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4 Weeks Pregnant: Symptoms And All You Need To Know

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4 Weeks Pregnant: Symptoms And All You Need To Know

For many women, they don’t experience pregnancy symptoms until a few weeks after conception starts. It’s common to notice pregnancy symptoms at 4 weeks when the body starts taking on noticeable physical and mental changes. Additionally, cells start to divide in the baby’s body that will later make up the child’s brain, spinal cord, and other body parts.

Knowing the most common pregnancy symptoms at 4 weeks could be key to experiencing a happy and healthy pregnancy. And more importantly, any mother would want to know how well their baby is developing because major changes start to occur in the baby’s life at just a few weeks.

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So, let’s take a look at some major changes for mom and baby during 4 weeks gestation as well as some tips for making sure your pregnancy progresses with ease.

1. What to Know about the Baby at 4 Weeks

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    4 weeks into your pregnancy, your little tyke truly is a little tyke. A common size for an embryo (or a blastocyst at this point in the pregnancy) is about 3mm long. If you need a better visual, your baby is about the size of a mustard or poppy seed or smaller. During this period, many things are developing for the baby. First, cells are starting to separate into 3 different parts. These 3 parts will eventually become these major body parts:

    • Brain, spinal cord, and back
    • Circulatory system
    • Lungs, stomach, and urinary system

    As far as the baby, he or she is now growing in your plush amniotic sac which will be their “house” for the next several months. Your placenta is also developing at this time along the uterine walls. The placenta will send vitamins, nutrients, and oxygen to the baby in the amniotic sac via the umbilical cord.

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    2. How Your Body Is Changing and Common Pregnancy Symptoms at 4 Weeks

    Pregnancy symptoms at 4 weeks are non-existent for some mothers but hit like a ton of bricks for others. At 4 weeks, one of the most common symptoms is the lack of a period or a very spotty one. If the latter, this is likely due to the embryo detaching from the uterine lining. Hence, why you may see light spotting as opposed to typical menstrual blood flow.

    Physically, you may experience a wave of fatigue. What is usually a normal 8 hours of sleep turns into 13. While there are conflicting medical reasons to pregnancy fatigue, many blame it on higher than usual levels of progesterone.

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    Fluctuating hormonal levels could also mean larger, tender breasts, too. Sky-rocketing estrogen and progesterone levels are preparing your breasts for milk production so swollen boobs are to be expected.

    Lastly, you may find yourself snapping at everyone! Moodiness is also one of the most common expected pregnancy symptoms at 4 weeks. The heightened levels of hormones mean the neurotransmitters in your brain are reacting differently to certain stimuli.

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    3. Tips to Consider When You’re 4 Weeks Pregnant

    Pregnant woman in the process of washing a batch of assorted produce prior to the preparation of a salad

      Outside from the many physical changes you and your baby are experiencing at 4 weeks, there are several tips you can take advantage of to ensure this phase progresses smoothly.

      • Ditch the bad habits NOW! Because of the very crucial developments taking place with your baby, it’s vital that you cease with your unsavory habits now. Smoking and drinking are the first things to cross off your list. Carbon monoxide and alcohol could severely damage the baby’s neurological development, so shelve the Virginia Slims and Bourbon immediately! If you enjoy strenuous workouts, ease up a little. Consider a brisk walk to a hyperactive run. Trade your weight lifting classes for yoga or aerobics. Your body is catering to a delicate being so now is definitely the time to start taking it easy.
      • Take your vitamins seriously. At 4 weeks, you and your baby will need many nutrients to ensure a healthy pregnancy for the next several months. Start taking in more folic acid to prevent neurologic birth defects. Up your calcium game to strengthen your baby’s bones as well as yours. Foods with iron are a great way to ensure your baby gets plenty of extra oxygen through the bloodstream. Lastly, consider taking iodine supplements. Iodine is helpful to prevent severe mental and physical deformities, as well as preventing miscarriages and stillbirths. An easy way to get all of these vitamins and more is through prenatal supplements. Your OBGYN can provide them or you can get them over-the-counter.
      • Ease up on the junk food. Everyone enjoys a nice burger and fries occasionally, but now is the time to leave McDonald’s and Burger King in the fry cooker. Reduce the burgers and upgrade to more lean meats like white chicken and fish at 4 weeks. And you’ll want to maintain a healthier diet throughout your pregnancy. Lean meats, leafy greens, and fruits will provide an abundant amount of crucial nutrients, including the ones listed above. Junk food often comes loaded with sodium, sugar, fat (not the good kind!) and other foulness that could wreak havoc on your heart health. And what affects your body will affect your baby.
      • Get a due date. While some medical professionals advise against visiting the OBGYN at 4 weeks (some say to make a first appointment at 8 weeks), it may be a good idea to get an approximate due date at 4 weeks. This will come in handy when considering other major events in your life. Are you buying a house? If so, you know to have something large enough for you and your growing family come the baby’s birthday. Knowing the baby’s introduction date will provide you the time frame to start financially planning for your new addition. Many parents take this time to consider 529 education accounts for their children, life insurance policies, and other financial safety nets. Additionally, become familiar with the pregnancy leave policy at work. Knowing how much time you have for leave will provide you the peace of mind in planning for your little one’s arrival.

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      Last Updated on October 7, 2021

      Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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      Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

      In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

      Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

      There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

      Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

      Let’s get started, shall we?

      Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

      Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

      1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

      When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

      Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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      “Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

      2. Teaches the Value of Family

      Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

      According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

      3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

      Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

      “Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

      For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

      4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

      How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

      “If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

      5. Creates a Safe Environment

      If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

      Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

      6. Reduces Stress

      This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

      According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

      So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

      How to Make Family Time Happen

      Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

      1. Family Dinners

      This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

      Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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      “Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

      According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

      As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

      2.  Regular Movie Nights

      This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

      Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

      3. Game Night

      This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

      In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

      So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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      4. Sharing a Hobby

      If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

      Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

      Final Thoughts

      Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

      Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

      The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

      Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

      Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
      [2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
      [3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
      [4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
      [5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
      [6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
      [7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
      [8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
      [9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
      [10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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