Mother and Baby

6 weeks pregnant: symptoms, belly and what to expect

Early pregnancy

Medically reviewed by Dr Helena Watson on 6th June 2020

 

You've probably recently realised you're pregnant and coming to terms with your exciting news. Although you might not feel any symptoms at the minute, it's important to learn more about what is happending to your body right now, as the first trimester can be really tough on mums-to-be.

In this article: 

Now you are six weeks pregnant, here is your go-to guide on symptoms, scans, your belly and what to expect. 

More related articles: 

 

How big is my baby at six weeks pregnant?

Baby-size-of-a-pea-six-weeks

Your baby is now 4-7mm long and has been doing some serious growing over the past few weeks. Your tiny baby is now the size of a pea and will develop his or her face this week, doubling in size by next week. Fascinating, eh!

What's happening in my body?

 

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1) Your kidneys are becoming more effective at ridding your body of waste

Although you probably won’t look any different on the outside, you might be feeling queezy, bloated or craving foods you’ve never even wanted before.

Other early signs? You’ll probably need to pee every five minutes, especially when you’re trying to sleep.

Luckily, this pressure will be relieved once your uterus rises at the beginning of trimester two. Although your constant need to wee might be annoying, do not stop drinking – your body needs it.

Instead, make sure you lean forward on the toilet to ensure you’ve emptied your bladder each time.
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2) Your stomach muscles relax

During week six, the muscle at the top of your stomach relaxes to make room for your growing bump.

Before your new arrival, this prevents digestive juices from backing up, so the bad news is, the chances of getting through the next eight months’ heartburn free are nearly zero.

The good news is, you can minimise the symptoms by slowing down when you eat, so take your time!
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3) Your uterus expands

Your uterus is getting bigger (no surprise there), but did you know that your womb will actually increase up to 1000 times its normal size during your pregnancy, so this is still very early days.
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4) The amount of blood in your body increases

This has probably already happened, and isn’t something you’re likely to notice. Why is this happening?

During these first few weeks of pregnancy, you’ll have an increased blood supply to your uterus (another reason why you need to wee so much!), breasts, kidneys and skin.

What’s my baby doing?

You might be feeling the full effects of those early pregnancy symptoms (hello, morning sickness!), but the good news is, the folds of tissue are developing that will soon become your baby’s face.

At the moment, there are tiny openings that will turn into a mouth and nostrils in a few weeks. There are also dark patches that will eventually turn into eyes and small folds on the side of your baby’s head that will turn into ears.

Currently, your baby’s ‘limbs’ are just buds, but they will soon develop into arms and legs, with tiny fingers and toes.

Your little tot's nervous system is developing from a neural plate – a layer of cells you can see on the 16th day of development. It forms a groove down the middle and the edges of the groove will curl up and meet to make the neural tube. The front bit of tube becomes the brain; the rest becomes the spinal cord. The spinal cord is also developing rapidly, but at the moment, it still resembles a tail.

The neural tube closes at six weeks. If it doesn't close, the baby develops a neural tube defect (such as spina bifida) or cleft lip or palate, where the roof of the mouth hasn’t fused together. Taking folic acid supplements can help protect your baby against these.

Your baby’s heart will also start to beat around 110 times a minute and can actually be seen on your ultrasound from this week.

Your baby's lungs, liver and kidneys are all beginning to develop too. They're also starting to grow muscles and, during the sixth week, will start to use these to twitch the body and arms. 

By the six week mark, your baby will be joined to you through the umbilical cord, which will do the job of sending in food and getting rid of waste products. 

six-week-old-embryo

Common symptoms to look out for:

According to midwife and parenting expert Rachel Fitz-D, it's important to listen to our bodies.

'Listening to your body is the most important thing to do in early pregnancy - the weird symptoms are evolved to keep you and your tiny embryo safe. So respond to overwhelming fatigue by resting as much as possible in the evenings and at weekends rather than trying to “carry on as normal”, and attack morning sickness by keeping your blood sugar up and stable as this will reduce the symptoms. Eat and drink what you can face and keep down - your rising hormones will simply turn you off potentially harmful stuff like coffee and alcohol whilst tolerating foods which stabilise your blood sugar like complex carbohydrates (brown rice, pasta, bananas and so on). Don’t be too afraid to keep your happy news to yourself either - you might well need more support and understanding right now, especially if you are having a rough time, so let your boss, friends and family know sooner rather than later so that they can understand when you need that extra nap of snack break.' Says Rachel. 

1) Breast tenderness

Breast tenderness

You’re not imagining it; your boobs are getting bigger and your nipples are pointing out more. They might also be feeling really tender as your body gets ready to breastfeed.

2) Fatigue

Fatigue in early pregnancyYour body is growing a baby, so it’s bound to be exhausted! Listen to it and feel free to cancel those dinner arrangements and get an early night.

That said, as much as you might not feel like it, try and fit some exercise in – perhaps a gentle walk or a yoga class.

The endorphins will help you feel better and it might help you get to sleep. There are also some great superfoods to help fight fatigue!

3) Nausea and vomiting

Morning sickness at 6 weeks pregnant Whether you’re feeling a little sick at the sight of your partner’s scrambled eggs, or you’re throwing up your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, relax and remember, this is one of the most common signs of pregnancy. If you are being sick, snacking is key.

These breakfast ideas are great for when your belly is feeling sensitive.

4) Bloating

Bloating at 6 weeks pregnantThis one is down to the progesterone that’s flying around your body right now.

Remember to eat lots of fibre and drink plenty of water to avoid getting constipated, which will only make that horrible bloated feeling worse.

It can also lead to rectal prolapse

What should I be doing?

GP check at 6 weeks pregnant

Book an appointment with your doctor

As we mentioned above, now is the time to book that first appointment with your GP or a local midwife so you can discuss your antenatal care options.

At your first of many prenatal check-ups, your doctor will give you a thorough check, including a pelvic exam, a smear test (unless you’ve had one recently) and a blood test.

You might be asked to give a urine sample (which you probably won’t have a problem providing) and this will be tested for glucose, protein, red and white blood cells, and bacteria.

Another thing to expect is a lot of questions – so do your homework! 

Not only will they ask about your own health history, but also about your mum and if she had any difficulties or complications when giving birth.

Remember to make a list of questions for your doctor and ask them, no matter how silly they may sound.

Stop eating certain seafood

Avoid shark, swordfish and king mackerel, but don’t worry, you don’t need to cut out fish altogether.

According to pregnancy guidelines, you can still eat 12oz of well-cooked shellfish, canned tuna, salmon or cod a week. This is to avoid the risk of being contaminated with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.

Opt for highlights, not a whole head of hair dye

During these first few months, it’s safest to avoid the chemicals involved in hair dye.

Highlights don’t touch the scalp, so that’s the safest way to go.

Ask your GP if you have any worries or questions.

What to do now...

  • Eat healthily: you should be eating plenty of vegetables, grains, nuts and animal protein for the baby's development and your health. 
  • Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fiber: drinking several glasses of water will help relieve any digestive issues.
  • Schedule an antenatal appointment
  • Start looking at maternity leave: have that conversation early on and ask what their policies are. 
  • Your announcement: is it time to announce the news to your family or have they guessed already? Start thinking about when you want to tell people.