The embryo has grown to a little over one eighth of an inch long this week—about the size of a sesame seed! Even at this tiny size, the placenta and the umbilical cord are working, passing oxygen and nutrients to your baby. Layers of cells already are becoming specialized. The outer layer will become the nervous system; the middle layer will become the skeletal system, circulatory system, and reproductive organs; and the inner layer will be the digestive and respiratory systems. The microscopic group of cells that will become your baby’s heart has formed, and the brain and spinal cord are beginning to take shape.
Some women start feeling nausea at or around the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy. (For more information, see “Survival Guide: Morning Sickness.”) Remember, it is also normal not to feel these symptoms at this time—each woman experiences pregnancy differently. Morning sickness typically rears its ugly head between four and thirty-six weeks of pregnancy and can, unfortunately, occur at any time of day. You may also feel a little more tired in the evening or completely exhausted in the middle of the day. There are several reasons for this fatigue. During early pregnancy, your body makes more of a hormone called progesterone, which can make you feel tired. Additionally, your body is working harder to provide nutrients and oxygen to the growing fetus. These physical changes, as well as emotional stresses, can add to your feelings of fatigue. If possible, try to get an hour or two more of sleep each night, or take a short nap in the afternoon. Instead of reaching for a soda or caffeinated drink, drink water with a high-protein snack in mid-afternoon to give you some energy. Mild exercise and fresh air can also help with fatigue. Most women also report they get some energy back after the first trimester is over.
A Mom’s Suggestion: Avoid overheating, especially during the first trimester.
If your body temperature gets too high, it can cause dehydration and potential complications during pregnancy. Try to avoid the following:
- Exercising for long periods in hot conditions
- Staying out in the sun too long
- Saunas and hot tubs—which can cause miscarriage
- Electric blankets and heating pads
Lisa’s Suggestion: One way to document your pregnancy is to have someone take pictures of you standing in a profile view to show how your belly is growing as your baby is growing. You can take these pictures weekly, monthly, or in each trimester.
Fast Fact: At least one-third of American cows are injected with the genetically-engineered human growth hormone (rBGH) in order to increase milk production levels. Scientists have claimed for years that excess amounts of rBGH can have adverse health affects (it can potentially cause cancer). The Cancer Prevention Coalition is currently petitioning the FDA to ban rBGH in the US—as Europe and Canada have already done. Samuel Epstein, professor emeritus of environmental medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, concludes in his book, What’s in Your Milk, that rBGH milk can increase the risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. While more research needs to be conducted, this may just be one more reason for pregnant women to buy organic or hormone-free milk.
Q&A: Laura Roe Stevens, Parenting Editor for DivineCaroline, researches and interviews experts to find answers to readers’ questions.
Q: Which soft cheeses are safe and which should I avoid while pregnant?
A: The FDA warns not to eat non-pasteurized soft cheeses. Hard cheeses are okay. Soft cheeses may contain bacteria called Listeria that can make you sick. When you’re not pregnant, this illness isn’t such a big deal. But Listeriosis is one of the few infections (others include toxoplasmosis, rubella, and cytomegalovirus) that can cross the placenta and actually infect the baby. When I was pregnant, my obstetrician shared that one of his patients had lost her baby after eating soft cheese sauces while vacationing in Mexico. While it is quite rare, pregnant women need to use caution. Sarah Maddison, MD, an experienced obstetrician from Raleigh, North Carolina, clarifies: “Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning that can cause fever, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea, and sometimes even convulsions. Anyone can get this, but pregnant women are twenty times more likely than other healthy adults to get ill after an Listeria exposure, and it can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, or infection.”
Play it safe and avoid cheeses such as brie, feta, Mexican white cheeses, and goat cheese.
Eating For Two: Calcium
Your developing baby will need calcium for healthy bones, teeth, heart, nerves, and muscles. The FDA suggests a woman needs 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. If you are taking supplements, be sure to take those with vitamin D to aid in absorption. To get your four servings of dairy (or other calcium-rich foods) per day, here are some choices:
- Milk (skim–two percent)
- Calcium-enriched soy or rice milk
- Low-fat yogurt (mix frozen with skim milk to make yogurt shakes)
- Low-fat cheeses (skim or two percent cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese sticks, grated cheese)
- Calcium-fortified orange juice
- Reduced-fat ice cream
- Low-fat pudding
- Firm tofu
Robin’s Chicken Alfredo
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk (two percent)
- 1 cup fat-free half and half
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup diced cooked chicken
- 1 cup fresh broccoli florets
- Dash of nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Melt butter with olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour. Continue to stir constantly for about one minute.
2. Whisk in milk and half and half. Continuing to stir, heat until mixture begins to bubble and thicken, then turn heat down to medium low.
3. Stir in Parmesan, chicken, broccoli, and seasonings. Cover and simmer for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Serve over whole-wheat pasta. Add a mixed green salad topped with balsamic vinaigrette and almonds.
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