6 Weeks Pregnant

What’s happening this week

Your baby….

  • is about the size of a pea, average length 2-6mm (usually measured from crown to rump as embryo is curled up and makes full length measurements difficult = CRL)
  • is developing tiny buds that will become arms and legs
  • brain and nervous system developing rapidly
  • optic vesicles developing along sides of the head (eventually eyes)
  • inner ear begins to form, so does the larynx
  • beginning of digestive and respiratory systems forming
  • has a heart the size of a poppy seed, beings to beat around this time and can be detected by ultrasound scanning.

You…

  • for some the full force of pregnancy symptoms may “hit” this week
  • areola (dark pigment around the nipples) may darken
  • placenta begins to exchange nutrients and remove waste – two circulation systems are completely separate.

This week we give you some other tips on protecting yourself from infections during pregnancy.

Infections

There are several infections that could cause problems for you and your baby. The earlier in pregnancy you are infected, the more likely the baby is to be affected. Most people will already have been exposed to these before pregnancy and will already be immune, so the baby cannot be harmed. Infections which may cause problems if you are not immune include:

Viral infections

These can give you mild flu-like symptoms that may make you feel slightly unwell, but which can cause problems for your baby. Rubella (German measles), cytomegalovirus (a mild infection in the same family as cold sores) and parvovirus (Fifth disease) are three common viruses which you may be exposed to.

  • Rubella and cytomegalovirus are caught from other people infected with the virus
  • Parvovirus is mainly caught from children infected with the virus.

Rubella can be prevented by immunisation before pregnancy, but check with your LMC at once if you come into contact with the illness. Rubella is routinely tested in the first antenatal blood test so you and your LMC are aware of the your status.

Bacterial infections – such as listeriosis and salmonella.

  • Listeria bacteria may be found in soft-mould ripened cheeses, pâté, pre-cooked chilled foods, ready-to-eat chicken. You may only experience a mild, flu-like illness, but your baby is more at risk.
  • Salmonella bacteria may be found in raw eggs, raw meat and chicken. You may have sickness, diarrhoea, fever and abdominal cramps, which put your unborn baby at risk.

Parasite infection – such as toxoplasmosis

  • The parasite eggs, which cause the infection, can be found in undercooked meat, cat faeces and garden soil. It’s easy to take steps to avoid it.

Take care with meat and fish

Take extra care with meat, chicken, fish and meat products such as sausages and burgers. Follow these guidelines to be safe:

  • when you put raw meat in the fridge, make sure it is well wrapped so it can’t drip onto other foods, and place it in the bottom of the fridge
  • if you’ve handled raw meat, wash your hands and any surfaces that it has touched
  • cook meat until there are no pink bits left and the juices run clear.
  • avoid eating rare or raw meats – take extra care with grilled or barbecued meat as it may be black on the outside, but still raw on the inside.

Most infections are rare and unlikely to cause you or your baby harm, but it’s not worth taking the risk if you can avoid it.

Sheep Warning

Now that you’re pregnant you should avoid contact with ewes and newborn lambs.  They may carry an infection which can cause miscarriage.

Cook Wisely

  • choose lean cuts of meat and chicken where you can, and grill or bake instead of fry – try stir-frying or steaming vegetables to keep their vitamin content high
  • if you are a strict vegetarian, have a medical condition such as diabetes or anaemia, or your previous babies were light in weight, ask your doctor or midwife about any special supplements or diet you might need.