Stages of Pregnancy Week by Week

By on May 15, 2013
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Stages of Pregnancy Week by Week

1 Weeks Pregnant

1-week-pregnant-uterus

Here’s what’s happening during Week 1 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
You’re not really pregnant yet; the clock starts ticking from the first day of
your last period. So even though pregnancies are said to be 40 weeks long, you
actually carry your baby for only 38 weeks or so.
Your Growing Belly
For most women, the first 12 or so weeks of pregnancy are the most consuming
because everything is all so new, so exciting, even overwhelming.
Tips & To-Do’s
Rules To Eat By

You are what you eat. That’s old news. So is the fact that your diet during
pregnancy affects your newborn’s health. But the new news is that what you eat
in the next nine months can impact your baby’s health, as well as your own, for
decades to come.

 

Things to think about this week

If you haven’t started already, you should be taking a prenatal multivitamin
with 400 micrograms of folic acid daily (take 600 micrograms when you get
pregnant).
2 Weeks Pregnant

2-weeks-pregnant-fertilization

 

Here’s what’s happening during Week 2 of your pregnancy:

Your Growing Baby
Ovulation occurs; ideally, sperm will already be lying (er, swimming) in wait.
Your Growing Belly
Though some women swear that they were aware of the moment of conception, most
are oblivious. The radical hormonal changes of the first trimester don’t kick in
until implantation, which happens between three to five days after conception.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant, you may be waiting on the edge of your
seat until a test can confirm your pregnancy. If you weren’t trying, you may be
on the edge of your seat for the same reason.
Tips & To-Do’s
Pregnancy Tests

If you take a pregnancy test on the first day you miss your period, there’s a 10
percent chance that you’ll get a false negative reading, according to a report
in the Journal of the American Medical Association. If you mistakenly believe
that you are not pregnant, you might not avoid potentially harmful substances.
In the interest of safety, assume you are pregnant and retest a week later.

 

Things to think about this week

Your breasts may be extra tender as early as a week or two after conception.
“You’re making so much estrogen and progesterone in early pregnancy that the
glands in the breasts start growing,” explains Jasbir Singh, M.D., an OB-GYN at
Baylor Medical Center at Waxahachie in Texas. This hormone surge causes breasts
to retain more fluids and feel heavy, sore or more sensitive than normal PMS
tenderness.
3 Weeks Pregnant

3-weeks-pregnant-fertilization
Here’s what’s happening during Week 3 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Fertilization occurs in one of the fallopian tubes. Cell division begins at
breakneck speed.

Though it’s very early in your pregnancy, things are definitely happening! Once
the “winning” sperm (one of 200 million or so contenders) has penetrated your
egg, the egg shuts down, admitting no more sperm. Two sets of cell nuclei fuse
together inside the egg, assigning your baby—now called a zygote—a gender, eye
and hair color and more than 200 other genetically determined characteristics.

Your Growing Belly
Be sure that you’re taking good care of your baby. Now, if not before you
started trying to conceive, you should:
Quit smoking.
Avoid alcohol.
Avoid drugs: the legal, the illegal, and those labeled “herbal supplements,” and
those that come as skin creams (such as acne medication) and in beverages (like
caffeine).
Immediately tell your care provider about any prescription or other medications
you currently take or were taking at the time you conceived.
Avoid taking large amounts of vitamins: an over-the-counter prenatal or even
daily chewable (like a Flintstone) is enough and is recommended for all women
who are trying to conceive or who could possibly become pregnant.
If you have any kind of medical appointment with a doctor or dentist, inform
them that you may be pregnant.
Eat five servings of different fruits and vegetables daily.
Drink plenty of water.

Tips & To-Do’s
Does Age Matter?

Ask several women what they think is the ideal age for pregnancy, and you’ll get
wildly different answers. “Everything depends on the woman’s health, energy,
personality and perspective on life.” While you can’t change your age, there are
steps you can take to boost your odds of having a happy and healthy experience,
no matter how old you are.

Things to think about this week

If you haven’t started already, you should be taking a prenatal multivitamin
with 400 micrograms of folic acid daily (take 600 micrograms when you get
pregnant).

4 Weeks Pregnant

4-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 4 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The fertilized egg (known as a zygote) implants in the wall of the uterus; the
placenta and umbilical cord begin to form.
Your Growing Belly
The fertilized egg burrowing into you uterus can make you shed a few spots of
blood. Any pregnancy symptoms you have will be barely, if at all, noticeable. If
you’re very sensitive, you may notice feelings of fatigue, queasiness, bloating,
and breast tenderness, and changes in your skin and hair. If you take a super-
sensitive test, such as a blood test at your doctor’s office, it’s possible to
get a positive result a week after conception. If you test at home this early,
know that it’s possible to get a false negative at this stage.
Tips & To-Do’s
Too Early To Test?

During the first few weeks, your body is working 24/7 behind the scenes to
support the pregnancy, and fatigue is a normal response. When the fertilized egg
implants into the plush lining of the uterus about six to 12 days after
conception, spotting—light vaginal bleeding—may occur. Your breasts may be extra
tender as early as a week or two after conception.

Things to think about this week

Sure, what you eat during pregnancy is vital, but that doesn’t mean you have to
be afraid of everything you put in your mouth or force yourself to eat foods you
don’t like.

5 Weeks Pregnant

5-weeks-pregnant-fetus

Here’s what’s happening during Week 5 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The gastrointestinal tract, spinal cord, heart, brain, blood and blood vessels
begin to form. The embryo is 1∕16 to 1∕8 inch long “crown to rump” (the
measurement that’s used until week 13).

Your baby transforms into a bundle of cells organized in a C-shape with a top,
bottom, front, and back. A groove has developed on the embryo’s back, which will
seal and develop into the neural tube (which later will become the spinal cord).
At this point, the tube already has a wider, flatter top that will grow into
your baby’s brain. A bulge has developed in the center of the embryo, which will
soon become a tiny U-Shaped tube which will form the heart. Your embryo is
encased in protective membranes and attached to a yolk sac, which manufactures
the embryo’s unique blood cells.

Your Growing Belly
In a lot of ways, pregnancy is like standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. On
one hand, it’s the most breathtaking and majestic thing you’ve ever experienced.
On the other, it’s a long way to the bottom—and you can’t help but feel a little
anxious about taking a wrong step. Chances are everything will be just fine, and
you should take comfort in the fact that statistics are in your favor. So we do
want you to embrace the beautiful experience of pregnancy, but we also want you
—as your child’s biological suit of armor—to do a few things that can help
improve those odds. Keeping yourself healthy will protect both of you at the
same time.

Tips & To-Do’s
Stress Less

Many pregnant women fret too much about the wrong things, and pay too little
attention to issues that can genuinely harm their pregnancy and baby. See how
your concerns compare to other women’s, then learn whether or not your fears are
well-founded and—the bottom line—what you can do to have a healthy and happy
pregnancy.

Things to think about this week

Call your doctor for an appointment as soon as you believe you are pregnant.
Some will want to see you right away, others not until you are eight weeks
pregnant.

6 Weeks Pregnant

6-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 6 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The heart begins to pump blood, and the neural tube that will become the spine
closes (which is why taking folic acid early is essential).

The embryo takes on a C-shape; arm and leg buds begin to form; and the skin is
translucent. Length: about 1∕4 inch. Fetus fact: The heart will beat 54 million
times before birth!

Your Growing Belly
Your production of pregnancy hormones (hCG) continues to increase, making you
susceptible to nausea and fatigue. Your blood pressure is lower than it was
before you were pregnant, which can make you lightheaded and dizzy. The extra
progesterone and other hormones may be making you feel tired, achy, nauseous,
and cranky, or you may not be feeling much different than normal. There’s no
need to stop exercising or curtail your activities, unless you want to. In fact,
keeping active will help your body be more able to cope with the stress of
carrying around the extra weight you’ll be gaining.
Tips & To-Do’s
A Nod To Nausea

It seems counterintuitive, but researchers keep finding reasons to give morning
sickness a high-five. The nausea and vomiting of pregnancy correlate with lower
risks for miscarriage and, later in life, breast cancer. “Morning sickness
indicates that proper hormones are being made by mom and baby, that the baby’s
growing and developing,” says Laura Riley, M.D., a fetal/maternal medicine
specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Things to think about this week

If you think you’re pregnant and are not taking a supplement, don’t wait until
your first appointment for a prescription because you will have missed this
critical developmental period. Start taking an over-the-counter folic acid
supplement with 600 micrograms (mcg) right away

7 Weeks Pregnant

7-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 7 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The head is about 1∕3 the size of the entire embryo. The brain and face are
developing rapidly, and nostrils and lenses of the eyes begin to form. Arm buds
become paddle-shaped; hands begin to form. Length: about 1∕3 inch.

Your Growing Belly
The mucus on your cervix is thickening, forming a plug that will keep your
uterus sealed until you give birth. You may not notice any difference in your
body, or you may notice that you’re beginning to lose your waistline.

Every pregnant woman’s body changes at a slightly different pace. If you’ve had
a child before, you may start to look pregnant sooner than you did with your
first child. You might be feeling tired, achy, and cranky–or not. You might be
feeling queasy, or you may never feel queasy. A lack of symptoms doesn’t mean
that there’s anything wrong with you or the baby. If you are already feeling
sick, it may comfort you to know that lots of symptoms mean that pregnancy
hormones are working hard to support your pregnancy.

Tips & To-Do’s
Expecting Improvement

Sure, pregnancy can be a nine-month gripefest—about aching backs, swollen ankles
and barf-athons—but as I experienced, it can also be a time of unexpected and
wonderful changes, both physical and emotional. “Some medical conditions improve
during pregnancy, and for a lot of women, it’s a time of remarkable health and
happiness,” says Stuart Fischbein, M.D., an OB-GYN in Camarillo, Calif.

Things to think about this week

Before the first trimester is over, visit your company’s human resources
department to find out how much maternity leave you’ll have and whether it will
be paid, unpaid or a combination of both.
8 Weeks Pregnant

8-weeks-pregnant-fetus

Here’s what’s happening during Week 8 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Brainwave activity starts. Fingers and toes begin to form and are webbed. Lungs,
ears, eyes, upper lip and nose start to form. The body is beginning to
straighten, and subtle movements begin. Length: about 1∕2 inch.
Your Growing Belly
If you’re going to get pregnancy-related nausea (aka morning sickness), it
probably will have kicked in by now. Researchers don’t know its exact cause, but
it’s certainly related to your surging hormones.

It’s common at this stage to have sharp pain on either side of your pelvis,
especially when you twist or stand up after sitting for a while. Your uterus is
becoming heavy, and this can strain your round ligaments, the muscles that hold
your uterus in place. Tell your care provider if you’re concerned. It’s not
uncommon to have pink or brown discharge at this stage. Report it to your care
provider, but only page him or her in the middle of the night if the blood is
bright red, heavy, or clotted.

Tips & To-Do’s
Danger Ahead?

Bleeding during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, is fairly common.
In fact, approximately 25 percent of women experience some spotting or heavier
bleeding in the first 13 or so weeks; of those, more than half go on to have
perfectly healthy babies.

Things to think about this week

OB or midwife? Trying to decide who will deliver your baby?

9 Weeks Pregnant

9-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 9 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The heart is almost completely developed. Eyelids are forming, as are hair
follicles and nipples; the embryo can hiccup now. Fingers and toes are no longer
webbed. The arms develop bones, and the hands begin to touch the face. The legs
start to move. Length: about 3∕4 inch.
Your Growing Belly
Your nauseating hCG levels are at their peak this week. The good news is that
starting next week, as your hormone levels stabilize, you’ll start feeling a lot
better. The bad news is that this week is probably going to be rough. If you’re
throwing up a lot, drink plenty of water to keep yourself from dehydrating. Your
uterus has doubled in size and is now about the size of a tennis ball. The area
under your navel is definitely firmer than usual.

Most women report being uninterested in sex at this stage, though some women
also report being more interested than usual. You may begin to notice changes to
your hair and skin. Your hair might feel thick and lustrous–or greasy, thin,
and limp.

You probably don’t feel like exercising much this week, but do try to take
walks– they’ll help your food move on down.

Tips & To-Do’s
33 Reasons To Exercise Now

The benefits of moving more during pregnancy begin immediately and last your
whole life. Your baby will start reaping the benefits in utero, too.

Things to think about this week

If fears about ‘doing it’ are stressing you out, here’s what you need to know.

10 Weeks Pregnant

10-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 10 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The developing baby is now called a fetus. The eyelids begin to fuse to protect
the eyes. The fetus begins doing occasional breathing movements, although it
gets oxygen through the umbilical cord. The skin becomes less translucent, and
genitals begin to form. Length: almost 1 ¼ inches.
Your Growing Belly
Congratulations, your uterus has swollen to the size of a softball! Looking in
the mirror, your shape has definitely changed: less waist and more chest.

Breasts are busiest in the first trimester. During the first few weeks,
progesterone causes milk glands to develop and estrogen stimulates growth of the
milk ducts. Breasts typically expand one or two bra cup sizes, veins get darker,
and nipples get larger, more erect and darker so that eventually, the baby can
find them easily.

Your weight gain may be picking up—though don’t worry if you haven’t gained any
by now. Bottom line, if your provider isn’t concerned about how much or how
little you’ve gained, you shouldn’t be either.

Tips & To-Do’s
Prenatal Testing

First-Trimester Screening

WHO IT’S OFFERED TO: All women.

WHEN IT’S OFFERED: At 10 to 13 weeks.

WHAT IT SCREENS FOR: Chromosomal defects such as Down syndrome and trisomy 18
(an often lethal defect); some cardiac defects.

HOW IT WORKS: Blood is drawn from the mother, and three fetal proteins are
measured. These results are combined with the results of a detailed ultrasound
(nuchal translucency) that measures the thickness at the back of the fetus’s
neck.

HOW EFFECTIVE IT IS: It has an 80 percent to 85 percent detection rate for Down
syndrome, with a 4 percent to 6 percent false-positive rate.

WHAT IF …? If you have a positive screen and are not comfortable with the odds,
you may opt for a diagnostic test to determine if your baby has a defect.
Another option is to do an additional screen in the second trimester—but this
will not give you a definitive answer, either.

Things to think about this week

For some women, swollen and very tender breasts are the first clues they’re
pregnant: Right from the start, they’re preparing for their job of producing
milk. Here, Heather Weldon, M.D., an OB-GYN in Vancouver, Wash., answers some of
the most common questions about your mammaries during pregnancy

11 Weeks Pregnant

11-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 11 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Nearly all the organs and body structures are formed and beginning to function.
Genitals begin to take on either male or female form. The head makes up about
half of the fetus’s body. Length: about 2 inches. Fetus fact: The fetus can
sigh, stretch, move its head and suck its thumb.
Your Growing Belly
Your body’s expanding, inside and out. The next ten weeks will be a period of
rapid growth for you and the baby. You’ll need more water as you produce more
blood, sweat, oil, and amniotic fluid. You may feel desperately thirsty at
times. It’s a good idea to carry a beverage with you wherever you go, to keep
your fluid levels up. Drink plenty of water and milk, but steer away from
carbonated beverages.

Tips & To-Do’s
10 (surprising!) Prenatal Power Foods

As you know, folate, fiber and iron are essential nutrients for you and your
growing baby. What you may not know is that you can get all three by eating
chives. Or, how about adding figs to your diet to boost your calcium intake?

Things to think about this week

Typically, an ultrasound is done between weeks 11 and 13 as part of the first-
trimester screening for chromosomal abnormalities, including Down syndrome. (The
other part of the screening consists of a blood test.) The nuchal translucency,
or NT, test uses ultrasound to measure the clear (translucent) space in the
tissue at the back of the fetus’s neck.

12 Weeks Pregnant

12-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 12 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The face begins to look more human. Length: 3 inches (head to heel, the
measurement from now on).

She may weigh as much as half an ounce. This begins the age when the fetus
starts to look really cut in those womb pictures. If you had a womb camera,
you’d be able to see your baby’s proportions changing, with the growth of the
head slowing down to let the rest of the body catch up. Arms, legs, and fingers
are also growing out and tapering to look more like a newborn’s, and your baby’s
posture becomes less curled and more upright.

Your Growing Belly
This is about the time the muscles of your stomach slow down, making your stools
harder and drier and making you gassier. You uterus has gotten too big to fit in
its usual spot—your pelvis. It’s now pushing into your abdomen, though not yet
in any uncomfortable way. Your heart rate may speed up because of the extra
volume of blood in your body. Your hips are actually widening to make more room
for your uterus to grow.

With one week to go in your first trimester, you may feel more like your
pregnancy is real. The magic end of the first trimester is at hand, which means
it’ll soon be time to tell your boss, co-workers, and distant relatives about
your condition, if they haven’t figured it out already. Take brisk walks, eat
high-fiber foods, and drink plenty of water to keep your intestinal tract
moving.

Tips & To-Do’s
Our Favorite Prenatal Recipes

Healthy prenatal eating isn’t just about avoiding certain foods. It’s also about
choosing wisely. We share 10 of our favorite recipes to give you more energy and
protect your and your developing baby’s health.

Things to think about this week

Deciding when and with whom to share your news is a very personal decision, but
there are a few things to consider. Keeping your pregnancy a secret for a while
will give you and your partner some time to absorb the idea privately. While
some women wait until the risk of miscarriage drops markedly, others spill the
beans right away because they’d tell their friends anyway if they miscarried.
Telling co-workers is trickier. You may find that your employer expects the news
to be followed by the details of your maternity leave, but you may not have
decided yet when to return to work—if ever.

13 Weeks Pregnant

13-weeks-pregnant-fetus

Here’s what’s happening during Week 13 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The nose and lips are completely formed, and the fetus begins to produce and
excrete urine.

Your baby is 2 1/2 to 3 inches long, the size of a medium goldfish. She weighs
about one ounce. Your baby is shorter than a finger, but her face is already
showing individual features and characteristics. Your baby spends her time in
your womb flexing her new and developing muscles and joints. Bouts of prenatal
hiccups are strengthening your baby’s diaphragm, which is preparing her
respiratory system for breathing. Less glamorous but highly necessary organ
systems for making hormones, absorbing nutrients, and filtering waste are also
in place this week. The pancreas, gall bladder, and thyroid have developed, the
kidneys can make urine, and her bone marrow is making white blood cells to help
fight infection after she’s born.

Your Growing Belly

Good news—by week 13, you’ll have more energy and less nausea (it could be gone
entirely by weeks 14 to 15), as the placenta takes over hormone production. Your
smell and taste aversions will probably stick with you for the rest of your
pregnancy, but unless you’re very unlucky, the spontaneous throwing up will
ease. If you’re starting to feel better, this could be a good time to try a new
exercise. If you haven’t tried swimming lately, check out why many care
providers call it the perfect pregnancy exercise. Yoga is another low-impact
activity that can help you feel better. Choose an establishment that offers a
specialized prenatal yoga class. Feel calm, centered and prepared for labor with
safe yoga poses
Tips & To-Do’s
Water Baby

When you do exercises in water, your abdominal muscles are engaged and
lengthened because they’re working to keep you balanced. And the buoyancy of the
water makes it easier to hold poses—such as yoga’s Warrior III—that you might
not be able to hold as well on land, providing you with more toning benefits and
enabling deeper stretches. Ease pregnancy discomforts and stay in shape safely
with cool pool workout.
Things to think about this week

Now that you’re entering your second trimester (it starts next week), you’ll
want to make the most of your renewed energy, mobility and good mood to prepare
for giving birth. Your first step should be to sign up for a childbirth
education course.

14 Weeks Pregnant

14-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 14 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The nose, lips and taste buds are formed. The head is covered by a fine, soft
hair called lanugo. Length: about 5 inches; weight: about 2 ounces. Fetus fact:
Starting now, female fetuses show mouth movements much more often than males.

Your Growing Belly
It happens around week 14 or so. The fatigue and morning sickness that may have
marred your first trimester begin to subside. Perhaps for the first time in
months, you feel healthy, sexy and energetic. Your moods start to smooth out and
get even better when you feel your baby’s first fluttery kicks. You’ve left the
stormy ocean behind and entered calm waters.

Tips & To-Do’s
Second Trimester Screening

WHO IT’S OFFERED TO: All women.

WHEN IT’S OFFERED: At 14 to 20 weeks.

WHAT IT SCREENS FOR: Down syndrome, trisomy 18 and neural-tube defects (NTDs)
such as spina bifida.

HOW IT WORKS: Consists of a blood test that typically looks at four different
proteins in the mother’s blood; often referred to as the “quad screen” or
“multiple marker screening.” Unlike first-trimester screening, second-trimester
tests can screen for

NTDs in addition to chromosomal defects such as Down syndrome.

HOW EFFECTIVE IT IS: It has an 80 percent to 85 percent detection rate for Down
syndrome, with a 7 percent false-positive rate.

 

Things to think about this week

Sign up for a prenatal-yoga class. Yoga can build strength for labor and help
improve your flexibility, agility, balance and posture. You’re probably also
ready to start shopping for maternity clothes.

15 Weeks Pregnant

15-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 15 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Your baby is about 4 to 4 1/2 inches and about 1 3/4 of an ounce. If you could
see your baby’s face, you might be able to see her wince and grimace, because
her facial muscles are developing and flexing. All of her tiny organs, nerves,
and muscles are starting to function. The intestines have moved farther into the
baby’s body; her liver begins to secrete bile, which will later aid in the
digestion of fats; and her pancreas begins to produce insulin, a hormone which
turns sugar into energy.
Your Growing Belly
Your womb is now starting to grow up and out of your pelvis, so you may have a
neat and noticeable bump below your belly button. Now that you’re becoming
visibly pregnant, you may also find yourself a topic of discussion.

Your milk glands may already be kicking into production. You may sometimes
notice what looks like water sitting on the tips of your nipples, or nipple-
level wet spots on your sheets when you wake up in the morning. If you need to,
put breast pads (or trimmed pantiliners) inside your bra.

Your body is practicing making colostrum, a protein-rich fluid that is great for
newborns. You may begin to feel Braxton-Hicks contractions, which get your
uterus in shape to give birth. These “practice” contractions feel like a
tightening in your uterus or abdominal area. You may get them more frequently
after exercise. If you have regular contractions (more than four an hour),
uncomfortable pelvic pressure, or discharge lots of fluid or mucus, contact your
care provider.

Tips & To-Do’s
Pregnant Belly Basics

Most bellies don’t reveal a pregnancy until the second trimester. Until then,
the uterus is usually hidden behind the pubic bone. “When women look like they
are showing earlier, it is often due to the bloating that accompanies early
pregnancy,” Thoppil says. You may also show earlier if you have been pregnant
before or your ab muscles are lax.
Things to think about this week

When you’re pregnant, the payoffs for developing strong abdominal and pelvic-
floor muscles are plentiful. Strengthen your abs and pelvic floor now for an
easier delivery and a lower risk of incontinence later.

16 Weeks Pregnant

16-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 16 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Your baby weighs about 2.8 ounces (79 grams) and is about 4 1/2 inches from
crown to rump—roughly the size of a small gerbil. At any time, you will begin to
feel fetal movement as your baby’s bones harden, and she starts a big growth
spurt. Your baby has plenty of room: At this point, she could fit in the palm of
your hand. This is a great time to be a fetus. At any given time, she might be
playing with the umbilical cord (which she’s now able to grasp), putting her
thumb in her mouth, or kicking at the amniotic sac.

Your Growing Belly
Since you have almost a cup of amniotic fluid in your uterus, your pelvic area
will feel heavy and firm. You’re also carrying all the extra poundage your
body’s putting on that can be attributed to extra blood and fluid volume, your
placenta and baby’s support systems, and enlarging breasts.

It’s normal to be gaining a pound a week at this point. If you have an
appointment this week, your care provider may recommend an ultrasound to detect
the possibility of genetic defects.

Tips & To-Do’s
The First Kick

Wondering what your baby’s first noticeable movement in utero is going to feel
like, and when you might expect it? Most women experience that first kick
between 17 and 22 weeks, says maternal-fetal medicine specialist Alice Cootauco,
M.D., of St. Joseph Medical Center in Baltimore.
Things to think about this week

Experts agree you need more calories, more often, as a mom-to-be. While it’s
recommended that the average woman take in 2,000 calories each day, according to
the Institute of Medicine (IOM), expectant moms need roughly 340 extra calories
a day in the second trimester and 450 extra calories in the third trimester.

17 Weeks Pregnant

17-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 17 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Your baby is about as wide as your palm, about six inches tall, and weighs about
four ounces—about as much as a bar of soap. She now weighs more than your
placenta. Your baby is now covered with a downy layer of lanugo, which swirls in
fingerprint-like formation over her whole body. Her skin is still thin. Brown
fat, a special type of fat that plays a role in body heat generation, is being
deposited. In the next few weeks, your baby’s eyes will begin to move beneath
their fused lids in a side-to-side sweeping motion.
Your Growing Belly
As your breasts grow, they’ll be sensitive and tender and sometimes just plain
painful. The placenta is now a fully functional network of blood and tissue that
distributes nutrients and removes waste.

You’re looking pregnant, but not so much that it’s difficult to put your socks
on. You may even get that pregnancy glow, a radiance that comes from extra blood
flow to your skin. And you’ll start to feel a lot of the baby’s movements soon.

Tips & To-Do’s
Sleep Guide For Pregnancy

Maybe you think sleep deprivation won’t be an issue until after your baby is
born. Hah! Depending on how pregnant you are, everything from “morning” sickness
to scary dreams to restless leg can take their toll on your nightly shut-eye.

Things to think about this week:

Your sleep may be marked by vivid and bizarre
dreams, often reflecting anxiety you might have about childbirth and parenthood.
Having wacky pregnancy dreams?

18 Weeks Pregnant

18-weeks-pregnant-fetus

Here’s what’s happening during Week 18 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Fat is being deposited throughout the body. Teeth have started to form. The
fetus begins to hear sounds in your body (such as your heart beating) and may
even startle at loud noises. Length: about 8 inches; weight: 6 ounces

There’s still plenty of room in your uterus, so your fetus can be quite active
with her new muscles. She may change positions frequently, cross her legs,
recline, suck her thumb, and turn somersaults. Her retinas have become light
sensitive, and your baby may be able to detect a glow if you shine bright lights
at your belly (even though her eyelids are sealed).

Your Growing Belly
During this week, and the next few weeks, you may feel your baby’s first
movements—a fluttery sensation in your pelvis. Called “quickening”, many
cultures believe that this is when life begins. You may have aches and pains in
your legs, tailbone, and other muscles.

Tips & To-Do’s
Ultrasound

Decide whether or not you’d like to know your baby’s sex. Many doctors do a
detailed ultrasound between 16 and 20 weeks, at which time gender often can be
determined.

WHO IT’S OFFERED TO: All women.
WHEN IT’S OFFERED: At about 20 weeks.
WHAT IT SCREENS FOR: A wide variety of problems. “An anatomical survey of the
entire fetus is typically conducted,” explains midwife Barbara McFarlin.
HOW IT WORKS: Using a transducer placed over the abdomen, sound waves create
pictures of the fetus.
HOW EFFECTIVE IT IS: McFarlin says it detects approximately 50 percent of heart
defects; O’Brien says it’s excellent at detecting NTDs. However, O’Brien adds:
“Fifty percent of babies born with Down syndrome had normal ultrasound results.”
WHAT IF …? If ultrasound does detect a potential problem, you’ll need to decide
if you want an amnio to determine whether it could be part of a chromosomal or
genetic syndrome.

 

Things to think about this week

If you have certain pregnancy complications or limitations or if you just want
to play the pregnancy card! You might need to cross these household tasks off
your to-do list and either delegate them to someone else or hire some help.

19 Weeks Pregnant

19-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 19 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Your baby weighs about 8 1/2 ounces, and measures about 6 inches long.

If the baby is a girl, early ovaries contain follicles with forming eggs. Soon,
half of the genetic material for your potential future grandchildren will be
formed. Pictures of babies at this age show them touching the membrane of the
amniotic sac, touching their own faces, reaching for the umbilical cord,
pedaling their legs, and sucking their thumbs.

Your Growing Belly
You may be popping out all over, with bigger breasts and a bulge above your
pelvis. You may experience back pain as the weight of your uterus makes your
back work harder to keep you upright.

Make sure your diet contains plenty of B vitamins and good fats to support your
baby’s developing brain cells. You may find that you can’t stop worrying that
something will go wrong with your pregnancy. As normal as worrying is, if you
feel like it’s taking over your emotional life, then it may be time to pinpoint
your worries, examine how likely they are to be true, and consider what you
might do if they were.

Tips & To-Do’s
What’s Normal, What’s Not (and when to call your OB)

Few women pass through pregnancy without an anxiety-producing incident (or more)
like this along the way. Fortunately, most go on to have normal pregnancies and
healthy babies. Common pregnancy symptoms like spotting and contractions can be
harmless or signs of trouble.

Things to think about this week

The X factor in the sex equation is the relationship between your changing moods
and your changing body: Just as every woman’s pregnancy is unique, so is every
pregnant woman’s sex drive.

20 Weeks Pregnant

20-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 20 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
A white, creamy substance called vernix caseosa protects the skin from its
aqueous environment. Sweat glands form. Length: about 10 inches; weight: 9
ounces. Fetus fact: Starting now, immunities are being transferred from you to
the fetus.
Your Growing Belly
Around now, you should feel a psychological boost: You’ve made it halfway
already! It’s a good time to find a childbirth class to educate you about labor
and calm any anxieties. Plus, you’ll meet other parents-to-be and possibly
create friendships for both you and your child in the years to come.

Your care provider will now monitor your growth by measuring the height of your
uterus with fingers or a tape measure. Your uterus is now about in line with
your belly button. From now on, the top of your uterus will grow toward your rib
cage at a rate of one centimeter a week.

Tips & To-Do’s
Too big or too little

Starting at about 20 weeks, your doctor or midwife will measure your fundal
weight, or distance from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus, at every
prenatal visit. “It is a one-to-one correlation,” Thoppil explains. “At 20
weeks, for instance, the measurement should be around 20 centimeters.” If it
deviates by 3 centimeters one way or the other, your care provider will most
likely follow up with an ultrasound to see if the baby is too large or too
small.

 

Things to think about this week:

You’re halfway there! Do you need a doula? A
doula is not trained to deliver babies, but rather lends support to women and
their families, providing encouragement and information through late pregnancy,
labor and birth.

21 Weeks Pregnant

21-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 21 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Your baby now weighs about three-quarters of a pound and is approximately 10 1/2
inches long.

Your baby has begun her main project for the rest of your pregnancy: putting on
weight. She regularly drinks amniotic fluid for hydration and nutrition,
urinates in the fluid and breathes in and out (fortunately, the fluid pool
refreshes itself every three hours). Her eyebrows and eyelids are fully
developed. Taste buds are forming on her tongue. Her eyelids are still sealed,
but her eyes are active.

Your Growing Belly
Some women report feeling better and more energized at this stage of pregnancy
than they have at any point in their life. We hope you’re one of them!

To safely build up your endurance for labor and for taking care of your baby
later, take long walks outside or on a treadmill, ride a stationary bike or use
an elliptical trainer.

To keep your uterus and pelvic-floor muscles toned, do Kegel exercises and have
orgasms! If your doctor has told you to avoid sex because you’re at risk for
preterm labor, ask what he means by “sex” and which acts may be off-limits.

Tips & To-Do’s
Let’s Talk (Pregnant) Sex

If you do want to have sex, embrace the ubiquitous three-word Nike slogan. As
long as your pregnancy is progressing normally, you can have sex as often as you
like (some exceptions may include a history of miscarriage or preterm labor). Be
aware that it’s pretty common for some women to experience bleeding during
intercourse, especially in the first trimester. This is caused by the normal
swelling of capillaries in the cervix, which can burst when irritated during
sex. While such spotting or bleeding is generally nothing to worry about, you
should still mention it to your doctor or midwife.

Things to think about this week

The benefits of moving more during pregnancy begin immediately and last your
whole life. Your baby will start reaping the benefits in utero, too.

22 Weeks Pregnant

22-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 22 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The brain has entered a phase of extremely rapid growth. Length: about 11
inches; weight: just under 1 pound.

She is entering her fifth month of existence. Her fingernails are almost fully
grown, and her organ systems are becoming more functional and specialized. She
has a distinct pair of lips, and her first canines and molars are developing
below her gum line. She looks like a miniature newborn. Blood is traveling
through the umbilical cord at four miles an hour, fueling her growth with oxygen
and nutrients.

Your Growing Belly
Your uterus is certainly growing, but you can probably still bend over, sit,
drive, and function fairly comfortably.

You may have increased vaginal discharge as your pregnancy progresses. Yeast
infections during pregnancy are quite common. Symptoms include redness and
itchiness around your vagina and a yeast-smelling discharge, but douching during
pregnancy is not advised.

This is a good time to have your iron levels checked and to make sure you’re
drinking enough water, given how much your blood volume has increased over the
past few months. As many as 20 percent or pregnant women are anemic, and anemia
can put you at serious risk if you hemorrhage during delivery.

Tips & To-Do’s
Driving With A Due Date

As your baby bump grows and grows with your pregnancy, we’re sure this question
is going to cross your mind: Should I continue wearing my seat belt. In short:
Yes, always!

Things to think about this week

Protect your baby from the unseen dangers of X-rays, cellphones and other high-
tech gadgets.

23 Weeks Pregnant

23-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 23 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The testicles begin to descend into the groin from the abdomen; the uterus and
ovaries have developed. Body proportions are similar to a newborn’s, though the
fetus is still thin. The eyes are formed but lack pigmentation. Length: about 11
1∕2 inches; weight: about 1 pound.

Your Growing Belly
Your care provider should be monitoring your expanding uterus and weight. You
should be feeling movement at this point. If you haven’t, talk to your care
provider. No feelings of movement could be a sign that your placenta is in front
of the baby. It may also take more time to feel movement if you’re overweight.
As your baby gains weight, so do you. You’ve probably gained at least fifteen
pounds by now.

Tips & To-Do’s
Placenta Power

It’s not pretty, but it is very important and serves as grist for lore and
ritual the world over: Some cultures bury it, some consider it the baby’s
sibling, some even eat it. Not only is the placenta the trading post between the
mother’s and the baby’s blood supply, at around week 12 it takes over the
production of hormones needed to sustain the pregnancy. And recent research
found that its structure may even determine the length of a pregnancy. Although
the placenta usually functions flawlessly, occasionally a problem arises.

 

Things to think about this week

Use our tool to calculate your pre-pregnancy BMI. This will give you a starting
point for recommended weight gain. Calculate your BMI.

24 Weeks Pregnant

24-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 24 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The fetus develops waking/sleeping patterns. Real hair (not lanugo) begins to
grow on the head. Length: about 12 inches; weight: 1 ¼ pounds. Fetus fact: If
born now, your baby would have about a 50 percent chance of surviving.

Your baby’s skin becomes less translucent as pigment is deposited, and it looks
wrinkly because her body is making her skin more quickly than it makes the fat
to pad underneath it. Your baby’s unique hand- and footprints are forming. You
may feel jumps as she has bouts of hiccups. In fact, it may seem like the baby
is in perpetual motion. Some babies now kick in response to sounds and touch
from outside the womb. Encourage your partner to talk to the baby, and see if
she kicks in response!

Your Growing Belly
Your uterus is about 1 1/2 to 2 inches above your belly button, and your bump is
definitely apparent and hard to disguise!

You may be suffering from heartburn, muscle aches, sore feet, fatigue, and
dizziness. Call your care provider if you feel dizzy often or if you faint; it
may be a sign of anemia. Dizziness if often caused by low blood sugar or by
standing up too fast. Rise slowly, and eat regularly.

Tips & To-Do’s
Old Wives Vs. Science

Folk wisdom or science? if you suffer from heartburn during pregnancy, your baby
is likely to be born with a full head of hair. Answer: Science “Folksy” sounding
but true. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore found that when
pregnant women reported moderate heartburn, they had hairy newborns 82 percent
of the time; the majority of heartburn-free women gave birth to bald babies.

Things to think about this week

Start shopping for baby furniture and nursery accessories. (Leave painting and
furniture-refinishing to others; fumes can pose a hazard.)

25 Weeks Pregnant

25-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 25 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Your baby weighs 1 1/2 pounds and is a little more than 13 inches long, about
the size of a small bag of sugar. In the last third of pregnancy, she’ll double
and triple her weight.

Your dexterous baby can touch and hold her feet and make a fist. Your partner
may be able to hear her heartbeat by pressing his ear against your belly. Your
baby has a regular sleep schedule now and active and inactive periods. You may
or may not be able to discern what those periods are. Her nostrils, which have
been plugged, open up.

Your Growing Belly
While you’re feeling great progress, it comes with a return to fatigue,
dizziness, and constant trips to the bathroom.

To relieve back, hip and leg pain now, try to keep walking, swimming, practicing
yoga or doing any other non-weight-bearing activity. This also can help you
recover faster physically after childbirth.

Tips & To-Do’s
Get It Straight

A tense neck, sore back, twinges in your hips, throbbing feet—when you’re
pregnant, aches and pains are just part of the deal, right? Not necessarily. Our
bodies are actually well-designed for pregnancy but the modern woman is doing so
many things that wreak havoc on our tissues. We sit too much, drive everywhere
instead of walk, wear high heels and are often overweight and inflexible. But
you needn’t suffer unnecessarily, Katy Bowman has designed an exquisitely quick
and simple program to address the crux of today’s prenatal ailments: poor
alignment. Tweak your body’s alignment for a pain-free pregnancy.

Things to think about this week

Whether navigating the aisles of baby superstores is your idea of a good time or
a nightmare come to life, you need to buy some stuff.

26 Weeks Pregnant

26-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 26 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The eyelids separate and the eyes are starting to open. Lungs are beginning to
develop surfactant, which allows them to inflate. The fetus begins to sleep for
longer periods, often when you do. Length: 14 inches; weight: almost 2 pounds.

This week marks a major milestone in your baby’s hearing and sight. Your baby’s
hearing system (cochlea and peripheral sensory end organs), which began fine
development during week eighteen, is now completely formed, and over the next
few weeks, she’ll become increasingly sensitive to sound. In about a month,
you’ll feel her jump if she hears a sudden loud noise. Sound passes easily into
your uterus, which helps her ears develop. Her eyes are almost fully formed. Did
you know that all babies have blue eyes in the womb, no matter what their
genetic inheritance is? A baby’s eyes don’t get their final color until a few
months after they are born. The air sacs of the lungs, called alveoli, will be
developed by the end of this week and will begin to secrete a substance called
surfactant that keeps the lung tissue from sticking together.

Your Growing Belly
Sleeping is definitely getting uncomfortable. Try sleeping on your left side.
Your baby has to battle with your backbone when you’re lying on your back, and
sleeping on your back will also position your uterus over a major artery,
cutting off blood flow.
Tips & To-Do’s
GDM Screening

Between 24-28 weeks, you may be tested for gestational diabetes with a glucose
tolerance test. At your doctor’s office, you drink a bottle of super-sweet soda
—think Mountain Dew spiked with pancake syrup—and an hour later, your blood is
drawn.

Things to think about this week: A friend from the office offers you the car
seat that her son has outgrown. Should you accept? The lowdown on hand-me downs.

27 Weeks Pregnant

27-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 27 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Your baby weighs about two pounds and is about 14 to 15 inches long, about the
size of a small pot roast.

If your baby were born now, he would have an excellent chance (85 percent) of
surviving. He still isn’t fully formed and would probably not be able to breath
by himself. He would need to stay in an incubator to keep his body temperature
regulated, and he would have a weak liver and immune system. (Fact: Babies have
more taste buds at birth than they will have later in life. Newborns can sniff
out and tell the difference between their mother’s milk and someone else’s.)

Your Growing Belly
The weight of your baby is putting pressure on your back, which can cause
shooting pains (sciatica) in your lower back and legs. Lifting, bending, and
walking can make the pain worse. Warm baths, ice packs, and changing positions
may help.

The volume of your amniotic fluid is reduced by about half. With less cushioning
blocking the view, you’ll be able to see bony knees and elbows poking out of
your stomach when the baby kicks and turns.

As you grow, you may start to see stretch marks on your breasts and abdomen. You
may also have a hard time bending over and tying your shoes. Your heart rate may
have increased, causing you to feel flush and look winded with less exertion.

Tips & To-Do’s
Stretch Marks Happen

Despite how foreign they can look on your body, stretch marks (or striae) are a
normal part of pregnancy: Half of all moms-to-be can expect to find these
rippled stripes on their skin.

Things to think about this week

You may be distressed to see the numbers on the scale creep (OK, jump) up: From
here on out, you’ll probably be gaining about 1 pound a week. This still only
translates to about 300 extra calories a day, though.

28 Weeks Pregnant

28-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 28 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The fetus can taste and smell, and the eyes can produce tears. The bones are
almost fully developed though still soft. Weight gain is rapid from now on.
Length: about 15 inches; weight: more than 2 1∕2 pounds. Fetus fact: The brain
will increase 400 percent to 500 percent in weight between now and delivery.

Your baby’s main job right now is to put the finishing touches on major organ
systems, such as her brain, lungs, and liver. As you can probably tell, she’s
also working on gaining layers of fat. Her body fat is about 2 to 3 percent. Her
sucking and swallowing skills are improving.

Your Growing Belly
You’re getting larger, and as you get larger, you become more uncomfortable.
Your legs may ache or cramp, it’s hard to get a good sleeping position, and the
baby is big enough to give you some sharp kicks to the ribs!

Remember that hot weather, standing for long periods of time, or low blood sugar
can make you prone to dizziness and fainting. Drink water, and stay in the shade
if you’re pregnant in the summer.

Tips & To-Do’s
The No-Time No-Excuses Workout
Just a half-hour of exercise a day will benefit you and your baby.

Things to think about this week
If you know you’re having a boy, you and your partner may be battling over
circumcision. Consider doing research on the procedure, talking to your baby’s
future pediatrician for her views, and talking to other parents to see how they
resolved the issue.

29 Weeks Pregnant

29-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 29 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Your baby is about two and a half pounds and would be between fifteen and
seventeen inches tall if she could stand.

Your baby’s adrenal glands are producing a chemical which will be made into
estriol (a form of estrogen) by the placenta. This estriol is thought to
stimulate the production of prolactin by your body, and the prolactin makes you
produce milk. So even if your baby comes early, you’ll still be able to
breastfeed.

Each passing week improves the likelihood that your baby will be born strong and
healthy. Her brain can detect rhythmic breathing and control body temperature,
so she’s less likely to need breathing assistance should she be born early.
She’s growing eyelashes, adding fat, and developing her brain. Because of brain
wave activity, researchers have speculated that babies can even dream at this
time!

Your Growing Belly
As the levels of prolactin increase in your body, your breasts may secrete
colostrum, which can dampen your bra. Prolactin also has a sedating effect, and
you may feel the need to take naps the way you did in the first trimester.

Your uterus is now in a position where it exerts pressure on your bladder. Your
frequent trips to the bathroom may also remind you of the first trimester.

If you can, keep up your swimming, walking, yoga, or other non-weight bearing
exercise, though you’re not feeling as energetic (and as comfortable) as you did
last trimester.

Tips & To-Do’s
The Feel-Great Workout
It’s one of life’s ironies: Getting off the couch for a little exercise can
actually make you feel more relaxed. Plus, exercise can help reverse the sag in
your energy level that can happen during pregnancy, and research shows that
moderate exercise throughout those nine months can help you avoid excessive
weight gain, lessen your risk for pregnancy complications and may even help you
have an easier delivery.

 

Things to think about this week

Start shopping for items you’ll need in the hospital (nursing bras, nightgown,
baby clothes, car seat) and at home (diapers, wipes, etc.).

30 Weeks Pregnant

30-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 30 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Your baby’s length is about 16 inches—about as long as a laptop computer—and she
measures almost 11 inches from crown to rump. She weighs approximately 2 1/2 to
3 pounds.

From now until delivery, every baby will gain weight at a more individual rate.
Your baby has doubled in height over the past six weeks, and from now until
delivery, she’ll gain only a few more inches in length. Don’t worry if she’s in
a strange position (what your care provider might call a “transverse lie”).
There’s still plenty of time for her to get settled into the head-down
(cephalic) position for birth.

She’s floating in about 1 1/2 pints of amniotic fluid and has some room to move.
Your baby’s most important organ, her brain, continues to develop at a rapid
pace. Her eyes are able to track light, and some researchers have theorized that
exposing your belly to light may stimulate development. Try moving the beam of a
flashlight slowly over your belly in a dim room, and see if she reacts.

Your Growing Belly
You might find yourself increasingly breathless as your growing uterus crowds
your diaphragm. It should ease a bit when the baby drops lower in your pelvis
later in pregnancy. Your belly is about the size of a watermelon. Tying your
shoes is a challenge, and you may already have adopted the pregnant “waddle.”

To keep your sex life alive, continue having intercourse unless your doctor says
otherwise. Most couples’ sex life tapers off temporarily, but this may not be so
much a problem of desire as one of engineering. The solution: be creative with
positions and techniques.

Tips & To-Do’s
When Push Comes To Shove

While your birth experience will be as unique to you as your new baby, the
phases of labor and delivery are the same for everyone. During pregnancy the
opening of your uterus, the cervix, is firm and closed. As your due date
approaches, you may experience mild contractions that help prepare your cervix
for delivery. Not sure what to expect during childbirth?

Things to think about this week

Attend childbirth classes. The sessions should end by week 36. You may be
surprised to discover the variations in childbirth classes—some are months long
while others last a day; some take place in a hospital and others are conducted
in the educator’s home. Regardless, topics generally include labor signs, pain-
relief options, stages of labor and comfort measures.

31 Weeks Pregnant

31-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 31 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Your baby weighs between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 pounds. She continues to gain weight at
a faster pace than she lengthens, which will give her those cute chubby cheeks.
She’s about fourteen to sixteen inches tall, although individual growth rates
vary.

Your baby begins to run out of room as she puts on weight. You should feel about
ten kicks an hour. Some care providers suggest keeping a “kick chart” by writing
down how many kicks you feel in an hour, so that you are aware if there’s a
decrease in activity. Other care providers may advise that as long as it feels
like the baby’s active, there’s no need to keep notes. If you do sense a
decrease in activity, try drinking a large glass of juice. If that doesn’t make
the baby energized, or makes her less energized than she usually would be, call
your care provider.

Your Growing Belly
By now your sleep is likely compromised, big-time: You probably need to go to
the bathroom several times a night and you’re also having trouble sleeping
because there isn’t a comfortable position that works.

The nesting instinct is likely to kick in soon, if it hasn’t already, as you
attempt to get everything done while you still can, from tying up loose ends at
work and reorganizing closets to baking cookies and sorting socks. Take
advantage of your pregnant form and get others to pitch in.

Tips & To-Do’s
Baby Likes To Move It

Paying attention to a fetus’s movements in utero has been linked with a decrease
in stillbirth. That’s why First Candle, the nonprofit group behind the Back to
Sleep SIDS-prevention campaign, encourages women to monitor or chart their
babies’ kicks beginning in the 28th week of pregnancy.

Things to think about this week

Interview doulas or labor coaches—they book up quickly. Wouldn’t it be great if
someone you trust volunteered to be on hand—even sleep on your couch—in case you
went into labor in the middle of the night?

32 Weeks Pregnant

32-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 32 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The fetus practices breathing motions in preparation for birth. All five senses
are developed, and REM (dream-cycle) sleep is beginning. Lanugo begins to
disappear. Length: about 17 inches; weight: about 4 pounds. Fetus fact: If your
baby were born now, he would have an excellent chance of surviving without
life-threatening complications.

Your Growing Belly
From now until delivery, you’ll be gaining about a pound a week. About half of
that gain is the baby’s, the rest is fluid retention. Fight bloat by avoiding
high-sodium foods and carbonated beverages. Call your care provider if you
suddenly feel puffy in your face or hands; this is a symptom of preeclampsia.

If you’re still working, you’re probably already counting the minutes until your
maternity leave starts. During the next six weeks, you may be trying to decide
if you’ll be one of the sixty percent of moms who will return to the workforce
in the year after having a baby, or if you’ll be among the forty percent who
stay home.

Tips & To-Do’s
Getting Back To Business

Before your baby is even born, it is very likely that you will need to make a
decision about when, or if, you will be returning to work. Lots of moms return
to work full time, but others opt for a part-time schedule, some work from home,
and some forgo work altogether and become stay-at-home moms. Going back to work
after having a baby isn’t an all-or-nothing decision.
Things to think about this week

Have your baby shower about two months before your due date so you’ll have time
to shop for items you didn’t receive as gifts. Register for your shower if you
haven’t already done so.

33 Weeks Pregnant

33-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 33 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Your baby’s crown-to-rump length is about 17 inches. She weighs about 4 1/2
pounds and gains about eight ounces every week.

Your baby has probably moved to the head-down position and may descend into your
pelvis at any time in the next six weeks and begin to press into your cervix.
This position not only prepares her for birth but allows blood to flow to her
developing brain. The dark quiet of your womb is perfect for this activity.
Right now, your baby is also in the process of receiving your antibodies. If she
were born right now, her immune system would be immature, and extra care would
need to be taken to keep her in a sterile environment.
Your Growing Belly
Tired of being pregnant? Remind yourself that babies are easier to take care of
in there than out here! You continue gaining weight at the rate of a pound a
week, and it probably seems impossible that your body will find somewhere to fit
six more pounds.

Tips & To-Do’s
Contraction Action

Because contractions generally signal that labor is starting, they can be viewed
as a warning sign, a green light or a cue to ask, “Honey, the crib is set up,
right?” But having contractions before you’re due doesn’t necessarily mean that
Baby has requested an early checkout from Hotel Utero.

Things to think about this week

To get ready for breastfeeding take a breastfeeding class, buy a good
breastfeeding book and watch a breastfeeding video.

34 Weeks Pregnant

34-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 34 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The fetus is taking deep breaths. The eyes can blink and are open when it’s
awake and closed when asleep, and the pupils dilate and constrict in reaction to
light. Length: about 18 inches; weight: about 5 pounds.

Your baby’s brain is forming trillions of connections, making it possible for
her to learn in the womb. All of this brain development may be the reason that
your baby sleeps frequently at this stage. She may even be dreaming—her eyes
dart around rapidly just as an adult’s might in REM sleep. Your child’s
development is in no way complete at birth. In the first year after birth, a
baby’s brain triples in size and becomes three-quarters of its adult size.

Your Growing Belly
The volume of your uterus is five hundred to one thousand times larger than
before you got pregnant, so it’s safe to say you’re feeling huge and slow.
You’re still running to the bathroom frequently and probably will from here on
out. Try to drink a lot of water early in the day, so you don’t get thirsty at
night and make things worse.

Tips & To-Do’s
Delivery Room Drama

We all know that giving birth rarely happens like it does on TV shows: Your
water breaks; you gasp, exclaim, “She’s coming!” Then, lipstick refreshed, you
cradle your newborn as your handsome husband looks on. Alternatively, we hope
your experience isn’t going to be fodder for reality TV: A swarm of doctors
sprints into the delivery room, shouting, “Get the NICU team, STAT! We’ve got a
quadruple nuchal and need a cold-knife section!” Many labor complications sound
worse than they are.
Things to think about this week

If you haven’t purchased your baby’s car seat and installed it, do it now.
You’ll also want to start thinking about what you want to pack in your hospital
bag .

35 Weeks Pregnant

35-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 35 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
At more than five pounds and between sixteen and twenty inches, your baby is
becoming more ready for birth with every passing hour. She’s the size of a small
roasting chicken.

Her nervous system and immune system are still maturing, and she’s adding the
fat that she’ll need to regulate her body temperature. But, everything else,
from her toenails to the hair on her head, is fully formed. If she were born
now, she’d have more than a ninety-nine percent chance of surviving.

Your Growing Belly
Your size is probably making you really uncomfortable. You’re carrying so much
extra weight and fluid that simple things can be tiring. If your job requires
sitting all day, take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch your legs (if
you have the privacy to lie down for a few minutes or do stretches on your hands
and knees, even better).

You’ll see your care provider once every one or two weeks now. If you have other
children, this can be a poignant time, because it is the last few weeks of being
a family in the way that you’re used to. Don’t forget to arrange care for any
children or pets for the two to three days you’ll be in the hospital. Ask a
neighbor to collect your newspapers and mail.

Tips & To-Do’s
Group B streptococcus (GBS)

At 35-37 weeks you’ll be tested for the presence of potentially dangerous
bacteria that could be passed to the baby during delivery. It involves a
painless swab of your rectum and vagina. GBS is a bacterium that lives in the
vagina and intestinal tract of many healthy women without causing symptoms or
illness.

Things to think about this week

Remaining upright and leaning forward reduces this pressure while allowing your
baby’s head to constantly bear down on your cervix. The result? Dilation tends
to occur more quickly.
36 Weeks Pregnant

36-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 36 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
With one month to go, your baby weighs about six pounds and is fattening. Her
full length from crown to feet is about 20 1/2 inches.
Your Growing Belly
Has your baby’s movement slowed down? If so, you shouldn’t worry. Five to ten
percent of all mothers report that babies start to slow down as they grow larger
and get more cramped for space. Still, you should be able to feel your baby move
more than ten times a day. If you’re concerned, try drinking a sweet beverage,
such as orange juice, and then lying on your side for a while. Most babies will
wake up and start to move. If you’re still concerned, contact your healthcare
provider.
Tips & To-Do’s
Allergy Avoidance

Can your diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding protect your baby from food
allergies?

Things to think about this week

Meet with several pediatricians and choose one. Your baby will need to be
checked immediately after birth. Consider whether you’ll circumcise if there’s a
possibility you’re having a boy. Research cord-blood-banking options.
37 Weeks Pregnant

37-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 37 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Your baby is now 20-21 inches or so and weighs about 6-7 pounds; he looks very
much like a newborn. In the vast majority of pregnancies, the fetus begins to
move into delivery position.

Your baby is practicing her breathing, but she has increasingly less space to
practice stretching and kicking. Your baby’ intestines are also building up
meconium, a greenish-black substance made of baby by-products such as dead
cells, shed lanugo, and amniotic fluid. It’ll become your little darling’s first
bowel movement, hopefully after she is out of the womb.

Your Growing Belly
This week, you may expel the cervical mucus plug, aka “bloody show,” at any
time. If you’re worried about stretch marks, be patient. They’ll begin to fade a
few months after you deliver. Stretch marks are caused by broken collagen fibers
under your skin’s surface. The strength of your collagen is genetic, so if your
mom got stretch marks, you probably will, too.

The hormone relaxin is causing all of the smooth muscle in your body to
unclench. You’ll feel like you have loose “rag-doll” joints. You’re probably
having Braxton-Hicks contractions, which you may or may not notice. How can you
tell these contractions from the real thing? If you have to ask, they probably
aren’t. Real contractions grow progressively stronger, more intense, and more
regular.

Tips & To-Do’s
Contraction Action

Many contractions that occur after week 34 are random and irregular; these are
known as Braxton-Hicks contractions. If contractions come regularly every 10
minutes or less rather than intermittently, you may be in preterm labor.
Things to think about this week

Pack your bag for the hospital (don’t forget your phone book). At 36 or 37
weeks, your doctor will order a culture for Group B strep, an infection that can
affect the baby. (If you do have Group B strep, you will likely be treated with
antibiotics during labor.)

38 Weeks Pregnant

38-weeks-pregnant-fetus

Here’s what’s happening during Week 38 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
The average newborn has a length of 21 1/2 inches and weighs 7 1/2 pounds. She
is fully developed, though still adding connections between neurons in the brain
(this continues well after birth). Her nails have been growing and now reach to
the ends of her fingers and toes. Her movements are quite restricted by her
close quarters.
Your Growing Belly
You’re probably having a whole lot of back and neck strain, lots of fatigue, and
not much relief! You continue to add a pound a week and have a hard time getting
around gracefully.

Keep eating small, frequent, nutritious meals, and if you think that your
contractions may be the real thing, eat something. The calories will help
fortify you for the job at hand.

Tips & To-Do’s
Rethinking “Full Term”

Doctors typically refer to “term” or “full term” as the period from 37 weeks to
41 weeks, but it may be time for a change, according to commentary in the
journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Babies who are born between 37 weeks and 39
weeks have a higher risk of health problems and delays in reaching developmental
milestones.

 

Things to think about this week

If you plan to breastfeed, read up on techniques and gather resources to have at
your finger tips when you come home. Join a local La Leche League group to meet
the leader and other moms; you don’t want to be a stranger if you need to call
them for help. Buy nursing pads and bras.
39 Weeks Pregnant

39-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 39 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
You’re in the home stretch! After nine months of growth and development, your
baby is ready to be born, or nearly so. At week 39, your baby is fully developed
and anywhere from 17-23 inches long and weighs 6-10 pounds. Don’t be frightened
if your OB-GYN says your baby is large: It’s extremely difficult to judge a
baby’s weight accurately from the outside.

Your baby is adding neural connections and growing hair and still gaining
weight. Researchers have theorized that when babies are ready to be born, they
send a chemical signal of androgens to the placenta, which increases the
production of estrogen and leads to labor. If so, it’s proof of the old saying
that “only a baby knows when it’s ready to be born.”

Your Growing Belly
Don’t be surprised if you get discouraged now. Relatives may be calling
regularly to find out if labor has started. Ignore them and make plans every
day—see a movie, take a walk, read or simply lounge around at home. Relish this
peaceful time while it lasts! To get some relief from your weight and aches, do
plenty of hands-and-knees cat stretches and pelvic tilts. Soak in a warm bath,
swim, or just float in the pool to take a break from gravity.
Tips & To-Do’s
Do You Dread Delivery?

Many women who whole-heartedly want to be mothers dread the prospect of having
to actually deliver a baby. In fact, while just about every woman feels some
anxiety about giving birth, 6 percent to 10 percent of pregnant women suffer
intense fear.
Things to think about this week

Many women begin maternity leave weeks before their due date. If you plan to
work up until the end, post an “If I go into labor tonight” memo at work. If
you’ll be returning to work and plan to breastfeed, find or create a suitable
place to pump.

40 Weeks Pregnant

40-weeks-pregnant-fetus
Here’s what’s happening during Week 40 of your pregnancy:
Your Growing Baby
Congratulations – your baby is now fully formed and ready to be born.
Your Growing Belly
If your due date has come and gone, your pregnancy is officially post-date. If
you’re still pregnant two weeks from now, then your pregnancy will be post-term.
Anywhere from three to twelve percent of pregnant women may go post-term. The
good news is that the baby is going to come out at some point—the bad news is
that it may be as much as two weeks from now.

In the meantime, your care provider will check your dilation (how open your
cervix is, if at all) and effacement (how thick your cervix is), to try to
predict when labor will begin. If you hit forty-two weeks, your doctor will
assess your health with a non-stress test and may use ultrasound to see if your
baby has enough amniotic fluid. If your baby seems fine, you and your care
provider can discuss when to schedule induction of labor. No matter what, one
way or another, somehow, that baby’s getting out!

Tips & To-Do’s
Undress For Success

Yes, breastfeeding is one of the most natural acts in the world, but it can be
difficult—especially in the early days, when you are learning the ropes. A mom
who has breastfed successfully may be able to help in a pinch, but if you have
real problems such as difficulty latching or sore nipples, you may need a
lactation consultant.
Things to think about this week

Relish these last days of feeling that little being moving and grooving inside
your body. You won’t believe how much you’ll miss it.

 

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