The embryo measures about 0.13 to 0.31 inches (4 to 8 mm) and has a tiny tail. When referring to the length of the embryo at this stage, we normally use the crown-to-rump measurement because the legs (which are not visible at this stage) are often bent and difficult to measure. The length of the embryo is known as crown-rump length.
The embryo’s fingers and toes start to grow at this point and look like tiny paddles. The heart now has a left and right chamber and beats at about 110 to 160 beats per minute—about twice the average adult rate. You’ll be able to see the fluttering heart on an ultrasound around now. The embryo can also make various reflex movements such as turning, and raising and lowering the arms.
The lungs, intestines, kidneys, liver and internal reproductive organs are nearly fully developed. With the development of all the internal organs, the embryo is now at a particularly sensitive stage. For this reason, it is important that the mother-to-be continues to abstain from anything that may adversely affect the baby’s development such as alcohol, nicotine, drugs and certain medicines. Get into the habit of always consulting your health care provider before taking any medication during your pregnancy.
Feeling exhausted? You’re not alone. Many mothers-to-be describe the first weeks of pregnancy as walking in a daze, yawning, and dreaming of the next chance to just sleep. You may recognize this from your previous pregnancies. This tiredness can become particularly tangible if your older children do not sleep well and you are already running on empty. Is there anyone close to you who can step in for a while so that you can rest a bit? High pregnancy hormone levels are causing your body to work overtime as it produces yet another new life.
The first period can even entail increased dizziness and some women faint. The reason for this is that your blood pressure naturally drops in the beginning and, although it’s not dangerous, it’s definitely unpleasant. You can prevent dizziness and fainting by eating regularly to stabilize your blood sugar levels, drinking enough fluids, using support stockings, and not getting up too quickly or standing for too long.
Your nipples may become more prominent and the areolas (the skin around your nipples) will darken. The pigmentation change has to do with your body getting ready to breastfeed. The skin will lighten gradually once your baby has been born.
Try to avoid “eating for two”. In the first trimester, your body needs extra energy that corresponds to one extra piece of fruit a day. In the second and third, your energy requirements will increase to one snack a day, such as a sandwich, a piece of fruit and a glass of milk or unsweetened, vitamin-enriched oat or soy milk. Avoid sweets and supplement your diet with a multivitamin tablet that also contains folic acid.
Vary your diet and eat lots of green vegetables and iron-rich food such as meat, sausage and whole-grain products. Lentils, peas, beans, green leafy vegetables and nuts also contain iron.
If you are overweight when you start your pregnancy, speak with your midwife or dietician for dietary advice, recommendations and support. We recommend gaining as little as possible if you’re overweight when you start your pregnancy. The reason for this is that being overweight is associated with a greater risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, both for the mother and the baby.
If you have had or have an eating disorder, be responsible and notify your midwife or physician. You can get help. Pregnancy can in some cases exacerbate eating disorders. For both your sake and that of your baby, it is vital that you consume the energy and the nutrition you need.
Alcohol and nicotine
When it comes to alcohol and nicotine, zero tolerance applies from the moment you know that you’re expecting until your baby is born. This strict line is due to the fact that alcohol and nicotine pass directly to your baby via the placenta. Your baby’s liver is unable to break down alcohol, which means that your baby will be affected if you drink a glass of wine. Keep in mind that light beer, some ciders and other drinks might contain alcohol. Alcohol can harm the fetus.
Always consult with your midwife, physician or pharmacist before taking any painkillers. The same applies to other over-the-counter drugs. If you are taking prescription medicine, it is essential you consult with your midwife or physician. You may need to switch to another medication.
Exercise and physical activity during pregnancy is excellent. Both you and your baby thrive on regular physical activity. Studies reveal that one of the benefits of physical activity is that morning sickness and stress subside, and you sleep better. You may find you get more breathless than usual due to the increase in blood volume. Listen to your body and what it’s telling you! That said, most of us can be lazy at times and we need to lovingly pull ourselves up, and find the time and energy to exercise. If you do not exercise, now is the perfect time to start. And remember, the best form of exercise is the exercise that gets done.
Many women are afraid to exercise, believing they risk a miscarriage. But it is important to emphasize that you CANNOT exercise your way to a miscarriage.
If you are feeling extra tired at the beginning of your pregnancy, try to find opportunities to rest during the day. Maybe you can rest a while at lunch when you are at work or, if you are at home with children, maybe you can rest when they are napping. Try to be kind to yourself and cut back on your planned activities. It takes a lot of energy to be pregnant when you already have children, particularly young children.
At this time, the mother-to-be may be feeling very tired and you might have to dial down planned activities. Bear in mind that an enormous process is underway inside her body, and she’s under both physical and mental stress. If you can, let her have a few extra sleep ins or support her in other ways.