Average Weight: 5 oz (or) 141.7 g Average Length: 3” (or) 76.2 mm
In the past 3 weeks, the size of your baby has almost doubled. All of the essential internal and external structures are now developed and ready to grow.
Inside and out, their body parts become more functional. Your little one begins twisting and turning like an acrobat, cushioned and protected by your amniotic fluid. If you could peek into your womb, you’d see quite a busy little baby these days.
The total volume of amniotic fluid is now about 1.5 oz (50ml). The fluid is similar to maternal plasma, except it contains much less protein.
The growth of your baby’s head slows down considerably by the end of the 12th week. It’s erect and rounded and your little one is looking more and more like a baby all the time. They’ve advanced to the stage that the brain can transmit messages. The brain is the same structure it will have at birth, even though it’s not the same size right now.
Hair is beginning to grow on your baby’s scalp now. The primary teeth are at cap stage and the taste buds begin to form on the surface of the tongue. The bones of the palate begin to fuse. Also, their vocal cords have begun to develop. They have the ability to swallow, absorb and discharge fluids. The external ear is completely developed. The retina of the eye is fully pigmented now and the eyelids begin to unite and are only half closed.
You’ll probably be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat at your Week 12 visit! A special listening device called a Doppler magnifies the sound of your baby’s heartbeat. This machine magnifies the sound of your baby’s heartbeat. It will sound very fast because of your increased maternal blood volume. It’s an incredibly wonderful sound to hear. Your risk of miscarriage is greatly reduced once you hear this sound.
The lungs are continuing to develop.
Neurological impulses in the brain are forming and fetal nerve cells have been multiplying rapidly.
The reflexes are developing rapidly. Touching the soles of your baby’s feet makes the toes curl down, touching the eyelids makes the eye muscles clench and touching the palms makes the fingers close.
Organs and Structures
By this point, nearly all of the organs and structures are formed. They will continue to grow and develop until delivery.
External genitalia are beginning to show distinct signs of male/female distinctiveness. The intestines begin to travel from the umbilical cord into the body cavity.
Even though your baby is not eating yet, the intestines are contracting as if they were digesting food.
Amniotic fluid begins to accumulate as your baby’s kidneys begin to produce and excrete urine. The urinary tract is working now. A large portion of the amniotic fluid from this point on will be your baby’s urine.
Your baby is actively stretching and kicking these days. Their arms have almost reached their final lengths. The legs are not quite developed. They are slightly shorter than their final lengths. The finger and toes have separated and the nails are beginning to grow.
Your baby is sucking their tiny thumb enthusiastically and practices breathing the amniotic fluid into and out of the lungs in order to further develop them.
The skeletal system now has centers of bone formation (ossification) in most bones and the pituitary gland is beginning to make many hormones.
Even though you know you’re pregnant, if this is your first baby, your strong abdominal muscles will help hide your pregnancy so other people may not notice yet. In future pregnancies, you’ll ‘show’ sooner.
The risk of miscarriage drops substantially after this week. The placenta takes over hormone production and has reached full functional maturity, thereby acting as the baby’s lungs, kidneys, liver and digestive and immune systems.
You should begin feeling better soon. As each day passes you may feel less tired and less nauseas.
Do you have a ‘pregnant glow’? There’s a physiological reason for smoother, more radiant skin during pregnancy. Your increased blood volume and pregnancy hormones are working together, resulting in a flushed, plumper, smoother skin appearance. Sometimes, though, the increased oil gland secretion can cause temporary acne.
Your belly will be starting to swell right now if this is your first pregnancy. Your growing breasts are starting to strain the buttons of your blouses. Since it’s still too early for a whole new maternity wardrobe, consider buying a few tops a couple of sizes larger than usual and buy some elastic-waist pants or skirt. It’s most important to invest in a couple of good bras in your new size, but don’t forget you’ll grow at least another few sizes before your baby is born.
Your uterus changes dramatically during pregnancy. It becomes a somewhat thin-walled, muscular container large enough to hold your baby, the placenta and the amniotic fluid. Its capacity increases 500% to 1000% during pregnancy! The weight also changes from 2.5 ounces pre-pregnancy to 40 ounces right before your little one is born.
As your child develops, your uterus is too large to remain completely in your pelvis area. It has an amazing ability to grow while you’re pregnant, so you may feel it above your pubic bone. During your pregnancy, it will grow upward to fill the pelvis and abdomen, and returns to its usual size within a few weeks after delivery. Since your uterus continually applies pressure on your blood vessels, you may be prone to dizziness whenever you get up quickly, so try moving slowly and carefully.
Right now, the uterus is about the size of a softball and your healthcare provider will be able to feel it during an abdominal exam. It’s also known as the fundus. It will eventually shift up slightly, relieving the pressure on your bladder. So the good news is, it won’t be pressing on your bladder so much and those bathroom visits will get less frequent. It’s just a temporary relief from discomfort though because by the third trimester, it will have grown large enough to sit on your bladder once again.
Heartburn and leg cramps (a potential sign of calcium deficiency), may be causing your sleep problems. Fluid retention and extra body fat may change the size of your feet and make some shoes uncomfortable. Headaches and light-headedness are common now thanks to the increased blood volume.
Both state and federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. However, while both laws ban discriminations, they vary in their scope and approach to the subject. Generally speaking, the stricter of the two will control, i.e., the law that is more favorable to the employee. (California , for example, has extremely favorable laws governing treatment of pregnancy-related conditions.)
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act was signed into law as an amendment to Title VII, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions as a form of unlawful sex discrimination. Accordingly, the protections apply to decisions regarding hiring and firing, as well as to decisions concerning compensation, terms, conditions and privileges of employment. These limitations apply to virtually all employers throughout the country with 15 or more employees.
Individuals who work for employers with 50 or more employees may enjoy additional protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act, if they satisfy the eligibility conditions (generally, if they have more than 12 months of service and have actually worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately prior to the date the leave is scheduled to commence.) For more information on The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 go to www.dol.gov/esa.
Laws on maternity and disability leave are not universal. They do not cover smaller companies or women that are self-employed.
Timing for the pregnancy discussion
You obviously want to discuss your pregnancy with your employer before you begin to show because you’ll be in a stronger position to negotiate a leave if you approach your boss directly with a specific plan. He or she will be more likely to help orchestrate a smooth return if both you and your supervisor have time to prepare for your departure.
How long will it last and how soon does it begin?
Some Moms take only 4 to 6 weeks, while others stay home for a full year or more. It all depends on your desires and the working relationship you have with your employer. But remember to stay flexible, because your initial plan could change if you have a difficult delivery or if your child has a disability.
Some women start their leave in the seventh or eighth month while others work right up until delivery. It depends entirely on how you feel and how much your workload is affected by your absence.
What happens if I’m still not ready to return to work when my leave time is up?
Discuss these options with your employer:
- Flexible work scheduling – you put in 40 hours a week but determine your own schedule.
- Part-time work.
- Job sharing with another employee and splitting the hours and benefits.
- Telecommuting from a home office.
- Meal-break flexibility, which would allow you to cut out of the office an hour early or come in an hour late each day.
You don’t have to give up your vegetarian diet to make sure your baby receives the right amounts of protein, B12, calcium and vitamin D. Be sure to take a prenatal vitamin, since some types of vegetarian diets can be deficient in certain nutrients that are needed for pregnancy. Consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to learn about ways to boost nutritional intake through food combinations.
Here are some additional tips for vegetarians:
- Consider the use of iron supplements if your hemoglobin is low. Dietary iron is more readily absorbed than the iron in most supplements, so eat a diet high in iron, including dark red beans, chick peas, dark green and dark yellow veggies and fortified cereals.
- Eat and drink pure soybean products that don’t contain sucrose.
- Drink soymilk or eat soy yogurt daily.
- Use iodized salt or sea salt to meet iodine requirements.
- Choose tofu that has been coagulated with calcium.
Proper nutrition takes some planning on your part, but you can do it. If you eat junk food several times a day, now is the time to break that habit! If you work, take healthful foods that you like with you for lunches and snacks.
It could be harmful to your pregnancy if you’re used to skipping breakfast, getting something from a machine for lunch, and then eating dinner at a fast-food restaurant. Now that you’re pregnant, your dietary habits affect someone besides just yourself.
Food in your stomach late at night may cause heartburn or nausea and vomiting in the morning. Although late-night, nutritious snacks are beneficial for some women, for many, snacking at night is unnecessary. You may pay for it during pregnancy with excessive weight gain if you’re used to ice cream or other goodies before bed.
During your second trimester try eating an extra daily serving from each food group.
The Benefits of the perfect fitness program
- Boosts your energy level and increases your sense of being in control.
- Improves your posture and relieves the backaches by strengthening and toning the muscles in your back, butt, and thighs.
- Reduces constipation by accelerating movement in your intestines.
- Prevents wear and tear on your joints (which become loosened during pregnancy by normal hormonal changes) by activating the lubricating synovial fluid in your joints.
- Releases endorphins, naturally occurring chemicals in your brain that make you feel better.
- Helps you look better by increasing blood flow to your skin and giving you a healthy glow.
- Relieves the stress and anxiety that might make you restless at night.
In the event of a lengthy labor, increased endurance can be a real help by gaining control over your breathing to help you manage the pain. Strong muscles and a fit heart can greatly ease labor and delivery.
If you exercise you’ll gain less fat weight during your pregnancy. For most women, the goal is to maintain their fitness level throughout pregnancy.
Always talk to your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program. Once you’re ready to get going start gradually. Even 5 minutes a day is a good start if you’ve been inactive. Add 5 minutes each week until you reach 30 minutes; opt for a walk in an air-conditioned mall on hot, humid days; skip your exercises if you’re ill; drink plenty of water to avoid overheating and dehydration; dress comfortably in loose-fitting clothes and wear a supportive bra to protect your breasts and above all, listen to your body.
A Safe Exercise Plan
If you weren’t fit before you became pregnant, begin slowly and build gradually as you become stronger. If you exercised regularly before becoming pregnant, continue your program, with modifications as you need them. Whatever your fitness level, you should talk to your healthcare provider about exercising while you’re pregnant.
Listen to your body as you exercise. Some women get dizzy because the center of gravity changes in their last trimester. Be careful! Your lung capacity may also be affected as your little one presses on your lungs as they grow. This may affect your ability to breathe in the proper amount of air. As you exercise, the key is to listen to your body’s warnings. Be aware that your energy level may also vary greatly from day to day.
There are many types of exercises to choose from and it all depends on what interests you. Try for a combination of cardio (aerobic), strength, and flexibility exercises, and avoid bouncing.
- Water Aerobics
Many experts recommend walking for pregnant women. It’s easy to vary the pace, add hills, and add distance. If you’re just starting, begin with a moderately brisk pace for a mile, 3 days a week. Add a couple of minutes every week, pick up the pace a bit, and eventually add hills to your route. Whether you’re a pro or a novice, go slowly for the first 5 minutes to warm up and use the last 5 minutes to cool down.
It’s not good for your baby if you become overheated, because temperatures greater than 102.6 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius) could cause problems with the developing fetus – especially in the first trimester – potentially leading to birth defects. So don’t overdo exercise on hot days. When the weather is hot, try to avoid exercising outside during the hottest part of the day (from about 10 AM to 3 PM), or exercise in an air-conditioned place. Also, note that swimming makes it more difficult for you to notice your body heating up, because the water makes you feel cooler.
Pay attention to your body’s signals, and stop when your body indicates it’s time. If you feel fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations (feel your heart pounding in your chest), shortness of breath, or pain in your back or pelvis, your body is saying it’s had enough. And if you can’t talk while you’re exercising, you’re doing it too strenuously. Keep your heart rate below 160 beats per minute.
Be sure to discuss any concerns you have with your healthcare provider. Limit your exercise if you have:
- Early contractions
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
- Premature rupture of your membranes, also known as your water (the fluid in the amniotic sac around the fetus) breaking early.
Pregnancy Exercise Tips
There are 8 things to be aware of before you begin any exercise routine during your pregnancy.
- Some of the physical discomforts of pregnancy are fatigue, swelling, constipation and backaches. When you exercise during your pregnancy you promote strength, muscle tone and endurance. These 3 qualities will reduce your discomforts during your pregnancy and help you have an easier time getting back into shape after your baby is born.
- There are two types of exercises that are the best when you’re pregnant. One is swimming and the other is walking. Both of these are great for toning your major muscle groups and strengthening your heart. Also, you probably won’t have too much chance of hurting yourself while you do either one of these exercises.
- Sports to Avoid – Anything that has a high potential of falling, like horseback riding, skating or waterskiing. Also consider giving up bike riding since that might mean falling too.
- If you’ve never exercised before, try sticking to low impact exercises like walking or swimming. Discuss this with your healthcare provider and they should give you some exercises to start with.
- Change your routine as the trimesters change. The further along you progress in your pregnancy, the larger your belly will grow and the less you’ll want to over extend yourself. Once you move into your second trimester, give up lying flat on your back or standing in one place for long periods, since this can hinder your circulation.
- Some people are very fit and exercise all the time. If you are one of these people, let your healthcare provider know you’d like to continue to exercise (in moderation).
- If you start to get dizzy, have vaginal bleeding, contractions, difficulty walking, faintness or unusual absence of fetal movements, stop exercising immediately.
- It’s always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before you start any exercise program and continue to do so all along.
What Exercises Should You Avoid?
Avoid weight training and sit-ups after the first trimester. If you want to tone your abdominal muscles, then get on all fours and tighten and relax your muscles as you exhale.
Make sure you don’t do anything that includes bouncing, leaping, jarring, a sudden change of direction, or a risk of abdominal injury. Typical limitations include contact sports, downhill skiing, scuba diving, and horseback riding because of the risk of injury they pose. Although some healthcare providers say step aerobics is acceptable if you can lower the height of your step as your pregnancy progresses, others caution that a changing center of gravity makes falls much more likely. Don’t become extremely winded, and avoid exercising to the point of exhaustion.
Check with your healthcare provider if you experience any of these warning signs during exercise:
- Uterine contractions
- Racing heartbeat or chest pain
- Fluid leaking from your vagina
- Vaginal bleeding
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Unusual pain
- Unusual shortness of breath
Yoga exercises are ways of moving or holding the body in different positions. They vary widely and gently stretch and explore all parts of your body. They are a gentle way to keep active and supple during your pregnancy. You can have a smooth pregnancy, natural childbirth and the return of your body shape after childbirth using these exercises.
How Yoga can help during your pregnancy
- Helping to reduce nausea, morning sickness and mood swings.
- Raising the level of energy while also helping in slowing the metabolism to restore calm and focus.
- Focus on relieving tension around the cervix and birth canal.
- Relieving fluid retention and cramping which can be quite common in the last months.
- Influencing the position of the baby and turning it in advance if needed.
- Strengthening and massaging the abdomen which help stimulate bowel action and appetite.
- Focus on opening the pelvis to make labor easier and quicker.
How Yoga can help after your pregnancy
- Relieving breast discomfort and upper back tension.
- Restoring the abdomen, uterus and the pelvic floor.
These exercises help strengthen your pelvic muscles and reduce leakage of urine, which is caused by the weight of your baby on your bladder. They are easy to do, and you can do them any time you have a few seconds – whether you’re at your desk, sitting in your car, or standing in line at the store.
This is the way to find the correct muscles. Do what you do when you’re trying to stop urinating. Squeeze those muscles for a few seconds, and then relax. If you feel a pull, you’re using the correct muscles.
A few cautions about Kegels:
- Don’t regularly do Kegels by stopping and starting your flow of urine while you’re actually going to the bathroom, as this can lead to incomplete emptying of your bladder, which increases the risk of urinary tract infection.
- Don’t hold your breath while you do them because it’s important that your body and muscles continue to receive oxygen while you do any type of exercise.
- Don’t tighten other muscles (stomach or legs, for example) at the same time. You want to focus on the muscles you’re exercising.
Post Natal Exercises
Slow and steady was the rule for exercising when you began during your pregnancy. It’s even more important now. Only begin to exercise when you feel ready. It might not be until you’ve had your 6 week postpartum checkup. Although, you might feel ready to start sooner.
- lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor
- inhale and allow your abdomen to expand
- exhale and lift your tailbone toward your navel, keeping you hips on the floor
- at the top of the tilt, tighten your buttocks, then release
- repeat eight to 10 times
Always remember that you must get back into your exercise routine slowly. It is also a good idea to do these exercises in conjunction with cardiovascular work, such as walking, swimming and light weight training.
Head and Shoulder Raises
- lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your head
- take a breath and, as you exhale, tighten your abdominal muscles, flatten the small of your back against the floor and raise your head and shoulders off the ground and slowly lower
- repeat the entire sequence eight to 10 times
Pelvic Floor Strengthener
This exercise is perfect for improving circulation in the pelvic region, as well as keeping the vaginal canal in shape.
- lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor
- tighten the muscles of the vagina as if trying to interrupt the flow of urine when going to the bathroom
- hold for a count of four, then release
Diarrhea can be serious if it doesn’t go way in 24 hours. If it keeps returning, call your healthcare provider. You can take milk of magnesia for 24 hours to help deal with the problem, but don’t self-medicate for longer than this time.
Each month, have your partner or spouse take a side-view photograph of your belly. You’ll be amazed to see how your profile changes!
Your healthcare provider will apply a sticky gel to your abdomen and then roll a contraption called a Doppler stethoscope across the surface. You will hear an amplified sound filling the room. At first you’ll hear a white noise, which is like the static of radio reception. Then, a tiny pounding drum! This is your baby’s heartbeat, galloping away at 150 beats per minute. It’s the very first audible message from your growing baby. Hopefully your partner is there to share this magical moment with you.
The ultra sound image clearly reveals your baby’s eyes, the orbits and the profile of the face. You can even count the fingers and toes. The outline of the spine is clearly visible, and external genitalia are beginning to show. Just about everything’s in place.
After your well worn ultrasound image has made the rounds with family, friends and co- workers, why not preserve that first glimpse of life in a baby book album? Pick up one of these great ‘must have’ items and capture a lifetime!
Changes in Your Skin
A vertical line called the linea nigra forms in many women along the midline of the abdomen. It becomes markedly darker or pigmented with a brown-black color.
Sometimes irregular brown patches of varying size may appear on your face and neck. This is called Chloasma or ‘mask of pregnancy’. These disappear or get lighter after delivery. Oral contraceptives may cause similar pigmentation changes.
You may also notice redness on your palms. It is seen in 65% of white women and 35% of black women.
Vascular spiders and redness of the palms often occur together. These symptoms are temporary and disappear shortly after delivery. The occurrence of either condition during pregnancy is usually caused by high levels of estrogen.
A dental checkup is needed now. Your little one is drawing much-needed nutrients from your body, causing your teeth to lose the calcium they need. Be more diligent about flossing and brushing regularly because your gums will bleed more now that you’re pregnant.
If your blood group is rhesus negative, you may need an injection after your baby is born.
Your hormone levels are all over the place, which may leave you feeling more vulnerable and weepy than usual. You may even find that you’re more forgetful these days.
One of the most common symptoms of pregnancy is itching. You may seem to itch even though there are no bumps or lesions on your skin. Even though it usually happens in the last weeks of your pregnancy, it can occur at any time and almost 20% of all pregnant women suffer from it. It may occur with each pregnancy and may also appear when you use oral contraceptives. The condition doesn’t present any risk to you or your baby. You can take antihistamines or cooling lotions containing menthol or camphor as treatments and sometimes no treatment is needed.
Are you starting to develop many of the same symptoms as Mom?
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Food cravings
Usually, these symptoms go away after the third month, but, they may reappear in the last month before the birth. Fortunately for you, they’ll all disappear once your little one is born.
Now’s the time to think about joining a support group for Dads! Check out the Internet for online groups targeting new Dad’s to be. They can be a life saver for when you need to discuss your fears, feelings, joys and frustrations about this new life changing experience.
Now that Mom is feeling a little better, she’s going to need to exercise more. Try joining her when she’s taking those nice long walks. It’s a wonderful way to offer your support.