Welcome to Week 12! We’ve been saying it for a few weeks now, but if you’ve been suffering from morning sickness, those symptoms should really start to ease off now. Heading into the second trimester, this is when the growth really begins, for you and your baby.
Even though it might feel like you’ve been pregnant forever (particularly if you experienced a difficult first trimester), most people who see you will probably still have no idea that you are pregnant. At this stage any weight gain around the breasts, tummy, and legs is likely to be subtle. You might also notice slight pigmentation changes to your skin tone, but again these will likely go unnoticed by most people.
You might just be able to feel the top of your uterus above your pelvis. It has now expanded to the size of a large grapefruit, but your ‘baby bump’ will still be very small and, depending on your frame and the strength of your stomach muscles, may still be non-existent. If this is your first baby you will probably still be wearing your regular clothes, although you my find looser fitting garments more comfortable.
It is around now that your uterus will gradually migrate from the bottom of your pelvis, towards the front of your abdomen. This relocation is designed to give the uterus and baby more room to grow; believe it or not, your uterus will expand to 500 – 1000 times its pre-pregnancy size by the time your baby is born.
Lastly, whilst it will be a relief to leave behind the fatigue, morning sickness, and constant need to empty your bladder that accompanies the first trimester, this doesn’t mean your hormones are done with you yet. Throughout pregnancy, your production of progesterone increases, which can have a range of physiological effects. You might feel dizzy sporadically throughout the day, as progesterone can cause the blood vessels to leak slightly, causing less blood to circulate around your body and reach your head. This sounds scary, but does not need to be; if you start to feel dizzy, sit quietly for a few minutes and let your blood recalibrate in your system. Getting up slowly and staying well hydrated can also help. Try not to get so dizzy that you faint, as this can be quite a traumatic experience. It is far better to pay attention to the early warning signs and rest, before things deteriorate. Your libido can also be affected, with some women finding the idea of intercourse a major turn-off, and others finding the complete opposite.
During your 12-week check up, ensure that you ask your doctor or midwife any questions you have. At this stage you may want to discuss the screening options that are available to you, including those that identify genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and other abnormalities. With today’s advanced diagnostics, it is possible to screen for many genetic disorders, but that doesn’t mean you have to be screened. It is a personal decision, and it is advisable to get all the information you need to help you and your partner decide what you want to do.
Your baby is now 10 weeks old (using his or her foetal age) and about 6.4 cm from head to bottom. Last week your baby was about the size of a date, this week he or she is the size of a small onion or lime.
By week 12, the major external features are mostly developed. Your baby’s facial features look very human now and have moved into their proper positions. The eyes are closed and the ears and nose are fully formed. Little wisps of hair are even appearing on the scalp. Your baby’s fingers and toes (and fingernails and toenails) are formed, and your baby may begin to reflexively open and close their fingers and toes.
With the external development done, many of the most exciting things are happening internally. Your baby’s brain and central nervous system are developing very rapidly, along with the major organ systems. The small intestine is now capable of absorbing sugar (although of course your baby is still receiving all of his or her nutrients from the umbilical cord). The kidneys are now functional, and the pituitary gland is beginning to operate normally and signal the production of hormones.
Amazingly, all of this development means that your baby can now respond to you; pursing his or her mouth, squeezing their hands open and shut, and opening and closing their mouth. They will be hearing noises from outside the womb and will, over time, start to recognise your voice.
“Each genetic screening test, including blood tests and ultrasounds, has risks and benefits.”
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