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Week #5 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 5

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

Your Baby
           This week a lot is going on within your 0.05 inch long baby.  The plate that will soon become your little one's heart is now developed.  Her muscles and bones are beginning to form as is her central nervous system, which includes her brain and spinal cord.  Her skeleton is also beginning to take shape.  Your sweet one now has a more distinct right and left side as well as a top, bottom, front and back.  At this point, your little one is deeply protected by two membranes deep within your womb and has a yolk sac that has already begun manufacturing her blood cells.


Your Body
           Perhaps one of the earliest signs of pregnancy that most women notice (besides the obviously absent period) is exhaustion.  Pregnancy exhaustion is that which can only truly be appreciated by those ladies who are blessed enough to be a part of the mommy club.  You may have felt tired before you were pregnant.  A long week at work may have left you ready to hit the hay early on a Friday night.  An "all-nighter" in college may have necessitated a quick power nap between classes.  The exhaustion that accompanies pregnancy, especially in the first trimester however, beats all of those tiring times hands down.  I remember longingly looking at the blacktop during an afternoon of recess duty during the first trimester of my first pregnancy.  I honestly remember thinking that curling up in the sand box, even just for a moment, sounded really enticing, and momentarily tried to calculate how I could blend in among the busy first graders long enough to take the edge off of my exhaustion.  If you are feeling overwhelmingly exhausted this week, do your best to find moments of rest throughout your busy day.  Closing your eyes during a brief break at work, resting for a half-hour after arriving home for the evening, and of course heading to bed early will all help you feel better.  If you are also feeling a bit frustrated because you are noticing things that need to be accomplished, but you simply do not have the energy to complete them try and follow the "minute mandate."  If it only takes a minute to complete the task at hand, then you can do it.  If it will take longer than that, have your "man" do it, at a later "date."  If the laundry is starting to overwhelm you, throw in one load, then rest.  If the dirty dishes in the sink are driving you nuts, rinse them off, then rest.  Don't try to unload the dishwasher, rinse the dirty dishes, re-load the dishwasher, hand wash the antique china, re-organize the china cabinet, and polish the silver.  You will probably end up feeling too exhausted to complete all of the above mentioned tasks and will then end up being frustrated with yourself and exhausted.  By lowering the expectations that you have for yourself and your energy level you will help to reduce your stress level and your exhaustion.  Besides, your "honey-do list" full of "more than a minute" projects will help give your partner something to work on over the next nine months while you are busy growing his baby!


  You're Wondering. . .
           I used to love chicken, but now that I am pregnant I can hardly even stand the way it smells let alone eat it.  Instead, I am craving steak all the time! What is going on?

       Many women find themselves craving certain foods during pregnancy, often foods that never enticed them before, all the while being repulsed by some of their former all-time favorites.  Doctors have determined that 66-90% of women crave at least one food while pregnant and 50-85% have at least one food aversion.  These strange appetite shifts may be compliments of your changing hormones, and are therefore, less noticeable after the fourth month of pregnancy when your hormone levels become a bit more stable.

       Some people believe that certain cravings and food aversions may also be your body's way of helping to protect you and your growing little one during the early and therefore most critical stages of pregnancy.  If, for instance, you find yourself craving ice-cream, could it be possible that your body is in need of more calcium?  If the thought of your all-time favorite piece of sushi sends you heading for the toilet rather than the take-out counter, could your body be trying to protect you from potentially dangerous mercury levels found in that type of fish?  While no one knows for sure what causes cravings and aversions, it is important to listen to your body and be sensitive to its needs.  If you find yourself stuck with a sweet tooth that is begging to be satisfied, try and come up with creative snacks and meals that will calm your craving while blessing your baby at the same time.  Why not try a yogurt parfait layered with fresh berries and granola?  This sweet and satisfying treat will not only provide your growing sweet one with calcium, vitamins and needed nutrients, but will tickle your taste buds all at the same time.

       If you find yourself craving non-edible items such as clay, dirt, or chalk be sure to speak with your health care provider.  The craving of these type of non-edible items is known as pica and while its source is unknown, some doctors believe that women may experience it as their body attempts to receive minerals and nutrients that are not being met through their everyday diets.  Your physician will be able to assist you in dealing with your pica cravings and help you find healthy substitutes for the non-food items that your body desires.


  Your "To-Do" List
           As you think about the next nine months and all that your pregnancy will entail, take a moment this week and top your "to-do" list with this important task: Check your medical benefits.  If you have a copy of your policy at home, pull it out and review all of the pregnancy medical expenses that your insurance provider will cover.  Be sure to pay special attention to the hospital or birthing centers that are a part of your network, as the actual birth of your sweet one will be the most expensive part of your pregnancy and you most definitely want to make sure that the hospital that you choose to deliver at will be covered.  As you peruse your policy, peek also at other services that may be covered as well.  Does your insurance company pay for child-birth education courses?  What about lactation consultants?  What about post-partum care? If your family's medical benefits are available to you because of your employment, what will happen to those benefits if you choose to work only part-time after your little one arrives?  If you choose to take an extended maternity leave, will your benefits be in jeopardy? As you look over all of these details, be sure to contact your company representative if you have any questions so that you can be sure that all loose insurance ends are taken care of before you begin receiving and paying for your medical care throughout your pregnancy.


Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           The next nine months of your life will be full of many life-changing moments, the greatest of which will occur on the unforgettable day that you welcome your precious child into this world.  Over the next few months, as your life continues to change and you prepare yourself for the gift of parenthood, why not begin keeping a journal of all that you and your partner are experiencing. These precious months will, believe it or not, pass rather quickly, and years from now you will want to look back, maybe with your child sitting on your lap, and share with him or her how anxiously your family awaited his or her arrival.  Studies have shown that pregnant women who journal about their thoughts and feelings appreciate the outlet that it can be for them as well as the precious gift that it can be for their child. Here are a few tips to help you get your journal started:
  • Blog or Book?  First, decide if you want your journal to be on-line or handwritten.  If you choose to keep an on-line journal, be sure to check out the easy to use format found on the EdHelperbaby home page.  If you choose to hand write your thoughts, consider purchasing a blank, nicely bound journal or a journal created specifically for pregnancy at your local bookstore.  If you are not sure where to start or what to write, a guided journal might also be a good option.  These books ask you leading questions that you can then respond to.
  • Set yourself up for success Pick a time and a place where you can journal every day.  Maybe you could journal every morning while enjoying your cup of coffee (decaf, of course!) at the kitchen table.  Maybe you could write to your little one every afternoon during your lunch break while sitting in your office.  Maybe the best time for you to record your thoughts and feelings is at the very end of the day, before you turn off the light and head to bed.  This might allow you an opportunity to re-play the day's events and decide what you want to write about.  By making your journal writing a part of your everyday routine, you will be more likely to succeed in sticking with it throughout your pregnancy, and maybe even after your little one is born.
  • Don't worry, just write!  Very few of us are born gifted writers like Nicholas Sparks or Jane Austen.  This journal is not designed for publication, so allow yourself to write freely, openly and honestly even if you do not feel like your sentiments are particularly poetic.  And, no, you won't be graded on spelling or grammar either, so write away!
  • Talk about all topics   Because this journal may be passed on to your little one, or at the very least serve as a precious reminder to you of the next amazing nine months, feel free to write about  anything and everything.  If you and your partner head out for an evening together, journal about the experience. Someday your child may be amazed that you stopped for gas and paid $3.69 per gallon (hopefully amazed because the price will go down!) and intrigued by the movie that you went to see in the theater because by the time he is reading your memoir, that same movie may be re-released for its 25th anniversary.  Silly or sappy, feel free to write about it all!

       Often times, women are able to express themselves on paper in a way that they would never feel comfortable doing with their partner or even close friends.  As you write, tell your child about the dreams and hopes that you have for him.  Tell him about the changes that are occurring within you and the excitement that you feel as you imagine holding him for the first time.  In learning to express yourself freely, first on paper, you will find that it will be easier to express yourself more freely in person once your little life changer makes his way from your heart to your home.


  My Experience
           When I was pregnant with my daughter, I found myself overwhelmed with all of the possibility and promise that was wrapped up in my pregnancy.  I began a journal for her and filled it with all that was in my heart.  Early in the morning we shared our "mommy and me" time.  While I enjoyed my hot cup of coffee, which was usually decaf, except for those occasional mornings when only the real thing would cut it, I would write about all that I was thinking, feeling, wondering and dreaming about for my little girl.  I told her about the way that her daddy and I were preparing for her arrival and for the things that we most looked forward to as parents.  I found that keeping this daily journal provided me with a tangible way to express all that was in my heart.

       Now that my daughter is five, I have enjoyed pulling the journal out and sharing some of the entries with her.  I have read to her about the day that we found out that she was a "she."  Her daddy was convinced from the beginning that she was a girl because we could not agree on a boy name.  I have read to her about the night before she was born, her Papa's birthday, and how I called my dad to apologize that his birthday present was only going to be a book because his granddaughter had not arrived on his birthday like I had hoped.  I have also read to her about the day that she was born.  How I arrived to my classroom early that Monday morning ready for a new week of teaching, and as I wrote the date on the board thought to myself, "Even though I'm not due for three weeks, this would be a good date for my little girl to have as a birthday."  She has heard about the way my water broke while I was tutoring one of my students in her home and how her mother (who had never given birth, but rather adopted her precious children) was more nervous than I was as she drove me to the hospital to meet my waiting husband.  More than what she has heard, I hope she has experienced the love that was behind each of those written entries. I hope that she knows that long before she was born we loved her and anxiously awaited her arrival and the change that she brought about in our family.


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