Week 5: Your Baby's Heart Beats

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This is your Pea in the Podcast for week five of your pregnancy. I'm Bonnie Petrie, joined again by Dr. Laurie Swaim, an obstetrician with Houston Women's Care Associates in Houston, Texas.

You are five weeks pregnant, your baby is now an embryo and by the end of the week it will have a beating heart. If you have a doctor's appointment this week, Dr. Swaim says you might even be able to see it. "Some of those really cool new-fangled machines, the really, really expensive ones; they can actually see a little flicker at five weeks. You can't hear it with the actual Doppler until 10 weeks, 10-12 weeks depending more on the body habits of the woman than the actual pregnancy itself. But yeah you can see it, it's really cool. It looks like a piece of rice with a heart beat basically." And your baby is right now about the size of that piece of rice and is shaped like a pear. The rounded end will become the head, the pointed end will become the spine and there's more: "The zygote and the developing embryo start to develop coverings around them, the amniotic membrane and the placenta starts to eventually form, there's a yolk sack that forms near the fetus which is actually providing the blood flow for the fetus and to the inner cavity of the uterus. The endometrium is still sort of lush and available for implantation although part of it is being used now for implantation; eventually all of that will be obliterated by the fetus."

The three parts of your baby's brain will emerge this week, the hind brain, midbrain and forebrain. The nervous system begins to develop and your baby's muscles and bones begin to form too. Construction of all your baby's organs are underway and facial features like ears and eyes, they're starting to form too. Buds that will soon be arms and legs, they're forming as well. The neural tube, soon to be called the spinal cord, will also fuse this week.

Now remember last week when you were worried because you didn't feel pregnant? Now you know the old saying: be careful what you wish for. You may be starting to feel a little off, "One of the most common side effects in the first trimester of pregnancy is exhaustion and that comes from the progesterone." Almost no one gets out of this symptom. It's troublesome, some times unexpected, it's that progesterone induced stupor. "I remember in medical school one of my attendings told me about a study that men were given progesterone and they fell asleep. So anyone who's been pregnant knows what I am talking about."

You may also feel a little cranky from hormones or from fatigue or from that pregnancy induced headache you've got. You may have swollen or tender breasts as your milk glands multiply, your nipples may also be darker, more sensitive, more prominent too. A good support bra may help here. You may need to pee more often, fun! And you may see an increase in vaginal secretions. You may be hungry but you may toss up everything you try to eat starting around now. About 50% of expectant moms will experience morning sickness at some time or another. Some of you will call it all day sickness, if you're one of them there are some over the counter remedies that may help. First, try eating before you get out of bed, seriously, keep some crackers by your bed and when you wake up try to eat one or two, whatever you can, and then just rest for a while. Now that may help you be less nauseated when you do rise. Those crackers, they might also be helpful if you wake up sick in the night, just having something to nibble on right there. Also some people swear by ginger, now see if you can find ginerale made with real ginger at the store, it may be a little hard to find but it is out there. Or you can drink ginger tea or eat ginger candies or crackers or something like that. Just check to make sure it's got real ginger in it. Steer clear of particularly fatty, rich, spicy, acidic, or fried foods; they're harder to digest and more likely to make you sick so eat small, frequent meals, bland meals and snacks through the day so your stomach is really never empty. If your prenatal vitamins are what's making you sick, you can try them with food or try taking them just before bed. If that doesn't work, you really can skip them for a little while and start taking them again when your morning sickness is abated a little bit. Some people recommend those acupuncture bands, those sea bands you use for motion sickness, you can buy them at the drug store. And some doctors actually recommend a combination of an antihistamine and vitamin B6 to settle your stomach. Now the specific antihistamine that is supposed to help is available as a sleeping pill under the brand name "Unisom Nighttime Sleep Aid". Now if you use this, make sure you get the right Unisom product, there are a couple, it's "Unisom Nighttime Sleep Aid", obviously it will make you sleepy so don't take it when you have anywhere to go or anything to do when you take it with B6, which you can get in the vitamin aisle of any store. The most important thing is to make sure while you're going through this sickness that you're getting enough to drink. Dehydration is your worst enemy during a time like this. If you can't hold anything down, call your doctor, they want you to, and they do have safe medications that will help you feel better. Oh and by the way if you're not experiencing any of this, if you don't feel any different at all yet, don't panic, this is also completely normal. You also won't really notice any difference in your shape and size and the way you look for a good long time, maternity clothes are a long way off. They're coming soon enough but not quite yet, you're well on your way though to becoming a mommy. You've got a baby in there with a beating heart, you're five weeks pregnant, there are only 35 weeks to go until the big week, week 40.

That's your Pea in the Podcast for week five of your pregnancy. Dr. Swaim and I look forward to talking to you again next week. Enjoy this week with your baby's beating heart. We'll talk to you then. I'm Bonnie Petrie, thanks for listening.