Women's Healthcare Topics
James Brann, MD. Ob/Gyn

6 Weeks Pregnant

In This Article

Pregnant Belly Changes

You may notice by now your waist is growing a bit thicker. You may have difficulty snapping up your jeans, though you are still a long way from needing maternity clothes. Some women find that in the early weeks of pregnancy it helps to wear a pair of pants one or two sizes larger than normal. You probably won't need to buy maternity clothes until you are well into your second trimester (unless you have already had a baby, in which case you might start wearing your maternity clothes a lot sooner).

As you continue your pregnancy your uterus continues to grow to accommodate your growing baby. At this time you may start to notice the veins in your chest and legs are more vibrant. Many women notice their nipples and breasts are uncomfortably sore and you may start also noticing the areolas of your breast start to darken.

While others still can't detect your pregnancy, by now you are definitely feeling pregnant. Be sure to get as much rest as possible in the upcoming weeks to help support your growing baby.

Your jeans may start to fit less comfortably.

Are you experiencing early pregnancy symptoms yet? Some pregnant women notice that their breasts are more tender than normal, some experience tingling and mild cramping, 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.

Pregnancy Symptoms Include:

  • A Missed Period

  • Frequent Need to Urinate

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea and Vomiting (also called Morning Sickness)

  • Sore and Tender Breasts

  • Backaches

  • Headaches

  • 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 or Light Vaginal Bleeding

At any point during pregnancy, vaginal bleeding is concerning. At 6 weeks pregnant, spotting can be a normal symptom to expect. Spotting (very light bleeding, similar to the last day of your regular period) can be caused from implantation (the fertilized egg burrowing into your uterine wall), sexual intercourse, a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, or an infection. Because spotting has numerous causes, you should contact your doctor or healthcare provider to rule out anything harmful.

If you experience vaginal bleeding of any kind, it is always advisable to contact your midwife or physician. He or she will need to evaluate you with a physical exam, ultrasound, and blood tests to rule out any potential complications that may be causing your bleeding.

Spotting is usually normal and nothing to be worried about, but always be safe rather than sorry and contact your caregiver. Roughly one-fourth of all pregnant women suffer from spotting or vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy, and only half of these women (one-eighth) will miscarry. If an ultrasound exam shows that your baby has a normal heartbeat, you have a high chance of continuing your pregnancy unscathed.

If you are experiencing active bleeding, or you have pain of any kind and you can't get in touch with your doctor, go straight to the ER.

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.

Baby Section

Your Baby at 6 Weeks of Pregnancy

Look at the amazing changes that are happening inside you.
Six Week Old Embryo

At 6 weeks pregnant, you aren't showing yet, but amazing changes are happening inside you - including your baby’s first fluttering heartbeats!

Your baby's heart will be beating between 100 and roughly 140 beats every minute. While this is happening your baby's blood is circulating throughout her body. You can see your baby's heart beating now with a vaginal ultrasound.

Did you know as early as now your baby's reflexes begin to develop and may even respond to touch? During this time the central nervous system in your baby is developing at a mind boggling pace, linking your baby's nerves and muscles to various body parts. Babies happily start swimming about and moving in fact very early on in pregnancy, though most first time moms will not recognize their baby's movements until roughly 17 to 20 weeks pregnant.

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.

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 peek 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?

Now, 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

Baby's heart is making its first sounds

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.

The First Ultrasound

Baby's first ultrasound photos

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!

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

Spring the big news of your pregnancy.

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 is Your Pregnancy Dated

Gestational age (GA) is widely used by obstetricians.

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. Read more on how your pregnancy is dated.

When can the Baby and Heartbeat be seen with Ultrasound?

Six week baby ultrasound photo.

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?

Happy couple looking at pregnancy test.

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

Not enjoying pregnancy.

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.

Doctor's Corner

Pregnancy Week by Week - Women's Healthcare Topics

Eight Ways to Prepare for your First-Born Child

Congratulations, you just found out you are pregnant! A lot of things are running through your mind. You have so much to do, yet so little time. Anxiety strikes many new parents, both mothers and fathers. So, although it is not on the list, the first thing you must do to prepare for your first child is take a deep breath, and relax! Everything will be fine and will happen as it should.

Many rookie parents do not even know where to begin. It might seem basic, but the first question that runs through their minds may be, “I don’t know anything about kids! How in the world am I going to do this parenting thing?” Indeed, becoming a parent comes with a lot of responsibility. It also comes with a great deal of blessings and love.

There are many more things to do to prepare for your first baby, but these are seven that are “must-do” things that should be very high on your priority list. The rest of your seemingly endless list of things to do can be done as you think of them, so try not to become overwhelmed. Just take one day at a time.

Start with these 8 actionable things to prepare for your first child:

1. Give up Bad Habits:
First and foremost, now that you are bringing another human being into this world, that tiny little baby is depending on you for everything, even its good health! Quit smoking! Quit Drinking! Or, if you have any other bad habits or recreational vices, please, for the sake of your baby, get help to overcome the habit as urgently as possible. This is a matter of life and death for your unborn child. It could save you a lot of sadness and regrets if you choose to give up something that is unhealthy for the sake of your child’s health.

2. Start Eating Healthier:
Ramping up the vitamin intake should become part of your daily regimen. If you never had a good enough reason to start eating healthier, having a baby is the best reason. It is vital to your health and your baby’s, as well as decreasing the potential for adverse side effects or developmental disorders from vitamin deficiencies, such as iron or folic acid.

3. Find a Trustworthy Pediatrician:
You may already have an Obstetrician, but have you thought about a pediatrician for your child? Many new moms think that during the pregnancy is too soon to look, however this is not the case. It might take time to find the best pediatrician, and the hospital will ask you after the birth of your child so that the pediatrician can come and check on your new arrival. It is best to do this around the seventh or eighth month of your pregnancy.

4. Prepare Your Car:
Preparing your home and auto for a baby does require some thought. The car is obvious, as you will need a car seat to bring your infant home. Hospitals will not allow you to leave until they see that you have one, and it must be properly installed. Check with the specifications on the car seat you purchase. Most infant seats must be installed “rear-facing” in the backseat.

5. Prepare Your Home:
As far as your home, the preparation is different for every family, depending on the kind of home you live in. For example, you may have a small space and choose a bassinette in your bedroom to keep your baby close by, or a crib if you have an extra room for a nursery. If you have tile or hardwood floors, you may get some rugs for the baby to crawl on, so the baby will not bump his little head. Some parents also install outlet covers or child safety latches to prevent babies and toddlers from getting into the cupboards. It would be wise to put any breakable items or knick-knacks in higher places, as these can get broken easily. You could also invest in sofa covers or chair covers to protect your furniture from spills and messes.

6. Learn about the Birthing Process, Baby Care and Your Body:
Learn the signs your body may give you when you are going into labor, as well as preparing yourself mentally for motherhood. This is a big deal! Aside from eating healthy, you can prepare yourself by taking a prenatal class or birthing class to learn breathing techniques.

7. Research Names:
For some parents, this is easy. They may have a “junior” in mind, or a family name they want to use. For others, this job is difficult. It means looking up baby names on the computer, doing research about their meaning, or asking friends and family, or a number of other ways to choose a name. Whichever one you choose, remember your child will be stuck with it for life! So, make it “spelling” friendly, not too over-the-top in difficulty and most of all, something you love!

8. Communicate with Partner, Parents, and Friends:
This is important. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page about important topics. Some examples include, whether you want to go to church together or not, or rules about letting other people take care of your child, or things you should (or should not) say in front of the baby, how much TV time you will allow, and many other things. Talking about these things prior to the baby’s birth can save some troubles later, and good communication should happen not just with each other, but with the grandparents and other relatives who will be spending a lot of time with your little one.

Of course, there are many more things you will need to do to prepare for your first child, but you can cross those bridges when you get to them. Most of all, try to enjoy your pregnancy as much as possible, because before you know it, the baby will be here! It will be very busy and hectic, but also one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life. (next week)