At five weeks, you are now entering your second month of pregnancy. By now, your baby is the size of an orange seed! Many moms-to-be will find out they are pregnant at this time.
During this stage, the embryo is now measurable (0.05 to 0.1 inches long from head to bottom), and resembles a tadpole.
Your baby at 5 weeks
This week flags off the embryonic period of your pregnancy and lots of changes are happening. The placenta and the umbilical cord are in development and will assist the transfer of essential nutrients like folic acid and calcium and oxygen from your body to your baby. They will also help the transfer of waste like carbon dioxide from your baby to you.
Right now, the embryo is attached to a tiny yolk sac from which it gets nutrients. The embryo’s neural tubes are also developing and these will form the baby’s brain and spinal cord. This process will be complete by the end of this week. Taking folic acid supplements will greatly help in this essential part of your baby’s growth.
At five weeks, your baby’s heart also starts to develop. The circulatory system is the first to form and be in operation. For now, though, your embryo has two channels for transfer called the heart tubes. These tubes will later join to form the heart. At this time, the heartbeat cannot be felt. However, your doctor will be able to detect it around the sixth week of your pregnancy.
Your body at 5 weeks
At week five, your body will also start to feel a little different. This can be attributed to all the pregnancy hormones being produced, the levels of which are steadily rising. One of these hormones is oestrogen. Its job is to maintain the levels of other hormones, particularly progesterone and hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin).
Progesterone maintains the functions of the placenta to prevent the contraction of the smooth uterine muscles and to stimulate the growth of breast tissue.
The function of the hCG hormone is to stimulate the corpus luteum, leading to the production of oestrogen and progesterone. This function will be transferred to the placenta as soon as it is fully developed.
As for how all this will make you feel, well, every pregnancy is unique. Your experiences will not be the same as that of other women, and it may even differ from what you experienced with a previous pregnancy.
This is what you can expect in general:
- Nausea. The hCG hormone is particularly responsible for this. Most women get this feeling in the morning. However, it is not uncommon to experience bouts of sickness during the day, and there is a chance you might feel a little queasy all day. To curb nausea, you could try taking vitamin B6, ginger capsules, chewing or sniffing mint, or acupressure wristbands. Eating several small meals instead of a few large ones might also help. Also, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Light bleeding/spotting. This is a sign that your baby has successfully implanted in your uterine wall. It should not be a cause for concern, unless the bleeding is heavy or if you feel like something is out of place. If that is the case, then you should call your doctor or healthcare professional immediately.
- Breast changes. Your body starts to prepare itself to lactate the baby. As a result, your breasts may feel tender, sore or swollen as your hormone levels keep shifting.
- Low energy levels. Your body is working round the clock to ensure that your baby has a life-support system, and this will consume a large amount of your energy. It might leave you feeling tired even when you’ve done nothing strenuous. Hormonal changes might also be to blame. Luckily, the placenta will be fully formed by the end of the first trimester and you will likely start to feel more energetic. Until then, get plenty of rest and eat healthily to regain some of that energy.
- Frequent urination. You might also feel the need to pee every few minutes. As your uterus expands, it presses down on your bladder. Your kidneys are also receiving more fluid to process now due to the increased volume of blood in your body. Therefore, anytime you feel like you have to go, you should. This will help reduce the risk of a bladder infection – and remember to stay hydrated.
- Mood swings. These are very common during pregnancy due to the raging hormone levels in your body. It is normal to feel an array of emotions like happiness, sadness, fear and anxiety.
- Food cravings and aversions. You may start to feel the irresistible urge to eat certain foods, some of which you didn’t like before (cravings). You might also find that you’re unable to stand the sight and smell of others, some of which you might have enjoyed before (aversions). Again, chalk this up to the pregnancy hormones, although these feelings could also be as a result of your heightened olfactory senses. If you can’t control your cravings, it’s okay to indulge within reason. It would also help to find healthy substitutes for foods that repulse you during this period. For example, you can substitute green juice for a salad.
- You may also experience some bloating, which could cause a little weight gain. However, generally speaking, it is still a little early in your pregnancy for you to put on too much weight and your pregnancy will not start to ‘show’ yet.
Taking care of yourself during this time
This is a good time to completely stay away from alcohol and cigarettes for the health of your child. This includes secondhand smoke from people around you.
In case you haven’t got a prenatal care provider, you should find one as soon as possible. Your doctor will advise you on the best practices for the health and safety of you and your baby. Also, if you’re on any medication or treatment, now is the time to let your doctor know.
By the fifth week, some people are ready to tell their friends and families that they are having a baby. However, if you are not ready yet, that’s okay too. Take your time and deliver the news when you feel the time is right.