Your pregnancy at 6 weeks
Weeks 1 to 8 are known as the embryonic period. Your baby is now an embryo.
In this article, we will discuss the symptoms you can expect at 6 weeks pregnant, what your hormones are doing, the embryo's development, and any other factors you need to be aware of.
Nausea usually starts at around 6 weeks, but it can begin as early as 4 weeks.
At this stage of the pregnancy, you may not feel pregnant because there are few visible body changes.
You may, however, begin to experience pregnancy symptoms such as:
- morning sickness, or nausea and vomiting that can occur at any time of the day
- changes in appetite, for example, disliking some foods and craving others
- abdominal bloating
- breast tenderness and swelling
- urinary frequency and nighttime urination
- changing emotions
Throughout your pregnancy, you will have variations in certain hormones, which contribute to many of pregnancy's symptoms.
From weeks 6 to 10, you may experience mood swings.
These may be triggered by:
- fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone
- anxiety about the major changes happening in your life
- tiredness and physical stress
- metabolic changes
Hormonal factors can affect the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. These are the brain chemicals that affect mood.
At 6 weeks pregnant, baby's heart will be beating around twice the rate of yours.
At 6 weeks, there are many changes in embryo development. Overall, the embryo is less than half an inch in length.
The following features, organs, and body systems are forming:
- the arm and leg buds
- the neural tube, the tissue that forms the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and spine
- a large head and a smaller, C-shaped body
- facial features including the eyes, nose, jaw, cheeks, and chin
- the inner ears
- the kidneys, liver, lungs, the pituitary gland
- the trachea, larynx, and bronchi
- the heart, dividing into four chambers and pumping blood
- primitive germ cells responsible for the formation of male or female genitalia
A very basic heart can sometimes be seen beating in ultrasound exams at this stage. It will currently be beating at around 150-160 beats per minute, about twice as fast as your heart.
Things to do
Around now, you will have your first prenatal visit. Your healthcare provider will examine you, obtain necessary tests to confirm your pregnancy, and evaluate your health.
Tests may include:
- gynecologic exam including Pap smear
- breast exam
- blood work such as blood type, Rh factor, iron levels, and certain genetic disease testing, German measles immunity, and more
- sexually transmitted infection testing, which may include tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV
- urine testing to evaluate for high glucose (sugar) levels and infection
- prenatal genetic testing, such as screening for Down syndrome
If you are not already taking a suitable multivitamin with folic acid, you should ask your doctor to recommend one.
Research has shown that consuming enough folic acid before and during pregnancy can reduce the risk of neural tube defects in your baby. Neural tube defects are responsible for conditions such as spina bifida.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD) recommends consuming 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid a day.
- Some of this will come from fortified cereals and other grain-based foods.
- Green, leafy vegetable contain folate, which is converted to folic acid, but less efficiently.
- Taking a multivitamin supplement that contains 400 mcg of folic acid can make up the shortfall.
A multivitamin with folic acid is recommended for all women who are in their childbearing years.
Those who have already had a child with a neural tube defect may be advised to take a higher dose of folic acid before pregnancy and in the early weeks of another pregnancy. A doctor can advise on the dose.
You may need to make some lifestyle changes during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
- avoiding alcohol, drugs, and tobacco
- keeping caffeine intake to a maximum of 200 mg a day, or two cups of instant coffee
- discussing all medications with a doctor to ensure that they are safe
- eating a healthy diet
- taking prenatal vitamins, which are available for purchase online.
- making sure all meat, chicken, turkey, and eggs are well-cooked
- avoiding untreated water and unpasteurized dairy produce
- washing all fresh fruits and vegetables before eating to minimize the risk of infection with bacteria or exposure to pesticides
When to see a doctor
If you have questions or concerns, contact your healthcare provider.
Call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- spotting or a small amount of vaginal bleeding
- feeling faint or dizzy
- pelvic cramping or sharp pains
- persistent nausea, vomiting or both, and dehydration
Get immediate medical help if you have:
- heavy vaginal bleeding
- leaking of vaginal fluid or tissue
- loss of consciousness or fainting
- severe pelvic pain