Your Pregnancy, Week 15
By Dr. Jen Lincoln (Bundoo®). Edited by Dr. Kate Dudek
We hope that you are enjoying Week 15! For many mums, these are the best weeks of pregnancy. You might finally be ready to start telling everyone that you are pregnant (it is still probably hard to tell just by looking), so enjoy sharing your good news with friends and family.
You may have read that most pregnant women gain, on average, 0.5 KG a week throughout their pregnancy. If that were strictly true, it would mean that by week 15 you would have gained approximately 7.5 KG, which is actually very unlikely in the majority of cases.
If you found the first trimester easy and you relaxed your pre-pregnancy eating habits, it is possible that you will have gained more than 7.5 KG. Unless the weight gain is excessive, this is probably not anything to be too concerned over, but try to maintain a healthy balanced diet for the remainder of your pregnancy. Many women, however, will find the opposite, and by this stage, with only minimal physical evidence of their pregnancy, they have hardly gained weight at all. In fact, if they were unfortunate enough to suffer from severe morning sickness, they may even have lost weight.
So, what does it mean, if by this stage in your pregnancy you are “underweight”? Will the lack of weight gain to date be hurting your baby?
Unless your doctor has expressed concern, the answer is usually a definite “no.” Weight gain throughout pregnancy should be gradual but will not necessarily follow a regular weekly schedule. By now, the combined weight of your baby and the growing placenta is only about 100 grams. If your weight gain has been minimal, don’t worry, the real growth period is just beginning!
One new pregnancy-related symptom that you might start to experience at this stage is disrupted sleep. Getting sufficient sleep is important during pregnancy, as research has linked inadequate or disrupted sleep to an increased risk of pregnancy complications and delivery problems. Although it is still too early to be experiencing sleep issues related to your size, pregnancy hormones are also capable of causing sleep issues. If you are having trouble sleeping, there are some steps you can take to improve your sleep:
- If you struggle to sleep lying on your left side (as is recommended), try using a body pillow.
- Avoid evening naps, caffeine, or stimulating TV close to bedtime.
- Incorporate moderate exercise into your regular routine. Aim to exercise at least a few times each week.
- Treat any specific symptoms that are keeping you awake; heartburn/indigestion are common throughout pregnancy.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day, but try to avoid drinking excessively just before bed so you can avoid night time toilet trips.
- Practice good sleep habits, such as no electronics in the bedroom (try leaving your mobile phone downstairs at bedtime), applying a calming sleep routine and meditating.
At Week 15, your baby’s foetal age is 13 weeks, and he or she is about the size of an apple, or a navel orange. By this stage, your baby is looking remarkably human and less alien-like; you will start to recognise definite human traits in scan images from this point onwards.
By week 15, your baby is also increasingly aware of the outside world and reactive to external sights and sounds. He or she might squint their eyes in response to bright light or become more active in response to loud noise. Your baby might even have started to suck his or her thumb for comfort.
From a developmental point of view, much of the hard work that comes from forming all the human organs is complete. The skeleton is formed, the major organ systems are in place, the eyes and ears have moved to their proper positions and are essentially fully functional. Your baby’s skin is still very thin at this stage and the fine network of veins and arteries that lies immediately under the skin is visible.
Your baby’s upper respiratory tract and gastrointestinal system are developing well. He or she is taking in (“breathing”) amniotic fluid and circulating it through the lungs. The throat is starting to swallow and the taste buds have begun to form. Currently, there is no sensation of taste, as the only substance available to the baby is amniotic fluid.
If you have an ultrasound scan around week 15, there is a good chance the sonographer will be able to identify the baby’s gender. Remember, you are not obliged to find out. Many people choose to keep the gender as a surprise.
"You are probably starting to feel quite proud of your new little bump. Now is a great time to start documenting your stomach as it grows week by week."
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