You’re six weeks pregnant, and you may be beginning to feel some changes in your body. You may also be shifting from frozen in surprise to planning for the future. Let’s talk about what’s going on with your baby and your body in week 6 pregnancy!
Week 6 Pregnancy: Baby’s Development
Now that you’re six weeks pregnant, your baby is four weeks from conception and undergoing so many changes! Baby is still tiny at 2 – 4mm or 0.08 – 0.16 of an inch, but this is two to three times the size of week 5 (1).
It has a been a busy week for your tiny one! This week, your baby’s:
- Heart is beating approximately 80 times per minute and has most of its definitive characteristics
- Nose, mouth, and ears are beginning to form
- Hands and feet have small, webbed buds that are the beginning of fingers and toes
- Liver starts to produce blood cells (2, 3)
Week 6 Pregnancy: Symptoms
You may start to notice some changes in your body this week. (Don’t feel alarmed if you don’t notice any changes; they’ll come along soon enough.)
Your abdomen probably hasn’t changed much, but your weight may have gone up or down a few pounds. You may notice your breasts feeling heavy, swollen or tender.
You may have begun to experience morning sickness, which is a misleading name as this nausea can occur throughout the day. Increasing levels of hormones are thought to be the cause, and it occurs in 70 – 85% of pregnant women. Morning sickness often starts around week 6 pregnancy and increases over the next month or two before beginning to subside for many women. Here are some tips to help manage it:
- Eat small, frequent meals
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Avoid smells that bother you
- Keep snacks by the bed; try eating dry toast or crackers before getting out of bed
- Choose easy to digest foods — remember the acronym BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) when you’re struggling to keep food down
- Ginger can soothe an upset stomach, so try ginger candies, ginger tea, or ginger ale with real ginger
Up to 2% of women have hyperemesis gravidarium, a severe form of morning sickness. If you can’t keep any food or liquid down for more than 24 hours, or are becoming dehydrated, consult your doctor. (2)
Most women experience constipation during pregnancy — again, probably because of those crazy hormones! Increasing your fluid intake can help with constipation and in general, because your body needs more fluids right now. Exercise can also help combat constipation, as well as being good for you and baby. You can try milk of magnesia, prune juice, and high-fiber foods. If these things don’t help, your doctor can help you decide if a laxative is appropriate.
While many doctors and midwives schedule a first appointment for around eight weeks, there are a variety of reasons why you may have an ultrasound as early as this week. An ultrasound can be helpful in confirming a heartbeat, confirming dates, checking the location of the pregnancy, looking for reasons behind bleeding or pain, and more.
Here’s what to expect from a week six pregnancy ultrasound:
- Ultrasound may be transabdominal (scanning through the skin of the lower abdomen) or transvaginal (an internal probe that scans from inside the vagina.) Neither should cause pain or discomfort.
- You may be asked to have a full bladder, this positions everything for better visualization.
- Your doctor will be assessing the size and appearance of the baby and gestation sac, its location, the number of babies, the heartbeat, and your uterus and ovaries.
- You may not be able to recognize anything but a small sac on the screen with an ultrasound this early. You may or may not be able to see a heartbeat. Don’t worry, this is normal! You’re just in the range of when they can start to see it, but not always.
What to Expect
It’s okay if you still don’t feel different, or the pregnancy doesn’t quite feel real to you yet. Focus on taking care of your body and baby with good nutrition, plenty of water, rest, and exercise. Any of the symptoms above are normal, but it’s also completely normal to have only some, or even none of them.
Now is the time to reach out to your doctor or midwife. They may not need to see you quite yet, but it’s time to get an appointment scheduled and make sure you have a relationship with a provider who you can call with any questions or concerns.
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(1) Glade, B.C., Schuler, J. (2011). Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 7th edition. First Da Capo Press.
(2) The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2010). Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month, 5th edition.
(3) Ladewig, P.A., London, M.L., Davidson, M.R. (2006). Contemporary Maternal-Newborn Nursing Care, 6th edition. Pearson Prentice Hall. Upper Saddle River, NJ.