Louise Broadbridge
Louise Broadbridge
Pregnancy Week 5

Pregnancy Week 5

Growing, Growing, Growing

​You might not even know you’re pregnant at this stage but there is some crazy growing on in your womb. Your baby is now about 5mm long, which is a similar size to a single grain of rice. The embryo is starting to look more sophisticated than a bundle of cells but bears more resemblance to a tadpole than a human being at this point. As well as a head, there is also a tail. Don’t worry though, all that will change in the coming weeks – you won’t be pushing a baby frog around in your state-of-the-art pram!

You should have started taking a daily dose of 0.4mg of folic acid, which protects the neural tube and prevents conditions like spina bifida. From the neural tube, the brain, spinal cord, nerves and backbone will develop so make sure you take them right up to the second trimester! If you’ve only just found out you are pregnant and haven’t been taking it, don’t delay and make sure you start today. 

This week is a busy one for foetal development as the heart takes centre stage. It will start to divide into chambers and take its first beats that will hopefully continue for at least the next 80 years. The baby’s blood vessels are starting to form and blood is already circulating and helping with the development of the heart and nervous system. All your baby’s major organs have to be created from scratch so your body has a lot of work to do. Your placenta will be beginning to form this week, ready to nourish your baby who is currently receiving everything they need from the yolk sac and is still known as an embryo.

What symptoms can I expect in week 5?

Your breasts may feel tender and also a little larger than usual – not necessarily a bad thing if you’re someone who always fancied a slightly bigger cup! You may also experience mild cramps which feel similar to period pains. These are nothing to worry about and are a sign that your embryo is settling in. The cramping won’t last long but you may start to feel extremely tired. Week 5 is often when pregnant women start to experience morning sickness. Don’t be fooled by the name, you can often feel nauseous around the clock, although it will often be worse when you wake up with an empty stomach so have something plain and simple to eat by your bedside so you can have a quick snack before you get up – ginger biscuits are a great option as they can help to settle your tummy too. Although these symptoms are unpleasant, they are also a sign that your pregnancy is progressing. 

Your body is currently awash with hormones including oestrogen, progesterone and hCG. These all play a vital role in your pregnancy but they can also wreak havoc with your moods and emotions. HCG signals to your body that you are pregnant so it can get to work doing everything it needs to do to help the fertilised egg develop into a baby. Oestrogen helps to support your embryo until the placenta is developed enough to take over and helps vital organs to develop. Progesterone plays an essential role in preventing miscarriage, thickening your uterus lining and stopping your body ovulating again while you are pregnant.

Time to stop the bad habits

If you are someone who normally smokes or drinks alcohol, now is a good time to quit if you haven’t managed this already. If you are not able to give up completely just yet, cut down your cigarette and alcohol consumption as much as you can and seek support. Your midwife will be able to point you in the direction of any smoking cessation programmes or other help which is available in your area. Smoking in pregnancy increases your risk of miscarriage and premature labour and it can lead to your baby being born with a low birth weight so it is important to tackle your habit as quickly as you can. Although the occasional alcoholic drink in pregnancy is unlikely to do any harm, heavy drinking also increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and your baby having a low birth weight. It can also cause a very serious condition called foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), which has a lifelong impact on those who have it.

You are OK to keep exercising as long as you’re not a bungee jumper or extreme sports enthusiast. You may want to think about if you are likely to get bashed about in your sport but remember – your little one is like a grain of rice in a peanut butter sandwich at the moment so is pretty well protected! If you do have any doubts about whether your chosen form of exercise is safe, speak to your GP or make a note to ask your midwife about it during your first antenatal appointment.

Should I tell people I am pregnant at five weeks?

When you tell people you are pregnant is a completely personal choice. Some people like to announce the news right away, while others prefer to tell only those closest to them at first and wait until they have had their 12-week scan before letting the world know. There is no right or wrong in this situation so do what feels right to you. You might enjoy keeping your baby as a secret between you and your partner for a while or you may feel you would benefit from having the support and care of your loved ones while you cope with early pregnancy symptoms and get used to the idea of welcoming a new addition to your family.

Sign up for a free online antenatal class