You are 5 Weeks and 4 Days 241 days to go…

This is a crucial time for your developing baby as the neural tube, which will become the brain and spinal cord, is forming.

Your baby today

This image shows just how curled up the embryo is at this stage. The head end of the embryo is on the left. The embryo now has 22 pairs of somites (building blocks of the musculoskeletal system) running along the back.

This week your baby begins to grow rapidly and will become much more recognizable as a baby over the next five weeks. There are three types of cell, each committed to a separate function. The first will form the skin and nervous system; the second forms blood vessels, muscles, and bones; the third forms the entire digestive system.

At this stage, it is the cells responsible for the spine and nervous system that are at work. Changing shape from a flat disk, the embryo starts to curl up. The edges of the groove that has already partially formed along the back gradually start to meet, closing and fusing to form a tube, which will become the brain and spinal cord. The last parts of the tube to close are at the very top of the head and then the base of the spine, two days later.

Being careful to get an adequate intake of folic acid in early pregnancy is essential to ensure the neural tube closes completely, with no gaps.

Whether to tell

You’re excited to be pregnant, but should you tell people yet?

  • Most parents-to-be wait to share their exciting news until after week 12 when the risk of miscarriage falls. You, may, however, decide you want to confide in family and close friends. If they are people whom you would tell if you miscarried, then there is no harm in sharing your news.

  • Most women don’t tell their employers yet, unless severe morning sickness interferes with their ability to keep up with work responsibilities. Most wait until after the first trimester or when they start to show. If you want time off for prenatal appointments before this, you’ll need to explain why.

  • Similarly, if your job involves anything that could be a health and safety risk (for example, heavy lifting or working with chemicals), you should inform your employer early so your role can be adapted. It’s also sensible to tell your boss the good news before office gossip about your expanding girth snowballs.

… Dads
Keeping quiet

Your first reaction to finding out that your partner is pregnant might be to tell the world. After all, you may be excited or nervous and may want to confide in people who you can trust. Think twice before telling lots of people (see Whether to tell) and don’t do so without talking to your partner. Of course your partner may find it hard to hide some aspects of pregnancy, such as morning sickness.

Most importantly, make sure that you are both in agreement that it is the right time to tell others.

Not telling many people, if anyone, in the first few weeks will give you both time to come to terms with the news.

You are 5 Weeks and 5 Days 240 days to go…

Are you feeling up one minute and down the next? Be reassured that this is a perfectly normal response to pregnancy hormones.

Your baby today

This is a view of the right side of an embryo with the fronds of the chorionic villi in the background. The curled shape of the embryo is clearly demonstrated. The umbilical cord attachment to the early placenta can just be seen.

It may not happen quite yet, but be forewarned that you may become very emotional or irrational during pregnancy and suffer from mood swings. You may cry at things that had previously not affected you. This is due to a combination of your rapidly fluctuating hormones and the fact that pregnancy is a major life change.

Mood swings can be difficult for both you and your partner—try to keep communicating with each other and explain how you are feeling, no matter how irrational it may seem.

… Your health
Tackling fatigue

Fatigue is a common pregnancy complaint and you might find you have a sudden loss of energy in the early stages as your body adapts to the changes caused by pregnancy. This often lasts throughout the first trimester, but after about week 13 you should start to feel more energized. When you’re not resting, try to stay active.

Another cause of fatigue is anemia. When you see your doctor you will be offered a blood test to check your iron levels, and if these are found to be low you will be offered supplements. To avoid anemia, eat iron-rich foods, such as dark green leafy vegetables, red meat, whole-grain cereals, and legumes, and drink prune juice. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron so try drinking fresh orange juice with meals. Limit caffeine intake  since it inhibits iron absorption.

More veggies please!

Be creative to stimulate your appetite and get essential nutrients:

  • Try raw veggies with a dip.

  • Throw in a few vegetables when you make your morning smoothie—cucumber, celery, peppers, and carrots are mild in flavor, but deliciously nutritious.

  • Try grating zucchini or carrots into soups, pasta sauces, and stews, or throwing a handful of squash, frozen peas, broccoli, asparagus, or green beans into a risotto.

  • Add vegetables to a cheese sauce. If you cook them in the sauce, it will absorb all of the nutrients that would normally make their way into the cooking water.

  • Make your own pizza topped with crunchy and colorful vegetables.

  • Choose vegetarian dishes when you get takeout.

The embryo is developing rapidly, although still only 4 mm long. The spinal column is in place and the eyes have formed. The yellow yolk sac on the left is larger than the embryo which it is nourishing.

You are 5 Weeks and 6 Days 239 days to go…

You may notice a marked increase in your breast size, even at this early stage of pregnancy.

Your baby today

Development in the upper body usually precedes that in the lower body—this image shows the bulge containing the heart and liver, and the very earliest sign of development of the upper limb buds, but as yet there is no sign of the lower limb buds.

The first part of your body to change shape is likely to be your chest. Your breasts may increase in size quite rapidly, looking bigger and feeling heavier. They may become quite tender to touch.

The nipples will change, the areola (the darker skin around the nipple) may become darker in color and your nipples may tingle. As your breasts get bigger, you might notice blue veins appearing. All these breast changes are due to the hormone estrogen.

Each breast will increase, on average, by 2 in (5 cm) and 3 lb (1.4 kg) during pregnancy.

That is why it is important to wear the right bra, even in the early stages of pregnancy.

… Doctor
Q: How can I ease the soreness in my breasts?
A: Wearing a supportive bra can help with both the feelings of heaviness and soreness in your breasts, which are common in pregnancy. If your breasts are very tender at night, try wearing your bra at night while you sleep which may help. Try to avoid sleeping on your front if this causes discomfort. You may find that rubbing in a cream containing aloe vera is soothing.
… Safety
Detox yourself

Once you know you’re pregnant, it’s only natural to want to keep your baby safe, so…

Be careful when you’re cleaning. Studies suggest there may be a link between pregnant women using bleach and spray air fresheners, and babies developing asthma. Plus, commercial oven cleaners contain toxic chemicals that experts believe could damage unborn babies.

Get someone else to clean your cat’s litter box (or if that’s not possible, wear rubber gloves and wash your hands afterward). Cat feces may contain parasites that can cause toxoplasmosis (see Protect yourself), an infection that could harm your unborn baby.

Read the labels on cleaning products carefully to make sure they are not toxic, and always wear rubber gloves. Pregnancy can be a good time to ask your partner to clean the bathroom!

  • Don’t use “toxic” products.

  • Keep rooms well ventilated.

  • Steer clear of fumes.

  • Wear gloves.

  • Make your home sparkle with a solution made of bicarbonate of soda, distilled white vinegar, lemon juice, and essential oils.

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