I am 5 weeks pregnant – now what?
Congratulations! At five weeks pregnant, the news you’re expecting has probably only just started to sink in and you may be wondering what happens next.
Although you are considered to be five weeks pregnant, the actual date of conception will have been around three weeks ago. This is because pregnancies are calculated from the first day of your last period so the first two weeks are actually before you even conceived.
What is my baby like at 5 weeks?
Your baby is still very, very tiny but there is already a lot going on. Although the embryo is just 2mm long – about the size of a sesame seed, their nervous system is already developing.
Your little one’s heart is beginning to form, although at this stage it is just a simple tube-like structure. Some other major organs are also starting to develop, although they still have a long way to go. These include the neural tube, which will go on to become your baby’s brain and spinal cord.
At this stage, a string of blood vessels connect your baby to you and this will eventually develop into the umbilical cord.
The embryo doesn’t look much like a baby at 5 weeks and will still have a tail but don’t worry, this won’t stay for long!
How should I feel at 5 weeks pregnant?
Many women will not even realise they are pregnant at this stage or they may just be starting to suspect. Although it is still very early days, you may well be experiencing early pregnancy symptoms, some of which can make you feel quite ill.
You may feel extremely tired and you may experience nausea. Although this is often called morning sickness, it can happen at any time of the day and night.
Other changes you may notice include having a metallic taste in your mouth, needing to urinate more often than usual, feeling like your sense of smell is much stronger than before and disliking foods or drinks you previously enjoyed. You may even find you now like the taste of something you weren’t keen on before.
It is also common for women in early pregnancy to have sore or tender breasts and a milky white vaginal discharge. Some cramping, similar to period pains, is normal and you may notice a little bit of light spotting but see your doctor if the bleeding is anything heavier than this.
What do I need to do at 5 weeks pregnant?
Once you have had a positive pregnancy test, get in touch with your GP surgery and let them know. They should be able to tell you the next steps.
In some areas, you may need to make an appointment with your GP, whereas in others they may book you in directly with the community midwife or give you the details so you can arrange your first appointment with them, which usually takes place around eight weeks.
It is really important that you get the right antenatal care throughout your pregnancy so don’t put off getting in touch with the midwife. If you take medication for an existing health issue or condition, speak to your GP to see if it is safe to continue taking it during your pregnancy. In some cases, you may need to stop taking certain drugs or switch to alternatives but make sure you speak to your doctor about it first.
If you are not already taking 400 micrograms of folic acid a day, start now. Folic acid is really important in helping your baby’s development and it helps form the embryo’s neural tube, which will go on to become their brain and spine. You can take folic acid by itself or as part of a multivitamin designed for use during pregnancy.
Being pregnant is also a good opportunity to make some positive lifestyle changes for you and your baby. If you are a smoker, this is a good time to seek support in quitting.
Smoking increases the risk of your baby being born early and at a low birth weight. It has also been linked to stillbirth and some birth defects so giving up is a really important thing you can do to benefit your baby’s health.
There is help available on the NHS and your midwife can also offer advice to help you stop smoking. Now is also a good time to stop drinking alcohol and using any illegal drugs.
Is there anything I can’t eat now?
Food poisoning can be dangerous during pregnancy and increases the risk of miscarriage so you will need to be careful what you eat. Most foods are still safe but make sure all meat is cooked properly and don’t risk eating anything which is past its use-by date or smells as if it may be going off.
Avoid unpasteurised milk or any foods made from unpasteurised milk and stay away from mould-ripened and blue soft cheese like brie, camembert and gorgonzola. These can cause listeriosis, which has been linked to miscarriage and stillbirth.
During pregnancy, don’t eat liver, pâté and game, including goose, pheasant and partridge. This is because liver contains high levels of vitamin A, which should be avoided during pregnancy, and game can contain lead shot.
If you want to eat cured meats like chorizo, salami and pepperoni make sure they are cooked thoroughly and not consumed cold. Raw and undercooked meat can contain bacteria and put you at risk of toxoplasmosis, which can cause miscarriage.
Eggs are safe to eat during pregnancy so long as they have the British Lion stamp on the pack or are laid under the Laid in Britain scheme so check this when you buy. Eggs which are not British Lion-stamped may contain salmonella but they can still be eaten so long as they are cooked thoroughly and are not runny.
Smoked fish must be thoroughly cooked and don’t eat more than two portions of oily fish a week. In addition to this, you can also eat up to two tuna steaks or four medium-sized tins of tuna.
However, avoid raw shellfish as this can contain bacteria which may cause food poisoning. You should also stop eating shark, swordfish and marlin during pregnancy as they contain high levels of mercury.
Limit your caffeine consumption to no more than 200mg a day – the equivalent of two cups of instant coffee. Check the amount of caffeine products contain before buying as even some herbal teas will contain some.
Is there anything else I need to know?
Your midwife will give you a lot of information at your first antenatal appointment and you will be able to ask lots of questions then and discuss anything you may be concerned about.