Week-by-week guide to pregnancy

happy couple looking at pregnancy test results
When you're pregnant, you have lots of questions. Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is packed with lots of useful information. From what's happening inside your body, to how your baby is developing, and tips and advice on having a healthy pregnancy – this is your one-stop pregnancy guide!

First trimester

Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is full of essential information. From early pregnancy symptoms to how your baby is growing and developing, you'll find it all here. Happy reading!

Week 7 – your first trimester

Have you started to share the news yet?

Many women can't wait to tell the world, while others may want to hold back until they've had a scan and they're well into the second trimester (after 12 weeks). When you start telling friends and family is entirely up to you. If you're feeling very unwell or do a job that could put your pregnancy at risk, then you might want to talk to your boss sooner, rather than later, to protect you and your baby. Legally, you don't have to tell your employer until the 15th week before the baby is due, which is about four months away from now. By that point, it will probably be rather obvious anyway!

What's happening in my body?

You won't be showing a baby bump yet… but there's lots going on inside you. For a start, there's more blood pumping around your body than there was 7 weeks ago, which is a strange thought, isn't it? As you go through your pregnancy, the volume will increase by up to 50%. The extra blood will feed your womb with all the oxygen and nutrients that your demanding embryo needs. This can make you feel thirstier than usual. Try to drink 8 medium glasses of fluid a day (water, fruit tea, fruit juice, skimmed or semi skimmed milk).

Meanwhile, your womb is now around the size of a lemon while your baby's the size of a grape – and growing very quickly.

Most first time mums won't start to look pregnant until around week 12. If you've had a baby before, then you could look pregnant much earlier than you did last time, as your womb and stomach muscles will be more stretched out.

Losing a baby

You are overwhelmingly likely to have a healthy baby, if you're under the age of 40, but sadly over 1 in 6 pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. A miscarriage is the loss of a baby in the first 23 weeks. There are many reasons why this can happen and in most cases, there's a problem with the baby's chromosomes, and it's nothing to do with anything that the mother has or hasn't done. Having a miscarriage can be devastating but there is a lot of support available. Thankfully the majority of women will go on to carry a baby full term, even if they've miscarried in the past. To reduce your risk of a miscarriage, try to eat well and avoid smoking, infections, alcohol and drugs. Don't panic if you get light bleeding, as this is quite common in the first few weeks of pregnancy. It can be a sign of implantation bleeding, as the embryo makes itself at home in your womb. If you have any concerns, then talk to your midwife or doctor.

Early pregnancy symptoms (at 7 weeks)

Being 7 weeks' pregnant can be quite a challenge, what with all the morning sickness, extreme tiredness and mood swings (that's your pregnancy hormones!). Then there's the endless trips to the loo as your expanding womb starts to push on your bladder. Your symptoms could also include:

  • a metallic taste in your mouth
  • sore breasts
  • see week 6 for morning sickness remedies
  • headaches
  • new likes and dislikes for food and drink – anyone fancy a slice of lemon for pudding? Read our advice on weird pregnancy cravings
  • a heightened sense of smell
  • a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina
  • light spotting (see your doctor if you get bleeding in pregnancy)
  • cramping, a bit like period pains
  • darkened skin on your face or brown patches - this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'.
  • thicker and shinier hair
  • bloating and the feeling of being bloated

There's more too! Tommy's, the baby charity, has a list of 10 common pregnancy complaints with advice on how to manage them.

Don't ignore any strange symptoms, like feeling itchy all over. The chances are that those niggles and aches are just signs of a normal pregnancy, but talk to your midwife or doctor, just in case. You don't have to battle through alone!

What does my baby look like?

Your baby, or embryo, is around 10mm long from head to bottom, which is about the size of a grape. Let's be honest, it looks a bit like an alien at this point! The brain is growing more quickly than the rest of the body, so the head is supersized with a large forehead. There are small dimples where the nose and ears will be. The eyelids are beginning to grow and cover the eyes.

The stumpy little limb buds are starting to form cartilage which will make the bones for the arms and legs. The arm buds are getting longer, and the flattened ends will soon become tiny hands.

The baby's brain and spinal cord are taking shape at a fast pace. Your embryo is generating around one hundred new brain cells every minute! This is a key time to take your folic acid (see the advice on pregnancy supplements below) as it can help to prevent defects in your baby's development. Most breakfast cereals also contain folic acid.

The embryo will now have a rhythmic heart beat, which is amazing, isn't it?

Action stations

You can help yourself to have a happy, healthy pregnancy, and give your baby a great start in life, by doing the following…

Share the news with your GP or ask for an appointment with a midwife at your doctors' surgery. Alternatively you can refer yourself to your local hospital – look for contact details on their website.

You'll need to arrange a 'booking appointment'. This usually takes place between weeks 8 and 12 and takes around an hour. You can talk about the options for your pregnancy and the birth. Plus you'll be offered screening tests for infectious diseases, and conditions such as Down's syndrome. You could ask about the Maternity Transformation Programme and how it could benefit you.

You will be offered your first dating scan at 8 to 14 weeks. This is a highlight for many women.

In total, most first time mums will have around 10 appointments and two scans. Ask if it's possible to see the same carer for your entire pregnancy, to give you continuity.

Ask your midwife or doctor about online antenatal classes – they may be able to recommend one. The charity Tommy's has lots of useful information on antenatal classes and preparing you for birth.

It's early days, but ask your partner if they would like to take part in the antenatal classes. These classes will give you the chance to meet other people and prepare you for parenthood. The NCT offers online antenatal classes with small groups of people that live locally to you.

Do your best to stop smoking, give up alcohol and go easy on the cappuccinos. We know that's easy to say, but hard to do. Ask your midwife or GP for support.

Take prenatal vitamins. You're advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid, every day, until at least week 12. This helps your baby's nervous system to form and offers some protection from conditions such as spina bifida.

We can usually get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but between October and March it's best to take a vitamin D supplement every day. Just 10 micrograms is all you need (it's the same for grown-ups and kids). It's worth checking if you're entitled to free vitamins.

Do you think you or your partner could have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)? If so, get checked out, as this could affect your baby's development. Talk to your midwife or GP, or visit a sexual health clinic.

Get moving! It's recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. You could start off with just 10 minutes of daily exercise - perhaps take a brisk walk outside. Check out Sport England's #StayInWorkOut online exercises (scroll to the pregnancy section). Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.

Don't eat for two! That's a big myth. If you pile on the pounds, you could put you and your baby at risk of health problems such as high blood pressure. Eat healthily, with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and avoid processed, fatty and salty foods. You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.

If you have a longterm health condition, then let your specialist or GP know that you're pregnant as soon as possible. Don't stop taking any regular medication without discussing it first with your doctor.

How are you today? If you're feeling anxious or low, then talk to your midwife or doctor who can point you in the right direction to get all the support that you need. You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family. You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live. Don't bottle it up – you're important, so ask for help if you need it!

This week's treat

If you have sore, puffy feet and ankles during pregnancy, then treat your feet to a DIY pedicure. Soak your feet in a warm bath of Epsom salts. Then gently give yourself a foot massage or better still, get your partner to do this!

Want to know when the baby's due?

Use the NHS's pregnancy due date calculator. You'll get a more accurate date from your doctor or midwife when you have a dating scan (usually at 8 to 14 weeks).

Go back to week 6

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