Congratulations! Pregnancy is an exciting time, but with so much pregnancy information available in books, in magazines, and on websites, how can you hope to cover it all before giving birth? We've made it easy for you to get all the pregnancy info you need in one place. Our illustrated pregnancy calendar is a detailed guide to all the changes taking place in your baby — and in you! Each week of pregnancy includes a description of your baby's development, as well as an explanation of the changes taking place in your body. You'll also find important medical info that will help keep you and your baby healthy. A Word About Due Dates and Trimesters: After you announce your pregnancy, the first question you'll probably be asked is "When are you due?" At your first prenatal visit, your health care provider will help you determine an expected delivery date (EDD). Your EDD is 40 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). If you deliver on your EDD, your baby is actually only about 38 weeks old — that's because your egg didn't become fertilized until about 2 weeks after the start of your last menstrual period. It's important to remember that your due date is only an estimate — most babies are born between 38 and 42 weeks from the first day of their mom's LMP and only a small percentage of women actually deliver on their due date. Another common term you'll hear throughout your pregnancy is trimester. A pregnancy is divided into trimesters: the first trimester is from week 1 to the end of week 12, the second trimester is from week 13 to the end of week 26, the third trimester is from week 27 to the end of the pregnancy. Source: KidsHealth http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/pregnancy-calendar-intro.html
Your Baby's Development This first week is actually your menstrual period. Because your expected delivery date (EDD) is calculated from the first day of your last period, this week counts as part of your 40-week pregnancy even though your baby hasn't been conceived yet. Your Body During pregnancy, your healthy habits and your baby's health go hand in hand. While planning to conceive, take the time to prepare your body for motherhood. Before becoming pregnant, you should: Avoid alcohol, drugs, and tobacco products. These substances can cause birth defects, fetal alcohol syndrome, respiratory problems, low birth weight, and other health problems. Talk to your doctor about any prescription and nonprescription (OTC) drugs you are taking. You'll need to take special precautions with medications because many prescription and over-the-counter medications can negatively affect the fetus. But don't stop taking prescription drugs without consulting your health care provider, who will help you weigh the potential benefits and risks of stopping your medications. Maintain a diet that contains an adequate amount of vitamins, especially folic acid. Women who are attempting to become pregnant should take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day. Adequate folic acid intake reduces the risk of neural tube defects (birth defects caused by incomplete development of the brain or spinal cord), such as spina bifida. Be sure to talk to your health care provider about taking a folic acid supplement while you are trying to conceive.
Your Baby's Development This may sound strange, but you're still not pregnant! Fertilization of your egg by the sperm will only take place near the end of this week — read more about fertilization in the Your Body section below. Although you'll have to wait to find out what color to paint the nursery, your baby's gender will be determined at the moment of fertilization. Out of the 46 chromosomes that make up a baby's genetic material, only two — one from the sperm and one from the egg — determine the baby's sex. These are known as the sex chromosomes. Every egg has an X sex chromosome; a sperm can have either an X or a Y sex chromosome. If the sperm that fertilizes your egg has an X chromosome, you'll have a girl; if it has a Y chromosome, your baby will be a boy. Your Body Your uterine lining, which will nourish the baby, is developing, and your body secretes follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates an egg to mature. At the end of this week, you will be at the midpoint of your menstrual cycle (if you have a regular 28-day cycle), and ovulation will occur (your ovary will release an egg into the fallopian tube). This is when you're most likely to conceive. If you have sexual intercourse without protection around the time that you ovulate, you can become pregnant. After your partner ejaculates, millions of sperm travel through the vagina, and hundreds make it to the fallopian tube, where your egg is waiting. One sperm generally succeeds in penetrating the egg, and fertilization takes place. When that happens, you will be pregnant — although you will not be feeling any body changes just yet.
Your Baby's Development Even though you may not feel that you're pregnant yet, you have a baby growing and developing inside of you! Although your baby was just conceived, he or she is working overtime. The fertilized egg goes through a process of cell division. About 30 hours after fertilization, it divides into two cells, then four cells, then eight, and continues to divide as it moves from the fallopian tube to the uterus. By the time it gets to the uterus, this group of cells looks like a tiny ball and is called a morula. The morula becomes hollow and fills with fluid — it is then known as a blastocyst. Near the end of this week, the blastocyst will attach itself to the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. This is called implantation. The implantation in the uterus creates an essential connection — the endometrium will provide the developing embryo with nutrients and will remove wastes. Over time, this implantation site will develop into the placenta. Your Body Getting enough of certain nutrients, such as folic acid, protein, calcium, and iron, is essential for your baby's development. A folic acid supplement — which, ideally, you've been taking since before you conceived — is particularly important because folic acid helps prevent defects of the neural tube (the structure that gives rise to the brain and spinal cord), which forms very early in pregnancy. Your intake of protein, which is used to create new tissue, should increase during pregnancy. In addition, calcium is necessary for the development of bones and teeth, so make sure you're getting a good dose of dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and legumes. Iron is essential during pregnancy as you support the continual increase of your baby's blood volume. Good sources of iron include red meat, legumes, eggs, and leafy green vegetables.
Your Baby's Development Four weeks into your pregnancy, your baby (called an embryo) consists of two layers of cells — the epiblast and the hypoblast — that will eventually develop into all of your baby's organs and body parts. Two other structures that develop at this time are the amnion and the yolk sac. The amnion, filled with amniotic fluid, will surround and protect the growing embryo. The yolk sac will produce blood and help to nourish the embryo until the placenta takes over that role. Your Body This week your baby continues to implant in your uterus, burying itself deep within the endometrium. Once implanted, your baby starts to produce a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which helps to maintain the lining of the uterus. It also sends a signal to the ovary to stop releasing an egg each month, which stops your monthly periods. Some women experience slight cramping and spotting of blood during this week while implantation is taking place, and they may mistake this for a period, as it often occurs around the time their monthly period was due. hCG is the hormone that is measured in pregnancy tests. This week a pregnancy test will probably be able to detect your pregnancy! hCG also causes the symptoms of pregnancy, which can appear this week. Fatigue, tingling or aching breasts, or nausea might lead you to believe your period will be starting any day because the first pregnancy symptoms resemble premenstrual syndrome (PMS). But by the end of this week, your expected period will not take place. Your pregnancy is well on its way!
Your Baby's Development Until now, the embryo has been a mass of cells, but by this point in your pregnancy a distinct shape begins to form. The neural tube, which will eventually form into the spinal cord and brain, runs from the top to the bottom of the embryo. A bulge in the center of the embryo will develop into your baby's heart. At this time, the placenta develops. It is through the placenta and its fingerlike projections, called chorionic villi, that an embryo receives nourishment from its mother. Your Body Even if nausea hasn't hit you yet, you'll want to steer clear of certain foods when you're pregnant. Foodborne illnesses, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, may cause birth defects or even miscarriage. Here are some foods you'll want to avoid: *soft, unpasteurized cheeses (often advertised as "fresh") such as feta, goat, Brie, Camembert, and blue cheese *unpasteurized milk, juices, and apple cider raw eggs or foods containing raw eggs, including mousse and tiramisu *raw or undercooked meats, fish, or shellfish processed meats such as hot dogs and deli meats (these should be well-cooked) *fish that are high in mercury, including shark, swordfish, king mackeral, or tilefish Toxoplasmosis can also be spread from soiled cat litter boxes, so try to have someone else clean the litter box during your pregnancy.
Your Baby's Development By week 6, your baby’s brain and nervous system are developing at a rapid pace. Optic vesicles, which later form the eyes, begin to develop this week on the sides of the head, as do the passageways that will make up the inner ear. Your baby's heart will begin to beat around this time, and it may even be detected on ultrasound examination. And the beginnings of the digestive and respiratory systems are forming, too. Small buds that will grow into your baby's arms and legs also appear this week. Because their legs are curled up against the torso for much of the pregnancy, making a full-length measurement difficult, babies often are measured from the crown to rump rather than from head to toe. This week, your baby only measures 0.08 to 0.2 inches (2 to 5 millimeters) from crown to rump! Your Body Common pregnancy complaints may hit in full force this week. You may feel extreme fatigue as your body adjusts to the demands of pregnancy. And tender, aching breasts and nausea and vomiting (morning sickness) may leave you feeling less than great. Despite its name, morning sickness can occur at any hour or all day, so don't be surprised if your queasy stomach doesn't pass by noon. Nausea isn't the only thing that has you running to the toilet, though — hormonal changes and other factors, such as your kidneys working extra hard to flush wastes out of your body, cause you to urinate more frequently, too.
Your Baby's Development Your baby is constantly adapting to life inside the uterus. By this week, the umbilical cord has formed. It will be your baby’s connection to you throughout your pregnancy, providing oxygen and nourishment for your baby and disposing of your baby's wastes. In addition, your baby's digestive tract and lungs continue to form. Are you waiting impatiently to see your baby's face on his or her birth day? You have a long way to go until then, but in the meantime, your baby's face is taking shape. The mouth, nostrils, ears, and eyes are some of the facial features that become more defined this week. Dreaming of a son or daughter to play ball with? The arm bud that developed just last week has a hand on the end of it, which looks like a tiny paddle. Your Body Pregnancy causes many changes in your cervix. By this week you'll have developed a mucous plug, which forms in the opening of the cervical canal and seals off the uterus for protection. (Eventually you'll lose this plug as your cervix dilates in preparation for labor.)
Your Baby's Development Marveling over a baby's tiny fingers and toes is one of the joys of the first day of life. Those fingers and toes are just beginning to form this week, and the arms can even flex at the elbows and wrists. The eyes are becoming more obvious because they’ve begun to develop pigment (color) in the retina (back of the eye). Also, the intestines are getting longer and there isn’t enough room for them in the baby’s abdomen, so they protrude into the umbilical cord until week 12. By now, the beginnings of the buds that will develop into your baby's genitals have made their appearance, although they've not yet developed enough to reveal whether your baby is a boy or a girl. Your Body Pregnancy symptoms such as a missed period, nausea, extreme fatigue, or tight clothes due to the swelling of your uterus have probably prompted you to wonder whether you're pregnant. Once you have confirmation of your pregnancy from a home pregnancy test or blood or urine test at the doctor's office, you should call and schedule your first prenatal visit. Your pregnancy may be monitored by one of several health care professionals, including an obstetrician, nurse practitioner, midwife, or family doctor. If your pregnancy is considered high risk (for example, if you have had multiple miscarriages, are older than 35, or have a history of pregnancy complications), your doctor may want to see you as early as possible and more often during the course of your pregnancy. Good prenatal care is extremely important for the health and safe delivery of your baby, so be sure to make prenatal appointments a top priority.
Your Baby's Development The tail at the bottom of your baby's spinal cord has shrunk and almost disappeared by this week. In contrast, your baby's head has been growing — it's quite large compared with the rest of the body and it curves onto the chest. By this week, your baby measures about 0.6 to 0.7 inches (16 to 18 millimeters) from crown to rump and weighs around 0.1 ounces (3 grams). The tip of the nose has developed and can be seen in profile, and flaps of skin over the eyes have begun to shape into eyelids, which will become more noticeable in the next few weeks. The digestive system continues to develop. The anus is forming, and the intestines are growing longer. In addition, internal reproductive features, such as testes and ovaries, start to form this week. Your baby may make some first movements this week as muscles develop. If you had an ultrasound now, those movements might even be visible, but you won't be able to feel them for several more weeks. Your Body In preparation for your first prenatal visit, take the time to familiarize yourself with your family's health history and to review your medical records. Have you had any chronic illnesses, allergies, or surgeries? Are you currently taking any prescription medications? Do you know of any genetic disorders that run in your family? Has your menstrual cycle been regular, and have you had any past pregnancies? Do you smoke or drink alcohol? What are your exercise habits? These are the things your health care provider will want to discuss with you, so it will help to have this information ready when you go.
Your Baby's Development By week 10, all of your baby's vital organs have been formed and are starting to work together. As external changes such as the separation of fingers and toes and the disappearance of the tail takes place, internal developments are taking place too. Tooth buds form inside the mouth, and if you're having a boy, his testes will begin producing the male hormone testosterone. Congenital abnormalities are unlikely to develop after week 10. This also marks the end of the embryonic period — in general, the embryo now has a distinctly human appearance and starting next week your baby will officially be considered a fetus. Your Body Your first prenatal visit, which often takes place around this time, is a milestone. At the doctor's office, you'll go through a series of tests and checks, including having your weight and blood pressure checked. You might also have an external abdominal examination to check the size and position of your baby and have your urine tested. During this first prenatal visit, your health care provider will thoroughly examine you, including an internal examination and a breast exam. Your health care provider will also ask you many questions about your medical history and any family health problems, to determine if your baby is at risk for genetic diseases. Another thing your provider will check? Your baby's heartbeat! Using a Doppler stethoscope, you should get to hear it for the first time. As you leave your first appointment, your health care provider will probably send you for a blood test to find out whether you are immunized against varicella, measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles), as well as to determine your blood type and Rh factor. You may also be checked for the presence of certain infections, such as syphilis or hepatitis B, and you may be offered an HIV test. Testing blood for certain genetic disorders is also commonly done — the type of tests offered will depend on your situation and preference.
Your Baby's Development From this week until week 20, your baby will be growing rapidly — increasing in size from about 2 inches (5 cm) to about 8 inches (20 cm) from crown to rump. To accommodate all this growth, the blood vessels in the placenta are increasing in both size and number to provide the baby with more nutrients. Facial development continues as the ears move toward their final position on the sides of the head. If you saw a picture of your baby now, you'd think you had a genius on your hands — the baby's head accounts for about half of the body length! Although your baby's reproductive organs are developing rapidly, the external genitals of boys and girls appear somewhat similar until the end of week 11. They will be clearly differentiated by week 14. Your Body Nourishing your baby usually requires that you gain weight — and in most cases, the recommended weight gain is 25 to 35 pounds (11.33 to 15.87 kg) over the course of the pregnancy. If you were overweight or underweight before pregnancy, your health care provider may have different recommendations for weight gain. Your health care provider may offer you a "first trimester screening test" which combines ultrasound with a blood test to determine whether your baby is at risk for (not whether your baby has) specific chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. An abnormal result does not necessarily mean that your baby has a condition — but it may mean more testing is required. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and advantages of this test.
Your Baby's Development Your baby's brain continues to develop, and tiny fingernails and toenails start to form. Vocal cords are formed this week, which is the last of your first trimester. Your baby's kidneys are functioning! After swallowing amniotic fluid, your baby will now be able to pass it out of the body as urine. And the intestines will make their way into the abdomen, since there is room for them now. Your Body Has anyone told you that you have that "pregnant glow"? It's not just the joy you may feel because you're having a baby — there's a physiological reason for smoother, more radiant skin during pregnancy. Increased blood volume and pregnancy hormones work together to give you that glow. The greater blood volume brings more blood to the blood vessels and hormones increase oil gland secretion, resulting in a flushed, plumper, smoother skin appearance. Sometimes, though, the increased oil gland secretion can cause temporary acne.
Your Baby's Development As you begin the second trimester of pregnancy, your placenta has developed and is providing your baby with oxygen, nutrients, and waste disposal. The placenta also produces the hormones progesterone and estrogen, which help to maintain the pregnancy. Your Body At your first prenatal appointment, your health care provider probably gave you a prescription for prenatal vitamins. Taking these supplements, in addition to eating a healthy diet, ensures your baby gets additional vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid, zinc, iron, and calcium, which are necessary for growth and development. Talk to your pharmacist about the best way to take your vitamins, such as whether they should be taken with food or beverages. By now, the baby's eyelids have fused together to protect the eyes as they develop. Once you take your newborn home, you might be wishing for those eyes to close once in a while so you can get some rest! Your baby may also be able to put a thumb in his or her mouth this week, although the sucking muscles aren't completely developed yet.
Your Baby's Development By this week, some fine hairs have developed on your baby's face. This soft colorless hair is called lanugo, and it will eventually cover most of your baby's body until it is shed just before delivery. By now, your baby's genitals have fully developed, though they may still be difficult to detect on an ultrasound examination. In addition, your baby starts to produce thyroid hormones because the thyroid gland has matured. Your baby now weighs about 1.6 ounces (45 grams) and is about 3.5 inches (9 cm) long from crown to rump. Your Body Under certain circumstances (for example, if you're older than 35 or if your screening tests indicated that there may be a problem with the fetus), your health care provider may discuss amniocentesis with you. Amniocentesis is a test usually done between 15 and 18 weeks that can detect abnormalities in a fetus, such as Down syndrome. During this test, a very thin needle is inserted into the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby in the uterus and a sample of the fluid is taken and analyzed. Amniocentesis does carry a very slight risk of miscarriage, so talk to your health care provider about your concerns and the risks and advantages of the test.
Your Baby's Development Parents are often amazed by the softness of their newborn's skin. Your baby’s skin has been continuously developing, and it is so thin and translucent that you can see the blood vessels through it. Hair growth continues on the eyebrows and the head. Your baby's ears are almost in position now, although they are still set a bit low on the head. Internally, your baby's skeletal system continues to develop. Muscle development continues too, and your baby is probably making lots of movements with his or her head, mouth, arms, wrists, hands, legs, and feet. Your Body Has it sunk in yet that you're pregnant? Many women say that it isn't until they trade in their jeans for maternity clothes and others start noticing their swelling abdomens that the reality of pregnancy sets in. For many, this realization is both joyful and scary. It's normal to feel as if you're on an emotional roller coaster (you have your hormones to thank). Another thing you may be feeling? Scatterbrained. Even the most organized women report that pregnancy somehow makes them forgetful, clumsy, and unable to concentrate. Try to keep the stress in your life to a minimum and take your "mental lapses" in stride — they're only temporary.
Your Baby's Development Your baby now weighs about 3.9 ounces (110 grams) and measures about 4.7 inches (12 cm) in length from crown to rump. Your baby can hold his or her head erect, and the development of facial muscles allows for a variety of expressions, such as squinting and frowning. Your Body Between weeks 16 and 18 of pregnancy, your health care provider may offer you a second trimester screening test (known as the multiple marker test or triple screen), which measures the levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a protein produced by the fetus, and the pregnancy hormones hCG and estriol in the mother's blood. It's called a quadruple screen (or quad screen) when the level of an additional substance, called inhibin-A, is also measured. If you have already done a blood test and/or ultrasound in the first trimester (first trimester screening test), then the results of the two tests together is called an integrated screening test. The results of these tests can tell moms whether their babies are at risk for (not whether they have) neural tube defects such as spina bifida or chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome. An abnormal result does not necessarily mean that your baby has a problem — but it may mean more testing is required. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and advantages of these tests.
Your Baby's Development At about 5.1 inches (13 cm) from crown to rump and weighing 4.9 ounces (140 grams), your baby is still very tiny. The placenta, which nourishes the fetus with nutrients and oxygen and removes wastes, is growing to accommodate your baby. It now contains thousands of blood vessels that bring nutrients and oxygen from your body to your baby's developing body. Your Body You may notice that your breasts have changed considerably since your pregnancy began. Hormones are preparing your breasts for milk production — more blood is flowing to the breasts, and the glands that produce milk are growing in preparation for breastfeeding. This can increase your breast size (many women increase one to two cup sizes) and cause veins to become visible. Buy supportive bras in a variety of sizes to accommodate your breast growth during pregnancy.
Your Baby's Development Ears move to their final position and they stand out from the head. And start brushing up on your lullabies — in the coming weeks, your baby will probably be able to hear! The bones of the middle ear and the nerve endings from the brain are developing so that your baby will hear sounds such as your heartbeat and blood moving through the umbilical cord. He or she may even be startled by loud noises! Your baby's eyes are also developing — they're now facing forward rather than to the sides, and the retinas may be able to detect the beam of a flashlight if you hold it to your abdomen. Until now, your baby's bones had been developing but were still soft. This week, they begin to harden, or ossify. Some of the first bones to ossify are those in the clavicles and the legs. Your Body You're probably beginning to prepare for life with baby. Your preparations should extend beyond gathering the layette and decorating the nursery, though. This is a good week to begin your search for a pediatrician or other health care provider for your child. Schedule visits to meet with potential doctors to discuss issues such as appointment availability and when to call in an emergency. You'll also want to learn as much as you can about their practices and procedures. Some good questions to ask: How many health care providers are in the practice? Who covers nights and weekends? What is their policy on phone calls? Which hospitals are they affiliated with? What insurance do they accept? What specialists do they work with? How are emergencies handled? It's important that you feel comfortable with your child's doctor, so do your homework and make your decision carefully.
Your Baby's Development Your baby is now covered with a white, waxy substance called vernix caseosa, which helps prevent delicate skin from becoming chapped or scratched. Premature babies may be covered in this cheesy coating at delivery. Your baby is still tiny, but this week brings the development of brown fat, which will help keep your baby warm after birth. During the last trimester, your baby will add more layers of fat for warmth and protection. Your Body Your constant concern for your baby's health may give way to reassurance if you feel your baby's first movements, which often happens between weeks 18 and 20. These first movements are known as quickening, and they may feel like butterflies in your stomach or a growling stomach. Later in your pregnancy, you'll feel kicks, punches, and possibly hiccups! Each baby has different movement patterns, but if you're concerned or if the movements have decreased in frequency or intensity, talk to your doctor. Many women wonder around this time whether having sex will hurt their developing baby, and the answer is no. Sex is considered safe at all stages of pregnancy, as long as your pregnancy is normal. But that doesn't necessarily mean you're going to want to have it. Many expectant women find that their desire for sex fluctuates during the various stages of pregnancy, depending on their fatigue, growing size, anxiousness over the birth, and a host of other body changes. Keep the lines of communication with your partner open as these issues come up. Even though you may both be preoccupied with the baby, it's also important to have some "together time."
Your Baby's Development You're halfway there! Twenty weeks into your pregnancy, your baby has grown significantly from that first dividing cell and now weighs about 11 ounces (312 grams) and measures about 6.3 inches (16 cm) from crown to rump. The baby is taking up increasing room in your uterus, and continued growth will put pressure on your lungs, stomach, bladder, and kidneys. GrowUnder the vernix caseosa (a protective, waxy coating), your baby's skin is thickening and developing layers. Hair and nail growth continue. Your Body If you haven’t already had one, your health care provider may recommend that you receive an ultrasound, a diagnostic test that uses sound waves to create an image. An ultrasound can determine the size and position of the fetus, and any structural abnormalities of bones and organs that are visible by this time. Depending on the position of the fetus, the sex can usually be determined by now. During an ultrasound, the umbilical cord, placenta, and amniotic fluid can also be examined. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and advantages of this test.
Your Baby's Development The amniotic fluid that has cushioned and supported your baby in the uterus now serves another purpose. The intestines have developed enough that small amounts of sugars can be absorbed from the fluid that is swallowed and passed through the digestive system to the large bowel. Almost all of your baby's nourishment, however, still comes from you through the placenta. Until now your baby's liver and spleen have been responsible for the production of blood cells. But now the bone marrow spaces are developed enough to contribute to blood cell formation as well, and bone marrow will become the major site of blood cell production in the third trimester and after birth. (The spleen will stop producing blood cells by week 30, and the liver will stop a few weeks before birth.) Your Body Is exercise safe during pregnancy? Exercise can be a great way to stay in shape during pregnancy and can even keep some symptoms — such as varicose veins, excessive weight gain, and backache — to a minimum. But pregnancy is not the time to start training for a triathlon — going slowly is the name of the game. Because ligaments become more relaxed during pregnancy, you're at higher risk for injury, so low- or non-impact exercise such as yoga, swimming, and walking are your best bets. Talk to your health care provider before beginning any exercise program while you're pregnant.
Your Baby's Development The senses your baby will use to learn about the world are developing daily. Taste buds have started to form on the tongue, and the brain and nerve endings are formed enough so that the fetus can feel touch. Your baby may experiment with this newfound sense of touch by stroking his or her face or sucking on a thumb, as well as feeling other body parts and seeing how they move. Your baby's reproductive system is continuing to develop, too. In boys, the testes have begun to descend from the abdomen, and in girls, the uterus and ovaries are in place and the vagina is developed. Your Body If you haven’t felt them already, you may soon notice your uterus practicing for delivery with irregular, painless contractions called Braxton Hicks contractions. You may feel a squeezing sensation in your abdomen. Don't worry, though: Your baby may be able to feel the contraction as it squeezes the uterus, but Braxton Hicks contractions aren't dangerous or harmful. If, however, the contractions become more intense, painful, or frequent, contact your health care provider immediately because painful, regular contractions may be a sign of preterm labor.
Your Baby's Development Even though fat is beginning to accumulate on your baby's body, the skin still hangs loosely, giving your baby a wrinkled appearance. Your baby's daily workout routine includes moving the muscles in the fingers, toes, arms, and legs regularly. As a result, you may feel more forceful movements. By now your baby weighs a little more than 1 pound (454 grams). If preterm labor and delivery were to occur this week, a baby could survive with expert medical care, but might have mild to severe disabilities. With increasing research and knowledge in the field of fetal medicine, the long-term prognosis for premature babies (preemies) improves every year. Your Body The closer you get to your delivery date, the more trouble you may have sleeping. Anxiety, frequent urination, heartburn, leg cramps, and general discomfort can translate into a short night's sleep for a pregnant woman. But your baby's health and your own depend on you getting adequate rest. Try a warm bath, soothing music, a relaxing book, or a cup of herbal tea to put you in the mood to snooze. Many doctors recommend that pregnant women sleep on their sides, not their backs or stomachs, so that blood flow to the placenta is not restricted. If you find this uncomfortable, try placing a pillow between your knees to relieve the pressure of your weight while lying on your side.
Your Baby's Development Your baby is still receiving oxygen through the placenta. But once birth occurs, his or her lungs will start taking in oxygen on their own. In preparation for that, your baby's lungs are developing the ability to produce surfactant. Surfactant is a substance that keeps the air sacs in our lungs from collapsing and sticking together when we exhale, allowing us to breathe properly. Because the inner ear — which controls balance in the body — is now completely developed, your baby may be able to tell when he or she is upside down or right side up while floating and making movements in the amniotic fluid. Your Body An important prenatal test, glucose screening, is usually performed sometime during weeks 24 to 28. The glucose screening test checks for gestational diabetes, a temporary type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and can cause problems in the newborn, such as low blood sugar. Gestational diabetes may also increase the chances that a woman would need a cesarean section because it can lead to the growth of very large babies. During the glucose screening test, you'll drink a sugary solution and then have your blood drawn. If your blood sugar levels are too high, you'll have further tests, which your health care provider will discuss with you. Gestational diabetes usually can be controlled by eating a well-planned diet and getting regular exercise, but sometimes medication, such as daily insulin, will be needed during the pregnancy.
Your Baby's Development You may notice that your baby has resting and alert periods. You'll notice fetal activity more readily when you are more sedentary. Your baby's hearing has continued to develop, too — he or she may now be able to hear your voice! Your Body Pregnancy can cause some unpleasant side effects when it comes to digestion. Not only does the hormone progesterone slow the emptying of the stomach, but it also relaxes the valve at the entrance to the stomach so that it doesn’t close properly. This allows acidic stomach contents to move upward into the esophagus. The result: reflux (also known as heartburn) that can make eating your favorite meals a nightmare. The expanding uterus puts additional pressure on the stomach in the last few months of pregnancy. Try eating smaller, more frequent meals, and avoid spicy and fatty foods.
Your Baby's Development Although your baby's eyes have been sealed shut for the last few months, they will soon open and begin to blink. Depending on ethnicity, some babies will be born with blue or gray-blue eyes (which may change color in the first year of life) and some will be born with brown or dark eyes. Eyelashes are growing in, as is more hair on the head. Your baby, weighing a little less than 2 pounds (907 grams), still looks wrinkly but will continue to gain weight steadily over the next 14 weeks until birth. Your Body Your uterus provides a safe haven for your baby before birth. But what about after delivery? Your baby will be moving about your home in what seems like no time at all. Take the time now to safeguard your home by babyproofing. Covering electrical outlets, removing choking hazards, installing smoke alarms, and blocking off staircases are just some of the steps to ensuring your child's safety. Take every precaution you can think of, but remember: No amount of babyproofing can substitute for careful supervision of your child.
Your Baby's Development By this first week of the third trimester, your baby looks similar to what he or she will look like at birth, except thinner and smaller. The lungs, liver, and immune system still need to fully mature, but if born now, your baby would have a very good chance of surviving. As hearing continues to develop, your baby may start to recognize your voice as well as your partner's. Sounds may be muffled, though, because the ears are still covered with vernix, the thick waxy coating that protects the skin from becoming chapped by the amniotic fluid. Your Body Your body instinctively nourishes and protects your baby during pregnancy, but caring for a newborn is a learned skill. Consider signing up for childbirth classes through your local community center or hospital to learn about topics such as labor, options for pain relief, what to expect after delivery, common newborn problems, babyproofing, breastfeeding and formula feeding, and infant CPR. Learning all you can about birth and babies will help you feel more confident, especially if you're a first-time parent.
Your Baby's Development Your baby now weighs about 2 pounds, 2 ounces (1,000 grams) and measures about 10 inches (25 cm) from crown to rump. At your next prenatal appointment, your health care provider may tell you whether your baby is headfirst or feet- or bottom-first (called breech position) in the womb. Babies who are in the breech position may need to be delivered by cesarean section. Your baby still has 2 months to change position, though, so don't worry if your baby is in the breech position right now. Most babies will switch positions on their own. The folds and grooves of your baby's brain continue to develop and expand. In addition, your baby continues to add layers of fat and has continued hair growth. Your Body Your health care provider probably sent you for some blood tests early in your pregnancy. One thing blood tests measure is the Rh factor, a substance found in the red blood cells of most people. If you don't have it (if you’re Rh negative) but your baby does (is Rh positive), there is potential for your baby to have health problems, such as jaundice and anemia. Your doctor can prevent these problems by giving you a vaccine called Rh immune globulin at 28 weeks and again after delivery.
Your Baby's Development Your baby continues to be active, and those first few flutters of movement have given way to hard jabs and punches that may take your breath away. If you notice a decrease in movement, do a fetal kick count: your baby should move at least 10 times in two hours. If your baby moves less, talk to your health care provider. Your Body During pregnancy, iron is important for replenishing the red blood cell supply. You should be eating at least 30 milligrams of iron each day. Because iron deficiency is common during pregnancy, your health care provider may recommend that you receive a blood test to check your iron level. If it's low, you may be prescribed an iron supplement.
Your Baby's Development Now weighing about 3 pounds (1,400 grams) and measuring about 10.8 inches (27 cm) from crown to rump, your baby continues to gain weight and layers of fat. This fat makes the baby look less wrinkly and will help provide warmth after birth. In preparation for respiration after birth, your baby will mimic breathing movements by repeatedly moving the diaphragm. Your baby can even get the hiccups, which you may feel as rhythmic twitches in your uterus. Your Body Constipation is a common complaint of pregnancy. The pregnancy hormones that allow you to maintain your pregnancy also slow the digestive process considerably. Exercising regularly and eating foods high in fiber, such as vegetables and whole grains, are great ways to keep everything regular.
Your Baby's Development By now your baby is urinating approximately several cups of urine a day into the amniotic fluid. He or she is also swallowing amniotic fluid, which is completely replaced several times a day. Excess fluid in the amniotic sac (known as polyhydramnios) may mean that the baby isn't swallowing normally or that there is a gastrointestinal obstruction. Inadequate fluid in the amniotic sac (oligohydramnios) may mean that the baby isn't urinating properly and could indicate a problem with the kidneys or urinary tract. Your health care provider will measure your levels of amniotic fluid as part of your routine ultrasound. Your Body Have you decided whether to breastfeed or formula feed your baby? Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breast milk as the best form of infant nutrition, the decision about how to feed your child is a personal one. Talk to your health care provider or a lactation consultant if you need more information before making your choice. The milk glands in your breasts may have started to make colostrum by now. Colostrum is the pre-milk that provides your baby with calories and nutrients for the first few days before your milk comes in if you plan to breastfeed. For some women, it is thin and watery. For others, it is thick and yellowish. If you notice your breasts leaking colostrum, you can buy disposable or washable breast pads to protect your clothing.
Your Baby's Development The final touches are being placed on your baby masterpiece. Eyelashes, eyebrows, and the hair on your baby's head are evident. The lanugo hair that has covered your baby since the beginning of the second trimester is falling off, although some may remain on the shoulders and back at birth. At about 4 pounds (1,800 grams) and 11.4 inches (29 cm) from crown to rump, your baby would have an excellent chance of survival outside the womb if you delivered now. Your Body During your prenatal visits, your health care provider will monitor your blood pressure, urine, and any swelling that may develop, but symptoms such as sudden weight gain, swelling in the hands or face, headaches, or changes in vision can be signs of preeclampsia. This condition causes high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms, since this condition can affect both the mother and fetus during the second half of pregnancy.
Your Baby's Development In these last few weeks before delivery, the billions of developed neurons in your baby's brain are helping him or her to learn about the in-utero environment — your baby can listen, feel, and even see somewhat. Your baby’s eyes can detect light and the pupils can constrict and dilate in response to light. Like a newborn, your baby sleeps much of the time and even experiences the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, the sleep stage during which our most vivid dreams occur! Your baby's lungs are almost completely matured. Fat will continue to be deposited on your baby's body for protection and warmth. Babies gain a good deal of their weight in the final few weeks before birth. Your Body With labor and delivery only 2 months away, you may be considering how you'll cope with pain during childbirth. Among the things you'll want to learn about are the most commonly used techniques for pain relief. These include breathing techniques such as those taught in Lamaze classes, pain-relief medications given through injection, and epidurals, where doctors can give an anesthetic by means of a soft, thin catheter that's placed in your lower back. Whatever your ultimate choice, the more you know, the better informed your decision can be. Although you don't have to make a decision yet, talk to your health care provider now about your choices.
Your Baby's Development Maternal calcium intake is extremely important during pregnancy because the baby will draw calcium from the mother to make and harden bone. If a pregnant woman doesn't get enough calcium during pregnancy, it can affect her own bones because the developing fetus will take minerals from the mother's skeletal structure as needed. The vernix coating on the baby's skin is becoming thicker, whereas lanugo hair is almost completely gone. By now most babies will be in position for delivery. Your health care provider can tell you if your baby is positioned head- or bottom-first. Babies born at 34 weeks usually have fairly well-developed lungs, and their average size of 5 pounds (2,250 grams) and 12.6 inches (32 cm) from crown to rump allows them to survive outside the womb without extensive medical intervention. Your Body Fatigue is a common complaint of late pregnancy. Difficulty sleeping, aches and pains, weight gain, and anxiety about labor, delivery, and taking care of a newborn may contribute to your exhaustion. Rest as much as you can and take naps if possible.
Your Baby's Development Your baby already weighs about 5 pounds, 5 ounces (2,400 grams), but this week begins your baby's most rapid period of weight gain — about 8 to 12 ounces (226 to 340 grams) each week! Fat is being deposited all over your baby's body, especially around the shoulders. Because of this increasing size, your baby is now cramped and restricted inside the uterus — so fetal movements may decrease, but they may be stronger and more forceful. If your baby is in a headfirst position, his or her head will rest on your pubic bone in preparation for labor. Your Body The bond you may already feel with the baby growing inside of you will only grow stronger once your baby is born. Bonding — the intense attachment that develops between you and your baby — is not something that only occurs within minutes or days after birth. It may happen later and it may develop over time. Bonding not only makes you want to protect your baby and shower him or her with affection, but it also fosters your baby's sense of security in the world outside your womb.
Your Baby's Development The wrinkly, tiny fetus you may have seen on earlier ultrasounds has given way to an almost plump baby. There is fat on your baby’s cheeks, and powerful sucking muscles also contribute to your baby's full face. Your baby now weighs a little under 6 pounds (2,721 grams). The bones that make up your baby’s skull can move relative to one another and overlap each other while your baby’s head is inside your pelvis. This phenomenon is called molding, and it helps the baby pass through the birth canal. Don't be surprised if your baby arrives with a pointy or misshapen head! After a few hours or days, your baby's head will be back to a rounded shape. Your Body Starting this week, you may begin to see your health care provider every week. Your doctor or midwife may give you an internal exam to determine if cervical effacement (thinning of the cervix) or dilation (opening of the cervix) has begun. You may experience engagement (also known as lightening), which is when the baby drops into the mother's pelvis in preparation for labor. Your appetite may return because the baby is no longer putting as much pressure on your stomach and intestines, and if you've been experiencing heartburn, the baby's descent may somewhat alleviate it.
Your Baby's Development By now, your baby has developed enough coordination to grasp with the fingers. If shown a bright light, your baby may He or she continues to gain weight — developing fat at the rate of half an ounce (14 grams) a day. In general, boys weigh more than girls at birth. Your Body After this week, you may lose the mucous plug that sealed off your uterus from infection. The mucous plug can be lost a few weeks, days, or hours before labor and is thick, yellowish, and may be tinged with blood (the mucous plug is also called bloody show). As the cervix dilates in preparation for the labor, the plug is discharged from the body. Be sure to speak with your health care provider about any discharge you may be having.
Your Baby's Development Your baby weighs about 6 pounds, 6 ounces (2,900 grams) by now and measures about 13.4 inches (34 cm) in length from crown to rump. Fat is still accumulating, although growth is slower now. You may notice that your weight gain has decreased or ceased. Since your baby has had the muscles to suck and swallow amniotic fluid, waste material has been accumulating in his or her intestines. Cells shed from the intestines, dead skin cells, and lanugo hair are some of the waste products that contribute to meconium, a greenish-black substance that constitutes your baby's first bowel movement. If you're having a boy, his testicles have descended into the scrotum, unless he has a condition called undescended testicle. If you're having a girl, the labia are now completely developed. Your Body Because your baby is engaged in your pelvis, your bladder is extremely compressed, making frequent bathroom trips a necessity. Have you and your partner made a decision about circumcision? Circumcision is a surgical procedure to remove the foreskin of the penis in male babies. For some parents the decision to circumcise is a religious one. For others, the choice is not as easily made. Talk to your health care provider about the issues surrounding circumcision, including pain relief options for the baby.
Your Baby's Development Umbilical cords, which carry nutrients from the placenta to the baby, vary in size but average about 22 inches (55 cm) long and half an inch (1-2 cm) thick. Sometimes the umbilical cord can become wrapped around a baby’s neck. Generally, this doesn’t cause problems, although a cesarean delivery could be required if it causes pressure on the umbilical cord during labor or delivery. A true knot in the umbilical cord is much less common, occurring in only about 1% of pregnancies. Most of the vernix that covered your baby's skin has disappeared, as has the lanugo. Your body has been supplying the baby with antibodies through the placenta that will help the baby's immune system fight infection for the first 6-12 months of life. Your Body Braxton Hicks contractions may become more pronounced. Also called "false labor," these contractions may be as painful and strong as true labor contractions but do not become regular and do not increase in frequency as true contractions do. Another sign of labor, the rupture of your amniotic sac, could happen any day now. When their water breaks, some women experience a large gush of water and some feel a steady trickle. Many women don’t experience their water breaking until they’re well into labor. Others need to have their water broken by their health care providers to get their labor started or to speed it up. If you think your water has broken or you are experiencing regular contractions, contact your health care provider.
You Baby's Development After many weeks of anticipation and preparation, your baby is here! Or maybe not — only 5% of women deliver on their estimated due dates, and many first-time mothers find themselves waiting up to 2 weeks after their due date for their baby to arrive. A baby born at 40 weeks weighs, on average, about 7 pounds, 4 ounces (3,300 grams) and measures about 20 inches (51 cm). Don't expect your baby to look like the Gerber baby right off the bat — newborns often have heads temporarily misshapen from the birth canal and may be covered with vernix and blood. Your baby's skin may have skin discolorations, dry patches, and rashes — these many variations are completely normal. Because of the presence of your hormones in your baby's system, your baby's genitals (scrotum in boys and labia in girls) may appear enlarged. Your baby, whether a boy or a girl, may even secrete milk from the tiny nipples. This should disappear in a few days and is completely normal. Right after birth, your health care provider will suction mucus out of your baby's mouth and nose, and you'll hear that long-awaited first cry. Your baby may then be placed on your stomach, and the umbilical cord will be cut — often by the baby's dad, if he chooses to do the honors! A series of quick screening tests, such as the Apgar score, will be performed to assess your baby's responsiveness and vital signs, and he or she will be weighed and measured. If your pregnancy was high risk, or if a cesarean section was necessary, a neonatologist (a doctor who specializes in newborn intensive care) will be present at your delivery to take care of your baby right away. If your baby needs any special care to adjust to life outside the womb, it will be given — and then your newborn will be placed in your waiting arms. Your Body This week you'll experience the moment you've been anticipating — your introduction to your baby! Before you can meet your baby, though, you have to go through labor and delivery. You may have learned about the three stages of birth in your prenatal classes. The first stage of labor works to thin and stretch your cervix by contracting your uterus at regular intervals. The second stage of labor is when you push your baby into the vaginal canal and out of your body. The third and final stage of labor is when you deliver the placenta. If you don't go into labor within a week of your due date, your health care provider may recommend you receive a nonstress test, which monitors fetal heart rate and movement to be sure that the baby is receiving adequate oxygen and that the nervous system is responding. Talk to your health care provider to find out more about this test. Sometimes mother nature may need a little coaxing. If your labor isn't progressing, or if your health or your baby's health requires it, your health care provider may induce labor by artificially rupturing the membranes or by administering the hormone oxytocin or other medications. If your pregnancy is high risk, or if there are any other potential complications, you may require a cesarean section delivery. Some women know ahead of time that they will be delivering via cesarean section and are able to schedule their baby's "birth day" well in advance. If you're one of them, you've probably been able to prepare yourself emotionally and mentally for the birth — which can help to lessen the feelings of disappointment that many mothers who are unable to deliver vaginally experience. But even if you have to undergo a cesarean section that wasn't planned, rest assured that you'll still be able to bond with your baby. It might not be the birth experience you imagined, but your beautiful newborn has arrived nonetheless. The months of waiting are over! Good luck with your baby!