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Pregnancy

5 Weeks Pregnant—And Finally Feeling It

Five weeks pregnant? This week is when most women will miss their period and get a positive pregnancy test. It’s also when most women will feel the first signs of pregnancy. (Studies show that most women begin to feel early pregnancy symptoms between the fifth and sixth weeks of pregnancy—with 89% of women feeling symptoms by the end of the eighth week.)

(And if you’re interested in tracking your pregnancy week by week—Ava can help.)

Your embryo has implanted in the uterine wall and is already growing rapidly. As soon as your embryo implants, your body begins producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG); this is the hormone your pregnancy test is designed to detect.

How big is my baby?

This week, your baby is roughly the size of an apple seed.

Baby’s Length: 0.05 in.

Baby’s Weight: 0.04 oz.

Embryogenesis begins in week 5

Embryogenesis is the process by which a human embryo develops. It begins this week, in the fifth week of pregnancy after fertilization, and will continue for the next eight weeks. Your baby will transform from a single cell to a ball of cells to a set of tubes—with the circulatory, excretory, and neurologic systems all beginning to grow.

How is my baby developing?

The embryo is now fully implanted into your uterus and is developing in three layers. The endoderm (inner layer) will become the neural tube lined with mucous membranes; your baby’s bladder, lungs, and intestines will develop here.

The mesoderm (middle layer) is where your baby’s heart and circulatory system will form. Your baby’s reproductive system, muscles, bones, and kidneys will also be created from this layer of cells.

Lastly, the ectoderm (outer layer) becomes your baby’s skin, as well as the central and peripheral nervous system. The ectoderm will also become eyes and many of the connective tissues.

At this point, your baby looks like a small tadpole, though limbs are beginning to develop. Additionally, major organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys, and the nervous, circulatory, and digestive systems are starting to form. In fact, this week, your baby’s heart will start beating! It will still be a while before you or your doctor can hear it, though.

What’s happening in my body?

Estrogen and progesterone levels are rising, which means you might already be experiencing sore breasts, nausea, and fatigue. Many pregnant women are shocked when their “morning sickness” is more like morning, noon, and night sickness. Unfortunately, hormones don’t observe regular hours. Pregnancy nausea can strike any time of day and varies significantly from woman to woman.

Another symptom often felt very early in pregnancy is fatigue. If you find yourself yawning more than usual, you can thank extra progesterone for that. During this time, you may also have lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and increased blood volume, and all of these can lead to feelings of exhaustion. Since sleeplessness can increase dramatically throughout your pregnancy, try to sleep as much as you can now (before you’ve got a five-pound baby compressing your bladder at all hours of the day and night)!

Some women notice these symptoms before a positive pregnancy test, but many women won’t feel any changes yet. Don’t worry—you’ll probably feel pregnant soon.

Depression in pregnancy

Though postpartum depression gets a lot more attention, it’s important to mention that the same percentage of women (about 10 – 12%) will experience depression during pregnancy. And recent research has shown that depression in pregnancy may be happening more frequently. This may be because depression is on the rise in general.

If you feel depressed—which may include persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, indifference, or anxiousness in any combination—for longer than two weeks at any point during your pregnancy, call your doctor right away. Depression is not a moral or personal failing; it is a serious medical condition that can be treated.

It’s important to get help, as multiple studies have shown that depression in pregnancy can have a lasting impact on the baby—putting them at greater risk for complications like preterm birth or low birth weight.

What else should I do this week?

Once you’ve missed your period, take a pregnancy test. Then, take another two days later. Pregnancy tests are designed to detect hCG, but an initial negative may occur if you take the test before your body has had enough time to reach adequate hCG levels. At this stage, hCG doubles roughly every 48 hours. You may get a different result if you wait a couple of days before trying again. Similarly, you’ll want to confirm a positive by taking a second test. There’s a reason pregnancy tests are usually sold in packs of two.

If you’ve gotten a positive pregnancy test, give your doctor a call. Keep in mind, you may not be called in for an appointment for another four weeks or more, but it’s still a good idea to get your appointment on the books.

Understand your health insurance

In the United States, health insurance can be complicated, and mistakes or misunderstandings can be costly. When you find out you’re pregnant, it’s a good time to call your insurance provider and find out exactly what is covered for prenatal and postnatal care. Though some plans might cover a birthing center and midwife, you don’t want to realize too late yours doesn’t. Huge out-of-pocket costs are not something you want to deal with if you don’t have to.

Some other things to consider

  • Try to get some exercise. In the next few weeks, you may feel exhausted, uncomfortable, or downright sick, so take the time now to look after yourself and establish good habits. As a bonus, the endorphins the body releases when you exercise may help with your mood.
  • Consider taking a prenatal yoga class. Research has shown that yoga and mindfulness training may improve the health and well-being of pregnant women and their newborns.  
  • If you haven’t already, cut out smoking, alcohol, and illegal or recreational drugs. You may also want to limit the amount of caffeine you consume daily.

This week’s FAQ

Do I need a pregnancy blood test?

What is the best pregnancy test?

When did I conceive?

What should I do now that I know I’m pregnant?

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