Pregnancy

4th week of pregnancy (6 weeks)

The first month of pregnancy is already about to end. At 4 weeks of pregnancy, the embryo begins to take shape, and the expectant mother really feels some changes.

It is also during this period that a pregnancy test (urine or blood) can be done to find out if you are pregnant.

Reminder: the 4th week of pregnancy is 6 weeks of amenorrhea (no rules). Indeed, in France, gynecologists usually count the duration of pregnancy in weeks of amenorrhea (SA). Thus, the calculation of the pregnancy begins on the 1st day of the last period, so about 2 weeks before the fertilization (before the actual beginning of the pregnancy). Because it is only in the middle of the woman's cycle, around the date of ovulation, that the egg can be fertilized by a spermatozoon. And so in reality, the 1st week of pregnancy is the 3rd week of amenorrhea (SA).

At the 4th week of pregnancy, the embryo measures about 4-5 millimeters. It is during this week, at the latest, that his heart begins to beat . On the mother's side, pregnancy pains can appear or intensify (see below).

At this stage - and throughout the pregnancy - proper nutrition is particularly important, as hormonal changes tend to weaken the immune system, and the expectant mother is therefore somewhat more vulnerable to certain infections.

In addition, it is advisable to have a diet rich in folic acid ( also known as "vitamin B9" or "folate") during the first weeks of pregnancy. Are rich in folic acid including green vegetables, liver, kidneys. To be completed, if recommended by the doctor or the midwife, with folic acid preparations (available in pharmacies).

During the first three months of pregnancy, an intake of 0.4 milligrams of folic acid per day is recommended. This adequate intake of folic acid is important for the maturation of the nervous system . From the 4th month of pregnancy, folic acid has no direct impact on the development of the embryo, but can have a positive influence on the body of the mother.

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The steps and exams

As soon as your pregnancy is confirmed, make an appointment for a first examination at your gynecologist. It is after this first compulsory prenatal examination that you will obtain your maternity health record (or "maternity notebook", formerly "pregnancy notebook").

The maternity card is free. According to your department, it is sent to you:

  • by your health insurance fund,
  • maternal and child health services (PMI), or
  • by your mutual. If you do not receive it, ask your doctor.

Important : your first prenatal examination must take place before the end of the 3rd month of pregnancy (ie before 15 weeks).

In total, you will have to make 7 medical visits (to your doctor or your midwife) during your pregnancy and to practice various compulsory medical examinations. Including 3 ultrasounds, at the rate of one per trimester:

  • 1st ultrasound of pregnancy
  • 2nd ultrasound of pregnancy
  • 3rd ultrasound of pregnancy

The six other visits to a doctor or midwife should be done every month, from the 4th month of pregnancy to the date of delivery.

These consultations and many exams are covered 100% by the Health Insurance (except for ultrasounds, the management of which varies according to the month of pregnancy).

In order to benefit from a 100% coverage of medical expenses, you must establish a declaration of pregnancy during the first trimester of pregnancy, ideally during your first medical visit. This declaration should be sent to your social security fund and family allowance.

The mother at the 4th week of pregnancy (6 weeks)

At the 4th week of pregnancy, the pregnant woman can complain about some problems, often not serious, but embarrassing! Fatigue or morning sickness may appear or increase. White discharge may also occur early in pregnancy.

During pregnancy, the body of the expectant mother experiences many hormonal changes.

It is especially during the first three months of pregnancy, and therefore also in the fourth week of pregnancy, that the body prepares and adapts to its new situation. Under the effect of the release of progesterone, the uterine musculature relaxes so that the baby can grow unhindered, the uterus becomes more flexible. On examination, the gynecologist or midwife can now see that the cervix is ​​firmer and less mobile: this is one of the first palpable signs of pregnancy.

The pregnancy hormone HCG (gonadotropic chorionic hormone) whose rate increases sharply in pregnant women, suppresses new ovulations and menses.

During pregnancy, the body of the future mother also prepares the birth by producing the relaxin hormone secreted - inter alia - by the placenta, this hormone allows the adaptation of tissues during pregnancy and promotes in particular the relaxation of the uterus and perineum to facilitate expulsion of the baby during delivery.

Along with these physical effects, many pregnant women also experience a psychological impact of hormonal changes. But do not worry: these annoyances generally disappear during the first three months.

Also, do not feel guilty if, during these first weeks of pregnancy, you may not yet feel the great joy you have been expecting. Hormonal changes in the first few months can also strongly affect your psychological state. Admit this "condition" and talk to your partner, family, friends or health care provider. In some pregnant women, the fact of "including the child" in their daily lives (for example by talking to them) from this early stage of pregnancy, can help better manage this initial period.

How does baby grow up in the belly?

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The embryo at the 4th week of pregnancy (6 weeks)

At the 4th week of pregnancy, the embryo measures about 4 to 5 millimeters. On ultrasound, it is visible in the form of a small thickening on the walls of the vitelline vesicle.

The skull, the neck and the limbs begin to develop, the outline of certain organs begins to appear: at the level of the head are already drawing the bases of what will form the eyes, the ears, the nose and the brain. As the embryo develops from top to bottom, the head appears oversized compared to the rest of the body.

The heart tube (the future heart) begins to beat and be visible on the ultrasound, but it does not, at this stage, not yet blood circulation.

At this stage of his life, the body of the future baby is not oxygenated thanks to the lungs, but by the placenta. The umbilical cord that begins to form around the 4th week, connects the belly of the embryo to the placenta. It contains blood vessels allowing the transport of nutrients.

The dorsal chord, the future spine of the child, also begins to develop; it seems, compared to the rest of the body, very large. The dorsal chord stretches from the nape of the neck to where the legs will form and ends in a small tail - a vestige of the evolution that will eventually subside, as the development progresses. child.

At the 4th week of pregnancy also begins to appear a first draft of the nervous system: it begins by digging on the surface of the embryo to form a gutter, then a tube (the neural tube), which will be the future spinal cord, with the brain at the end.

Note : As the pregnancy progresses, the size and weight of the baby evolve individually. The values ​​and figures shown are therefore average values. The monitoring of these data is important during the pregnancy and testimony of the smooth running of the pregnancy.

«Back to the 3rd week of pregnancyGo to the 5th week of pregnancy »

Authors: Dorothee Gebele, Dr. Nicolas Evrard

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