All About Baby
Your embryo is growing at lightning speed, adding 1 millimeter to its tiny self each day. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, imagine that you grew by one-third overnight and you’ll appreciate how hard the little tyke is working! By the end of this week the embryo’s head will be bigger than its body. It has little limb buds that are starting to lengthen into shoulders, arms, hands, and even the beginnings of fingers; and little leg buds that, by the end of this week, will lengthen into thigh, leg, and foot parts. That heartbeat that started last week has become more rhythmic and regular, and the heart has divided into two (of four) chambers so far. But this week’s biggest news is that the embryo is growing an umbilical cord, its lifeline to nutrients and oxygen and its constant companion for the next 34 or so weeks!
All About You
You’re happy, sure, but you probably aren’t feeling so hot. Swollen breasts, fatigue, and an urgent need to pee are some of this week’s common symptoms. You may be feeling unusually moody and find yourself crying at a cell phone commercial, which makes it really hard not to spill the beans to your best friend.
This Week: Your First Doctor’s Visit
Get ready to be poked and prodded! Your first prenatal visit will include a complete physical and a medical history as well as a battery of tests. Here’s what to expect:
Urine samples: Your doc will test the golden dew for blood sugar levels (which can indicate gestational diabetes) and infections. If you’re not a pro at peeing in a cup the first time, don’t worry, you’ll have plenty more practice — you usually do your thang in a cup at the beginning of each visit.
Blood samples: They’ll take blood to test your hCG levels and check for anemia; immunity to rubella (German measles) and possibly chickenpox; and for sexually transmitted diseases with unpronounceable names like syphilis, hepatitis B, HIV, gonorrhea and chlamydia. They’ll also be checking your blood type, Rh factor, and hemoglobin levels. Don’t worry, this doesn’t happen at every appointment
The Physical: For this and almost every other visit, you’ll step on the scale and they’ll cuff you (to check your blood pressure). But for this first, more comprehensive physical, the doc will also feel you up (checking your breasts for irregularities) and may perform a Pap smear if you haven’t had one lately. Then there’s the pelvis. Some OBs will just palpitate your belly to feel your uterus; others prefer to do an internal exam.
The Chat: If this is your first time with the OB or midwife, use this visit to get chummy (you can always find a different one if this one doesn’t laugh at your jokes). Write down questions or concerns and bring them to the appointment, along with a pen for the answers. It’s not too early to start talking about expectations for the birth, like what kind of pain medications your provider might give you or if he or she has experience with water births or any other types of birthing technique you’re interested in trying. Don’t forget simple questions, too, like the best way to reach your provider (especially after hours).
Read more about how doctors calculate your due date.
Q & A
Got questions about Week 6? Other women have asked this …
Q: I didn’t take prenatal vitamins. Is that OK?
Since nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, there are probably many women in the same boat as you. The March of Dimes, in addition to healthcare providers (for women of childbearing age), have long been trying to spread the word of how important taking prenatal vitamin and folic acid are prior to conceiving. However, some women don’t feel the benefits, and choose a more natural pregnancy. Read more about women who have chosen not to take prenatal vitamins.
Q: My prenatal vitamins make me sick, can I take something else?
“Well, you certainly are not alone. Most moms-to-be have nausea in the first trimester, and many are so sick that a giant vitamin pill is about the last thing they can gag down. Chewable prenatal vitamins can help, but sometimes even those are difficult …” Read more about prenatal vitamins.
Q: I was overweight before I became pregnant. Now I’m having trouble gaining the right amount of weight during my pregnancy. Is this bad?
If you’re eating OK, and if you’re not throwing up, then it’s got to be going somewhere. If your health care provider is as concerned about your lack of weight gain as you are he or she might suggest that you get an ultrasound just to confirm that your unborn baby is developing on schedule. Read more about pregnancy weight gain.
Your pregnant partner is going through a lot, and is keenly interested in what’s happening to her. But you? You probably aren’t making much headway through that stack of pregnancy books on her nightstand. While you aren’t necessarily required to study up, keep in mind that you’ll be a lot more engaged as a husband and father-to-be if you feel like you know what’s going on. We have some quick reads on the site about what the first few months are like once the baby’s born, and what to do with a helpless newborn.
Most men today want to be more involved fathers than that guy behind the newspaper a generation ago (and if you don’t, you may be watching too much Mad Men). You’re not alone on the frontier though: there are lots of fathers sharing their experiences in different media now. Many guys are managing to be engaged dads while working full-time. And the increasing number of men choosing to stay home with their kids, at least for a while, are forging a new role for fathers enjoying being with their kids full-time. Books by dads about bonding with your baby have appeared in the past few years. Online, there are dad blogs, community boards, websites and video blogs. This is an amazing time to be a dad, because you can be whatever kind of father you want to be, and have fun with it.
And the next generation, having been raised by today’s parents, will be happier people for it.