Officially halfway into your first trimester, your baby’s features are starting to form and your body's changing, too. You're still in the early stages of pregnancy though, which means morning sickness may have kicked in and your hormones are all over the place. Here's what else to expect now that you're six weeks pregnant ...
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What's happening at six weeks?
Here are the key things you can expect from your pregnancy at this stage:
- Your baby's heart is beating.
- You may be feeling hormonal.
- You may be dealing with morning sickness.
- You may be struggling to sleep.
How big is your baby?
Size-wise, your tiny little one is about the size of a Millions sweet this week (4-7mm), with tiny little buds where arms and legs will soon start to grow.
Inside your baby's head (which is about the same size as their body), the brain is developing and vital organs have started to form, including the heart.
Even though it’s the size of a pinhead, your baby's tiny heart is already beating extremely fast – about twice the speed of yours, in fact. If you were to have an ultrasound at this time, it may even be able to pick up the flutter. Amazing.
Your baby is also growing tissue and skin, which covers them so thinly, it's actually see-through at this early stage.
What's going on with your body?
Step into the shower this week, and your first thought is likely to be ‘wowzers!’ Whether you were flat as a pancake or a DD-cup before, you’ll be packing a boosted cleavage from now on (although some may see these changes later – everyone is different).
Your partner may be pleased, but this could be short-lived. Your boobs will probably feel a bit sore and tender, so you might want them to keep their hands off!
The increased blood supply is also apparent in a less conspicuous place – and the shower is a good place to take a peek. The skin of your vagina and vulva may be a darker, purply colour now. Who knew?
What to expect this week: morning sickness
Morning sickness – also known as afternoon-evening-and all-day-blinking-long sickness for some – may well kick in around now.
The main culprit in causing it is Beta hCG, a pregnancy hormone that's present in blood during the first trimester.
Couple that with a growing uterus (womb), sluggish digestion, increased levels of stomach acid and what feels like the world’s most sensitive sense of smell and the likelihood is you’re probably feeling a little queasy these days!
The good news is that symptoms often ease after 12 weeks (although some poor souls do continue to suffer right the way through).
The following tips are worth a try:
- Tiredness makes sickness worse, so try to rest as much as you can – even if that means snoozing on the morning train instead of checking work emails.
- Keep a packet of crackers in your handbag – snacking on bland foods little and often can help keep queasiness at bay.
- Ginger is known for easing nausea, so try ginger tea and ginger biscuits. Some women find that nibbling on a ginger biscuit before getting out of bed helps them feel better in the mornings.
- Get some fresh air – avoid hot, stuffy places like trains and buses where you can, or open the windows.
- Many mums swear by acupressure wristbands that stop travel sickness.
- Keep hydrated with lots of water. Flat Coke is an old favourite – but be careful you don’t clock up your caffeine and sugar levels.
- Carry a sick bag. You DO NOT want to be sick into your handbag.
If you’re really struggling to keep anything down and are feeling unwell or becoming dehydrated, you may be suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum where the vomiting is severe and continues beyond week 14-16 of pregnancy.
Tell your doctor or midwife if you are unable to keep any food or fluids down for 24 hours, are losing weight or feeling dizzy. Your doctor will monitor your condition and prescribe treatments that may help control your sickness.
If you become severely dehydrated you may need to be admitted to hospital, where your fluids will be topped up with an IV drip.
Equally, don’t panic if you’re not suffering from morning sickness.
Plenty of (very lucky!) women enjoy healthy pregnancies with little or no morning sickness at all. Now that really does make the rest of us turn green ... with envy!
What to do this week: (try to) get a good night's sleep
The best advice you'll be given once you tell people you're pregnant is get plenty of sleep ... while you can, before the baby arrives!
However, certain common pregnancy health complaints can mean that's not as easy as it sounds.
Here are just some of the things that can hamper your sleep in the early stages:
- Morning sickness – as above, it can last all day as well as night, making it tricky to drift off.
- Heartburn – some mums are kept up by indigestion. Avoiding eating just before bed can help, as can steering clear of very rich, fatty or spicy foods. If it's really bad, see your GP who can prescribe you a safe-during-pregnancy heartburn remedy to keep by the bedside. Don't use over-the-counter heartburn remedies without checking with a pharmacist first, as some aren't suitable for pregnancy.
- Needing to wee – pregnancy hormones increase the amount of fluid in your body, which can mean you feel the need to wee more often. Try drinking more in the day and less in the evenings but sadly there's not much you can do about this one.
- Pregnancy insomnia – sleeplessness and restlessness can kick in making it hard to sleep, even when you're really tired.
- Getting comfy – while your bump may not even be showing yet, bloating or even just the thought of being pregnant can mean you can't get comfy.
As your bump expands, you might want to invest in a sleep support pillow that you can use to support your bump in bed and help you get a good night's sleep.
It's a good idea to get into the habit of sleeping on your side now. As your baby grows, it will start to put pressure on a major blood vessel when you lie on your back, which can make you feel lightheaded and even potentially affect the blood flow to your baby.
For this reason, it's recommended that pregnant women try to sleep on their side if they can (either the left side or the right side is fine).
Here's how to find the perfect sleep pillow for you and your bump.
Your 6 week to-do list
1 See your GP if morning sickness is getting you down. He may be able to prescribe an anti-sickness tablet, or give you peace of mind that everything's ok.
2 Make sure you know where your nearest early pregnancy unit (EPU) or maternity services are. Find yours here .
3 Get a 'baby on board' badge to wear on public transport – helpful when you need a seat and aren't showing. Designed for underground users in London, get yours here .
4 If you're not already doing so, start taking 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid each day – keep taking it every day until you are 12 weeks pregnant as it reduces your baby's risk of developing neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.
5 Work out your no drinking excuse when you're out – needing to drive, an upset stomach, on antibiotics or on a diet are all handy reasons for avoiding alcohol, before you're ready to tell people the good news.
What to watch this week...
Get expert tips on what to expect at 6 weeks pregnant from our midwife.
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