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Week #6 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 6

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

Your Baby
           This week your little miracle's brain is beginning to develop at one end of the neural tube, which has now closed, along her spine.  Her optical vesicles, in their simplest form, are starting to create the framework for what will soon be the amazingly complex gift of eyesight. Simple and small arm and leg buds are starting to appear alongside her still distinct tail.  While hard to comprehend, this week, her tiny tube shaped heart may actually begin beating and will do so every second of every minute of every day for the rest of her life!


Your Body
           Congratulations, mom!  You have now been pregnant for one month!  While many of the changes occurring within you are still too subtle for the world around you to notice, if your doctor were to do a pelvic exam this week, he or she would be able to feel your uterus and note its changing size.  At this stage of your pregnancy you may not yet feel particularly pregnant.  Many women comment that early on in their pregnancy they simply feel like they have a really bad case of PMS complete with moodiness and irritability along with sore, tender breasts and a bit of bloating.  The good news is that all of these symptoms this month are being caused by the sweet baby that is growing deep within you.  The bad news is that "bloating" will last for the next nine (or ten) months.

       Many women see their health care provider for their first pregnancy appointment this week.  This initial appointment will probably be one of the longer visits with your doctor and his staff as they will want you to complete a pile of paper work in preparation for all of the health care that you will receive during your pregnancy.  Your doctor will want to speak with you about your health history and any health problems that your family members have incurred.  During this appointment your doctor will also want to provide you with some basic pregnancy instructions and counseling so that he or she can best prepare you for the healthiest and most enjoyable pregnancy possible.  After this initial visit you will probably see your doctor once every four weeks for the first seven months of your pregnancy.  You will then see him or her once every two weeks until your 36th week when you will begin walking the well-worn path up to your doctor's office once a week, every week until your little one makes his or her grand entrance.


  You're Wondering. . .
            I suddenly have a "road map" of blue veins appearing on my breasts and tummy.  What is going on with my skin?

       While a bit alarming to initially notice, rest assured that your new "road map" is not only normal but is also temporary.  What you are seeing along your tummy and on your breasts is simply the expanded network of veins that now have to accommodate the increased blood supply that is busily flowing throughout your body.  Most women notice these lines at some point during their pregnancies, but those ladies with fair skin seem to notice them first.


  Your "To-Do" List
           If you haven't already done so, do not let another week of your pregnancy pass without dropping some of your vices.  Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and even consuming too much caffeine while pregnant can all cause your little one serious harm.
  • Cigarettes   Smoking while you are pregnant or exposing yourself and therefore your little one to second hand smoke can be extremely detrimental.  Doctors believe that smoking cigarettes may be the number one cause of adverse outcomes during pregnancy.  Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemicals including cyanide and lead.  If you wouldn't purposely add a bit of cyanide or lead to your little one's daily bottle, why would you subject him or her to it while still in your womb?  Perhaps the most dangerous chemicals in a cigarette are nicotine and carbon monoxide, which reduce your little one's oxygen supply.  Nicotine narrows blood vessels, including the umbilical cord, which allows less oxygen to make its way to your sweet one.  Also concerning is the fact that red blood cells carrying oxygen to your baby begin to pick up carbon monoxide and take that dangerous chemical to your little one as well.  Doctors have found that smoking during pregnancy, especially during the first 13 weeks, can lead to the birth of underdeveloped, premature babies.  The little ones exposed to smoke while in utero are also more susceptible to asthma, have delayed lung development, are more likely to suffer from learning disorders, may have behavior problems or lower IQ's and may even be pre-disposed to suffer from a nicotine addiction later on in life.  Doctors also believe that 61% of SIDS cases could be prevented if women stopped smoking during their pregnancies.  There is no time like the present to commit yourself to not only bettering your health but the health of your baby by giving up your cigarette habit. Don't however, try and go at it alone.  Enlist the help of your partner, physician and friends as you battle your nicotine addiction.  No butts about it!  You and the healthy baby that you dream of delivering are worth it!
  • Alcohol   Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can have frightening consequences for your sweet one as well.  The experts believe that alcohol crosses the placenta and upon reaching your little one affects both his or her cognitive and physical development.    The American Council of Obstetricians and Gynecologists believe that alcohol abuse can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, the leading cause of mental retardation in babies, as well as hyperactivity, short attention spans, behavior problems, low birth weight or miscarriage.  Since there is no amount of alcohol that is deemed safe to consume during pregnancy, it is best to avoid it completely.  If you fear that you may have a drinking problem and are unable to stop on your own, please speak with your health care provider and allow him or her to provide you with some valuable resources to aid you in your recovery efforts.
  • Caffeine   Research has found that pregnant women who consume an excess of 200 mg. of caffeine (more than 2 cups of coffee or 5 cans of soda) every day are twice as likely to miscarry than those women who had no caffeine.  New concerns over caffeine consumption have also surfaced as health care providers believe that caffeine may cause a pregnant woman's blood vessels to constrict, which may in turn reduce blood flow to the placenta.  Caffeine can also cross the placenta, and therefore reach your little one.  Because your growing baby will metabolize the caffeine much more slowly than you will, there is some concern that this may cause harm to his developing cells.  Be aware that caffeine is not just found in coffee and cola.  Chocolate, herbal teas, fruit flavored soda, energy drinks, and many over-the-counter medications (which you should not be taking without your doctor's approval) may also contain this stimulant.  Become a label reader...your baby is counting on you!


Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           This week as you prepare yourself for parenthood, become interruptible.  As a new mom you will soon find yourself perpetually interrupted!  If you presently enjoy using the restroom all by yourself (even if it is every hour, on the hour!) watch out!  Sooner than later you will have company. First in the form of a newborn in a bouncy seat that you try keep happy with a lullaby so that both of your hands can be free for a moment, then in the form of a toddler who just has to tell you something while you are trying to steal five minutes of peace and quiet in the water closet.  You may also currently take for granted the ability to have an uninterrupted telephone conversation.  Before you know it, you will have sweet ones pulling on your pant legs vying for your attention while you try and connect (long distance, of course) with your best friend who lives across the country.  And believe me, there is something about picking up the telephone that mysteriously and instantaneously alerts your children to come and seek out your undivided attention.  While these interruptions will soon occur, and you should anticipate their coming, this week as you prepare yourself for parenthood, I want to encourage you to become interruptible in a different way.  I have found that in today's society all too often many of us have become slaves to our BlackBerrys, schedules, and to-do lists.  Our lives are so overly structured that we have little time for spontaneity and too over-committed to enjoy the simple things around us.  As a parent, and as a partner, I have found that some of the best conversations that I have ever had with my children or husband have occurred when I allowed them to "interrupt" what I had planned for the day.  When I allow myself to slow down long enough to listen to their hearts, (and throw the to-do-list out the window) I am able to enjoy my role as a mother and wife and connect with them heart-to-heart.  This week, when you find yourself in a situation at work or at home that requires your attention (even if you hadn't scheduled it in) allow yourself to be interrupted.  If your partner had a bad day at work, sit down and listen to him share.  If your co-worker is upset about a family situation, take a moment and allow her the opportunity to vent her concerns.  If your partner comes home and wants to go away for the weekend, just because, do it!  Your to-do-list and Blackberry will still be there when you get home, but the memories that you will make on your get away won't be.  If you can become interruptible now, you will help to prepare yourself for parenthood and life all at the same time.


  My Experience
           Every morning and every afternoon my son and I walk a quarter of a mile down the street to drop off and pick up my daughter from school.  We always try to give ourselves plenty of time to get there each morning, but somehow find ourselves having to pick up the pace a bit to insure that my sweet one is settled in at her desk, ready for a brand new day before the dreaded tardy bell rings.  In the afternoon, Wyatt and I once again head out the door and make our way around the neighborhood to pick Kilee up.  On these afternoon walks, I often find that I am once again in a bit of a hurry.  I want to make sure that we are not late and that Kilee isn't the last little munchkin picked up at the end of the day. What I have found, however, is that when I rush Wyatt along, I miss out on precious time that we could be enjoying together.  The other day, I was in a hurry (surprise, surprise) and walking a few paces ahead of him when I heard Wyatt call out my name.  Rather than turn around to see what he was doing, I simply called out, "Come on Wyatt, hurry up!  We've got to keep going buddy."  As if completely unaware of my response, he called out again "Mom, mom!  Come see this!"  A bit annoyed, I turned around to see that my son was lying on the ground in the middle of an ant trail.  The ants were climbing over the top of him, completely unaware of the 42 pound obstacle that was now in their way.  As if on cue, Wyatt called out, "Isn't this cool mom?  I'm an ant bridge.  Oh, yeah, and here is a flower that I picked just for you!"  My "flower" was actually a dandelion, complete with two little ants that were probably looking for their lost bridge.   As I smiled and tucked my "flower" behind my ear, I was once again reminded of the innocence of youth, and the joy and sweet memory of my son that I almost missed out on because I was nearly too busy to be interrupted.  After enjoying the ants for a few moments we went on our way, hand in hand, talking about the ants, where they might be going, what they might be doing, and determined to go home and find a book about ants that would help us learn more about them.  By the way, we made it to school on time but were "interrupted" again on the way home, this time by a beautiful butterfly.


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