Week 5: Coming To Terms With The Fact That You Are Really Pregnant

After the initial excitement of seeing the pink line confirming your pregnancy and doing the happy dance with your besties and your partner, it is time to tell yourself that you really are pregnant and there are a million things to do! As days pass, you would be happily or unhappily realizing that your body truly has a mind of its own and there are things that you do not seem to have a control over. You are far from looking pregnant in any way but there are complex chemical changes going on inside your womb that are helping your baby grow. A lot of women find out about their pregnancy in the 5th week because the 4th week test could lead to unconvincing results for many. You have missed your periods for more than a week, your body is changing in a number of ways, your baby is growing at an accelerated speed and your pregnancy symptoms are possibly giving you a pretty hard time. In a situation such as this, it is essential that you read about the week that you are in and the other changes expected so that you can gear up for whatever comes your way. 

Your Baby At 5 Weeks

Around 3 millimeters long, your baby is the size of a sesame seed at 5 weeks. Your baby’s length will be measured In terms of CRL or crown rump length till about 20 weeks of gestation. This continues to be the embryonic stage and your baby’s vital organs continue to grow. You would be amazed to know that your baby has a heartbeat now! However, this might be too early to detect the heartbeat with an ultrasound. Crucial organs like the heart, brain and spinal cord continue to grow and develop.

Here Is A Detailed View Of What Goes On Inside The Uterus At Week 5:

  • Big Organs Taking Shape

Your baby’s heart continues to develop but there is a heartbeat already! The end of this week also witnesses the development of your baby’s first blood vessels.

  • The heartbeat is still quite faint and you may or may not be able to locate it with a Doppler or on an ultrasound.
  • The yolk sac1 that was providing nourishment to your baby is taken over by the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord functions along with the placenta to carry oxygen and nutrients from you to your baby and brings back wastes to be eliminated by your body. 

You Could Be Bearing Twins!

At around 5 weeks, you could get the news of a twin pregnancy if an ultrasound is carried out. It will only show up as two tiny gestational sacs and there is every possibility that it goes unnoticed. There have been instances in which an early ultrasound has detected a twin pregnancy and later, only one pregnancy is detected. You may have suffered an early loss of one of them with or without symptoms. This is often termed as ‘Vanishing Twin Syndrome’ in medical jargon and there is no real reason behind such an occurrence.

How Your Body Changes This Week: The Signs And Symptoms

Your body undergoes some of the most significant changes this week. These internal changes help you and your body to take good care of the embryo inside your uterus. Let us take a look at them:

1. Do You Feel Tired All The Time?

“Why is it that I feel sleepy all day? All my colleagues are attending late-night parties and I can’t wait to reach home and hit the bed!”

Are these the questions that you have been asking yourself and your doctor lately? There is more than one valid reason for your fatigue. There is an increased demand on your circulatory system because your body needs more blood to transport oxygen to your baby. Your heart is doing all the extra pumping to keep up with this increased demand and is naturally beating faster. With a heightened heart rate, fatigue and exhaustion are bound to follow. You can also experience light-headedness and headaches at around 5 weeks. Next time you fall asleep while watching your favorite TV series, you know what to blame!

2. The Ghosts Of Week 4 Come Haunting

Just when you thought week 5 would be a tad better; all the symptoms refuse to leave your side so you are left with the same nausea, squeamishness, mood swings, irritability, increased urination and sore breasts.

3. What’s That Smell?

Do you feel more like a sniffer dog these days? Does every faint smell seem heightened and enhanced to your nasal passage? Before you feel that you might have turned into a vampire, do consider the fact that pregnancy tends to do this in the early weeks.

4. Did You Spot Blood?

The 5th week is the time around which your placenta becomes fully functional and attaches itself to the uterine wall to take over its role. This might cause light spotting and there is nothing to be alarmed. However, if you see more blood than a couple of streaks, do consider speaking to your doctor about it.

5. Are You Always Losing Your Temper?

Dramatic mood swings are inevitable parts of early pregnancy and what had seemed like slight changes in mood can become enhanced in the 5th week. You will need support from your friends and family members to deal with this phase.

6. Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Feeling nauseous is normal in the early weeks of pregnancy but if you simply cannot keep anything down because you are vomiting all day, you might be experiencing Hyperemesis Gravidarum. This is heightened morning sickness and you might either need to be admitted to a hospital or need medicines to keep food and water down.

7. Period-Like Cramps?

If you have been having abdominal cramps that feel like your period is about to arrive; don’t press the panic button immediately. When the placenta attaches itself to your uterine lining or when your uterus stretches to accommodate your growing baby, mild abdominal cramping is normal. However, in case of intolerable pain, consult your doctor immediately.

8. Is Vaginal Discharge Normal?

Vaginal discharge that is milky and had a mild smell is normal around 5 weeks. You should let your doctor know if there is a strong pungent smell associated or if the discharge is green or yellow in color in order to rule out a potential vaginal infection.

Is It Possible To Miscarry At 5 Weeks? 

While this is a disturbing piece of news, it is also a fact that at least 1 out of 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage and more than 80% women tend to miscarry in the first trimester. A pregnancy that comes to an end within 20 weeks of implantation is termed as a miscarriage. Miscarriage is more than just a pregnancy that was not meant to be; it is a loss that can only be felt inside till there is another successful pregnancy to replace it with.

If a miscarriage occurs at around 5 weeks, a lot of women would confuse the bleeding with the onset of a period because the timing is almost alike. How would you recognize the signs and symptoms of a miscarriage and differentiate it from a normal period? Read the top signs below:

  • Heavy Bleeding

A normal period would only shed the endometrial lining2 while a miscarriage would involve shedding of the pregnancy tissues along with it and the bleeding will be much heavier than a regular period. You can also expect a few blood clots to pass. If you had a missed period and are suspecting a possible miscarriage, do visit your doctor to find out the real reason.

  • Severe Cramps

Your periods come along with abdominal cramps but the ones that accompany a miscarriage would be way too severe and you might need to take pain relief.

  • Pregnancy Like Symptoms

When you have a miscarriage, there is a drop in the levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones that trigger pregnancy like symptoms such as sore and tender breasts, increased urination, fatigue etc.

What Could Be The Possible Causes Of A Miscarriage At 5 Weeks?

A miscarriage at 5 weeks is hardly ever your fault and you could stop blaming yourself for that one glass of wine you had last weekend. Most pregnancies end in miscarriages before 6 weeks due to random chromosomal abnormalities. Some of the reasons have been explained below:

1. Chromosomal Abnormalities

At the stage of fertilization, the ovum and the sperm donate 23 chromosomes each to form 23 chromosomal pairs for the embryo. If any one of these chromosomes does not fit in or there are errors in the pairing that could lead to genetic abnormalities, the body rejects the implantation and leads to a miscarriage.

2. Uterine Problems

At around 5 weeks, a number of complications like uterine fibroids, scoured uterine walls and thin uterine lining can cause miscarriages. When fibroids develop on the outer walls of the uterus, there is no real impact on conception but when they are present on the inner lining, they may prevent effective implantation and interfere with the blood and oxygen supply to the embryo. Scouring and scratching of the uterine walls due to previous abortions or surgical procedures can also hamper implantation.

3. Low Progesterone Levels

There seems to be a rising number of complications in conception and pregnancies because of hormonal imbalances. When a fertilized egg implants on the inner uterine wall, it needs a certain levels of the hormone progesterone. If the level is not high enough, it can lead to an unsuccessful implantation and hence a miscarriage. This hormone is also quintessential to sustain the pregnancy all through the first trimester and a low level will cause a number of issues.

4. Existing Health Conditions

Existing health conditions that are chronic by nature, can lead to miscarriages. If you suffer from hypothyroidism, autoimmune disorders, or diabetes etc. your body might reject the embryo in the early stages of pregnancy.

5. High Body Temperature

It has been seen how a high body temperature in the initial weeks of pregnancy can be harmful for the embryo within the sixth week of pregnancy. A body core temperature of more than 102 degrees Celsius can lead to miscarriages.

6. Lifestyle Choices

Lifestyle choices like drug abuse, smoking, drinking etc can also lead to miscarriages. It is an alarming fact that smoking in the first trimester, especially in the first 5-6 weeks can lead to nicotine passing into the uterine wall and interfering with proper oxygen supply to the baby, thus leading to miscarriages. Consumption of alcohol in pregnancy is also linked to early miscarriages.

How Much Weight Should You Gain By 5 Weeks?

According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a weight gain of 25-30 pounds is recommended for a woman who has a normal BMI at the time of conception. If you are overweight to begin with, you should not gain more than 20 pounds and if your weight is on the lower side of the scale, ensure that you can gain at least 34 pounds by the end of term.

By 5 weeks, you will not have gained much but you could look puffy because of bloating. If you have, by any means, gained considerable weight by 5 weeks, speak to your doctor to rule out any underlying condition.

Unexpected weight gain can be a symptom of gestational diabetes, thyroid abnormalities or other hormonal issues. An active lifestyle and a balanced diet can help you keep your weight in check and have a healthy pregnancy.

Prenatal Tests At 5 Weeks

A transvaginal scan at 5 weeks would be more effective in detecting the pregnancy than an abdominal scan would. It can also help detect your baby’s heartbeat but you can expect the sound to be faint because the heart rate is yet to be stable enough to make a difference.

It is also possible that your doctor recommends a blood test to find out the HCG levels. This helps to check the fetal health in the early weeks of pregnancy.

Congenital Disorders At 5 Weeks

If you are at a risk of carrying a baby with congenital disorders because of your own age or the husband’s age and also because of a history of birth defects in the family, your doctor will be able to detect most of them by week 5 of pregnancy. Most neural tube disorders are detected in the first trimester.

Your doctor will speak to you regarding the disorder and the chances of delivering a healthy baby. If the chances are bleak, he/she would ideally suggest a medical termination of the pregnancy if you are not in a position to accept and take the responsibility of pregnancy or parenting with special needs.

Your Spouse At 5 Weeks Of Pregnancy 

If you have been postponing the talk with her about whether you are ready for this responsibility, this is the time. However, ensure that you don’t make it all about yourself when your wife is confiding in you about her fears. When you do speak to her, you could place your concerns in the most transparent manner possible.

If the thought of this pregnancy disrupting your sexual lives has crossed your mind, you could discuss that with her. For most couples, it is safe to have sex at any stage of pregnancy. It would be good to know for both the husband as well as the wife that the baby lies cushioned inside the amniotic sac and is further protected by the mucus plug of the cervix. There is no way that an intercourse could harm your baby.

However, there are situations in which your doctor may not really give you the green signal. Listed below are some of them:

  • If The Husband Has A Sexually Transmitted Disease

There is every possibility that you can be infected with an STD3 while having sex. Contracting it at any stage of pregnancy can be extremely dangerous for you as well as the baby.

  • Placenta Previa

In this situation, your placenta sits rather low on the cervix and might lead to bleeding or spotting if intercourse happens. This is not a permanent situation as many women have experienced a moving away of the placenta towards the top even if it was dangerously low-lying at 5 weeks.

  • Previous History Of Premature Labor

If you do have a history of going into labor earlier than full term, your doctor will most probably want to keep you away from any sexual activity that leads to orgasms. The same goes for a history of miscarriages.

Along with ensuring that your wife is taking a diet rich in iron and the vital nutrients required to sustain a healthy pregnancy, you should also remember to book her prenatal visits, get her blood work done and make efforts to be as involved in this pregnancy as possible.

This is the time for the husband to start reading up books on pregnancy and parenting. It would be wonderful if both of you could do the reading together so that you are quite literally on the same page. This would help both of you to plan your life accordingly and to keep yourself geared up for the major changes that are expected in the coming weeks. 

What’s With Caffeine? 

You are probably expecting to get rid of the pregnancy drowsiness with your usual cups of coffee but there are a few things that you should know about caffeine and the earlier, the better. Caffeine can easily pass through your placenta and reach your baby’s body. If consumed in larger amounts, it can affect the baby’s heartbeat and breathing. However, there is no need to totally ditch your cup. Restricting it to one cup a day can get you the best of both worlds.

Your Week 5 Reminders!

1. Don’t Forget Your Vitamin C

In the midst of planning for an iron-rich diet with a little bit of everything thrown in, don’t forget your daily dose of Vitamin C! Not only is Vitamin C your baby’s perfect companion at week 5, it is also your best way to absorb all the goodness of your iron supplements!

2. Lemonades Instead Of Caffeinated Drinks

Now is the time to start eating and drinking healthy. Go cold turkey as far as unhealthy drinks are concerned and order lemonades instead.

3. Your Basic Fitness

Continue with the brisk walks and the short swims. They will do well to your system in the longer run. Unless you have a high-risk pregnancy, there is no need to give up on your exercises.

4. Quit Smoking

Quite that right away if you haven’t already. Not only is it harming you but also a tiny being inside that will suffer greatly from an addiction such as this. Make the process gradual so that there are lesser chances of going back to it.

5. Cut Out Processed Food

Processed food items are not only low in nutrition but also do considerable harm to your system. Consider opting for whole foods or organic if available.

6. Nothing Unpasteurized

Whether it is milk, cheese or dairy, always opt for the pasteurized ones. Unpasteurized dairy can lead to infections in your system as well as your baby’s

7. Fully Cooked Proteins

Ensure that your meat, fish, eggs and poultry are always fully cooked before you consume them. Undercooked proteins could carry bacteria like E.coli, salmonella etc that are dangerous to be consumed by pregnant women. You could put that sushi on hold for now.

8. No OTC Medication

Always ensure that your doctor knows what you are taking. OTC medicines can contain ingredients that could be potentially harmful for you in pregnancy. Whether you are opting for herbs, special kind of vitamins, supplements or pain relief medication, always ask your doctor if it is safe enough. He might as well recommend a safer alternative.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yolk_sac
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endometrium
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexually_transmitted_infection