Pregnancy: Week 5

Many women first learn that they’re expecting during the fifth week of pregnancy. By now you have missed your menstrual period, and a pregnancy test should have come back positive.

The fifth week of pregnancy marks the start of the embryonic period. This is when your baby’s body systems and structures begin to form, such as the heart, brain, and spinal cord.

Your baby’s heart beats at a steady rate now, though it may not be detected by ultrasound for another week or two. The placenta is also starting to develop.

At this stage, your baby doesn’t look like a baby yet. The embryo is growing quickly, but it’s still very small, about the size of a pen tip. The National Health Service estimates that your baby is about 2 millimeters.

Your body is gearing up to go through big changes too. Pregnancy hormone levels are rapidly rising, and your uterus will begin to grow. You won’t look pregnant for a couple more months, but you may start to experience symptoms now.

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RELATED: How to identify implantation bleeding

Pregnancy Symptoms at Week 5

  • Morning sickness. Some women start to experience morning sickness at five weeks pregnant. Unpleasant, nauseous feelings can happen in the morning, evening, or all day long, and many women will also throw up. To deal with morning sickness, drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration and avoid any greasy, spicy, or fatty foods that may trigger your bouts of nausea. Many women with morning sickness benefit from eating small meals and snacks frequently.
  • Light bleeding or spotting. It’s common to see some spotting at five weeks pregnant, but there should be no more than a few drops of blood — not even enough to cover a small pantyliner. This is likely just implantation bleeding, but you’ll want to mention it to your doctor so that he or she can rule out complications. If you see a lot of blood, if the spotting lasts longer than two days, or you have any concerns, see your doctor right away.
  • Breast tenderness. Around five weeks pregnant, a surge of hormones might cause your breasts to ache as they continue to stretch and grow in preparation for breastfeeding.
  • Frequent urination. The urgent need to pee can strike any time, especially as your kidneys are starting to have extra fluid to process, thanks to the increasing volume of blood in your body. Although this symptom can be annoying, it’s also completely normal.
  • Fatigue. Don’t be surprised if you feel completely wiped out. Your body is dealing with an increase in levels of progesterone, which can leave you feeling more tired than usual. Avoiding caffeine and vigorous activity before bed can help you sleep better at night. Try to keep your daily schedule regular, but also try not to overschedule yourself. It’s important to find a healthy balance between your daily activities and rest time. And don’t feel guilty about taking time to rest or nap when you need it. You’ll be doing yourself and your little one a big favor by getting as much rest as you can now.
  • Mood swings. Happy one moment, crying the next? Mood swings are common when you’re pregnant, and for some women they feel like PMS at its worst. It may help to find some ways to distract yourself when an unpleasant mood interferes with your normal routine. Try going for a walk or listening to music, for example.
  • Mild or no symptoms. What if, at five weeks pregnant, you are symptom-free? It’s not unusual for women to feel and look completely normal at this stage, or for certain symptoms to come and go. As for that five weeks pregnant belly, it may appear unchanged, or it may be looking and feeling bloated. If you’ve got severe morning sickness, you may even lose a little bit of weight during the first trimester. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions about the changes that are taking place, or if the lack of any symptoms has you feeling uneasy.

Checklist

  • Schedule your first prenatal appointment.
  • Be ready to feel anxious or excited, worried or ecstatic — all normal reactions to becoming pregnant.
  • Soothe any cramps and backaches with a warm bath or a nap.
  • Cut out smoking and alcohol, if you haven’t already.