Pregnancy Week by Week (Weeks 5-8)

Week 5

Your period is late so pick up a pregnancy test from the pharmacy. The test detects even the lowest levels of a hormone called HCG which is released by the placenta. So that thin blue line actually shows the presence of a placenta, rather than a baby!

Your baby
That bundle of cells isn’t all destined to become your baby. Some grow into the placenta – your baby’s food factory and oxygen supplier, which will become fully operational at week 14. The umbilical cord – forming out of a line of blood vessels – will link your baby to the placenta.

The place to push
It may seem as if the birth is ages away, but – as your antenatal care depends on where you have your baby – it’s a good idea to start thinking about your options. The basic choices are:
• Hospital
• Birth unit
• Home

All have pros and cons, and different choices suit different mums. So it’s worth doing a little research including checking out which hospitals offer which facilities. For advice see Where to Give Birth.

CF: is there a risk?
If you or your partner has cystic fibrosis in the family, you may want to do a simple mouthwash test to check whether you are carriers. If you both are, there’s a risk your baby will be born with CF. If so, it will give you a chance to find out more about the problems your baby might face.

MOTHERCARE TIP If you aren’t already, start taking 400mcg of folic acid – and continue up to week 12. It dramatically reduces the risk of spina bifida.

Week 6

You’re probably running to the loo every five minutes. That embryo may be minute and weigh almost nothing, but your womb is growing – and pressing down on your bladder!

Your baby
Curled like a miniature prawn, your baby has four tiny ‘buds’ where his limbs will grow. He still has a tail (the protruding end of the spinal column), which he will lose, and three separate layers, which will grow into different body sections. But if you have an early scan, you’ll see none of this, just a pulsing dot on the screen. This is your baby’s heart, which has all four chambers and is beating steadily, driving blood around the growing body.

Need an early scan?
You’ll probably have one of these between 6 and 10 weeks only if you’ve had any signs of a threatened miscarriage, such as spotting, or possibly a previous miscarriage. Seeing that pulsing dot of a heartbeat can be hugely reassuring for a worried mum to be.

Get some support
With your breasts growing from very early in pregnancy, you might find your old bras uncomfortable. It’s a good idea to get fitted for a maternity bra now and every six weeks from now on as good support is essential to avoid ligament damage, and your size is likely to change frequently. You won’t have to sacrifice your pretty matching sets of underwear though, as new designs look just as sexy as your non-pregnancy stuff.

Week 7

At the moment the thing you want most is sleep. You won’t have a bump yet, of course, but your baby’s fast and furious development is exhausting. The other thing you may do frequently is cry – the flood of hormones can turn the toughest cookie into an emotional jelly.

Your baby
Development is storming ahead, with all important structures forming. Your baby’s brain has two hemispheres, and a spinal column has developed along his back. On his hands are ridges that will grow into fingers – these develop slightly ahead of the toes. On your baby’s face, openings for nostrils appear and eyelids develop – though they’re fused shut. Behind these, eyes (at the moment on stalks!) start to form. With muscle tissue developing, he begins to make very small movements.

Mouthing off
Pregnant women are prone to gum problems. That’s because hormones make all your soft tissues spongier. Good oral health is essential:
• Use a soft toothbrush and brush regularly.
• Make sure you floss your teeth.
• Visit the dentist and hygienist.

Week 8

Your baby’s swift development makes you tired. Rocketing hormone levels can also cause nausea and vomiting, with smells you once loved (fresh coffee perhaps) making you run for the loo feeling sick.

Your baby
Your baby is 2.5cm (1in) long – about the size of a large olive – with a huge head in comparison to his body. His chin is fused to his chest and he now has a rudimentary mouth and ears. All major organs are in position. Now they must become more complex, mature and grow.

Check-in time
Your first antenatal appointment (your booking appointment) should happen between week 8 and week 12. It’ll be a long one.
• You’ll be asked the medical history of you and your partner.
• You may be weighed.
• Your height will be measured.
• A urine sample will be taken and checked for sugar (a sign of diabetes) and protein (a sign of pre-eclampsia).
• Your blood pressure will be checked.
• A blood sample will be taken to check your blood group, whether you’re rhesus positive or negative, your immunity to rubella, and whether you have any diseases that could harm your baby.

Dates for your diary
First-time mums have about 10 antenatal appointments – at your booking appointment ask for details of appointments and scans, and note them down. Then, in between appointments, keep a list of any questions you want to ask (pregnancy may make your memory a bit vague!).

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