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Guide to Being Five Weeks Pregnant

If that test is positive, here's what you need to get up to speed. See more pregnancy pictures.
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Whether your pregnancy is the shock of a lifetime (hopefully, a welcome one!) or the result of meticulous planning, it doesn't really matter once all is said and conceived. The fact is, your life is about to be altered forever -- in a very good way. Sure, you're likely to hit some bumps along the path to motherhood, but the end game is totally worth the stretch marks, morning sickness and everything in between.

Lest you think I'm unqualified to make such a statement, I'll fill you in on my informal credentials. I have two strapping young boys who've managed to throw curveballs from the very beginning. First, their gestational periods varied tremendously in terms of fatigue, morning sickness, water retention and everything else you can imagine. There goes the theory that gender affects your pregnancy, right? Despite every discomfort and worry along the way, I wouldn't trade either of my angels (or demons, depending on the day) for anything. Would I do it for my very own personal chef and maid? Nope, and that's really saying something.

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Now that you're all excited over an answer your pee has produced, it's time to start planning the next nine months of your life with your partner (if one's involved) and your obstetrician, who'll soon be your new best friend and intimate confidante. Read on to learn more about what you can expect during this very early stage in your pregnancy.

Chances are that your outward appearance hasn't changed even a little bit by week five. It's simply way too early to sport that baby bump you've been envisioning.

However, many women in their fifth week report subtle signals that are often early indicators of pregnancy, like morning sickness, fatigue, tender breasts and near-constant urination. There are many other possible causes for any of these issues, though, so if you haven't confirmed your suspicions yet, it's time to head out to your doctor or local drugstore for a pregnancy test.

Try not to fret if you feel annoyingly normal, however. Many women bypass the early pregnancy symptoms altogether, with a positive test being the first indicator that a baby is on the way. The simple fact is that every woman and every single pregnancy is different. So, if your best friend started vomiting five minutes after intercourse, but your stomach is solid as a rock, be thankful that you're one of the chosen few that dodged morning sickness -- and keep your fingers crossed that your good luck sticks.

Other than that, take the opportunity to let your husband or partner pamper you, if he's so inclined. He owes you one (or two, if you're carrying multiples)!

Pat yourself on the back: You're in the midst of a truly mind-boggling feat! Although it's only the size of a sesame seed at this early stage, your baby is growing at an astronomical rate.

Currently, he's sporting three distinct layers called the ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. The top layer, or ectoderm, will soon house the baby's neural tube, which produces the brain, nerves, spinal cord and other related features. The ectoderm will also eventually develop the baby's skin, tooth enamel, hair and glands.

The middle layer, or mesoderm, is where your baby's tiny heart is rapidly forming. In fact, this tiny organ will begin to pump blood and divide into chambers in week five of your pregnancy. Muscles, bone and tissue will be products of this layer.

By this point, the endoderm has also formed and is in the beginning stages of producing the lungs, intestines, pancreas, thyroid and other such vital organs.

So, if you're extra tired this week, give yourself a break. You've been developing a central nervous system, for crying out loud! You're entitled to an extra nap or two, even if your child more closely resembles a tadpole now than the infant you can't wait to snuggle.

A bouquet of flowers can brighten a pregnant woman's day.
A bouquet of flowers can brighten a pregnant woman's day.
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First off, he should have the number to your favorite florist on speed dial. You're carrying his child, so the least he can do is provide you with fresh flowers to enjoy while you're sick as a dog.

Other than that, bear in mind that your partner is probably not as well-informed on the subject of pregnancy as you are. E-mail him the link to this article (hint, hint) and remind him that your hormones are in a constant state of flux -- he shouldn't be offended when you burst into tears after he asks you to pass the salt.

Provide him with a handy list of important dates, particularly the time and place of your first doctor's appointment. He's going to want to be there for the first visual confirmation of your child's existence, which will make your pregnancy go from concept to reality in about three seconds flat.

If you haven't already, quit using all illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Need help quitting? Get in immediate contact with your doctor. These substances are closely linked to birth defects, pre-term labor and miscarriage. Any prescription medications you're taking should also be run by your obstetrician as soon as possible; many legitimate meds can have an adverse effect on your fetus and its development.

Ideally, you already have an established relationship with a trustworthy OB/GYN or midwife. If not, now's the time to get recommendations from friends or set up informational interviews. You'll be spending an absurd amount of time with this person(s) over the next year, so be sure to find someone you respect and are comfortable divulging your most embarrassing secrets to.

Also, you should be taking a daily prenatal vitamin to help both you and the baby through the gestational period. Folic acid is particularly critical to fetal neural tube development, so be sure that whatever brand you choose contains at least 400 micrograms, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

Try not to sweat it if you experience light bleeding or spotting during week five of your pregnancy. It actually happens in up to 30 percent of pregnancies during the first trimester, according to Parenting Magazine. Typically, early pregnancy bleeding is light in volume and red or brownish in color. This type of spotting is often called implantation bleeding, which takes place in some women when the successfully fertilized egg burrows its way into the lining of the uterus. Obviously, any excessive bleeding, particularly if accompanied by cramping or backache, warrants a call to your doctor. He or she might want to bring you in for an ultrasound and for blood work to check your pregnancy hormone levels.

Bear in mind that pregnancies vary widely between women. Some women spot lightly the entire nine months, while others avoid it altogether. I have one friend who began bleeding so profusely that she rushed to the emergency room -- and her perfectly healthy baby was born eight months later. So, take a deep breath and do your best to keep the worrying to a minimum. I know it's much easier said than done, but it really is best to limit stress for you and your unborn child.

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Sources

  • BabyZone's Pregnancy Week-by-Week Contributors. "5 Weeks Pregnant: You're Late." BabyZone. (Feb. 10, 2011). http://www.babyzone.com/pregnancy/week/article/5th-week-pregnancy
  • "Folic Acid." American Pregnancy Association. October 2008. (Feb. 10, 2011). http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/folicacid.html
  • Riley, Dr. Laura. "The Inside Story: Your Baby in Week Five." Parents. (Feb. 10, 2011). http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/5/the-inside-story-your-baby-in-week-five/
  • Stine, Caitlin. "When Spotting is Normal." Parenting. (Feb. 10, 2011). http://www.parenting.com/article/when-spotting-is-normal
  • "Your Pregnancy: Five Weeks." BabyCenter. (Feb. 10, 2011). http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-5-weeks_1094.bc

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