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Being pregnant

Your pregnancy: 6 weeks

From the top of her head to the bottom of her buttocks, your baby is about 2 to 4 mm long. She's tinier than a bean!

By Today's Parent
Your pregnancy: 6 weeks

Photo: Mandy Milks, Erik Putz, Anthony Swaneveld. Felt: thefeltstore.com

What's going on in there: Fetal development at 6 weeks pregnant

There are incredible changes happening to your baby this week. At six weeks pregnant, your baby’s body is taking on a C shape, and small buds that will become his arms and legs are visible. His tiny facial features, including his eyes, nose, ears, chin and cheeks, are also beginning to form. The neural tube, which connects the brain and spinal cord, will start to close (read more about the importance of taking folic acid in week 4 of pregnancy). The tissues that will eventually form the heart are beginning to beat and his blood is circulating. Your baby is about the size of a sweet pea now, and he’ll double in size again next week. (Get used to it, because babies do the same thing once they’re on the outside!)

close up of woman's stomach Laurence Monneret / Getty Images

Six weeks pregnant symptoms

Even though you probably look exactly the same to everyone else at six weeks pregnant, you’re probably not feeling like yourself at all. Hormone-fuelled symptoms, such as nausea (also known as morning sickness), pregnancy fatigue, mood swings and tender breasts, will continue or are just beginning to kick in or ramp up. If you notice that your pants are a bit snug, it’s not your baby bump just yet; increasing levels of the hormone progesterone are causing bloating and gas (ugh!). The best way to deal with these symptoms and avoid constipation during pregnancy is to eat lots of fibre and drink plenty of water—as if you weren’t going to the bathroom enough already. If you notice any pain or discomfort when you pee, it’s a good idea to rule out a urinary tract infection, which can become more common from this point onward during pregnancy.

woman leaning against kitchen table and drinking water urbazon / Getty Images

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What's on your mind this week?

Is it safe to have a drink?

Nine months (and even longer if you gave up drinking while trying to get pregnant) is a long time to go without a glass of wine or beer—we get it. But research tells us that it’s a sacrifice well worth making. We know that alcohol in the mother’s blood will be passed to the unborn baby, and regular consumption can affect many developmental processes and lead to miscarriage, stillbirth and lifelong physical, behavioural and intellectual disabilities known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).

What isn’t clear is whether small or occasional amounts of alcohol can have the same effect. It’s especially difficult to answer this question because it can’t be tested on pregnant women and because women have different levels of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol (this means that it stays in the system of some mothers longer than others). Putting alcohol on your “don’t” list, especially during the first trimester, is your safest bet. 

woman rejecting a glass of wine BrianAJackson / Getty Images

Do I have to give up coffee?

The short answer is no. (Cue the chorus of angels, right?) We know that fatigue during the first trimester may have you feeling like you’re walking through quicksand (don’t worry, you’ll probably get your energy back in the second trimester) and the last thing you want is to add caffeine withdrawal to your list of symptoms. Though you may have to cut back on caffeine, you don’t have to cut it out completely. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends no more than 300 milligrams of caffeine (which is about two small cups of brewed coffee or three cups of tea) each day because consuming too much caffeine during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weight and miscarriage.

Keep a close eye on the caffeine content of soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolate, too. You can switch to instant coffee (which lets you bump up your daily intake to three cups) or steep your tea for a shorter time. (You can find a chart listing the caffeine content of common beverages here.) Decaf is a good backup beverage when you’re craving the taste of coffee. (Swiss-water decaf is healthier than chemically decaffeinated coffee, but don’t worry too much.) And check out these caffeine alternatives below. 

woman sitting on sofa and smelling a cup of coffee Anastasiia Krivenok / Getty Images

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Get your fix: 6 caffeine alternatives

Do I have to cut out caffeine?

You have just found out you're pregnant and chances are you feel some dread. Oh sure, you're overjoyed at the preggers part, but you know you should give up your beloved latté. But maybe not.

Cutting down instead of cutting out appears to be safe. Health Canada suggests that consuming up to 300 mg of caffeine per day is considered a safe amount to prevent any risk of miscarriage. (Know that the studies done on caffeine and the risks were done with women who already had a previous miscarriage.) That said, we do know that caffeine crosses the placenta and increases baby’s heart rate.

What you need to know are your limits and your alternatives.

Your pregnancy: 6 weeks Photo: iStockphoto

Spread it out

Three hundred milligrams of caffeine each day is equivalent to two small cups of coffee. If you need to, spread those two cups out throughout the day by going half-caf or cutting back a quarter cup at a time.

Hot Black Coffee in white cup with coffee beans in hemp sack wing-wing / Getty Images

Try chicory

While decaf appears to be perfectly safe, why not kick the coffee habit for good? Check out Caf-Lib products, which are roasted chicory root coffee substitutes for coffee and tea. This type of beverage was popular during the war when coffee beans were scarce, and it tastes kind of/almost/maybe like coffee. The bonus is that the key ingredient, chicory, is a pre-biotic that feeds the good bacteria in your gut.

Chicory drink with blue flowers Eugene03 / Getty Images

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Beware of herbal teas

Be careful with your herbal teas. Some have uterine contracting effects and other things you don’t want going on when you are pregnant. The ones to avoid include Guarana, Aloe Vera, Coltsfoot, Juniper Berries, Pennyroyal, Buckthorn Bark, Comfrey, Labrador Tea, Sassafras, Duck Roots, Lobelia, Senna Leaves and Chamomile.

Get the full list of herbal teas to avoid in pregnancy here

Your pregnancy: 6 weeks Photo: iStockphoto

Go for loose-leaf tea

Learn to love tea! Even rich, dark Darjeeling can contain less caffeine than coffee if you brew it for less than three minutes.

Buy loose-leaf tea and you can reduce the caffeine even more. Take the time to swish the leaves for 30 seconds with boiled water and pour off before your real brewing. Much of the caffeine is leached off in that first flush and the tea still has lots of flavour.

Your pregnancy: 6 weeks Photo: iStockphoto

Go green

Green tea still has caffeine, but if you brew the same leaves all day long, the amount is nominal. Jasmine does quite well with this process as does any other flavoured green tea. The possibilities are endless.

Your pregnancy: 6 weeks Photo: loooby/iStockphoto

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Go with Rooibos

Rooibos is your go-to, all-day, caffeine-free tea. It is perfectly safe, high in vitamin C and antioxidants and pleasant to sip. Unlike other herbals, it will stand up to a bit of milk and honey if you are mourning your morning milky cup of java.

Your pregnancy: 6 weeks Photo: iStockphoto

What’s a dating ultrasound?

Pregnancy is measured in weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period, with ovulation and conception usually occurring about two weeks after that date. For some women, especially those who have irregular cycles, it’s hard to determine a due date, and a dating ultrasound may be offered between six and 11 weeks. The ultrasound takes about 10 minutes, and the report is sent to your healthcare provider. It can determine if your baby has a heartbeat and whether you’re having more than one baby (imagine twins?!). If the scan happens earlier in your first trimester—perhaps at six weeks pregnant or seven—know that the ultrasound might not be like the ones you’ve seen in the movies, where the technician rubs your belly with  gel and a transducer. Because the baby is very small, the technician may need to do a transvaginal ultrasound, which is an internal pelvic exam with a wand. It’s not the most fun experience, but, hey, you get to see your baby—and, if all goes well, a teeny, fluttering little heartbeat!

A gynecologist sets up an ultrasound machine to diagnose a patient who is lying on a couch. A transvaginal ultrasound scanner of the internal organs of the pelvis. Kateryna Kukota / Getty Images

Just for kicks

One of the coolest things about being pregnant is that your body becomes a multi-tasking machine. You’re at work, getting sh*t done, but you’re also growing a baby! While you’re lazing on the couch watching TV, you also happen to be making eyeballs and a teeny-tiny heart and building somebody else’s brain! That’s pretty wild. Then there are celebrity moms-to-be, like Serena Williams and Wonder Woman, who didn’t let pregnancy slow them down at all. If you’re feeling pretty rundown during these first few weeks, take some inspo from these strong ladies who managed to rock pregnancy.  

woman watching tv MixMedia / Getty Images

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Baby names

Speaking of strength, maybe you already have a sense that the baby you’re growing is a tough little fighter. From Matilda to Liam, we’ve rounded up 20 different baby names that mean strong-willed,” “brave” or “mighty.” 

Pregnancy to-do list: 6 weeks pregnant

You’re probably feeling really crummy right about now. If you haven’t told anyone but your partner that you’re expecting, it’s likely been challenging to hide your nausea and fatigue from others. Now is the time to start practising the art of asking for help. Make rest a priority and ask for extra support from your partner, close friends and family. Not only will it help you feel better but it will also give your partner and loved ones a chance to feel involved in the early stages of pregnancy. Get help preparing meals and snacks ahead of time to combat nausea, and delegate chores and tasks that you normally do so that you can just flake out on the couch and rest at the end of the day. Bonus: It’s all good practice for when you have a newborn.

Read more: 10 strange pregnancy symptoms nobody tells you about The debate: Did you drink at all while pregnant? Next up: 7 weeks pregnant

Your pregnancy: 6 weeks

This article was originally published on Jun 28, 2019

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