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Pregnancy weeks:

Week 5 of pregnancy: The uncertainty is over

Week 5 marks the beginning of the second month of your pregnancy. It’s three weeks since your child came into being when the sperm fertilised the egg. 

Size of the baby in week 5

In week 5 of your pregnancy, it’s still impossible to see the baby growing in your belly with an external ultrasound scan. However, a vaginal ultrasound using a probe will be able to detect the amniotic cavity which now contains your baby and will be its home for the coming months. If you could see it, you might say it looks like a tiny sesame seed.

Your baby’s development

In week 5, the egg (which has now divided many times) forms an elongated “string”. It still looks nothing like a human, even though all the elements that make it a human are already in place. This week marks the first and most important development: the formation of your baby’s brain.

It’s also when their nerves start to develop, which one day will control all the processes in their body. This means they’re incredibly important – in fact, life would be impossible without them.

From day 22 (week 6) after fertilisation, an ultrasound scan will be able to detect the activity of your baby’s heart. At this stage, you could almost say that they consist of nothing but their heart because this organ, the most important of all, is initially disproportionately large. It will also be beating twice as fast as your heart.

Did you know that at no stage during your pregnancy does your baby get oxygen via their lungs? In fact, the only way they get the oxygen they need is through the placenta. It’s not until they take their first breath that they start supplying themselves with oxygen

What it’s like for the mum-to-be in week 5

After missing your period or getting a positive result from a pregnancy test, you should go to your obstetrician. They will do another test to ensure that the egg is implanted in your uterus and not in the fallopian tube. Your obstetrician will go over your medical history to make sure they know everything they need to know.

After this first appointment, your pregnancy will be registered. Your obstetrician will always make a note of your progress and which week of your pregnancy you are in. All tests and the results of blood tests will be recorded, as well as your blood pressure and increase in weight. You can use your weight values to track your personal weight gain

Choosing your Obstetrician

How would you go about choosing an​ obstetrician who would diligently look after you in the next 10 months and deliver your baby safely? 

Most women will ask their friends, colleagues or relatives for recommendations. Others prefer to be delivered by their own obstetricians who had attended to their previous pregnancies. These recommendations are important as a reference but obviously, just as “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”, what is a good choice for one may not be the same for another!​ 

As the examination and delivery involves examining the most intimate areas, you have to be at ease with your obstetrician. Choose one with whom you have full confidence that your pregnancy will be well managed with the best outcome!

Common signs and symptoms

Severe nausea

Symptoms such as nausea can increase for women around the time they find out that they’re pregnant. This is partly because their body is releasing hCG, and partly because of the emotional rollercoaster being pregnant causes around this time. Read more about what you can do if you experience severe nausea.

Midwife’s advice

‘You will often feel less nauseous if you eat small amounts of food on a regular basis, such as salty breadsticks, plain crackers or porridge. When your stomach has something to do, the nausea should ease.’ Dorothee Kutz, midwife

Fluctuating hormones

You will be paying particular attention to what your body is telling you. Women who were trying for a baby and became pregnant as planned are just as surprised at this miracle of nature as women whose pregnancy is unplanned. Despite all the worry and confusion that news like this may bring, pregnancy hormones produce a feeling of overwhelming joy: the mum-to-be needs to be in the right mental state to handle all the changes coming her way.

Weight gain

If you step on the scales, you’ll notice that you’ve gained some weight. Your body is now stockpiling the reserves it desperately needs for pregnancy, for the birth and for the energy-sapping time after the birth. Fatty deposits and the weight of the amniotic fluid, placenta and breasts (plus of course your baby!) contribute to the weight you gain. Your body may also retain more water than usual, which will also make you put on weight.

Top tips

Make sure you keep scheduling appointments with your obstetrician. 

Take time to relax because you are going to need a lot of strength over the coming months.

Talk openly with your loved ones about your good news, as they may be able to offer advice and put your mind at ease if you’re worried or anxious.

Make sure you get enough folic acid, and ideally take supplements containing it.


Questions you may want to ask your doctor

Medication and food supplements

Tell your doctor about all the medication and supplements you’re currently taking, as they need to be carefully checked and assessed. Certain types of vitamins can also be harmful at this stage if you consume too many of them. There are special supplements designed to give women the nutrients and vitamins they need during their pregnancy, so seek advice on what’s best for you.

Additional appointments in the event of more severe symptoms

Ask your doctor if you feel you need extra appointments. It’s important to know which symptoms of pregnancy are normal and which aren’t: for example, excessive vomiting can cause electrolyte imbalances, which in turn can lead to your body running low on vital substances.

Information about the author:

Juliane Jacke-Gerlitz is a registered nurse. She has been working in the field of mother and breastfeeding counselling for more than ten years. Currently she is working as a medical writer and psychological consultant. Juliane Jacke-Gerlitz has been married for 22 years, is a mother of eight children and lives with her family in Halle.