Your embryo is now 3 weeks old and has a head and torso. The beginnings of the brain are starting to develop.
22–23 days after fertilization, the heart—which is no bigger than a poppy seed—starts to beat independently.
Tiny arm and leg buds are starting to develop, and at the end of the sixth week the blood will start to circulate. The jaws and mouth develop, and ten tiny teeth start to form in both jaws. You can now make out the eyes, mouth and nose.
The levels of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone—released when you become pregnant—are now so high that pregnancy symptoms normally start to make themselves felt.
Morning sickness is common. Nausea is one of the most common pregnancy symptoms. You will most likely have these symptoms earlier since you’ve had several pregnancies. This pregnancy may feel completely different from your previous ones. Each pregnancy is unique so you may have a worse or a lighter case of nausea than before.
The condition can range from a slight, subtle nausea to feeling so sick that you vomit once or several times a day for a period. If you have a particularly sensitive sense of smell, certain odors may trigger nausea when you cook. Eating a little and frequently can help. Symptoms are typically worse weeks 7 to 10, after which they subside and taper off completely around weeks 12 and 14.
Although uncommon, nausea and vomiting may continue throughout pregnancy. This is called hyperemesis gravidarum. Treatment often involves being admitted to the hospital a day or more to prevent dehydration by intravenously administering fluid and nutrients. There is a slightly higher risk of this condition even during this pregnancy if you suffered during any of your previous pregnancies.
Consult your midwife or physician if you are so ill that you feel your general well-being is affected. Good OTC medication is available, but always consult your midwife or physician before taking any medication for morning sickness. Acupuncture may provide considerable relief.
Eating a little and frequently can help. Boiled or steamed food is usually better than fried. Try to take it easy and avoid stress. You may need to go on sick leave.
Another common sign of pregnancy is that your breasts swell and are tender. Hormones are stimulating your milk-producing glands, causing your breasts to change and grow. It’s primarily the estrogen hormone that is responsible for changes in your breast’s tissues and glands. Wearing a comfortable bra that provides good support can help.
A feeling of being out of breath, as if you were in really poor shape, is a condition many women experience when they are expecting. This is due to hormonal changes and the increase in blood volume. These changes cause your pulse to rise and you feel breathless more easily.
Your stomach may also feel bloated and gassy due to elevated progesterone hormone levels. You could also feel constipated. If so, drinking lots of water, exercising and eating dried fruits such as apricots, can help. It is not uncommon for your belly to grow faster since you’ve been pregnant more than once, and you may already have difficulty buttoning your pants.
Partners sometimes experience twinges of conscience because the first few weeks of pregnancy aren’t as life-changing for them as they are for the mother-to-be. And yet, it is hardly surprising if you are finding it hard to get your head around the fact that you have a baby on the way. You can’t “feel” the baby inside you in the way the mother-to-be can.
It’s also common that the mother-to-be and you as her partner will experience a full spectrum of emotions when you find out she’s having a baby. Joy and anticipation, of course, but perhaps anxiety and confusion as well. These are natural reactions in the face of a life-altering change.