6 Weeks Pregnant—A Week of Major Growth
In the sixth week of pregnancy, you may be finally feeling those pregnancy symptoms you’ve been looking for. Your baby’s heart starts beating and may be seen and heard on an ultrasound. Your hormone levels are increasing quickly, causing changes like mood swings and queasiness. For many women, the sixth week is the time that they finally feel pregnant. 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.)
How big is my baby?
Baby’s Length: 0.13 inches.
Baby’s Weight: 0.04 ounces.
How is my baby developing?
Week six is a big growth week for your baby. Facial features will start to appear, including what will become his jaw, cheeks, chin, and inner ears. Small dots on your baby’s head will eventually become his eyes and nose. He will also start to develop arm and leg buds, and the lungs, liver, and kidneys are taking shape. The neural tube along his back is closing up, the brain hemispheres are forming, and his heart is pumping blood. Because he is still small, the heartbeat can’t be heard with a stethoscope and isn’t always visible on an ultrasound.
If you are lucky enough to hear the heartbeat, you’ll notice that it’s really fast—about 110 – 150 beats per minute, or twice the rate of yours. This marks the start of a very critical time for your baby’s development. He’s most vulnerable to anything that can affect typical growth between days 17 – 56.
What’s happening in my body?
For some women, this is the time when early pregnancy symptoms appear full-force: nausea, bloating, sore breasts, and fatigue are related to increases in the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Though it can be unsettling, light cramping and spotting during pregnancy can be normal. If the pain is severe or there is period-like bleeding, call your doctor. Early pregnancy bloat is common, but so too is losing weight from nausea and vomiting. Every woman and every pregnancy will be different. Dizziness can also occur as pregnancy causes dilation of blood vessels and a drop in blood pressure; try not to worry unless dizziness is severe and occurs alongside vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain.
Alongside symptoms like nausea and bloating, you may be feeling your pregnancy in other ways. One of these is frequent urination. At six weeks pregnant, the pregnancy hormone, hCG, is increasing the blood flow to your pelvic area, your kidneys are getting more efficient at removing your body’s waste, and your uterus is growing—which pushes down on your bladder and leaves less overall storage space. In the second trimester, the uterus rises into the abdominal cavity, but until then, you’ll probably find yourself getting up—and waking up in the middle of the night—more frequently to pee.
Keep in mind, staying hydrated is very important throughout your pregnancy, so even though the non-stop peeing is annoying, you definitely don’t want to shirk on your water consumption. This is also a good time to mention that if it hurts or burns when you pee, you may have a urinary tract infection. Pregnancy is not a good time to mess around with over-the-counter or home remedies; if you suspect you have a UTI, call your doctor.
Heartburn and Indigestion
The chances of getting through an entire nine months without experiencing heartburn are practically non-existent. During pregnancy, the muscle that usually prevents your stomach acid and digestive juices from backing up relaxes. Consciously choose clothing that doesn’t restrict or put pressure on your belly and eat your moderately sized meals slowly to help your stomach adjust.
I’m not feeling pregnant yet, when will I?
This is a tricky question to answer because every woman and every pregnancy are different. Pregnancy symptoms can vary in frequency and intensity. So, it’s nearly impossible to predict just exactly what you will feel and when.
But, in this study which examined 136 women for the onset of pregnancy symptoms, half of the women felt symptoms by the end of the fifth week and 89% did so by the end of the eighth week.
Plan Your First Pre-Natal Visit
Your doctor probably won’t want to see you for another few weeks when the pregnancy will be more visible and the heartbeat more audible. If you experience any symptoms that concern you, however, it makes sense to give your doctor a call to make sure everything is proceeding normally.
Now is a good time to talk about your first prenatal visit. Your doctor will want to do a physical and pelvic exam, and run multiple tests to determine your blood type, Rh factor, and iron levels. It’s also likely you’ll be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, immunity to German measles, and genetic diseases. Tests will also determine if your baby’s at risk for chromosomal abnormalities. Urine tests will check for the levels of protein, red and white blood cells, and bacteria.
It sounds like a lot, but it’s important for your doctor to get a good baseline; your body will be changing a lot in the next few months and being thorough at the beginning prevents many future complications.
Your doctor will ask a lot of questions—and remember, you can ask questions, too. In the weeks leading up to your first visit, keep a list of any questions that arise and be sure to bring it with you to the appointment. You don’t want to leave the appointment only to remember ten things you meant to ask but forgot.
Pregnancy and Toxoplasmosis
Toxoplasmosis is a common parasite infection. It is usually caused by eating undercooked meat, through contact with an infected cat’s feces, and between a mother and child if the mother becomes infected during pregnancy (called congenital toxoplasmosis). Congenital toxoplasmosis is associated with fetal death or miscarriage and can cause neurological deficits and brain damage in infants. A simple blood test can determine if you have been exposed.
In the meantime, if you have a cat, stop changing the litter due to the risk of toxoplasmosis. If you’re the only one available to clean the cat-box, use gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
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