6 weeks into pregnancy is one of the most delicate and critical stages of the embryonic period. It is during this time that vital organs and more complex body systems enter an advanced phase of development. The changes in the 6 weeks pregnant stage aren’t restricted to the baby since a lot of mothers begin to experience some symptoms of pregnancy around this time.
To help you understand what’s really happening during the 6 weeks pregnancy stage, this article will delve into the changes that occur in the mother’s body, the baby’s development, as well as all the health precautions that you need to take in order to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
6 weeks pregnant: Symptoms & hormones
At 6 weeks pregnant, the symptoms are still relatively mild. Some women don’t even experience anything this early in the pregnancy. In the absence of any visible body changes, here are some symptoms to look for:
- A persistent morning sickness that occurs throughout the day, often accompanied by vomiting and nausea
- Constant fatigue and sleepiness despite adequate rest
- Unusually frequent urination
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- Cramping and spotting
- Extreme mood swings
During pregnancy, a lot of hormone changes occur. In the second half of the embryonic phase, women will experience significant fluctuations in Estrogen and Progesterone levels. These hormonal swings are responsible for most of the physical symptoms discussed above and can even affect certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. These endogenous chemicals are directly responsible for regulating mood, sleep patterns, as well as appetite among many other functions.
During this phase, some significant changes to the embryo occur. At half an inch in length, the fetus begins taking shape and some organs enter the preliminary forming stages. Facial features such as the jaw, nose, and eyes become defined. Internal organs like the liver, lungs, and kidneys are forming while the heart divides into four chambers and begins pumping blood. This also the stage in which the germ cells responsible for developing the genitalia appear. While the heart is still underdeveloped at this point, it is in this phase of pregnancy where you get to see the baby’s heartbeat via ultrasound. It typically runs between 80 and 150 beats per minute, twice as fast as the heartbeat of an adult.
The first prenatal appointment
Since 6 weeks is usually the period that coincides with the first visitor to the doctor, it is important to mention that it is also the most comprehensive one. It is during this initial checkup that all the necessary tests that are needed to ensure the baby’s proper growth and the mother’s ability to carry a healthy pregnancy are taken. Some of the procedures include regular blood exams, a urine test, STD tests, a general pap smear, and a pelvic exam.
The doctor might also perform an ultrasound at this stage to check for a fetal pole or a heartbeat. If neither is detected, there is no reason to worry. The heart is still underdeveloped and it might take a couple more weeks before it can be detected via ultrasound.
The proper diet
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet throughout the pregnancy is essential to the health of both the baby and the mother. Neglecting to follow a proper eating regimen can put the pregnancy itself in jeopardy. 6 weeks in, you should have a clear idea of what your diet is and what each meal should consist of. Here is a list of some of the foods that are highly recommended:
- Dairy products, especially yogurt: Protein and calcium are essential to the growth and development of the baby, and dairy products have them in abundance. Yogurt is ideal in this case because of its low percentage of fat.
- Eggs: Eggs contain a significant number of nutrients that are beneficial to the pregnant mother and the developing fetus. More importantly, they contain a component called Choline. This essential nutrient is integral to brain development and overall health.
- Berries: They contain a lot of ingredients that enhance the immune system and increase skin health. Their low sugar level makes them ideal fruit during pregnancy.
- Whole grains: they contain a very high amount of folic acid, a very important element during the embryonic stage. Folic acid plays a significant role in forming the brain and spinal cord of the embryo. Additionally, whole grains are rich in several nutrients such as vitamin B and magnesium.
- Legumes: they’re very rich in fibers, protein, calcium, and folate. The latter is especially important since studies have shown a direct correlation between insufficient folate intake in women and several birth defects and immune system issues in children.
- Lean meat: The myth that meat is detrimental to the health of both the baby and the mother is just that, a myth. Chicken and beef are an irreplaceable source of protein and should be an indispensable part of any healthy diet.
Another important element of the diet is proper hydration. Not only is water essential to the health of the baby, healthy water intake can also relieve some of the digestive issues that are associated with pregnancy.
What to avoid during the early weeks of pregnancy
The things that you should avoid doing during this period are fairly intuitive and don’t exclusively apply to pregnant women. But due to the fragility of the fetus and the compromised body of the carrying mother, keeping away from these practices becomes imperative. Some of the habits that you need to abstain from include:
- Alcoholic drinks and tobacco
- high-caffeine beverages
- Eating greasy food
- eating unwashed fruit and vegetables
- hard and long workouts
- taking any type of medicine before consulting your doctor
Throughout the pregnancy, all the focus should be on following a healthy diet, getting an adequate amount of rest, and avoiding any stressful or strenuous activity. Maintaining this balance and following through with the doctor’s instructions will ensure goes as well as possible.