Until now, the embryo has been a mass of cells, but by this point in your pregnancy a distinct shape begins to form. The neural tube, which will eventually form into the spinal cord and brain, runs from the top to the bottom of the embryo. A bulge in the center of the embryo will develop into your baby’s heart. At this time, the placenta develops. It is through the placenta and its fingerlike projections, called chorionic villi, that an embryo receives nourishment from its mother.
Even if nausea hasn’t hit you yet, you’ll want to steer clear of certain foods when you’re pregnant. Foodborne illnesses, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, may cause birth defects or even miscarriage. Here are some foods you’ll want to avoid:
- soft cheeses such as feta, goat, brie, Camembert, and blue cheese
- unpasteurized milk and juices
- raw or undercooked meats, including hot dogs and deli meats
- raw eggs or foods containing raw eggs, including mousse and tiramisu
- raw shellfish
Toxoplasmosis can also be spread from soiled cat litter boxes, so try to have someone else clean the litter box during your pregnancy.
By week 6, your baby’s brain and nervous system are developing at a rapid pace. Optic vesicles, which later form the eyes, begin to develop this week on the sides of the head, as do the passageways that will make up the inner ear.
Your baby’s heart will begin to beat around this time, and it may even be detected on ultrasound examination. And the beginnings of the digestive and respiratory systems are forming, too. Small buds that will grow into your baby’s arms and legs also appear this week.
Because their legs are curled up against the torso for much of the pregnancy, making a full-length measurement difficult, babies often are measured from the crown to rump rather than from head to toe. This week, your baby only measures 0.08 to 0.2 inches (2 to 5 millimeters) from crown to rump!
Common pregnancy complaints may hit in full force this week. You may feel extreme fatigue as your body adjusts to the demands of pregnancy. And tender, aching breasts and nausea and vomiting (morning sickness) may leave you feeling less than great. Despite its name, morning sickness can occur at any hour or all day, so don’t be surprised if your queasy stomach doesn’t pass by noon. Nausea isn’t the only thing that has you running to the toilet, though — hormonal changes and other factors, such as your kidneys working extra hard to flush wastes out of your body, cause you to urinate more frequently, too.
Your baby is constantly adapting to life inside the uterus. By this week, the umbilical cord has formed. It will be your baby’s connection to you throughout your pregnancy, providing oxygen and nourishment for your baby and disposing of your baby’s wastes. In addition, your baby’s digestive tract and lungs continue to form.
Are you waiting impatiently to see your baby’s face on his or her birth day? You have a long way to go until then, but in the meantime, your baby’s face is taking shape. The mouth, nostrils, ears, and eyes are some of the facial features that become more defined this week.
Dreaming of a son or daughter to play ball with? The arm bud that developed just last week has a hand on the end of it, which looks like a tiny paddle.
Pregnancy causes many changes in your cervix. By this week you’ll have developed a mucous plug, which forms in the opening of the cervical canal and seals off the uterus for protection. (Eventually you’ll lose this plug as your cervix dilates in preparation for labor.)
Marveling over a baby’s tiny fingers and toes is one of the joys of the first day of life. Those fingers and toes are just beginning to form this week, and the arms can even flex at the elbows and wrists. The eyes are becoming more obvious because they’ve begun to develop pigment (color) in the retina (back of the eye).
Also, the intestines are getting longer and there isn’t enough room for them in the baby’s abdomen, so they protrude into the umbilical cord until week 12.
By now, the beginnings of the buds that will develop into your baby’s genitals have made their appearance, although they’ve not yet developed enough to reveal whether your baby is a boy or a girl.
Pregnancy symptoms such as a missed period, nausea, extreme fatigue, or tight clothes due to the swelling of your uterus have probably prompted you to wonder whether you’re pregnant. Once you have confirmation of your pregnancy from a home pregnancy test or blood or urine test at the doctor’s office, you should call and schedule your first prenatal visit. Your pregnancy may be monitored by one of several health care professionals, including an obstetrician, nurse practitioner, midwife, or family doctor. If your pregnancy is considered high risk (for example, if you have had multiple miscarriages, are older than 35, or have a history of pregnancy complications), your doctor may want to see you as early as possible and more often during the course of your pregnancy.
Good prenatal care is extremely important for the health and safe delivery of your baby, so be sure to make prenatal appointments a top priority.
The tail at the bottom of your baby’s spinal cord has shrunk and almost disappeared by this week. In contrast, your baby’s head has been growing — it’s quite large compared with the rest of the body and it curves onto the chest. By this week, your baby measures about 0.6 to 0.7 inches (16 to 18 millimeters) from crown to rump and weighs around 0.1 ounces (3 grams). The tip of the nose has developed and can be seen in profile, and flaps of skin over the eyes have begun to shape into eyelids, which will become more noticeable in the next few weeks.
The digestive system continues to develop. The anus is forming, and the intestines are growing longer. In addition, internal reproductive features, such as testes and ovaries, start to form this week.
Your baby may make some first movements this week as muscles develop. If you had an ultrasound now, those movements might even be visible, but you won’t be able to feel them for several more weeks.
In preparation for your first prenatal visit, take the time to familiarize yourself with your family’s health history and to review your medical records. Have you had any chronic illnesses, allergies, or surgeries? Are you currently taking any prescription medications? Do you know of any genetic disorders that run in your family? Has your menstrual cycle been regular, and have you had any past pregnancies? Do you smoke or drink alcohol? What are your exercise habits? These are the things your health care provider will want to discuss with you, so it will help to have this information ready when you go.
By week 10, all of your baby’s vital organs have been formed and are starting to work together.
As external changes such as the separation of fingers and toes and the disappearance of the tail takes place, internal developments are taking place too. Tooth buds form inside the mouth, and if you’re having a boy, his testes will begin producing the male hormone testosterone.
Congenital abnormalities are unlikely to develop after week 10. This also marks the end of the embryonic period — in general, the embryo now has a distinctly human appearance and starting next week your baby will officially be considered a fetus.
Your first prenatal visit, which often takes place around this time, is a milestone. At the doctor’s office, you’ll go through a series of tests and checks, including having your weight and blood pressure checked. You might also have an external abdominal examination to check the size and position of your baby and have your urine tested. During this first prenatal visit, your health care provider will thoroughly examine you, including an internal examination and a breast exam. Your health care provider will also ask you many questions about your medical history and any family health problems, to determine if your baby is at risk for genetic diseases. Another thing your provider will check? Your baby’s heartbeat! Using a Doppler stethoscope, you should get to hear it for the first time.
As you leave your first appointment, your health care provider will probably send you for a blood test to find out whether you are immunized against varicella, measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles), as well as to determine your blood type and Rh factor.