The sixth week of pregnancy is quite a milestone – you have reached the halfway point of the first trimester. If you are suspecting the presence of a new life growing inside you, here are 9 symptoms to confirm your doubt.
This is the time when you can be 100% certain that you are pregnant as your pregnancy symptoms will come on in full swing. As your baby is still very tiny, you won’t notice any change in your shape.
During the first trimester – that is from week 1 to week 12 – most moms-to-be deal with morning sickness, nausea, bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue, irritability or mood swings, and intense food cravings.1
These pregnancy symptoms are partly because the baby is growing quite fast and partly because of many hormonal changes.2
1. Morning Sickness
Morning sickness, which includes nausea and vomiting, affects about 80% of pregnant women. The cause of morning sickness is still not fully understood, but an increase in the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is believed to be one of the culprits. Another cause might be Helicobacter pylori, a kind of bacteria in the stomach. But believe it or not, morning sickness is associated with a lower risk of miscarriage.
Treatment For Morning Sickness
- Eat small meals at frequent intervals and avoid spicy, oily, or fried food.
- Sip fluids like water, seltzer, coconut water, or lemon water through the day to avoid dehydration.3
- Take ginger extract, drink ginger tea or ale, or even have a couple spoonfuls of undiluted ginger juice.4
- Ayurveda recommends having rose milk with a teaspoon of ghee at bedtime to balance pitta and reduce morning sickness.5Practitioners also recommend supplements made of asparagus, rose, lotus root, and cardamom.6
- In more severe cases, such as hyperemesis gravidarum, you may have to be admitted to a hospital, given corticosteroid injections, and total parenteral nutrition.7
A common complaint of pregnant women is fatigue. And a study found that fatigue during pregnancy predicts a caesarian delivery.8 While most studies focus on pregnancy fatigue in working moms, more studies are needed on stay-at-home moms.
Some of the common causes of pregnancy-related fatigue are:
Many studies associate fatigue and stress with adverse work or home environment.9 Studies also suggest that steroids secreted in the brain which control the excitability of neurons (neuroactive steroids) could be involved in pregnancy-related fatigue.
However, we don’t know for clear where these steroids are synthesized or what their biological roles are.10
[pullquote]Feeling tired is natural because of certain nerve-exciting chemicals, a rising level of progesterone, and the changed pattern of respiration or blood circulation thanks to a rapidly growing baby. Work-related stress can tire you out more now.[/pullquote]
Fatigue may also be due to energy depletion resulting from the physiological and psychological changes – like oxygen consumption, fetal growth and development, cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary tract, metabolic, and psychological processes – during the first trimester.11
Another reason is that the body makes more blood to provide nutrients to the developing baby. This means that organs like the heart are on an overdrive, which can make you tired and sleepy. Your body, too, is changing the way it processes food and nutrients, leading to stress and fatigue.
Pregnancy hormones like progesterone are also believed to make you feel sluggish and tired, especially when the levels increase steadily from the fourth week onward.
Make sure you get enough sleep. Indulge in a small nap now and then. Settle down into a routine.
All the vitamins and iron supplements that are prescribed to pregnant women play a role in this problem. This is especially true of iron supplements.12 Drink a lot of water if you are on iron supplements.
[pullquote]Eat oats, bran, and yogurt and drink warm milk before bed if you can tolerate it.[/pullquote]
The main cause, however, is the production of progesterone. It relaxes the smooth muscle tissues throughout the body and even in the gastrointestinal tract. This relaxation slows the digestive process and the movement of food through the digestive tract.13 Eat fiber-rich food, drink lots of water, and get some exercise. Follow these home remedies to relieve constipation during pregnancy.
Progesterone can be a cause of bloating.14 Another cause of bloating might be the growth of the uterus, which cramps the stomach and intestines.
5. Frequent Urination
The body produces hCG in the early stages of pregnancy, which increases your need to urinate. As the pregnancy continues, your body naturally starts to retain more fluid. This is one of the effects of progesterone.
[pullquote]Avoid diuretics like cola and coffee. Practice Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles of the urethra.[/pullquote]
6. Breast Tenderness
This is one of the most common pregnancy symptom, which happens because various hormones that are released during pregnancy are preparing the breasts for lactation. The milk ducts grow, milk production begins, and the breasts become bigger, leading to sore breasts and nipples. Breast tenderness is usually far worse in the first pregnancy than in the following ones.
Most pregnant women experience some kind of craving or aversion, which can be for foods or sometimes non-foods – which is known as pica craving. A simple explanation is that the baby is taking away nutrients from your body, making your body trigger cravings that will make you replenish the lost nutrients.
[pullquote]Craving mothballs? This pica craving is possibly linked to your iron deficiency.[/pullquote]
Another reason for cravings could be an impaired sense of taste while the aversions could result from an altered sense of smell.16 Some studies also suggest that a physiological mechanism for increasing salt intake may develop during pregnancy.17
8. Mood Swings
By around the sixth week of pregnancy, the mood swings swing by. The moodiness lasts till about the tenth week and usually disappears during the second trimester.
The main cause here is, again, hormones. Hormonal changes affect the neurotransmitters in the brain. It is these neurotransmitters that regulate your moods. Mood swings can also be caused by fatigue, emotional and physical stress, and changes in metabolism.
What you need to remember is that even though mood swings are a normal part of pregnancy, continual feelings of depression are not. Consistent depression and anxiety are not good for you or the baby.18In fact, it puts your baby at risk of depression too. Get enough exercise to let the happiness hormones overcome the depression-inducing ones.
9. Weight Gain
[pullquote]If you are of low or average weight, gaining about 2–4 pounds during pregnancy is actually good.[/pullquote]
Many women gain about 5 pounds during the first trimester, but many others lose weight during the first six weeks of pregnancy due to nausea and morning sickness.
It is not ideal to lose weight during pregnancy. Low weight gain during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of preterm delivery, especially if you were underweight or of average weight before pregnancy.19
Pregnant women should gain about 2–4 pounds during the first trimester and 1 pound every week after that till the baby is born. Eating small nutrient-rich meals about 5–6 times a day should provide adequately for you and your baby.
If you are obese, however, limited or no weight gain would result in more favorable pregnancy outcomes.20
So it’s a good idea to keep exercising irrespective of your weight, but avoid these activities.
How Is Your Baby At Six Weeks?
From the end of the fifth week when your baby was just a tiny dot, your baby has grown rapidly.
- Your baby is about 0.75 inches long or the size of a sweet pea, covered by a translucent layer of very thin skin.
- The baby has a C-shaped body with a large head and a tail, which makes it look like a small tadpole. The neural tube has begun to close and form the spinal cord. This tail on one end of the neural tube is soon going to recede and form the spinal cord. Take 400 mcg folic acid supplement every day to avoid birth defects like spina bifida.21
- There are indents on two sides of the head. These are the ear canals forming.[pullquote]Your baby is the size of a pea with the eyes and ears just beginning to form. A vaginal ultrasound now can detect the heart beating 100–160 times per minute.[/pullquote]
- The eyes are just thickenings that look like little black dots.
- The arms and legs can be seen as small protruding buds.
- The most exciting thing is the baby’s heart; it beats at a rapid 100–160 beats per minute. This is double the speed of a normal adult heart. A vaginal ultrasound can most likely pick up your baby’s heartbeat in the sixth week. Blood circulation had already started in week 5.22
- The brain, lungs, liver, intestines, and pancreas are all forming but they are not yet visible.
- Your baby is also able to make its first movements in this week. But these movements will be too gentle to be felt by you.23
|↑1||Meyer, Lesley C., Janet L. Peacock, J. Martin Bland, and H. Ross Anderson. “Symptoms and health problems in pregnancy: their association with social factors, smoking, alcohol, caffeine and attitude to pregnancy.” Paediatric and perinatal epidemiology 8, no. 2 (1994): 145-155.|
|↑2||Davis, Deborah C. “The discomforts of pregnancy.” Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing 25, no. 1 (1996): 73-81.|
|↑3||Hyperemesis gravidarum. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑4||Murphy, Patricia Aikins. “Alternative therapies for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.” Obstetrics & Gynecology 91, no. 1 (1998): 149-155.|
|↑5||Lad, Vasant. The complete book of Ayurvedic home remedies. Harmony, 1999.|
|↑6||Buhrman, Sarasvati. “Ayurvedic approaches to women’s health.” Protocol J Botanic Med 1, no. 4 (1996): 2-7.|
|↑7||Quinla, J. D., and D. Ashley Hill. “Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.” American family physician 68, no. 1 (2003): 121-128.|
|↑8||Chien, Li‐Yin, and Yi‐Li Ko. “Fatigue during pregnancy predicts caesarean deliveries.” Journal of Advanced Nursing 45, no. 5 (2004): 487-494.|
|↑9||Bialobok, Kristin M., and Manju Monga. “Fatigue and work in pregnancy.” Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology 12, no. 6 (2000): 497-500.|
|↑10||Biedermann, Kurt, and Peter Schoch. “Do neuroactive steroids cause fatigue in pregnancy?.” European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology 58, no. 1 (1995): 15-18.|
|↑11||Poole, Carol I. “Fatigue during the first trimester of pregnancy.” Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing 15, no. 5 (1986): 375-379.|
|↑12||Bradley, Catherine S., Colleen M. Kennedy, Anne M. Turcea, Satish SC Rao, and Ingrid E. Nygaard. “Constipation in pregnancy: prevalence, symptoms, and risk factors.” Obstetrics & Gynecology 110, no. 6 (2007): 1351-1357.|
|↑13||Jewell, David, and Gavin Young. “Interventions for treating constipation in pregnancy.” The Cochrane Library (2001).|
|↑14||Wald, Arnold, David H. Van Thiel, Leah Hoechstetter, Judith S. Gavaler, Kimberly M. Egler, Ray Verm, Larry Scott, and Roger Lester. “Effect of pregnancy on gastrointestinal transit.” Digestive diseases and sciences 27, no. 11 (1982): 1015-1018.|
|↑15||Aslan, Dilek, Gü ven Aslan, Mustafa Yamazhan, Çigdem Ispahi, and Ş. Tinar. “Voiding symptoms in pregnancy: an assessment with international prostate symptom score.” Gynecologic and obstetric investigation 55, no. 1 (2003): 46-49.|
|↑16||Dickens, G., and W. H. Trethowan. “Cravings and aversions during pregnancy.” Journal of Psychosomatic Research 15, no. 3 (1971): 259-268.|
|↑17||Brown, Judith E., and Ramses B. Toma. “Taste changes during pregnancy.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 43, no. 3 (1986): 414-418.|
|↑18||Campagne, Daniel M. “The obstetrician and depression during pregnancy.” European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology 116, no. 2 (2004): 125-130.|
|↑19||Schieve, Laura A., Mary E. Cogswell, Kelley S. Scanlon, Geraldine Perry, Cynthia Ferre, Cheryl Blackmore-Prince, M. Yu Stella, Deborah Rosenberg, and NMIHS Collaborative Working Group. “Prepregnancy body mass index and pregnancy weight gain: associations with preterm delivery.” Obstetrics & Gynecology 96, no. 2 (2000): 194-200.|
|↑20||Kiel, Deborah W., Elizabeth A. Dodson, Raul Artal, Tegan K. Boehmer, and Terry L. Leet. “Gestational weight gain and pregnancy outcomes in obese women: how much is enough?.” Obstetrics & Gynecology 110, no. 4 (2007): 752-758.|
|↑21, ↑22||You and your baby at 0-8 weeks pregnant. NHS.|
|↑23||Pregnancy Week 6. American Pregnancy Association.|