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The Earliest Weeks of Pregnancy

Most women find 1 and 2 weeks pregnant exciting, mystifying and joyful times. During pregnancy week 1 and pregnancy week 2 your body is preparing for conceiving a new baby. Many women start counting their pregnancy week by week during pregnancy week 1. The earliest weeks of pregnancy are marked by many exciting changes. The most dramatic changes result from rapidly shifting and changing hormone levels as your body prepares for labor. During pregnancy week 1 and pregnancy week 2 you will not know you are pregnant. Most women will not experience any symptoms except those associated with ovulation. During the earliest weeks of pregnancy your body produces increasing levels of estrogen and progesterone as it prepares for ovulation. During ovulation your body releases an egg. If pregnancy occurs sperm fertilize the egg and the egg then implants in the uterus, where it will grow during pregnancy for roughly 40 weeks until delivery.

Earliest Signs of Pregnancy


Most women want to know as soon as possible whether they are pregnant. During 1 weeks pregnant and 2 weeks pregnant you may experience a few symptoms of ovulation. Common signs of ovulation include slight menstrual like cramping on one or sometimes both sides of your lower abdomen. Many women also experience increasing volumes of fertile cervical mucous.

What Is Fertile Cervical Mucous


Most women are more likely to conceive during pregnancy weeks 1 and 2 if they have fertile cervical mucous. This results as levels of estrogen in the body rise right before ovulation. Fertile cervical mucous looks like discharge that is clear and slippery. Many women refer to this clear discharge as "Egg White" discharge. You should be able to stretch this mucous one to two inches between your fingers. If you have clear and slippery cervical mucous, the chances you are nearing your peak fertile window are very high. Fertile cervical mucous helps transport sperm to meet the egg that releases during ovulation. How do you know if you have conceived successfully? There are some very early signs of pregnancy you may watch out for in the week or two following ovulation. These include: Increasing feelings of fatigue Increased nausea Inability to sleep well Metal like taste in your mouth Increased need to urinate Your basal body temperature remains elevated for longer than usual after ovulation Slight nipple or breast tenderness that may worsen Unusual dreams associated with hormone changes

Your Baby's Growth and Development


During 3 weeks pregnant your baby begins to grow at an amazing rate. Your baby is still very small, too small at this point for the naked eye to see. By 3 weeks pregnant your baby transforms into a small ball of rapidly dividing cells. Your baby is small enough to fit through a pinhole right now, or smaller than a grain of sand. As you watch your baby grow while following your pregnancy week by week, you'll notice just how quickly this tiny ball of cells starts looking more and more human. Many women start wondering by pregnancy week 3 if they are pregnant. You may feel confident you conceived or may have questions. Since you may not miss your period for another week, there are no surefire ways to detect your pregnancy using traditional means. During 3 weeks pregnant doctors often refer to your baby as an embryo. Your embryo is growing at a lightening fast pace. Your baby now consists of chromosomes contributed from you and your husband or partner. Your partner contributes 23 chromosomes, as do you. These tiny genetic ingredients help form your baby's unique features as he grows and develops in the weeks to come. During 3 weeks pregnant a tiny amount of amniotic fluid will start surrounding the embryo in preparation for the next 37 weeks of pregnancy. A cavity will slowly form the amniotic sac, which helps cushion and protect your baby during pregnancy. The placenta will start growing in roughly another week, providing your baby with the nutrients he needs to survive during pregnancy.

Changes in Your Body


You may start noticing slight changes in your body during pregnancy week 3. Some examples include slight nipple tenderness or bloating in the abdomen. Many women experience a light cramping in one side of their lower abdomen during this time. Still others may realize some slight spotting around the time of ovulation. This may be a sign of ovulation or implantation, where the egg burrows into the lining of the uterus. This slight spotting often clears up within a few days. Many women don't even notice it. Some women will not experience ovulation or implantation spotting; so don't worry if you don't. Many women who are trying to conceive recognize the signs of ovulation around pregnancy week three. You may notice you start feeling slightly bloated and premenstrual at this time. Keep in mind the earliest signs of pregnancy are similar to those associated with your period.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


Lots has happened during the last week of pregnancy. During 4 weeks pregnant your baby may grow as large as .04 inches! While that seems rather tiny, keep in mind your baby was small enough to fit through the eye of a needle just the week previous. Your baby will continue growing at a tremendously fast pace during the next few weeks. During pregnancy week 4 your baby is focusing on implanting into the uterine lining. This will ensure your baby has a safe, happy and comfortable home to grow in for the next 9 months. Fetal development at 4 weeks pregnant is still in its earliest stages. Most of the changes occurring in your baby include cellular changes. Your baby is growing vascular networks that will help you transport blood, nutrients and oxygen to your developing baby in the months to come. During 4 weeks pregnant your baby's organs will start their initial development. This period in time is crucial to the health and well being of your baby. The risk of fetal abnormalities or birth defects is highest during the first trimester. Because of this, it is important you attempt to avoid exposure to any toxic substances. These include drugs, even over the counter drugs, and alcohol or smoking. Many women who plan to become pregnant stop drinking alcohol and using other harmful substances while planning for their baby. If you find you are unexpectedly pregnant, don't obsess over your pregnancy during this time. Most of the time, the few glasses of wine or drinks you have before you realize you are pregnant do not harm an unborn baby. What is important is you adopt healthy habits once you do discover you are pregnant. Doing so will help promote the health and well being of your pregnancy.

Changes In Your Body


For me pregnancy week 4 was always the most exciting time during pregnancy. By week 4 pregnancy most women can finally test to find out whether they are pregnant or not. Most women expect their period to arrive during 4 weeks pregnant. If it doesn't, there is a good chance you are pregnant! I always found waiting to take the pregnancy test one of the hardest aspects of being pregnant. If you are impatient, you might consider using an early pregnancy test. An early pregnancy test can usually detect a pregnancy as early as four weeks before you miss your period. Keep in mind however, if you miscalculate your ovulation date, the pregnancy may provide you with a false negative. If you test negative but still don't get your period or feel pregnant, try testing again in a couple of days. If the result is still negative, you might consider talking with your OB/GYN. Once you hit the 4 weeks pregnant mark you may notice some changes in your body. The telltale early symptom for me always included slight cramping on one or both sides of my abdomen. This was most severe during my first pregnancy, and less severe during subsequent pregnancies. As a matter of fact, I think I remember taking some Tylenol during my first pregnancy because I didn't know what was causing the pain but it was bad, and looking back I simply realized I was pregnant. During pregnancy week 4 a part of the ovary creates the corpus luteum, which is responsible for producing progesterone in women during the earliest weeks of pregnancy. Fortunately the placenta will form and start producing most of the progesterone your body needs to maintain your pregnancy by the time you enter your 12th week of pregnancy or thereabout.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


Your baby is making important changes during 5 weeks pregnant. During 5 weeks pregnant your baby's muscles, central nervous system and even bones start forming. More importantly, your baby's heart is starting to take shape around pregnancy week 5. That means your baby's heart will start dividing into many chambers and even start pumping a small volume of blood in the upcoming weeks. Other important changes occurring during pregnancy week five include neural tube development. Your baby's skin, nails and even hair will also start to form in the top layer of cells.

Changes In Your Body


By 5 weeks pregnant most people will not know you are pregnant yet... but you probably will! This is an exciting time of pregnancy, a time where you may decide to keep your good news private or tell the whole world. For most of my pregnancies I told people shortly after finding out I was pregnant. Some people prefer to wait until they are 12 weeks pregnant when the risk of miscarriage declines significantly. I can tell you that by telling people, you will find yourself surrounded by support, love and understanding should something go wrong with your pregnancy. But lets think positive! Most women will go on to have a normal and interesting pregnancy. You may start noticing some changes in your body by pregnancy week 5. Many women, especially mothers who have had at least one baby will notice their lower abdomen start pouching out. I noticed during my pregnancies two and three that by five weeks pregnant my stomach looked significantly more swollen. Often first time mothers however, will not notice any significant abdominal changes for a few more weeks. You are probably experiencing many symptoms of early pregnancy by now, including sore breasts and nipples. I remember even the feel of the shower on my chest was almost enough to send me screaming the first few weeks of pregnancy. It helps even this early on to wear a good support bra to help alleviate some of the discomfort you experience during pregnancy especially in your breasts. You may also notice around this time your breasts may start appearing larger than normal. This is also a side effect of early pregnancy that is usually more pronounced during first pregnancies than during later pregnancies. You may start also noting morning sickness around this time. Most women start realizing more severe morning sickness however, by about 6 weeks pregnant. More commonly women experience fatigue at five weeks pregnant. You may want to have an extra cup of coffee to help perk you up, but if possible you should try to limit your caffeine intake. Opt for more sleep if you can, in the form of a short afternoon nap or an earlier bedtime. This will work wonders for tired moms. Despite what you may be thinking, exercise can also help perk up tired moms. If you have the time try to schedule in an afternoon walk or two. During my third pregnancy I was actually running about 3 miles every few days. I kept this up until about the middle of my second trimester. It really helped with my falling energy levels.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


By 6 weeks pregnant you can see your baby using a vaginal ultrasound. Your doctor may try to measure your baby using a "crown-to-rump" measurement. This is the distance from your baby's bottom to the very top of your baby's head. Most babies measure up to 5 mm in length by 6 weeks pregnant. This is roughly the size of a small corn kernel. By pregnancy week 6 your baby looks more and more human, though if you were to peer in at her you would notice she had a little buds that will form arms and legs and even a little tail. Most babies' hearts also start beating at or around 6 weeks pregnant. A baby's heart rate varies between 100 and 160 beats each minute. Your doctor may be able to hear your baby's heartbeat using a Doppler radar device in the next few weeks.

Changes In Your Body


Some women start gaining weight even this early in pregnancy. By 6 weeks pregnant most of the weight you gain is more likely than not water weight. It is quite common for women to start retaining fluid during pregnancy. Most women will gain around five pounds during their first trimester. Remember however that all women are different, so some may gain more and some may even lose a few pounds. This may result from extreme morning sickness. You will notice that with or without weight changes, your waist starts to look thicker. I always found that by about 6 weeks pregnant, I started having a harder than normal time buttoning my pants. Don't worry. Leave the top unbuttoned if you have to or button your pants with a rubber band looped around the fastener. When at home, stick to sweatpants or comfy shorts. It is way too early for you to consider maternity clothes. I always found that having a pair of pants around however, a size larger than normal often was all that was necessary to keep me comfortable during the early weeks of pregnancy. Many women will start experiencing morning sickness by six weeks pregnant. This is a very normal but also very uncomfortable side effect of pregnancy. I found the best remedy for morning sickness was actually keeping something in my stomach. Consider eating small meals throughout the day. I also found sipping some cool carbonated water with some fresh lemon squeezed in did wonders for my tummy. Other women find ginger a good natural remedy for helping relieve morning sickness. Your breasts are also continuing to grow during pregnancy week six. You may notice your areolas start to darken around this time as well. Some women notice small bumps called Montgomery's Tubercles start forming or becoming more pronounced along their breasts during their pregnancy.

How Much Weight Is Ok To Gain During Pregnancy?


Most doctors recommend pregnant women who are normal weight gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy. This varies tremendously however, from woman to woman. During my first two pregnancies I gained close to 45 pounds, but only gained 28 pounds during my third pregnancy. Each time however, the weight came off within a few months of delivering. What is important is during the second and third trimesters you add a healthy 300 calories each day to your diet. Your body needs these extra calories to help support your baby's growth and development. Most of the weight you gain will go to your baby, uterus and expanding blood volume. Only about 7 pounds of weight should actually be fat stores you're body will need supporting your baby.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


By 7 weeks pregnant your baby is growing even faster than before, reaching new lengths (almost 13 mm) and greater achievements! By now you can compare your baby's size to that of a raspberry. Your baby's facial features are starting to pop now, with a visible mouth and tongue forming. Your baby's muscle systems are also starting to develop during 7 weeks pregnant. Your baby is able to move around by now, though his movements may seem rather uncoordinated and unusual. If you were to peer directly at your baby now you might notice small webs between his fingers and toes. These will gradually separate, as your baby gets bigger. Your baby's liver starts functioning also this week. Your baby will also start producing red blood cells while happily swimming about his new home!

Changes In Your Body


You may feel like you are growing a lot, but most women don't have much to show at 7 weeks pregnant. Chances are you however, have noticed a small pooch in your lower stomach. Many women start finding their favorite pants or shorts just a little bit less comfortable than before. You are probably giddy with excitement still about your pregnancy. My experience has been most doctors will wait until you are between 9 and 11 weeks before seeing you during pregnancy, unless you are a high-risk pregnancy. This can be off-putting for some women, but it doesn't increase the chance your doctor will see you for a viable pregnancy. Most things that may go wrong happen before this time frame. This also allows your baby to develop enough for your doctor to take their first snapshot during a vaginal ultrasound. Do not hesitate however, to call your doctor for an earlier appointment if you are experiencing worrisome symptoms. Keep in mind your doctor is also available to you even before your first visit for questions and concerns. During my first pregnancy I was very nervous about the twitches and feelings I experienced during early pregnancy. I called my doctors office a couple of times to confirm what I was feeling was normal and safe. Don't hesitate to do the same.

Migraine Headaches During Pregnancy


Unfortunately many women will start experiencing migraine headaches around pregnancy week 7. This is even more so the case if you suffer from headaches or migraines before becoming pregnant. While some women find their migraines are better during pregnancy, many others find they are worse or have migraines for the first time during pregnancy. A migraine may feel like pulsing on one side of the head accompanied by sensitivity to light, loud noises and by visual disturbances. Many women, myself included, also experience nausea and vomiting with migraines. Common triggers for migraines include stress or anxiety, too little sleep, chocolate and certain aged cheeses, wine and coffee and strong odors at times. Some women find placing an ice pack on their head helps them feel better, while others find acupuncture helps during pregnancy. If I catch a migraine early, I always try some acupuncture to help relieve my symptoms. If your headaches prove extra debilitating, be sure to contact your healthcare provider for more advice about treating them. In certain circumstances, your doctor may be able to prescribe something to help alleviate your discomfort temporarily.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


By 8 weeks pregnant your baby may be as large as 20 mm long. That's about the size of a very large kidney bean! I know I started calling all of my children little "beans" at or around this time. It helps to picture your baby, even as tiny as they are while developing. It may seem hard to believe, but your tiny bean will eventually grow into a full baby! During pregnancy week 8 your baby's arms and legs start growing and your baby starts losing the little tail that makes them look more like a small tadpole than a baby. Your baby's brain is starting to mature this week, with nerve cells connecting to each other. These early nerves will eventually form the framework for your baby's communication pathways. By 8 weeks pregnant, the tip of your baby's nose has also formed and your baby's lungs start developing. Usually however, the lungs are the last organs in the body to mature in new babies. You may notice on looking closely your baby also has small, tiny elbows by pregnancy 8 weeks.

Changes In Your Body


I can admit during 8 weeks pregnant I certainly felt pregnant, even if I didn't look it. By 8 weeks pregnant your uterus has grown to about the size of a small grapefruit or large orange. Your doctor should be able to tell you are pregnant simply by feeling your uterus. Before becoming pregnant your uterus measured no larger than a small lemon. Many women start noticing more breast enlargement, especially during their first pregnancy, around pregnancy week 8. Your waistline will continue to seem thick even though others won't be able to detect many changes. You may notice some mild abdominal cramping that waxes and wanes during early pregnancy. Usually this is normal and nothing to be alarmed about.. Apart from breast tenderness and enlargement, many women also experience back or neck pain during pregnancy. Some even experience shoulder pain. This may result from poor posture as a woman adjusts her normal stance to accommodate an expanding belly. Fortunately, pregnancy pillows are portable tools you can take anywhere to improve your comfort, whether sitting in a chair, resting in bed or relaxing on the couch. Made to conform to the contours of your body, you can enjoy your pregnancy pillow and take your mind of the discomforts of pregnancy, instead taking time out to enjoy your pregnancy. Use a pregnancy pillow to support your neck, your head, your belly, your legs and even your back. Once you deliver, you can also use your pillow to nurse your newborn baby. Pregnancy pillows are a godsend no pregnant woman should live without.

Is Abdominal Pain Ok During Early Pregnancy?


During my first pregnancy I constantly worried about every twitch and twitter I felt in my abdomen. One thing I do remember that got worse with later pregnancies was some abdominal cramping during early pregnancy. Many women experience abdominal cramping during pregnancy. For some this feels similar to the discomfort you might feel during your period or before your period, only it isn't accompanied by any bleeding. Other times you may feel cramping on one or the other side of your abdomen. This happens as your uterus continues to grow and stretch to accommodate your growing baby.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


During 9 weeks pregnant your baby may be as long as 30 mm, or roughly one inch. While that doesn't seem big now, it is a lot bigger than your baby was just 9 short weeks ago! Your baby also weighs in at roughly one ounce. During pregnancy 9 weeks your baby's physical body including her arms, legs and head have taken shape. Your baby starts looking more like a little person with a big head. You will notice your baby no longer has a small tail at or around this time if you were to peer in at your baby. During 9 weeks pregnant your baby's eyelids fuse closed. They will remain this way until you approach the end of your second trimester. Each day that passes your baby's face will gather more detail. You may notice that your baby's mouth, nose and eyes become more distinct in the weeks to come. 9 weeks pregnant also marks more heart development. Most days your baby spends her time swimming happily about your warm, cozy uterus.

Changes In Your Body


During 9 weeks pregnant you are still growing. Your uterus resembles a small melon now. It is amazing how large your uterus grows and expands during pregnancy. It never ceases to amaze me how large my stomach would ultimately become at the end of pregnancy. You probably feel a bit bloated by now. One common misconception women have is that the size of their abdomen equates to the size of their uterus. This is simply not the case. Even though your uterus is about

Where Does All The Weight Go?


Not all of the weight we gain during pregnancy is stored as fat. In fact, relatively little of the weight you gain if you gain the recommended amount, is stored as fat. Roughly 6 to 8 pounds of weight during pregnancy goes to our fat stores. The rest is divided between the uterus, placenta, breast tissue, blood volume, amniotic fluid and baby.Some women will also retain large amounts of fluid during pregnancy. This can pack on the pounds, adding as many as 4-8 pounds in some women. You can help reduce water retention by drinking lots of extra water during the day and avoiding salty foods. Don't forget all fast and processed foods contain loads of sodium. If you step on the scale and notice you gained 5 pounds in one day, chances are that is related more to your sodium intake or fluid retention during pregnancy than actual fat stores.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


Your baby is pretty big by 10 weeks pregnant. In fact, your baby is probably more than an inch and a half long this week! Your baby is also filling out. You can actually start weighing your baby around pregnancy week 10! By the end of this week your doctor may start referring to yourbaby as a fetus. The fetal period is marked by rapid growth changes in your baby.Fortunately most women's risk of miscarriage diminishes significantly during pregnancy week 10, and will decrease even more in the next couple of weeks. By pregnancy week 10 your baby is also past the most important developmental stages, so your risk of fetal defects also drops significantly. It is still important however, you avoid exposing yourself to potential environmental toxins during pregnancy. Toxins including alcohol and smoke are harmful to your baby regardless of your stage of pregnancy. If you find yourself in a toxic environment, get out!Your baby's organs are developing quickly during pregnancy week 10. By 10 weeks pregnant your baby's vital organs including liver, kidney and brain are starting to grow and develop further. Little details including your baby's toenails also start appearing. On real close examination you may even notice some peach fuzz on your baby!

Changes In Your Body


Your body is also changing much more rapidly during 10 weeks pregnancy. You are probably more aware than ever you are pregnant, even if no one else is the wiser. Your partner if no one else will start noticing some changes in your shape by about 10 weeks pregnant. I always found right around pregnancy week 10 or 11 side effects of pregnancy including morning sickness tended to get a little better. And what a relief!If you have been battling morning sickness throughout your pregnancy rest assured that your symptoms will soon abate. In fact, you may feel better already. Right around now you may have your first baby visit with your doctor. I usually scheduled my first doctor's appointments right around 9 or 10 weeks.

What To Expect At Your First Doctor Visit


What happens during your first doctor visit will depend a lot on the type of health care provider you select to deliver your baby. While I often toyed around with the idea of going to a midwife, and actually had a midwife for a short time while not pregnant, ultimately I decided to have an OB/GYN deliver my baby.Who you decide depends on many things including whether you are at high risk for complications and whether you prefer natural birth or few interventions to a traditional birth environment. I preferred working with my OB as I felt confident I wouldn't have to worry should something unexpected happened during my pregnancy. During your first doctor visit, you can probably expect some of the same things regardless of the healthcare provider you choose. These may include: Medical history and evaluation Weight check Urinalysis PAP culture and screenings for STD's Breast examination

Your doctor will also answer any questions you have about your baby, and will help you determine your expected due date. Some offices will also offer you a transvaginal ultrasound. If this is the case, you'll be able to see your baby for the first time!

Your Baby's Growth and Development


As your pregnancy continues at 11 weeks pregnant, your baby is almost large enough for you to nestle in your palm. Most babies are just under 1 inches long by now and may weigh as much as .3 ounces. Your baby probably resembles a large lime (in size, not shape)! Your baby's skin is still transparent by 11 weeks pregnant. For much of your pregnancy in fact, your baby's skin will remain paper thin. Once your baby reaches full term he will start to fill out, and you will no longer be able to see your baby's blood vessels peeking out through his skin. Most baby's can make tiny fists by pregnancy week 11. During week 11 pregnancy your baby's fingers and toes lose their web like appearance and resemble actual digits! In the upcoming weeks your baby is planning on growing quite a bit. Most babies will double their size during the next three weeks alone!

Changes In Your Body


Hip, hip hooray! By about pregnancy week 11 you will finally start showing just a bit, though you still won't be showing a lot (especially if this is your first baby). You are rapidly approaching the end of your first trimester. During each of my pregnancies by about 11 weeks pregnant, I always started relaxing a bit more, knowing my risk of miscarriage drops significantly in the next two weeks. My morning sickness would always also completely disappear by about 11 weeks pregnancy. By about this time your uterus is just thinking about popping up above your pubic bone. Once this happens you will start showing a bit more. You are probably feeling quite pregnant at this point even if you don't look huge to the outside world. Many women start noticing physical changes including rapidly growing hair and nails. This varies from woman to woman however. I always noticed that my hair didn't start growing much faster than normal until about my third trimester. My nails however, always grow quite rapidly regardless of what stage of pregnancy I was in.

Varicose Veins In Pregnancy


One of the things I hated about pregnancy was the varicose veins developing in my legs. Varicose veins are common among pregnant women. Some women develop them early on for the first time during pregnancy. If you already had varicose veins prior to pregnancy, they might get worse during your pregnancy. Varicose veins often results as your uterus places more pressure on the lower half of your body. This can cause swelling in your blood vessels causing the veins to bulge slightly or alarmingly. Some women even develop varicose veins in their vulva. These can be quite painful and irritating. Fortunately, varicose veins often resolve themselves shortly after pregnancy. While my veins never did disappear, they were always a lot better after pregnancy. They may have disappeared completely if I hadn't had them before becoming pregnant. The good news is you can take steps to help prevent or reduce the severity of varicose veins during pregnancy. For one, you should invest in a good pair of maternity support hose. If you prefer not to have something around your belly, there are plenty of retailers that offer thigh high versions, even toeless ones. While sometimes hot and uncomfortable, support hose do help prevent excessive swelling and can keep the pain associated with varicose veins at bay.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


By 12 weeks pregnant your baby is roughly 2 inches long. Most babies weigh up to an ounce by this time! Your baby's genitals will start developing more this week, with male or female parts showing (though you won't be able to tell whether your baby is a boy or girl for several more weeks). Your baby's brain is also developing more with nerve cells popping up at a very rapid rate. Many babies start sucking at 12 weeks pregnant. Your baby's organs also continue to grow and develop. Your baby's kidneys for example, will start producing urine in the upcoming weeks. While your baby is moving in your uterus, chances are you still won't feel this for a few more weeks!

Changes In Your Body


Your belly is finally starting to expand and grow "show". At 12 weeks pregnant your uterus will finally rise above your pubic bone and pelvis. This will definitely create a small pooch in your lower abdomen. You may find you start adding pounds a little faster now that you are approaching your second trimester. Rest assured this is normal. Most women gain between and 1 pound each week during the second trimester. Your uterus will continue to grow and expand throughout your pregnancy, weighing in at a whopping 2 pounds right about the time you deliver. This is remarkable considering your uterus weighed only 2 ounces before you became pregnant!

Skin Changes During Pregnancy


Many women start noticing some skin changes at or around 12 weeks pregnant. This is very normal. I always noticed my freckles started popping out a bunch more during pregnancy. If you have a dark complexion this may be more apparent. Many women start forming a dark vertical line along their abdomen during their pregnancy. This may start early in pregnancy or later in pregnancy. I found during my first pregnancy this line, called the linea nigra, formed in my second trimester. During my later pregnancies however, it seems this line didn't become very apparent until later during my third trimester. This may vary from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy. Remember to use gentle products and moisturizing products during your pregnancy. Creams and lotions are a wonderful way to nurture your skin and help you feel good about yourself during your pregnancy!

Your Baby's Growth and Development


By 13 weeks pregnant your baby is taking on a whole new shape! You would now recognize your little bean as a miniature but fully formed looking baby if you were to peer into your belly with a microscope. Your baby is actually quite large by now, a whopping 3 inches long in some cases and weighs in at roughly .7 ounces. Still, this is small potatoes compared to how large you're baby will get in the upcoming months. By 13 weeks pregnant your baby's intestines are working on maturing and your baby's tiny pancreas is working hard to produce insulin. This will help your baby regulate her blood sugar levels in the months and years following delivery. During pregnancy week 13 your baby's eyes also start to move closer to the center of your baby's head.

Changes In Your Body


During pregnancy 13 weeks you'll notice some aching or discomfort in your lower abdomen. This is very normal and typically associated with stretching necessary for your uterus to grow. Many women experience sharp pains at times on one or both sides of their abdomen. This is often referred to as round ligament pain, and is common from about 13 weeks pregnant on.

Second Trimester News


I should have started this post by saying, "Congratulations!" because as of now you are entering your second trimester. I know for most women this is a time of huge relieve, because your risk for miscarriage drops substantially after 13 weeks pregnancy. Most women who make it this far are very likely to carry their baby's to term. Still, there are some women who are at risk for miscarrying through their 20th week, but this is typically rare and associated with certain physical problems like an incompetent cervix. Your doctor will continue to monitor your pregnancy closely throughout your second trimester. You can start to expect more weight gain as you continue your pregnancy week by week from this point on. Soon you'll also start taking advantage of the many maternity fashions available on the market today! Remember as you continue your journey during pregnancy you'll want to select a wide range of items that enhance your comfort and security during pregnancy. Try avoid wearing anything that is tight fitting and definitely select a few items that leave room for expansion in the upcoming weeks!

Your Baby's Growth and Development


By 14 weeks pregnant your baby measures in at over 4 inches and is roughly one ounce! Your baby will continue to grow exponentially as you continue your pregnancy week by week in the upcoming months! By pregnancy week 14 your baby's body attempts to catch up with its head, helping your baby appear more proportional. During 14 weeks pregnant and beyond your baby's neck will lengthen and the chin will start to rise off your baby's chest. Your baby will also start developing his own reflexes. By 14 weeks pregnant your baby is receiving most of his nutrition through the placenta, so be sure you stock up on healthy foods including many fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. This is one of the most important times during your life, so avoid dieting and stock up on good, wholesome foods!

Changes In Your Body


By now your tummy is starting to look a little pregnant. If nothing else you look like you have started to gain a little weight. I always refer to the early second trimester as the interim period, the time where you don't yet look pregnant but people start suspecting something may be up because it looks like you've added a few pounds Even if you haven't gained much actual weight yet, you may look more bloated than usual. This is perfectly normal, just be sure to drink up and stock up on as much water as you can. This will help not only with bloating but also with constipation, which is a common side effect for most pregnant women around 14 weeks pregnantand beyond. You can also try eating more high fiber foods to help combat constipation during pregnancy. Be careful however, because if you don't normally eat many high fiber foods and then stock up all at once, you will find you are prone to some very serious gas attacks! Start incorporating fiber into your diet slowly. Good choices may include fruits and vegetables. Select a few and add them in each morning. You might also try some appealing alternatives like fig bars or cookies, which can help loosen things up a bit for pregnant women with constipation.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


Congratulations! During 15 weeks pregnant your baby is a whopping 4.5 inches long (roughly) and may weigh as much as 1 ounces. While this doesn't sound like much it is a significant change from the tiny being your baby was just a few short weeks ago. Remember each week of your pregnancy from here on out your baby continues to grow at an amazing pace. During pregnancy week 15 specifically your baby is working hard to grow blood vessels. During 15 weeks pregnant and beyond a fine substance called lanugo begins to cover your baby's body, except for her palms, soles of her feet, lips, genitals and nails. Most babies will have lanugo until roughly the eighth month of pregnancy when this fine substance starts to shed. Some babies however will have a little lanugo even at birth.This fine hair helps protect your baby's body. Did you know some baby's start sucking their thumb as early as 15 weeks pregnant? It's true! Your baby's bones are also becoming harder during pregnancy week 15. By this time your baby is filling his days practicing inhaling and exhaling. While your baby's lungs are far from developed, this practice is very important for their birth day!

Changes In Your Body


By 15 weeks pregnant your tummy starts to looked quite bloated. Your uterus will rise past your hip bones by about pregnancy week 15. Very soon your practitioner may start measuring your uterus taking fundal height measurements. This measurement helps reaffirm your due date and typically correlates with the weeks you are in your pregnancy. Most doctors won't start measuring your fundal height however until roughly 20 weeks pregnant. You are probably experiencing some other unexpected side effects. One of the more humorous side effects I often noticed around pregnancy week 15 was increasing salivation. Excessive salivation is a common but not often talked about side effect of pregnancy. While not alarming or concerning in any way, it is very inconvenient at best sometimes.

Urinary Tract Infections During Pregnancy


Urinary tract infections or UTIs are quite common during pregnancy. Pregnant women are more vulnerable to UTIs in part because their ureters relax more during pregnancy due to rising levels of progesterone. This can increase your risk of developing a urinary tract infection, as can compression of the ureters from the uterus, leading to more slowly moving urine throughout the bladder. This gives bacteria more time to accumulate and concentrate in the urine.

Changes in Your Body


By 16 weeks pregnant your waist has probably all but vanished. It will come back again so don't be too sad. Even though most women's abdomens stay a bit stretched out after delivery, over time you will notice a marked improvement in your appearance if eating a healthy diet and exercising when you can. You are probably actually enjoying the roundness of your shape at 16 weeks pregnant. Many women look and feel their best during pregnancy. There is a reason for the term pregnancy glow after all. It isn't all about your face. Your growing, round and voluptuous body is a symbol of your fertility and inner beauty. Maternity fashions are changing. Women aren't expected to hind behind large flowing gowns these days. In fact, short and fitted maternity wear is all the rage for pregnant women young and old today. I actually found throughout my pregnancy that fitted maternity clothing was much more flattering and comfortable than loose and ill fitting wear. So keep this in mind if shopping for pregnancy clothes around this time.

Your Baby's First Movements


If this is your first pregnancy, some time in the next few weeks you may feel your baby move for the first time. What does this feel like? A tiny miracle. Your baby's first movements feel a lot like gas. While this may seem weird, it is true. You might feel some small fluttering movements in your lower abdomen. You may just assume this is gas. Watch out however... soon you'll start noticing those movements become more and more regular! That's when one day the light bulb will go off and you will discover your baby is inside, swimming happily about. I found during all my pregnancies feeling my baby move the first few times was the most pleasant and welcome side effect of pregnancy. There is nothing more enjoyable knowing that your little baby is swimming warmly, happily and safely inside your belly. If this isn't your first pregnancy, don't be surprised if you start recognizing your baby's first movements much sooner. The earliest I felt movements in subsequent pregnancies was between 15 and 16 weeks pregnant. Later in your pregnancy as your baby becomes stronger, you'll notice he or she kicks more often while you are at rest. Some babies are natural night owls while others kick more often during the day.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


By 17 weeks pregnant your baby is quite mobile, and measures in at roughly 4.8 inches long and may be as much as 3.5 ounces! Most babies are roughly the size of your palm by about 17 weeks pregnant. Your baby is quite mobile by this point in time, happily swimming about your uterus. This will change in the upcoming weeks as your baby starts putting on pounds and the space inside your uterus becomes increasingly cluttered. From roughly pregnancy week 17 on your baby starts hearing things in the outside world. You may notice as your pregnancy progresses your baby sometimes jumps at loud noises. This is a good time to consider playing some soothing music for your baby. Keep in mind during this time in your pregnancy the power of touch if very strong. Your baby can feel your movements and your touch while in the uterus, so take some time each day to rub your belly and tell your baby just how much you love them. This helps comfort your baby and initiates the bonding process between you and baby.

Changes in Your Body


Around 17 weeks pregnant your uterus starts changing shape, and start to resemble an egg rather than a large ball. This shape will continue throughout your pregnancy. As your pregnancy continues your uterus will grow into your pelvis and much of your abdomen, pushing your inner organs here, there and everywhere as you continue to grow. By 17 weeks pregnant you are probably showing a bit, though some women can still hide their pregnancies quite well even through 20 weeks pregnant. Your uterus is between 1 and 2 inches below your belly button by this point in time. You are likely gaining weight steadily by now. You may find you also start having more vaginal discharge at about 17 weeks pregnant. This will likely continue throughout your pregnancy, and is usually nothing serious to worry about. I found wearing a light days pad often was all that was needed to keep feeling fresh throughout my pregnancy. Keep in mind vaginal discharge should be, for the most part, clear and odor free. If you notice your discharge is blood tinged, gray or has an unusual odor you should contact your healthcare provider. These may be early warning signs of a vaginal infection. Part of the reason we have more discharge around this time is our body is producing more estrogen. There is also more blood flowing regularly throughout the genital area during pregnancy.

Stress and Pregnancy


Too much stress during pregnancy is not healthy for you and your baby. When you are overly stressed, you may notice increasing side effects including headaches, cramping and Braxton hick's contractions. There are some studies suggesting high levels of stress during pregnancy may resolve in complications including preterm labor. This may be associated with higher than normal levels of a substance called corticotrophin-releasing hormone in your blood.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


During 18 weeks pregnant your baby's heart is well developed. While it still has a lot of growing to do, your doctor may be able to detect any heart defects by about this time. Ultrasound is a tool doctors commonly use to determine whether a baby may have congenital abnormalities in the heart requiring attention before or after delivery. You can now listen to your unborn baby's heart sounds. While no one wants to hear anything is wrong with their baby, the earlier a problem is detected the more time you have to plan for appropriate interventions or surgeries to help ensure your baby's health and well being.During 18 weeks pregnant your baby is also producing a protective substance called Myelin. This substance helps coat your baby's nerves.

Changes In Your Body


You should feel very pregnant by now. Fortunately during the second trimester most women are still quite comfortable and find it easy to get around. I noticed many doctors and other pregnant women tend to refer to this time as the "honeymoon" phase of pregnancy. You are done with first trimester morning sickness for the most part, but aren't big enough yet to feel uncomfortable and bloated, at least not all the time. Most women have gained between 10 and 15 pounds by this time. Again, don't obsess too much about your weight during pregnancy. All women gain weight at varying rates, and you'll find it is mind boggling trying to keep up with a specific number of pounds to gain. As long as I was eating healthy and exercising, I made sure not to obsess too much about this during pregnancy.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


Your baby is getting bigger and bigger, measuring in at close to 6 inches by 19 weeks pregnant! Between now and delivery our baby will grow in size up to 15 times the size she is today! The changes that occur in the upcoming weeks of pregnancy are truly remarkable. By 19 weeks pregnant your baby is already producing her first bowel movement, called meconium. Most babies start passing meconium in the first few days after delivery. It resembles a black, sticky and tarry substance (not pretty, but it is very necessary newborn babies excrete this substance after birth). Meconium is the result of build up of various materials in your baby including amniotic fluid during pregnancy. Very rarely some babies will have their first bowel movement while still in utero. This may result from fetal distress and is a cause for concern. If your baby breathes in meconium during delivery this can lead to severe complications including pneumonia. Fortunately most doctors can tell early on if your baby has passed meconium during delivery and will take precautions to prevent your baby from inhaling the meconium during delivery. Most doctors will use a tool called the DeLee suction device to help remove meconium from your baby's airway during delivery. One thing you should know... there is virtually no way to know what babies will or will not pass meconium during delivery. So don't stress out about it. It is relatively rare, and when it does happen your doctor will know what to do to help protect your baby from complications. At 19 weeks pregnant it is a busy week. During this time your baby is also producing a substance called vernix. This white and sticky substance coats and protects your baby's skin during pregnancy. Many baby's will still have some vernix on their skin after birth, especially those born a little early.

Changes In Your Body


Your uterus now sits just below your belly button. Some women notice more round ligament pain during this time as their uterus continues to grow and expand. You may notice as your belly continues to expand and grow your balance shifts somewhat. A shift in your center of gravity is quite normal as your belly expands during pregnancy. Just be careful when walking about and climbing stairs! Many women notice they start feeling a little dizzy or lightheaded at times around 19 weeks pregnant. This is also quite normal as your center of gravity shifts. I noticed these symptoms were more common when changing position or getting up too quickly. Doctors refer to this phenomena as hypotension, and is usually nothing to be overly concerned about. At times the uterus may place pressure on your vena cava or aorta, two important arteries supplying blood to your body. This may also result in hypotension at times when you lie down. You can usually relieve any dizziness you feel by lying on your left side rather than your back.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


By 20 weeks pregnant your baby is almost 6.5 inches long and may weigh as much as 9 ounces! Your baby is now actively practicing breathing and swallowing while in utero. Your baby will continue to grow and fill out during the upcoming weeks. Many women see their baby for the first time during pregnancy week 20 through an ultrasound. Your doctor may use an ultrasound to confirm your due date and make sure your baby is growing properly. During 20 weeks pregnant your baby's skin is maturing. The outer layer of your baby's skin along the palms and feet are maturing providing your baby with his or her own unique fingerprint, which they will carry with them the rest of their life!

Changes In Your Body


Congratulations! You've reached the halfway point in your pregnancy! From here on out most people will start noticing your pregnancy bump. Show it off with pride! Your belly should now protrude quite nicely, as the uterus rises to the level of your belly button. From here on your belly will usually grow a little bit more each week. From about this point on you have only 20 more weeks or so until delivery! A normal pregnancy typically ranges anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks.

What Is IUGR And What Are The Risk Factors?


Intrauterine Growth Retardation or IUGR results when a baby is born at a much smaller weight than expected. It can be diagnosed during pregnancy when a baby isn't growing as rapidly as doctors may expect. There are various causes that may contribute to IUGR, including poor nutrition, fetal distress and genetic influences. If your doctor suspects IUGR they will conduct several tests to help determine the exact causes if possible. Many babies with IUGR are more susceptible to problems including learning disabilities or neurological problems after birth. These may result from impaired growth while in utero.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


By 21 weeks pregnant your baby may weigh as much as 10 ounces and is probably more than 7 inches long! That is roughly the length of a small banana. Your baby will continue to grow in the coming weeks at a very fast pace. Your baby's organs and central nervous system are working on maturing during 21 weeks pregnant and beyond. During this week your baby's digestive system is also maturing and growing. Your baby's intestines for example are slowly contracting and relaxing this week. Your baby also begins practicing swallowing small amounts of amniotic fluid to help further mature the digestive system. It isn't unusual for pregnant mothers to start noticing a rhythmic motion in their abdomen around 21 weeks pregnant and beyond. Many babies start hiccupping around this time. You'll probably notice your baby's hiccups as small, repetitive movements in your abdomen at 21 weeks pregnant. These movements will occur for a few minutes at a time. Later in your pregnancy as your baby becomes larger and stronger these movements will be a lot stronger. Some babies may hiccup several times every day while other baby's only hiccup sporadically.

Changes In Your Body


By pregnancy week 21 you may notice leg cramps or other aches and pains in your legs. These are quite common during pregnancy

Post Partum Depression


Many women will go through a short period of baby blues after delivering. This is very normal and usually only lasts a week or two. Having a baby brings on many mixed emotions. Most women experience joy in the moments following delivery. Exhaustion soon overcomes many new parents however, and this can sometimes lead to feelings of sadness or remorse. Occasionally women develop depression. Roughly 80% of women develop some form of depression in the early weeks after delivery. This may be characterized by fatigue, anxiety, fear and irritability. If the baby blues do not lift however, and are accompanied by other changes, it is possible a woman is developing a more sever form of depression called postpartum depression or PPD. PPD is very serious. It is sometimes accompanied by suicidal thoughts, and typically leads to a mother's inability to cope with a newborn baby. Signs and symptoms of PPD may include: Persistent baby blues that do not lift after a couple of weeks. Insomnia despite being exhausted or getting little sleep. Crying that persists after the first couple of weeks following delivery. Lack of interest in formerly pleasurable activities. Changes in appetite. Anxiety that will not lift with rest or support and assistance Irritability that seems above normal or average. Panic attacks. Feelings that you might harm yourself or your baby.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


During 22 weeks pregnant your baby may grow up to 7.5 inches long! Many babies will weigh in at close to 12 ounces! Your baby's organs are developing consistently now, as are your baby's internal organs including his or her reproductive system. Your baby's eyelids may have formed distinct eyebrows by now, and your baby's fingernails are growing in quite nicely. Your baby's organs are also specializing and developing unique features. During this time your baby's lips and teeth are also forming!

Changes In Your Body


By 22 weeks pregnant your uterus has risen to roughly of an inches above your navel. While your belly isn't tremendous yet, it certainly changes your profile. Many women start noticing stretch marks at or around this time, though some won't notice them until the third trimester and still others will barely get any stretch marks during pregnancy. Many women develop them on their breasts, thighs and even buttocks during pregnancy.

Low Back Pain During Pregnancy


As your belly continues to expand you may notice you develop low back pain at some point during pregnancy. This is more common from 22 weeks pregnant on as your uterus continues to grow and shift your center of gravity. Hormonal changes and extra weight gain can also contribute to lower back pain.

Your Baby's Growth and Development


By 23 weeks pregnant your baby is measuring in at a hefty one pound... that is huge considering how small your baby was just a few short months ago. Keep in mind your baby was less than one ounce and is now fully weighable on most ordinary scales! Most babies are also between eight and eleven inches long by pregnancy week 23. During 23 weeks pregnant your baby is quite capable of hearing loud noises outside the womb. You may notice your baby shift in response to your voice or that of your partner. Don't be surprised if your baby is still flopping around quite a bit inside your tummy. This is very normal during the second trimester when your baby still has plenty of room to shift around. Most babies if born around 23 weeks pregnant would have a very small chance of survival. The odds of a premature baby surviving between now and 24 weeks averages between 10 and 70 percent. For the most part you want to keep that baby in there much longer, a full 37 weeks longer if you can!

Changes In Your Body


By about pregnancy week 23 your uterus is about 1 inches above your belly. You probably are enjoying your baby swimming about your belly. By now your partner can probably also feel your baby moving inside your belly. At or around this time some women may start feeling Braxton Hicks contractions. How early you feel these preliminary contractions depend on many factors. If this is your first baby however, you may not feel Braxton Hicks contractions until near the end of your second or early third trimester. Many doctors advise patients to rest when they experience frequent pre-labor contractions.

Braxton Hicks Vs. Labor Contractions


During my second and third pregnancies I felt Braxton Hicks contractions around 25 weeks pregnancy. They are not the same as real contractions. How can you tell the difference? Braxton Hicks are basically practice contractions. They happen at random intervals throughout your pregnancy and may last between 30 seconds and 1 minute. They are typically random and do not result in any pain. Braxton Hick contractions often occur more frequently toward the end of pregnancy. They may help prepare your cervix for labor and delivery by effacing and dilating the cervix. Typically a Braxton Hicks contraction eases when you change position or relax. At times they may resolve simply by drinking extra fluids, as dehydration sometimes brings on contractions. True labor contractions are rhythmic and gradually increase in frequency and duration. They also do not go away with relaxation or changes in movement. At times rhythmic contractions may be a sign of preterm labor, especially when contractions occur before 37 weeks pregnant. Here are some signs and symptoms of pre-term labor to watch out for: Any contractions that continue for more than an hour and are less than five minutes apart. Rhythmic contractions that gradually increase in duration and frequency. Contractions accompanied by other symptoms of labor like bloody discharge, watery discharge or a bloody show. Contractions that come with low back pain and occur at regular intervals.

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