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Welcome to the seventh week of your pregnancy! Most women find out that they are pregnant between the fifth and seventh weeks, so you might have a lot of questions, especially if you are a first-time mom-to-be.

This is also the period when you will have to start making life changes, especially with regards to personal care as your body adapts to the demands of your growing foetus. You will have to do this while also figuring out when to share the good news with your extended family, friends and colleagues, and plan your maternity leave if you are working.

  1. What does your baby look like in the 7th of pregnancy?
  2. What changes is the mom-to-be's body going through in the 7th week of pregnancy?
  3. Signs you might see in the 7th week of pregnancy
  4. Potential complications in the 7th week of pregnancy
  5. Things you must do by the end of the 7th week of pregnancy
  6. Takeaways for the 7th week of pregnancy

During the seventh week of your pregnancy, your baby is about the size of a grape. He/she is developing rapidly: the head is larger than the rest of the body because the brain grows more quickly at this point, as does the spinal cord.

Your baby's corneas, irises, lenses and retinas of the eyes are beginning to grow and there are little dimples where the nose and ears will be.

Tiny limb buds which will later develop into arms and legs also start forming now.

Your embryo will also have a rhythmic heartbeat now - ask your doctor if you'd like to hear it during your next ultrasound appointment.

You might not be showing a baby bump yet as your womb is approximately the size of a lemon at this point, but there’s a lot happening inside your body already. (Most first-time moms-to-be start showing only around the 12th week. But if this isn’t your first pregnancy, then you might show a bump much earlier because your womb is already stretched out.)

Your body is pumping more blood than it was before and this volume will go up by almost 50% by the end of your pregnancy. Don’t panic, as this increased volume of blood is directed towards the growth of your baby and should not affect your heart rate negatively or cause gestational hypertension

Around this time, you might notice that your nipples and the area around them (areolas) are getting darker. Your breasts may feel swollen and tender - you’ll know if your bras become a bit tighter. You may find yourself going to the loo a lot more to pee. Some women also have telltale signs like morning sickness (a misnomer, as it can actually occur at any time during the day), spotting and food cravings.

The seventh week of pregnancy can be quite challenging, more so if this is your first pregnancy - give yourself time to adapt to it gradually. One of the best methods to get a handle on all the wonderful and weird things that are happening simultaneously is to keep a journal - make a note of your feelings, symptoms and the changes in your body. This will help you stay calm and focused. What’s more, the journal can also help your doctors keep track of the particulars of your pregnancy and identify and manage any complications at the earliest.

While you may be eager to welcome your baby into the world, pregnancy can and does take a toll on the body - even at this early stage. We have all heard of morning sickness. Here's more information on that as well as other (unpleasant) signs of pregnancy at seven weeks:

  • Morning sickness: Morning sickness has been linked to an increase in the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). hCG envelops your growing foetus and eventually forms the placenta. Low blood sugar levels might be another cause of morning sickness, so it’s best to snack on something soon after you wake up. The more severe form of morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum, requires immediate medical attention.

Ironically, you can get morning sickness at any time during the day. It is, however, most likely to start right after you get out of bed in the morning.

  • Headaches: Rising hCG levels may lead to headaches. While you can take a mild medicine for it, it’s best to find out what triggers your headaches and try to fix that instead. 
  • Leucorrhea or vaginal discharge: This thin, white, milky and mild smelling vaginal discharge is quite normal during pregnancy. Do not mistake it for an infection, unless the discharge is yellow, green, strong-smelling and also causes itchiness or red patches.
  • Chloasma: Dark patches on the face, especially around the nose, chin, forehead and cheeks, are normal during pregnancy. They usually go away after you give birth or when you are not breastfeeding any more.
  • Heightened senses: Increase in estrogen levels during pregnancy can lead to heightened senses. The sense of smell can become especially keen. This is the reason why you might suddenly find certain odours intolerable and get food aversions too.
  • Bloating: A rise in the levels of progesterone hormone - which is responsible for maintaining the pregnancy in the early stages - is the main reason behind the bloating. Make sure to keep yourself hydrated, have smaller meals, choose the things you eat and drink wisely, and you’ll be able to counter the effects of bloating to a large extent.
  • Fatigue: This is quite common in the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. The best way to deal with the exhaustion is to get enough rest and sleep, and also get a fair amount of exercise to keep you refreshed.

You might also experience soreness in your breasts, a metallic taste in your mouth, light spotting or bleeding and cramping during the seventh week. There’s no need to panic about any of these. However, do consult your doctor if the symptoms get worse or cause too much discomfort.

Of course, we all take ample care when we are pregnant, but there are a few complications that can occur and are beyond our control if they do. This includes miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.

  • Miscarriage: This can happen for a number of reasons, including genetic abnormalities in the foetus, hormonal abnormalities, existing medical issues like hypothyroidism, diabetes, blood clotting issues, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), undetected infections and abnormalities in your womb or cervix. The chances of a miscarriage increase if you smoke, drink alcohol, if your pregnancy occurs at an older age, or if you have a history of miscarriages. Lack of exercise, stress and excessive caffeine consumption can also lead to a miscarriage. If you notice vaginal bleeding during pregnancy or feel that you are having a miscarriage, consult your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately. You must get some counselling after a miscarriage because even though it does not usually affect pregnancies in the future, miscarriages can be quite upsetting.
  • Ectopic pregnancy: Usually the embryo gets fertilised in the womb. But if this fertilisation happens anywhere apart from the uterus (when this happens, it usually happens in the fallopian tubes), then what you will experience is an ectopic or tubal pregnancy. It is impossible for an ectopic pregnancy to proceed normally, so you will have to get it treated medically or surgically. In some cases, if an ectopic pregnancy is not detected early enough, it can lead to bursting of the fallopian tubes, which in turn can be life-threatening. So if you see any of the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, contact your doctor and visit the hospital immediately. The signs of an ectopic pregnancy include:
    • Pelvic pain is usually the first sign, and can sometimes be accompanied by nausea and light vaginal bleeding.
    • Increased abdominal pain, heavy bleeding and an urge to have a bowel movement.
    • Extreme abdominal pain due to ruptured fallopian tubes, extreme lightheadedness and fainting.

This is the time to start preparing for the next seven months of pregnancy. These are some of the things you can do now so that the rest of your pregnancy can go more smoothly. 

1. Schedule your prenatal visits with a doctor

Choosing the right doctor is as important as scheduling your prenatal visits with him or her. Do this now. Be prepared for an extensive visit during your first appointment: your doctor will take your medical history, determine your due date, give you a physical exam and a pelvic exam with a PAP Smear, and identify the pregnancy risks, if any, in your case.

Your doctor will also order a blood test and draw up a plan for the vaccines you need to take during your pregnancy.

The doctor will ask you to get tested for the following:

  • A Haemoglobin (Hb) test to check if the haemoglobin levels are normal or if you are at a risk of anaemia.
  • ABO Rh blood group test to check the presence of the Rh factor in your baby’s blood, and if you are at risk of getting hemolytic diseases that lead to the destruction of red blood cells.
  • Thyroid F test to check the TSH levels. If your thyroid hormone levels are insufficient, this could lead to thyroid disorders and pregnancy complications.
  • VDRL test to check for sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), the occurrence of which can lead to serious complications in the pregnancy and the baby, too.
  • HIV test for both you and your spouse or partner to assess if your baby is at the risk of contracting the same. If this test comes out positive, then treatments can be recommended to reduce the effects on your baby.
  • HbsAg test for both you and your spouse or partner to check if either of you is positive for Hepatitis B. If either of you gets a positive result, then it can be passed on to the baby as well. However, early detection and treatment can reduce the risk for your baby and you.
  • A blood sugar test to ascertain if you are at the risk of contracting gestational diabetes.
  • Urine test to check hydration, sodium, sugar, ketone and bacteria levels in your body, as well as to assess if you have a bladder infection or kidney infection.

2. Ask your doctor about the vaccinations you need, as well as which ones to avoid

It is also imperative that you get vaccinated to protect yourself and your baby from a number of diseases during and after the pregnancy. Your doctor might recommend the following shots:

  • The flu shot to protect you and your baby against the influenza virus, especially if you are going to be pregnant during the flu season (it's between September and February across large parts of India, though it can extend till March in some areas).
  • The TDap or the tetanus-diphtheria vaccine to protect against whooping cough, which can be quite dangerous if contracted by the baby.
  • Hepatitis A and B vaccines, if you haven’t taken them before or if you are travelling abroad during your pregnancy.

Your doctor will also tell you about the vaccines you need to avoid because they introduce live viruses into your body, which in turn can pose a threat to you and your baby:

  • Varicella or chicken-pox vaccine
  • MMR or the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine
  • Varicella-Zoster or the shingles vaccine

3. Take your doctor's advice on a healthy diet for you and your baby

To ensure your health as well as your baby’s health, the doctor will recommend a diet for you to follow for the entire duration of your pregnancy. Here are a few things you can start doing immediately:

  • Eat more fruits rich in folic acid like oranges and melons. Also add avocados, spinach, rice, pasta, etc., to your diet.
  • Take enough vitamin C-rich foods like oranges, lemon, guava, grapefruit, broccoli, cauliflower, papaya and capsicum.
  • You will need vitamin D and calcium-rich foods like spinach, okra, soybeans and milk, cheese, egg yolks, and fish like sardines, salmon, trout and tuna to strengthen your bones.
  • Increase the intake of iron-rich foods to avoid getting anaemia, like spinach, broccoli, lentils and pulses like black gram, nuts including cashew nutswalnuts and pine nuts, lean meats like chicken, fish and also liver.
  • To ensure you have enough dietary fibre in your body, you can have whole grains like bulgur wheat, lentils and legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • It is important to stay hydrated during your pregnancy, so take plenty of water and supplement it with coconut water and lemon water.
  • Avoid fatty, sugary or salty foods as well as spicy foods and aerated drinks during your pregnancy to reduce the chances of any gastric issues.
  • Take small frequent meals instead of large and rich ones to avoid gastric issues and bloating.

4. Include light exercises in your routine

Staying active and fit during your pregnancy can ensure your health and that of your baby, and the best way to do this is by adding regular exercise to your daily routine. Here are a few things you must keep in mind while doing this:

  • Most women who are used to a particular workout or exercise routine can continue it, albeit with a slightly reduced intensity that is comfortable for them. (Check with your doctor before resuming your regular workout.)
  • If you are new to exercise, add low- to medium-intensity physical exercises and stretches, to begin with. Slow down as your pregnancy progresses.
  • If workouts in the gym or otherwise were not a part of your routine before your pregnancy, do not introduce them or do heavy workouts now.
  • Do not exercise to the point of exhaustion at any point during your pregnancy.
  • Always protect your back and avoid putting pressure to your body or lower abdomen.
  • You can include exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor, stomach, back, shoulders and legs. Yoga is a great workout for this.
  • Check with your doctor before doing any exercises which require you to lie down on your back.
  • Avoid contact sports like boxing, kickboxing, karate, judo as well as ones like horse riding, gymnastics and scuba diving.

To make sure that you have a happy and healthy pregnancy and that your baby is born without any complications, you must take adequate steps from the moment your pregnancy is confirmed. Here are some things you must keep in mind:

  • Stay in touch with your doctor and healthcare providers. Plan your check-ups regularly. When your doctor recommends tests, get them done immediately. 
  • Do not hesitate to ask questions in case of any doubts or if you spot any unusual symptoms. Maintaining a pregnancy health journal will help you in this regard.
  • Read up on, watch videos about and talk to other mothers about pregnancy and childcare while you are pregnant. This will help you understand what you are going through and what to expect once the baby arrives.
  • It’s very important to avoid stress and anxiety during your pregnancy and right after it to avoid any mental health issues, including postpartum depression. Keep yourself calm and content, and enlist the support of your friends and family to help this process along.
  • Quit smoking, alcohol, caffeine and junk food. Make sure anything you eat or use is free of preservatives and chemicals.
  • Do not take any medication without consulting your doctor first during the entirety of your pregnancy.
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