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Pregnancy

      6 weeks pregnant: Pregnancy Symptoms & Baby Development

      Read time: 4 minutes

      6 weeks pregnant is how many months?

      Month 1

      Baby development at 6 weeks

      Your baby’s neural tube is closing¹ and their heart is pumping blood around their tadpole-like body.

      Folic acid

      Discover why folic acid is so important at this time.

      Morning sickness

      Learn how to ease the queasiness of morning sickness that may have started.

      Baby development at 6 weeks


      How big is my baby? And, what does my baby look like?

      Although only measuring around 2–4mm from the crown of their head to their bottom2, your baby has grown significantly in size since last week. In this 6th week of pregnancy they have a tadpole-like appearance, but with the tiny buds of their arms and legs developing, this won’t last long3. Once the limbs grow longer, your baby is still measured from head to bottom because the legs are often bent and difficult to gauge.

      Your baby’s heart, which is no bigger than a poppy seed3 , is now beating at around 110 beats per minute , while the beginnings of their digestive tract are starting to form4.

      With the neural tube continuing to develop, week 6 is a good time to check that you’re getting the nutritional essentials, such as folic acid.

      Pregnancy at 6 weeks (first trimester)

      Body changes

      While it’s common to be bloated at 6 weeks pregnant, it’s unlikely that you’ll look pregnant yet or see any signs of a pregnancy belly.


      Pregnancy symptoms at 6 weeks5

      Early pregnancy symptoms vary from person to person. At 6 weeks, you may experience any of the following signs of pregnancy, or no symptoms at all:

      Your breasts may become larger and feel sore. You may also find your nipples stick out more than usual and darken in colour as your body begins to prepare for breastfeeding.

      During the first 12 weeks, hormonal changes can leave you feeling tired or exhausted.

      Morning sickness affects up to 80% of mums-to-be in the first trimester6. It can strike at any time of the day or night and varies from mild nausea to sickness throughout the day.

      The pregnancy hormone progesterone slows down your digestion which can lead to bloating and excess gas7.

      Light cramping and spotting are common in the early stages of pregnancy8,9. If the pain becomes severe (stronger than period cramps) or if bleeding becomes heavy, you should talk to your GP.

      Frequent trips to the bathroom are one of the most common symptoms of early pregnancy, as your growing uterus begins to put pressure on your bladder.

      Pregnancy hormones, estrogen and progesterone, soar during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy10 , affecting how you’re feeling emotionally. Get plenty of rest and light exercise to keep you feeling yourself.

      Feeling nauseous?

      Your pregnancy hormones are building by the time you’re 6 weeks pregnant, which can often lead to nausea. These tips may help you keep nausea at bay:

      Eating little and often may give some relief.

      Many mums say a dry cracker in the morning before getting out of bed can help to settle the stomach.

      Some mums-to-be find that ginger can help to ease pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting11.

      Even if you can’t tolerate your usual amount of food, try to stick to a healthy diet – it will give you and your baby the nutrients you both need.

      Focus on folic acid

      The Department of Health recommends taking a daily folic acid supplement for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy12.

      The naturally occurring food source of folic acid is called folate. It is present in green, leafy vegetables, lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans, and folic acid is also added to some breads and breakfast cereals. However, because your needs are so high during this stage of pregnancy, it is difficult to get enough from food sources alone. This is why a supplement is recommended.

      Check that your prenatal multivitamin contains the recommended 400mcg of folic acid you need.

      If you find out you’re pregnant and haven’t been taking folic acid supplements or a prenatal multivitamin containing folic acid, don’t worry: simply start taking them straight away and carry on until you reach 12 weeks.

      The
      Science
      Behind

      FOLIC ACID

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      This important nutrient supports the development of the neural tube, which is already closing to form your baby’s spine and nervous system. Taking 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid as a supplement is the best way to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida1.

      How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?
       

      Weight gain during pregnancy depends on your pre-pregnancy weight, and varies a great deal from mother to mother. Most women gain between 10kg and 12.5kg (22–28lb) while pregnant, some of which is the weight of the growing baby13. Learn everything you need to know about weight gain in pregnancy.

      LEARN MORE

      If you haven’t been to see your GP yet, you should make an appointment so they can start planning your antenatal care, including your first ultrasound scan.

      1. NHS. Why do I need folic acid in pregnancy? [Online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/why-do-i-need-folic-acid-in-pregnancy/ Page last reviewed: 16 March 2018. Next review due: 16 March 2021.

      2. Papaioannou GI et al. Normal ranges of embryonic length, embryonic heart rate, gestational sac diameter and yolk sac diameter at 6-10 weeks. Fetal Diagn Ther 2010;28(4):207-19.

      3. Deans A. Your New Pregnancy Bible, The experts’ guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. 4th ed. London: Carroll & Brown Publishers Limited, 2013. p. 31.

      4. Murkoff H, Mazel S. What to Expect When You’re Expecting. 4th ed. London: Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2009. p. 149.

      5. NHS UK. Signs and symptoms of pregnancy. [Online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/signs-and-symptoms-pregnancy/ Page last reviewed: 6 October 2016. Next review due: 6 October 2019.

      6. NCIB. Noel M. Lee, M.D. Gastroenterology Fellow Sumona Saha M.D. Assistant Professor of Medicine; Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy. 2011. Pub. 2013. [Online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3676933/

      7. NHS UK. Week 10 – Your first Trimester. [Online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/pregnancy/week-by-week/1st-trimester/week-ten/

      8. NHS UK. Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy. [Online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/vaginal-bleeding-pregnant/ Page last reviewed: 26 January 2018. Next review due: 26 January 2021.

      9. NHS UK. Stomach pain in pregnancy. [Online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/stomach-pain-abdominal-cramp-pregnant/ Page last reviewed: 1 May 2018. Next review due: 1 May 2021.

      10. NCIB. Claudio N. Soares and Brook Zitek; Reproductive hormone sensitivity and risk for depression across the female life cycle: A continuum of vulnerability? Pub. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2008 Jul; 33(4): 331–343 [Online] Available at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2440795/

      11. NHS UK. Nausea and morning sickness [Online]. 2013. Available at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/morning-sickness-nausea.aspx Page last reviewed: 5 March 2018. Next review due: 5 March 2021.

      12. Department of Health. Report on Health and Social Subjects 41. Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. London: TSO, 1991.

      13. NHS choices. How much weight will I put on during my pregnancy? [Online] 2015. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2311.aspx?CategoryID=54 Page last reviewed: 18 October 2018. Next review due: 18 October 2021.

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