This week your baby will officially stop being an ‘embryo’ and become a ‘foetus’. At this point, your baby’s heartbeat may be audible on the Doppler ultrasound, so you might be able to hear it if you have an appointment with your doctor this week. Don’t worry if you can’t hear the heartbeat yet though, in the next few weeks you definitely will.
Your waistline has probably started to expand by now, and your breasts are bigger thanks to those pregnancy hormones.
Internally, there are even more changes going on. During pregnancy, your blood volume will increase by as much as 50%. This is great for your baby, it provides plenty of oxygen and keeps him or her fed. It’s also good for you. The extra blood volume helps keep you healthy and provides some protection against blood loss during labour. At week 9, your blood volume has already begun to increase; it will continue to increase throughout the second trimester and into the third trimester. Be aware, however, that this increase in blood volume can increase your risk of becoming anaemic. This is because your blood has two parts: fluid and red blood cells. The fluid increases faster than the cells, which can cause anaemia as the blood is a little more dilute. Ask your health care provider about your iron levels and they will be able to advise whether iron supplements are necessary.
Many of your first trimester symptoms will continue, including morning sickness, fatigue, and fluctuating mood swings. Fortunately, for many women these signs start to taper off over the next few weeks. If you have been experiencing particular food cravings these will also continue.
These are exciting weeks in your baby’s development. Your baby is now about the size of a large grape or olive. The foetal age is 7 weeks.
There are extensive changes in week 9. Your baby’s arms and legs will continue to lengthen, and the fingers and toes will start to develop. Whilst the head is still oversized, your baby is looking more and more ‘human’. It is interesting to note that many foetal mammals look identical during the early stages of pregnancy; so much so, that it can be difficult to tell a human baby apart from many animal babies. However, by week 9, your baby definitely looks human, and the placenta that will support your baby for the rest of the pregnancy is fully formed.
There are other changes occurring too; smaller, but crucial for your baby’s continual development. The eyelids have formed and are almost covering the eyes. The pink shells of the ears have also formed and are identifiable as ears. The baby’s heart has completed its division into four chambers. The sex organs have also started to form, but it is still too early to tell if your baby is a boy or girl using ultrasound.
“Changes to your breasts are your body’s way of preparing you for breastfeeding!”
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