Your pregnancy week-by-week: Week Five

Welcome to Week 5! You may now know you are pregnant, or could still be waiting for a positive pregnancy test.

Your Baby

The baby is still very tiny: no bigger than an apple pip. However, it is growing at an amazing rate. The placenta and the amniotic sac are developing and getting ready to provide nourishment to your baby through fingerlike projections called chorionic villi. The embryo is starting to form into a distinctive shape, though it is currently more like that of  tadpole than a baby!

Cells are still dividing, and each one becomes a different part of your baby’s body, with its own form and function. The embryo has a neural tube running from top to bottom which will later become his spinal cord and brain – the development of this is extremely important so make sure you are taking your folic acid. A bulge begins to develop around the middle which will become the heart – one of the first organs to start properly working, and it will soon start to divide into chambers, beat and pump blood. Some of the blood vessels forming will connect the baby to the mother and later become the umbilical cord. It is possible to see a heartbeat in an ultrasound from around Week 8, though the first time you hear it will probably be in your midwife appointment at around 16 weeks, as it can be distressing if she is unable to find it. The first time you hear that distinctive galloping sound can be an amazing experience, and along with your 12 week ultrasound can be one of the things that really makes you realise you have a baby growing in there.

Externally, the buds that will become arms and legs are beginning to sprout, and small folds form where the mouth and jaw will be.

You

By now you will have missed your period and may be wondering if you are pregnant. If you haven’t already, it’s time to take a pregnancy test. If you get a negative result, wait a few days and test again, preferably with the first urine of the day as this is when the hormone hCG is most concentrated in your urine. You won’t look pregnant yet, but may start to feel differently – either with the typical symptoms mentioned in Week 4, or just with a feeling that something is going on in there.

If you receive a positive result, call your GP or midwife to make an appointment. He may do another pregnancy test which he may confirm himself, or send off to be tested, depending on protocol. Generally once your pregnancy is confirmed you can begin your antenatal visits and will make an appointment to see a midwife. Although you will probably have the same midwife after your 12 week scan, you may see a Community Midwife in appointments before this. Your first ‘proper’ appointment should be between 8 and 12 weeks, and is called the booking appointment. In a first pregnancy, with no complications, you will then have ten midwife appointments, which are usually at 16 weeks, 25 weeks, 28 weeks, 31 weeks, 34 weeks, 36 weeks, 38 weeks, 40 weeks and 41 weeks, if you need it. In a second, low risk pregnancy you will have fewer appointments: a total of seven at 16 weeks, 28 weeks, 34 weeks, 36 weeks, 38 weeks and 41 weeks if needed. On top of this there are numerous antenatal tests and scans you will need throughout your pregnancy. It is important to keep up with these appointments: in a healthy and complication-free pregnancy you might start to feel the appointments become boring, but this is a good thing! Your midwife will look out for possible problems and adjust your care accordingly, plus it gives you an opportunity to ask questions and to hear your baby’s heartbeat.

Whether or not you are suffering with morning sickness and food aversions, you will need to start being careful with regard to certain foodstuffs. Certain foods bring with them a risk of listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, which can cause birth defects or miscarriage. Foods you should avoid include:

  • soft, unpasturised cheeses, such feta, Brie, Camembert and blue cheeses
  • unpasteurized milk and juices
  • raw or undercooked meats, including hot dogs and deli meats
  • raw eggs and foods containing raw eggs
  • raw shellfish and sushi
  • pate

Toxoplasmosis can also be spread in cat litter, so make sure someone else changes the litter tray if you have one.

Vitamin D is important right now so try to get a little exercise outdoors each day, even if you just feel like curling up on the sofa.

Your Partner

It’s quite possible you’re feeling very pleased with yourself and want to tell the world you are going to be a father, but make sure you talk to your partner before you do. It’s probably not something you want to think about, but the pregnancy is very early and the risk of miscarriage is at its highest: it is a sad fact that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage before Week 12. For now  you might want to keep the news to yourself, or just tell a few close friends and relatives, but this is something that only you and your partner can decide. Bear in mind that your partner is probably feeling pretty rubbish right now, so may not be up for big celebrations herself!

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