Pregnancy week 5


You think you may be pregnant? If you're very sensitive, you may notice feelings of fatigue, queasiness, bloating, and breast tenderness, and maybe even changes in your skin. You are able to tell approximately a week after conception that you are pregnant by taking a sensitive pregnancy test at your GP or clinic. A home pregnancy test may give a false negative at this stage however.

How's my foetus growing? 

By week 5 your baby is about the size of an apple seed – about 10mm (1cm) in length – and it looks a little like a tadpole.

By the end of week 7 your baby is about 2 cm long weighs about 1g, the size of a blueberry.

  • The embryo is protected by the liquid cushion of the amniotic sac and nourished by the placenta.
  • The umbilical cord connects the placenta with the embryo but you and the baby do not share the same blood system.

The embryo develops into three layers: 

  • The top layer (ectoderm) will develop into the nervous system, the skin and other organs.
  • The middle layer (mesoderm) will develop into the bones, muscles, kidneys, reproductive organs, heart and circulatory system, which is the first to start working.
  • Inner layer (endoderm) will develop into the digestive system, lungs, thyroid and the urinary system.

What's with my body?

This may be the week that you receive the age-old sign: most women say that they suspected they were pregnant because of a missed period. Others cite nausea, fatigue and intuition. Also, even though it's early days, some women notice altered taste preferences during this time, including food cravings or aversions or an increase or decrease in appetite.

Don't despair should you feel ill – nausea is caused by high hormone levels and research shows that even this unpleasant stage could have benefits later in life. Severe morning sickness has shown to decrease your odds of getting breast cancer by 30%.

Once you know you're pregnant, you'll start noticing all sorts of little things you didn't realise were happening:

  • Your breasts may become swollen and tender to the touch, the skin around your nipple may look darker.
  • Your appetite may increase or if you're a morning sickness sufferer, the mere smell of food can set off a wave of nausea and vomiting.
  • You may crave certain foods or develop a sudden dislike for foods that you previously enjoyed.
  • You will probably find that you often have to run to the toilet to urinate.
  • You may feel unusually irritable, and even a bit dizzy. It can take a while to adjust mentally to being a preggie person, so expect to have mixed feelings amid the euphoria.

This is a time for vigilance, as in many respects the first four weeks of life are among your baby's most hazardous. If you experience cramping, spotting or bleeding, lower abdominal pain or continual vomiting contact your doctor immediately. If you have had a previous miscarriage it is particularly important you see your doctor early as there may be hormone levels to be checked.

Tip of the week: prenatal tests

At this stage, you might like to know about (and be slightly concerned by) the plethora of tests to expect during the course of your pregnancy.

Ask your doctor for full details on your first visit, but here's a preview:

General tests:

  • Haemoglobin (for anaemia)
  • Blood group and blood group antibodies (to test for the Rhesus factor)
  • Blood infections, particularly HIV and hepatitis B
  • Immunity to German measles
  • Glucose tolerance (to exclude gestational diabetes)
  • Vaginal infection (through a lower vagina swab)
  • Your baby's growth and wellbeing (through repeated ultrasound scans)

At 11-14 weeks:

Depending on whether you fall in to a high-risk category, you may want to assess the possibility of your baby having Down Syndrome. A detailed ultrasound scan will measure the baby's nuchal (neck) fold and blood tests will be used to calculate your risk.

At 16 weeks:

Blood test to screen for spina bifida.

At 22-23 weeks:

Detailed foetal scan to check for foetal abnormalities that might require special attention during delivery.

Also read:

First signs of pregnancy

I'm pregnant! Now what?

Best and worst foods to eat during pregnancy

7 superfoods for your pregnancy

10 foods to avoid while pregnant

Eat fruit, make clever babies

"Eating oranges will give your baby jaundice" - NOT!

Decoding prenatal ultrasound tests


Rhesus: positive or negative?

Monitoring your bump

The foetal assessment tests

What is the CVS test?

How doctors test for Down syndrome

What is the non-stress test?

Pregnant week 6

Go back to the complete list of Pregnancy week-by-week updates.

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