel a bit thicker. At this early week of pregnancy, you will not need to buy maternity clothes yet. If your regular pants or jeans feel uncomfortable, you may want to stick to a looser pair of jeans or pants made with stretchable fabrics. You can also hook a rubber band around your button and loop it through the hole, and this will stretch the waist of your jeans a bit. You can also purchase maternity belts (called belly belts), which will allow you to wear your regular apparel throughout pregnancy.
By now, you may have noticed that you produce more saliva in your mouth than normal. Although this may seem alarming, it is a normal pregnancy symptom. Called "ptyalism", this condition is often accompanied with morning sickness - nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. This excessive salivation is very common in pregnant women with hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness).
Researchers do not know what triggers this condition. It may be due to the increased levels of pregnancy hormones. It is also possible that because pregnant women are more prone to heartburn (another symptom of pregnancy), they produce more saliva to neutralize the gastric acid in their body. Saliva contains bicarbonate, which is an alkaline that will neutralize the gastric acid.
Ptyalism is more common in the first trimester, though some women may experience it throughout the entire pregnancy.
A metallic taste is a lesser-known symptom at 7 weeks pregnant. You may experience a disgusting metallic or sour taste in your mouth that lasts long after you've eaten. Although unpleasant, having a metallic taste in your mouth is absolutely normal in the first trimester. You can blame your pregnancy hormones for this symptom. Fortunately, like nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, it should go away in your second trimester.
Taking a lot of Bathroom Breaks?
Along with excessive salivation, you may notice that you have the frequent need to urinate. Unfortunately, this is another common side effect of pregnancy. It may feel like your bladder has suddenly shrunk. You might have to go to the bathroom every ten minutes to urinate!
In the first trimester, because you have more blood being pumped through your kidneys, you will produce more urine than normal. Later in the pregnancy, as your uterus grows larger, it will place pressure on your bladder, so you will feel the urge to urinate, even though your bladder may be nearly empty!
Your pregnancy weight gain at 7 weeks pregnant is probably one or two pounds. It is still early in your pregnancy, but important changes are occurring in your womb.
Growth and Development of Baby
At 7 weeks pregnant, your baby's vital organs continue to develop. This week, your little one is around 0.5 inches long from crown to rump-almost the size of a macadamia nut. That's a huge improvement over last week, when your baby was only the size of a small apple seed.
Your baby's placenta continues to develop, but it is not yet ready to supply your baby with its nutrients. The yolk sac still supplies nutrients to your developing baby, though it is shrinking in size.
During pregnancy week 7, more facial development continues. Your baby's mouth and tongue may begin to form this week. Your baby's eye buds are becoming more distinct, including his or her retina and lens. The nose is in its earliest stage. Shallow pits have appeared on the tip of the face, and these pits will eventually become your baby's nostrils.
Last week, your baby's heart started to beat. In week 7 of pregnancy, the heart is now starting to pump blood that will circulate throughout the body. The heart continues to mature and develop as the weeks of pregnancy pass. This is also the week that your baby's liver starts to make blood cells.
Your baby's muscles are beginning to form. It won't be long before you start to feel your baby kicking inside you - usually in the middle of the second trimester.
Pregnancy Health Section
Body Changes Associated with Pregnancy - Beyond the Basics
The normal changes to your body are profound in pregnancy. Most of the changes begin with conception and will continue throughout your entire pregnancy. Even more astounding is that you will return almost completely to your pre-pregnancy state after giving birth. So let’s begin briefly discussing the major normal pregnancy changes.
Skin - The blood flow in the skin increases and helps dissipate excess heat generated by your pregnancy. This gives you the increase sensation of always being hot.
You may notice reddish, slightly depressed streaks in your skin. The streaks are most noticeable on your abdomen, thighs and breasts. They are called “striae gravidarum” or stretch marks.
Your skin will darken (hyperpigmentation) in up to 90 percent of pregnant women. Most commonly a brownish-black line will be noticed in the midline of your abdominal skin called the linea nigra. Sometimes you will get brownish patches that appear on the face and neck called melisma gravidarum or the mask of pregnancy. Most of the darken skin colorations will regress considerably after giving birth.
Two thirds of white and 10 percent of black pregnant women will notice small, fine red blood vessels on the skin. They have the appearance of a spider, with a central body and multiple blood vessel branches. This condition is called telangiectasis or spider angioma of pregnancy. They appear mostly on the neck and upper chest.
You may notice a darker red coloration to the palms of your hands. This is called palmar erythema and is the result of the increase blood circulation in your hands.
Breasts - Early in pregnancy you will experience breast tenderness and increase in overall breast size. You will begin to notice an increase in delicate veins just beneath the skin. The nipples will become larger, a darker color and more erect. Around mid-pregnancy a yellowish fluid called colostrum can be expressed from your nipples. The areolae become deeply pigmented (darker) and wider. Around the nipple you will notice many new bumps (Montgomery glands) that are just your sebaceous glands enlarging.
Uterus - The uterus before pregnancy is the size of an egg and weighs 70 grams (2.4 ounces). By the end of pregnancy, the uterus has increased in weight to 1100 grams (2.4 pounds). In order to hold a full term baby, the capacity of the uterus has to increase 500 to 1000 times greater than when not pregnant.
During the first few weeks of pregnancy the uterus is pear shape, then becomes round by 12 weeks and subsequently assumes an egg shape. The uterus will also change positions and rotate to the right side of your abdomen. This will exert tension on the round ligaments that hold the uterus in place and causes a sharp pulling pain when you move quickly.
Cervix - The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that the baby will pass through at childbirth. As soon as 1 month of pregnancy it begins to soften and turn a blue color (this is called Chadwick sign). It becomes delicate (friable) and will bleed easily when touched during intercourse.
Ovaries - Ovulation stops during pregnancy and no new eggs are produced. An ovarian cyst will develop called the corpus luteum cyst of pregnancy. The function of the cyst is to produce hormones to support your pregnancy during the first 7 weeks. If the cyst is surgically removed, you would miscarry.
Vagina - The number of blood vessels in the vaginal wall increases in pregnancy. The increase in blood vessels makes the walls appear violet in color, called Chadwick sign. You will notice a considerable increase in the amount of vaginal discharge that is white and thicker than when not pregnant. The pH of the vagina becomes more acidic (pH 3.5 to6). The change in pH can result in an overgrowth of bacteria called Lactobacillus acidophilus. Lactobacillus keeps the normal balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina.
Blood Volume - Your blood volume will increase 40 to 50 percent from when you are not pregnant. Some women may actually double their blood volume in pregnancy.
Heart - In pregnancy your heart is displaced more to the left side of your chest. Your resting pulse rate increases by 10 beats/minutes and cardiac output increases significantly.
Lungs - The diaphragm that supports the lungs rises up in pregnancy about 4cm. The circumference of your chest (thoracic circumference) increases by 6 cm. The up and down breathing motion or the distance the lungs transverse vertically is greater than when you are not pregnant. Your breathing rate does not change, but the amount of air that goes through your lungs increases significantly.
Kidneys - The size of your kidneys slightly increase in pregnancy. They are 1.5 cm longer than when you’re not pregnant. The ability of your kidneys to secrete more toxins is increased by 50 percent, resulting in frequent urination.
Stomach - The time it takes to empty your stomach (gastric emptying time) after a meal is prolonged. This gives you the full sensation after a small meal.
Heartburn (pyrosis) is common in pregnancy and is due to the reflux of acid from the stomach. Reflux is increased due to the relaxation of a valve or sphincter between the esophagus and stomach.
Gums - Your gums become hyperemic (swollen with blood) and soften. This is why your gums bleed more frequently in pregnancy after brushing your teeth.
Hemorrhoids - Hemorrhoids are very common in pregnancy. They are caused by the increased constipation commonly seen in pregnancy. Also, the increased pressure of the veins around the rectum in pregnancy contributes to hemorrhoid formation.
Gallbladder - The gallbladder’s ability to contract and secret digestive enzymes is slowed. Impaired emptying of the gallbladder is associated with increased bile salts entering the skin and causing itching. The slower emptying of the gallbladder can also increase the formation of gallstones and increase the chances of having a gallbladder attack.
Eyes - Your contact lens may not be as comfortable as they were before pregnancy. This is due to the fact that the cornea will slightly increase in thickness during pregnancy. You also will notice that it takes longer to focus when you change from looking at a near object to a distant object (called delayed accommodation) in pregnancy. Your vision otherwise remains the same as before pregnancy.
Food and Non-Food Cravings
During pregnancy, everything you place in your mouth has the potential to affect your unborn baby. Make sure you learn what foods to eat and what foods to avoid during pregnancy.
Many women start having cravings during pregnancy. Cravings are a perfectly natural part of pregnancy, but taken to the extreme can lead to excessive weight gain. The most die-hard vegetarians may find themselves craving steak and other meat products during pregnancy. They may also find it difficult to eat many of the things they used to love, including leafy greens. Much of this is hormone related. Cravings may also be an indication that your body is deficient in certain nutrients. You may, for example, need more calcium if you are craving products with milk in them.
Overview of Food Cravings
It is fairly common for your taste preferences to change significantly during pregnancy. This may be a result of your body's increasing metabolic demands and needs for additional calories. Some studies show that a woman's cravings change from trimester to trimester. Some of the more commonly reported cravings include pickles and salty snacks, though fruit is actually one of the most common cravings among women. Salty cravings may indicate that you need to incorporate more sodium into your diet.
You may tend to gain more weight if you start eating foods that were formally 'off limits'. A vegetarian, for example, that starts indulging in T-bones and ice cream may find they gain weight more rapidly than a woman who has always eaten these things. The good news, is that you can indulge your cravings to some extent without packing on an excessive amount of weight. The key is to allow yourself small indulgences without going overboard. For example, if you have a craving for chocolate, consider having a mini chocolate bar rather than devouring the entire chocolate cake you made for your neighbor's birthday party. Incorporating many different types of food into your diet may also help combat and satisfy cravings.
Unusual and Harmful Pregnancy Cravings
Some women actually have very unusual cravings during pregnancy. Some common examples include ice, laundry starch, clay, dirt, or other nonfood items. This is actually a situation where you should not indulge your cravings and you should consult with your healthcare provider.
The craving of strange foods is a condition known as pica. This condition is an unusual response to iron deficiency. Eating ice is called pagophagia, starch is called amylophagia, and clay is called geophagia . Fortunately, the craving disappears after your iron deficiency is corrected.
The incidence of pica in pregnancy is 4 percent. The nonfood items most commonly eaten are starch (64%), dirt (14%), sourdough (9%), and ice in 5 percent. The rate of preterm delivery (less than 35 weeks) doubled in pregnant women with pica.
Other cravings that may be harmful during pregnancy include cravings for raw products such as raw fish or eggs. Be sure you avoid during pregnancy any substances that might prove harmful for you and your baby.
Eating Disorders and Pregnancy
As you progress through your pregnancy, you may embrace your growing pregnant body. After all, pregnant women are indeed beautiful! However, other women may hate their growing belly. They may feel "fat" as they watch your belly expand. Being called "huge" in the last trimester does not help with body image issues either.
Because our society tells us that skinny women are "beautiful," doctors and healthcare providers must pay attention to eating disorders during pregnancy. The average size woman will gain between 25-35 pounds during pregnancy, but to the anorexic or bulimic, this weight gain sounds frightening! Please keep in mind that your body needs this weight gain to support the growth and development of your baby. Your baby gets all of his or her nutrients from you, therefore it's important you that continue healthy eating habits and you achieve a healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia
Women with Anorexia Nervosa are already very skinny, and when they become pregnant, they may not gain enough weight due to their illness. They are at high risk of miscarriage. If they don't lose the baby, they face risks of giving birth to an abnormally low birth weight baby, and their baby will also face health problems due to lack of nutrients in utero.
For bulimics, who continue to purge throughout pregnancy, they may suffer dehydration, chemical imbalances, and even cardiac problems. Their baby also faces premature birth, low birth weight, respiratory problems, and other health complications.
If you have an eating disorder, it is important that you seek help from a healthcare provider.
Migraine Headache in Pregnancy
Most pregnant women show an improvement in their migraine headaches during pregnancy. Almost 80% of migraine suffers improve with pregnancy, and fewer than 5% get worse. The remaining 15% have no change in the frequency of their migraine headaches during pregnancy.
The decrease frequency and pain intensity of migraine headaches in pregnancy is due to the elevated levels of estrogen that is associated with pregnancy.
Migraine headaches do not cause any problems for your baby, but there is an increased risk of developing preeclampsia during your pregnancy. .
Migraine headaches that develop for the first time during pregnancy usually occur in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy (first trimester). It is rare to have your first migraine headache at the end of pregnancy during the third trimester. The bad news is that most migraine headaches reoccur after giving birth and the good news is that they are significantly less common if you breastfeed. .
Know that there are certain triggers that may impact your susceptibility to migraines. These include stress, lack of sleep, chocolate, cheeses, wine, coffee, smoke and strong odors are a few triggers of migraine headaches.
Treatments for Migraine Headaches
The treatments for migraine headaches in pregnancy are different from when you are not pregnant. This is due to the concern of common migraine drugs that can cause harm to your unborn baby.
During pregnancy it is suggested to start therapy with acetaminophen (1000mg). Acetaminophen is effective in treating most migraines and it is not associated with any adverse effects for your baby.
If acetaminophen alone does not help, you may get relief from combination therapy. The most popular combination therapy to treat migraine headaches are:
- Acetaminophen (650 to 1000mg) and Metoclopramid (10mg)
- Acetaminophen plus Codeine (30 to 60mg)
- Acetaminophen (325 mg), Caffeine (40 mg), and Butalbital (50 mg)
It is very important to make sure that your combination treatment is prescribed by your physician, due to the potential risk to you and your baby. High doses of caffeine can increase your risk for miscarriage. Prolonged use near term of codeine and butalbital can cause both you and your baby to have withdrawal symptoms.
Avoid all NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) in the third trimester of pregnancy. These medications can cause premature closure of a very important blood vessel (ductus arteriosus) between your baby’s heart and lungs. The NSAIDs can be used safely in the second trimester of pregnancy.
For severe migraine headaches that are not controlled with the above mentioned combination therapies, you can use the highly effective serotonin agonist medications. The most commonly used is Sumatriptan. Sumatriptan has not been associated with an increased risk of birth defects or miscarriage. It is also safe to use while breastfeeding.
Note some common migraine medications such as those containing ergotamine are contraindicated during pregnancy.
Tension Type Headaches during Pregnancy
Tension headaches feel like a tightness or pressure sensation surrounding your head. The headache comes and goes in severity and does not improve during pregnancy.
It is not associated with estrogen fluctuations as is the migraine headache. Tension headaches are not associated with the symptoms of nausea, or light sensitivity as seen with the migraine headache.
The cause of tension headaches is due to the muscle aches from stress rather than the estrogen dependent vascular changes seen with a migraine headache.
Treatment of Tension Type Headaches
During pregnancy the best medication to treat tension type headaches is Acetaminophen. NSAIDs are second choice treatments if you are not in your third trimester of pregnancy.
Do not use NSAIDs in the third trimester of pregnancy due to the possible closure of a large blood vessel between the heart and lungs of the baby.
Combination therapy can also be used for Tension Type Headaches, similar to the treatment for migraines in pregnancy. See above migraine treatment plans.
Recommended Related Reading
- Early in pregnancy, you may already be carrying twins and not know it!
- Even without any of the symptoms of pregnancy, you may just "know" that you are pregnant.
- Though you may not been showing a bump yet, you can be struggling with many uncomfortable early pregnancy symptoms.
- While you may not be showing a lot, the people around you might start to notice your growing belly.
- Both excessive pregnancy weight gain and inadequate weight gain is associated with adverse infant outcomes.