Week

1st Week

What happens in the first week of pregnancy?

By convention, gynecologists count pregnancy from the 1st day of your last period. This is because it is difficult to pinpoint the exact day of ovulation. Menstruation is a more reliable indicator for dating pregnancy, one a woman cannot miss. Therefore, in the first week of pregnancy, you are not actually pregnant. At this stage, your uterus sheds the inner layer that covers its cavity, i.e. the endometrium, to prepare for the next cycle and subsequent possible pregnancy. 

If you have just had a pregnancy test and it came out positive, then this is not actually your 1st week of pregnancy. You could be anywhere from the 4th week onwards. Feel free to skip those first few weeks. 

Symptoms

Your symptoms are those of a classic period and include: 

  • Vaginal bleeding. The epithelium that covers the uterine cavity is slowly shed, passes through your cervix, and ends up on your underwear/sanitary pad through your vagina. 
  • Back pain or abdominal cramping. The uterus makes contractions to completely shed its inner lining. These contractions are similar to what a muscle does when you move. Even though you cannot control these contractions, you can feel them through the pain they cause in your abdomen or lower back. 
  • Bloating. Progesterone, which is the hormone that is mainly produced during the second half of your cycle, can cause fluid retention, or make your belly full of gas. Despite the fact that progesterone levels drop through this phase, you can still feel its effects. 
  • Mood swings. Due to hormonal fluctuations, menses can greatly affect your emotions. Irritability or anger is what most women feel at this phase. Does this ring a bell? 
  • Headache. Menstrual migraines are commonly reported by women during their period. Once again, they are hormone-related. Common painkillers and relaxing exercises can help you ease the pain. 

Tips

If you are trying to conceive, then there is no better time to get rid of any unhealthy habits you may still have, such as smoking or alcohol consumption. Try cooking for yourself and avoid fast food. Coffee is important since it keeps you awake; however, you should cut back on caffeine at this point. Try drinking no more than two cups of coffee every day. 

 You can start taking 400mcg of folic acid daily. Folic acid, ideally when started one month before conception, can help the baby grow and protects it from neural defects. 

 Keeping track of your period in a diary or through a mobile app will help you calculate your gestational age more accurately and better relate your symptoms to the week of your pregnancy. Well, time to start tracking. 

2nd Week

What happens in the 2nd week of pregnancy?

Because gynecologists count gestational age from the first day of the last period, in the second week of pregnancy you are not actually pregnant. To be precise, your ovary is now preparing for ovulation. The follicle, which will release the egg, usually on the 14th-15th day of your cycle, is still developing. Therefore, this week your body is working hard to get ready to conceive. 

At this stage, your period is over and all the annoying symptoms that come with it have now disappeared. The inner lining that used to cover your uterine cavity has been shed and a new layer is now forming under the influence of estradiol, which is the main hormone of the first half of your cycle. 

Symptoms

  • Increased sex drive. During this phase of the cycle, most women report an increased libido. This usually peaks around ovulation. Your instincts are telling you to make some babies. 
  • Increased vaginal discharge. As ovulation approaches, vaginal secretions usually change in texture and become more watery and clearer. These changes help establish a more favorable environment for the sperm to reach the egg and fertilize it. 
  • Abdominal pain. Around ovulation, a small amount of blood usually escapes from the point, from which the egg is released. This blood is released in the abdomen and can irritate the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity. This can cause discomfort, usually mild, and it is why some women can perceive their ovulation. 

Tips

If you are trying to conceive, it is important to increase your sexual activity as you get closer to the middle of your cycle and therefore the day of ovulation. You can get the best results if you have intercourse every 2-3 days. 

 Track your period and try calculating the exact day of your ovulation. Keep in mind that, while the egg survives for about 24 hours, the sperm can survive for up to 5 days. Therefore, you can plan your sexual activity based on that knowledge. There are various applications, specially designed for mobile phones or tablets, that can assist you in this process. These apps can track your period and inform you about your fertile window. 

 Abstain from any unhealthy habits, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, or junk food. 

 Taking 400mcg of folic acid daily can protect your baby from neural defects. 

3rd Week

What happens in the 3rd week of pregnancy?

Fertilization 

This is the 3rd week since your last period. At some point during this week or at the end of the previous one, ovulation typically occurs. Because the egg can survive for a maximum of 24 hours, fertilization can happen only in this short time frame. Fertilization takes place approximately in the middle of the fallopian tube, i.e. the salpinx, which is the organ that carries the egg from the ovary to the uterus. After fertilization has occurred, the egg, which is now called the zygote, begins to divide rapidly, while it travels towards the uterine cavity. It usually takes 3 days for the zygote to reach its destination. Once it arrives in the uterus, it takes another 2-3 days for the implantation to begin, i.e. the burrowing of the fertilized egg, now called the blastocyst, into the uterine wall. A small amount of blood may escape from the site of implantation during this phase. 

After implantation has occurred, pregnancy officially begins. However, if you take a pregnancy test at this point, then it will probably come out negative. This is because β-hCG, which is the main hormone of pregnancy and responsible for supporting and maintaining it, rises gradually. Therefore, it takes about 7 days from implantation, to detect it in your blood and a little bit longer to detect it in your urine. If you already had your first positive pregnancy test, then you are at least 4 weeks pregnant. 

Fetal size

Your baby is just a mass of cells at this point and smaller than a grain of sugar.

Symptoms

  • SpottingBlood can escape from the implantation site at this point and stain your underwear. This is normal and there is no need to worry. Many women may get confused and consider this to be their last period. Thus, they miscalculate their gestational age. It is rather easy to distinguish spotting from your menses, as neither the amount of blood nor the duration is that of a typical period. 
  • Nausea. Morning sickness is slowly making its first appearance as βhCG rises. During this week, nausea is usually mild, however, in the following weeks, it is expected to become quite intense. Start making a list of the foods that upset your stomach and try to avoid them. 
  • Sore breastsYour breasts have gotten bigger and may have become heavier or even sore. The nipple may have also started getting darker. These changes occur under the influence oyour rising hormones and are totally normal 

Tips

A negative pregnancy test does not necessarily mean that you are not pregnant. Do not get discouraged. Give it some time and try again after a few days. During this phase, the β-hCG doubles almost every 48 hours. Continue taking your folic acid daily and keep track of your symptoms. 

 Even if the pregnancy test comes out positive, eat responsibly. The notion “I eat for two” does simply not apply and can result in significant weight gain. At the beginning of pregnancy and during the first months, your calorie needs are about the same as before. 

 If you are the athletic type you can continue your regular exercise. If not, then now would be a good time to start. Moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, yoga, pilates, or swimming, is ideal for pregnant women and beneficial for you and your baby. So, let’s break a sweat. 

4th Week

Fetal size

Poppy seed

What happens in the 4th week of pregnancy?

By that time you have probably missed a period and decided to take a pregnancy test. So, if you have just found out that you are pregnant, then congratulations! In any case, you are still in the very beginning. You cannot actually tell how far along you are until you visit your gynecologist for the first time. So, you can now share the good news with your partner or wait until you have confirmed the pregnancy with an ultrasoundYou might have already observed the first signs of pregnancy. They are still hardly noticeable, but will get clearer in the weeks to come. The βhCG and progesterone, the two main hormones of pregnancy, are responsible for the changes your body is going through. 

Fetal size

Your baby is already growing inside your wombbut you can’t feel that yetIt is still rather small and no bigger than a poppy seed. During this week, the implantation of the blastocyst in your uterus continues and the structures that will support nutrient exchange from your circulation to the fetus are gradually formingEven though the baby’s heart has not formed yet, the neural tube, the structure that will give rise to the brain, the spinal cord, and the spine, has already been developed. The amniotic sac with the amniotic fluid, which will surround and protect the fetus until its birth, has slowly begun to form. The ultrasound may not be able to detect these minuscule changes, however, If you have a scan at this point, you will probably see a small dot inside your uterus, which is called the gestational sac. 

Symptoms

  • Bloating. The rising levels of progesterone can cause fluid retention and make your bowel move a bit more slowly than before. Your belly gets bigger and full of gas. Time to get rid of those tight jeans.
  • Abdominal cramping. You may have started feeling slight discomfort in your belly, like when you are about to have your period. This is usually normal and is an indicator that the blastocyst has properly been implanted in your uterus. If the pain is severe or if you notice bloody discharge, then you should contact your gynecologist.
  • Spotting. Few drops of blood may escape from the site of implantation. This is not something to worry about, but rather quite common. The amount of blood is usually small and should not be perceived as your missed period.
  • Nausea. As pregnancy progresses and β-hCG rises, nausea gets worse. Despite being called morning sickness, meaning that it is typically present in the morning, many women have symptoms throughout the day. Prefer foods that calm your stomach and try eating small and frequent meals.
  • Mood swings. The hormonal fluctuation of this period can affect your mood greatly. Find ways to relieve your stress and keep calm.
  • Fatigue. It is one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy. Many women feel exhausted during the first trimester, but fortunately, fatigue subsides after the 13th week.
  • Sore breasts. Your breasts have grown considerably and you might also feel soreness or even pain. The surging hormones have already started preparing your body for breastfeeding.

Tips

Your body has already gone through significant changes. If your clothes have gotten tighter, do not stress about it. Fluid retention and bloating make your clothes harder to fit. Prefer loose clothes, such as baggy jeans, sweat pants, or leggings. Adopt healthy eating habits and make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day. Boost your diet with foods high in fiber to avoid constipation. 

 Moderate-intensity exercise will help you maintain a healthy body weight and make you feel good and more energetic. 

 Continue taking your folic acid daily and schedule your first appointment with your gynecologist. 

5th Week

Fetal size

Seed of an apple

What happens in the 5th week of pregnancy?

This may be the first time you realize that you are pregnant because you decided to take a pregnancy test and came out positive. You might have missed a period or you may have symptoms that you have never had before. Whatever the case, this is the 5th week of your pregnancy. Welcome to the club! 

You are already in the second month of pregnancy. Gynecologists count pregnancy from your last period and not from the actual time of conception. This is because women find it difficult to pinpoint the exact day of ovulation. Instead, menstruation is harder to miss. The first month of pregnancy is already over. It wasn’t that hard, was it? 

Fetal size

From now on your baby is called an embryo and at this stage, its size is about 2mm, a little smaller than a seed of an apple. The first 3 months of pregnancy are extremely important since, during these months, most organs are formed and developed, including the brain, heart, stomach, and limbs. This is called organogenesis. Many factors can affect or even impair this process. Therefore, in this period, it is crucial that you avoid anything that can harm your baby. Now is the time to quit smoking, abstain from alcohol, and even limit your caffeine intake to one to two cups per day. Inform your doctor about your medication, if any, and ask for their opinion. 

Symptoms

Even though your symptoms this week seem mild, they are expected to get worse in the upcoming weeks. Many mothers-to-be report that the most challenging period of pregnancy is the first trimesterPatience is the key. So, sit tight! 

  • Nausea. As β-hCG rises, nausea gets worse. Avoid foods that could upset your stomach and go for smaller and more frequent meals. Make sure you drink plenty of water. If your symptoms prevent you from eating, consult your gynecologist, who will evaluate your situation and give you further instructions.
  • Sore breasts. Your breast might have gotten bigger, swollen, or tender. This is one of the common symptoms of pregnancy and is because your breasts are prepping for breastfeeding.
  • Frequent urination. Most women believe that this is one of the late symptoms of pregnancy. However, it is very common during the first trimester as well. Your blood volume has increased and your renal function has done so too, resulting in more urine production and more frequent urination.
  • Fatigue. This is one of the most bothersome symptoms of pregnancy. Make sure you rest as much as you need and follow a good bedtime routine. Keep in mind that your body works very hard to grow a baby, so indulge yourself in a few hours of rest and relaxation.

Tips

Continue taking 400mcg of folic acid daily. This will help your baby grow and protect it from neural defects. 

 Throughout pregnancy, but in the first trimester in particular, certain adjustments to your eating habits should be made. Avoid eating raw or incompletely cooked food, such as meat and fish. You should also be very diligent with the way you wash your vegetables. Finally, you should avoid unpasteurized milk or products made from it. 

 If you have a cat as a pet, then you should avoid coming in close contact with it or cleaning its litter box. If you work or meet with children often, you should be extra careful since certain infections can harm your baby. Follow proper hand hygiene and avoid kissing them or sharing food with them. In case you notice flu-like symptoms, contact your gynecologist.  

6th Week

Fetal size

Lentil

What happens in the 6th week of pregnancy?

This is the 6th week of your pregnancy, which means that you are about 1,5 months pregnant. It is only normal that you want to share the good news with your friends, but maybe you should keep your secret a little bit longerfor at least till the end of the 1st trimester. If your partner does not know yet, then it is a good time to start looking for ways to break the news. There are many sites that can help you find creative ideas to make this moment even more special. If pregnancy makes you feel anxious or scared, then you should start talking about your emotions with someone close to you. This will help you feel better and calm your nervesIn any case, this week, you should schedule your first appointment with your gynecologist. 

Fetal size

Your baby is still quite small but is growing fast. Its length is about a half-centimeter, i.e. the size of a lentil. It has started developing most of its organs, such as the intestine, the diaphragm, and the kidneys. From the points out of which the eyes, the ears, and the limbs will grow, small lumps have started forming. Your baby’s heart is now beating faster, however, a heartbeat may still not be audible by ultrasound. Don’t get discouraged. Most likely it is still too early. In the next week or two, you will be able to hear your baby’s heart beating loud and clear. 

If your gynecologist performs an ultrasound this week, you will be able to see the gestational sac in your uterus. Inside the sac, you will also see the fetus along with the yolk sac, which is one of the important structures of early fetal development. 

Symptoms

  • Nausea. Nausea is one of the typical symptoms of the first trimester. It can also be combined with an aversion to certain foods. Prefer something that settles your stomach and try eating small and frequent meals. 
  • Fatigue. You feel exhausted and this is only natural. You are still adapting to the extreme changes your body is going through. Find some time to rest and relax. Keep in mind your energy levels return back to normal in the second trimester. 
  • Sore breasts. Pregnancy hormones make your breasts grow, so you may feel them swollen or even tender. A well-supporting bra can offer you significant relief.  
  • Bloating and constipation. The rising progesterone levels make your bowel move a bit more slowly. To avoid constipation, make sure you drink plenty of water and boost your fiber intake. 
  • Abdominal cramping. As your uterus grows, the ligaments that hold it in place start stretching, causing discomfort in your tummy. This is usually mild, however, if it becomes intense, then you should probably contact your doctor. 

Tips

If you have not started taking folic acid yet, now is the time to do so. Folic acid helps your baby grow and protects it from neural defects. 

 Abstain from unhealthy habits that can harm you or your baby, such as smoking or alcohol consumption. Pay attention to your calorie intake. You may feel like you are eating for two, however, your needs have only slightly increased compared to before pregnancy. 

 Now is a good time to start creating a pregnancy diary. Take a picture of your belly every week, paste it into a book, and write down your thoughts. This way you can keep your memories from pregnancy alive and share them with your child when it grows older. 

 Schedule your first appointment with your gynecologist. They will confirm and date your pregnancy more precisely. They will also give you a list of tests, i.e. your first check-up, which is part of the prenatal screening. 

7th Week

Fetal size

Size of a bean

What happens in the 7th week of pregnancy?

You are in the 2nd month of your pregnancy and this may have caused a variety of emotions: joy, impatience, fear, anxiety. Whatever you’re feeling is normal. A baby is growing inside you, and it’s growing fast. 

Fetal Size

It has now reached 1cm and is the size of a bean. The brain and the heart are constantly developing and all the other organs along with them. Its arms and legs continue to grow, while its face begins to look more and more like that of a small human. 

In this week, an ultrasound will depict the sac of the pregnancy inside your uterus and inside the sac your baby. Its heart is beating fast now, and if your doctor focuses the probe of the ultrasound on it, you will be able to hear a faint heartbeat. Your uterus continues to grow, your pregnancy can not yet be perceived by those around you, though. Your secret is still well hidden. 

Symptoms

  • Nausea. In this week, nausea may have become quite intense. You can try eating small and frequent meals to tackle this symptom. Drinking water is important but you should try small amounts every time. If your symptoms are severe or do not allow you to eat properly, you should consult your gynecologist. 
  • Cravings or aversion to certain foods. Try not to overdo it with the cravings. Keep in mind that your calorie needs are about the same as before your pregnancy. Besides, most women tend to gain more pounds towards the end of the pregnancy. 
  • Frequent urination and constipation. Pregnancy changes your toilet habits. Changes in blood circulation cause more urine production and therefore more frequent visits to the toilet. Progesterone can slow down your bowel, leading to constipation. Foods high in fibers can be an important ally during this phase. 
  • Acne. You may have noticed that pregnancy affects your skin significantly. Hormones are to blame again. Progesterone, whose levels rise in pregnancy, can exacerbate or even cause acne. To fight this problem, you can visit your dermatologist, who will probably suggest a treatment safe for pregnancy. 
  • Mood swings. Whatever you’re feeling is normal. Your hormones have gone haywire and this may make your emotions intense and unpredictable. Arm yourself with patience and find activities that help you relax. 
  • Abdominal cramping. This usually happens because your uterus is growing. If the pain is severe, then you should inform your gynecologist. 

Tips

Eating properly is important at this stage. Avoid foods that might upset your stomach and follow a healthy diet. 

 Continue daily folic acid intake and quit any bad habits you may still have, such as smoking and alcohol. 

 If you used to exercise before the pregnancy, then fear not. You can continue your regular exercise. If not, then it’s an ideal opportunity to start now! Moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking or yoga, can be beneficial for your pregnancy. 

 Schedule your first appointment with a gynecologist, if you have not already done so. This week, your doctor will give you a series of tests to do, most of which are blood tests and are part of the prenatal screening. 

8th Week

Fetal size

Size of a grape

What happens in the 8th week of pregnancy?

You are almost 2 months pregnant. Time flies, but you still have a long way to go. Your baby is growing fast and your womb along with it, even though this is not apparent yet. 

Fetal size

Your baby has now reached 1.6 centimeters, the size of a grape. Its heart has almost taken its final shape, while its brain is rapidly developing. The limbs have begun to take their final form and the facial features resemble now those of a newborn. The gonads, i.e. the testicle or the ovary, have already begun to develop, however, the baby’s sex is still not apparent. This will happen after the 14th week of the pregnancy. 

At this stage, you have probably begun to notice that the symptoms of your pregnancy come stronger and stronger. However, this is not always the case, as some women may have only mild or no symptoms at all. Therefore, if you do not have the typical symptoms of pregnancy, this does not necessarily mean that something is wrong. In the ultrasound, this week, you will be able to hear with certainty your baby’s heartbeat. This is a sign that your pregnancy is going well. Your baby is now a miniature of a term baby, and it has already started making its first moves. When your doctor verifies that everything is normal regarding your pregnancy, he will ask you to do your first check-up, consisting mainly of blood tests, which is part of the prenatal screening. 

 

Symptoms

  • Nausea. During this week, nausea has probably started getting more intense. Avoid large meals cause this might upset your stomach. Instead, prefer eating smaller quantities and more frequently. If your symptoms are severe, contact your gynecologist. 
  • Fatigue. The hormonal fluctuations make you feel exhausted. Fortunately, fatigue usually subsides in the second trimester. Try to sleep well and follow a consistent sleep schedule. 
  • Chest pain. At this stage, you may have noticed that your breasts have grown considerably. Some women may also experience heaviness, soreness, or pain. These symptoms are normal and are due to the fact that your breasts are preparing for breastfeeding. 
  • Super-smell. This week you may start to detect odors from miles away. Strange as it may sound, this is also a result of your pregnancy. It can be unpleasant at times, especially when it is combined with morning sickness. 
  • Abdominal pain. This pain indicates that your uterus is growing. If it is not intense, then there is no reason to worry. 
  • Strange dreams. The stress of this period and the hormones of pregnancy are responsible for this as well. 
  • Constipation. Drink plenty of water and boost your fiber intake. You will be impressed with the results. 

Tips

If you have not already visited your gynecologist, now is the time. In addition to the tests that they will ask you to do, they will also ask you to schedule your first-trimester ultrasound, or in other words the nuchal translucency scan. This takes place between the 11th and the 13th week and checks the basic anatomy of your fetus. Based on various measurements it can also calculate the risk for chromosomal abnormalities. 

 Continue the daily folic acid intake and try following a healthy lifestyle. If you enjoy exercise, then moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, swimming, yoga, or pilates, is an ideal and safe option during pregnancy. 

9th Week

Fetal size

Βean

What happens in the 9th week of pregnancy?

You are in the 9th week of pregnancy, which means that you have now completed the 2nd month of your pregnancy. The baby inside you continues to grow and as the weeks go by, so do your chances for a successful pregnancy outcome. At this stage, the symptoms may become a bit more intense. Keep calm! You can be “comforted” by the thought that in the second trimester most symptoms usually subside. 

Fetal size

At this stage, your baby is a little bigger than 2cm, i.e. the size of a small cherry. It has already grown a lot but it still has a long way to go. On the ultrasound, this week, you will be able to see something that looks like a bean with little legs and arms, moving swiftly inside your womb. You will be also able to hear a strong heartbeat if your gynecologist focuses the probe of the ultrasound on your baby’s little heart. The basic features of its face have already been developed and the sexual differentiation into a boy or a girl has already begun. However, your doctor can not yet discern the sex of your baby. This will start to show from the 14th week onwards. 

Symptoms

  • Nausea. Maybe this week is worse than ever. Avoid large meals or foods that might upset your stomach. Drink plenty of water and make sure you stay hydrated, especially during the hot months. If this is not possible you should consider contacting your doctor, who will assess the need for further treatment. 
  • Heartburn. Progesterone, which normally rises in pregnancy, makes the esophageal sphincter, which is a muscular band at the top of your stomach, more relaxed. Thus, partially digested food can escape to the esophagus causing heartburn. Avoid eating large meals that are hard to digest or anything greasy with lots of spices. 
  • Fatigue. Unfortunately, this symptom is synonym to the first trimester. Try getting enough sleep and follow a good bedtime routine. 
  • Mood swings. By now, you have probably gotten used to the emotional rollercoaster that comes with pregnancy. Hormones seem to play a role in this. Try to stay composed and talk to your partner about how you feel. His support will be invaluable at this stage. 
  • Frequent urination. Changes in the circulatory and urinary system make the daily visits to the toilet more frequent. Do not postpone urination as this might increase your risk for urinary tract infections. UTIs may be responsible for various obstetric complications. 
  • Headache. Hormonal fluctuations and changes in your blood circulation can cause this annoying symptom. A little paracetamol will do the trick. 
  • Abdominal pain. Your uterus is growing, therefore the ligaments that support it in its position start to stretch. This can cause mild cramping in your belly, however, if the pain is not severe, then there is no need to worry. 

Tips

If you have not visited your gynecologist yet, now is the time to do so. They will probably ask you to take the first pregnancy check-up and schedule the nuchal translucency scan. This ultrasound checks your baby’s basic anatomy and estimates the risk your baby has for chromosomal abnormalities. 

Even though your belly is still small, your clothes may have become tighter. Do not stress about it. It does not necessarily mean that you have gotten fatter. Fluid retention caused by pregnancy makes you bloated and clothes harder to fit. Prefer garments that make you feel comfortable and do not push yourself. 

Start exercising. Moderate-intensity exercise is ideal for pregnancy. Choose the one that suits you best. Yoga, Pilates, swimming, resistance training, and walking are all safe for you. 

At this stage, it would be a good time to start thinking about some practical issues, such as what documents are needed for your maternity leave or opening a savings account to cover the first costs of your delivery. Good planning is the antidote to stress. Do not leave things to chance.

10th Week

Fetal size

Strawberry

What happens in the 10th week of pregnancy?

You have already reached the 10th week of your pregnancy and you may have started to wonder when your belly will start to grow. Be patient. Very soon you will start feeling your pants getting tighterNow, it might be a good idea to buy your first maternity clothes. 

Fetal size

Your baby is constantly growing and has now reached 3cm, i.e. the size of a strawberry. The heart, lungs, and limbs are now fully developed and by the end of this week, the development of the eyes will also be complete. The brain has already been developed, however, it continues to grow and become more complex by the day. 

Sexual differentiation has already begun and is expected to be completed at around the 14th week. However, the distinction between a boy or a girl by ultrasound may not be possible until later in your pregnancy. 

Symptoms

  • Fatigue. It is one of the first symptoms to occur during pregnancy. Fortunately, it usually subsides during the second trimester. Try getting a good night’s rest and follow a good bedtime routine, so you can feel more relaxed during the day.
  • Nausea. It remains present almost throughout the first trimester, but the good news is that it subsides in the second. A little more patience. Try eating small and frequent meals. It is important to stay hydrated, so make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Sore breasts. You may have already noticed that your breasts have grown considerably and at times they may feel heavy or even sore. All of these changes are normal while your body prepares for breastfeeding.
  • Mood swings. This is no news for you. You may have gotten used to crying for no apparent reason and then getting upset about the most trivial things. Hormones strongly influence your mood at this stage, so arm yourself with patience and try to maintain balance. If the people around you are unaware of your pregnancy, they may not be able to understand your sudden outbursts.
  • Increased vaginal discharge. It is normal during pregnancy. The increased blood flow to your uterus and vagina results in increased vaginal secretions. These secretions, other than being annoying, are particularly useful, as they increase the vagina’s defense against infections. If you notice, however, blood, foul odor, or irritation in the area, you should contact your doctor.

Tips

At this stage, it is important to follow a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Make sure you take folic acid daily to help your baby grow. 

Abstain from any unhealthy habits and start exercising, if you have not already done so. Moderate-intensity exercise (walking, yoga, pilates) for about 20-30 minutes per day is ideal for you at this stage and especially beneficial for your pregnancy. 

If you have not already done the tests requested by your doctor, now is the time to do so. You should also schedule the first major ultrasound of the pregnancy, the nuchal translucency scan. This ultrasound will check your baby’s basic anatomy and combined with the measurement of certain hormones in your blood, will assess the risk of the fetus having a chromosomal anomaly. In other words, it will check if your baby is healthy. In case of an abnormal result, your doctor will inform you about the additional actions that will be needed, usually chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis. 

11th Week

Fetal size

size of a walnut

What happens in the 11th week of pregnancy?

You are in the 11th week of your pregnancy, which means you are about 2,5 months pregnant. Although it may still not be apparent that a new life is growing inside you, your pregnancy will soon start to show. You may have noticed your scale rising in numbersThis is normal, given the changes that occur in your circulatory systemhowever, be careful not to overdo it. In the first trimester, the weight gain is less than in the other two trimesters and your daily calorie needs are only slightly higher than before. 

Fetal size

Your baby is now a little over 4cm, i.e. the size of a walnutIn this week, if your doctor decides to perform an ultrasound, you will be able to see your baby rocking in your womb. These movements cannot be perceived by you yet, since the fetus is still very small. Most women, especially primipara, experience the first fluttery sensations, known as “quickening”, after the 18th-20th week. Your baby’s ears, the oral cavity, and the external genitalia have already started their developmentThe brain continues to grow and becomes more complex day by dayFrom the end of this week and the beginning of the next, you will be able to have your nuchal translucency scanThis ultrasound will assess your baby’s basic anatomy and calculate the risk for a chromosomal anomalyIn other words, it will tell if your baby is healthy. 

Symptoms

  • Fatigue. During the first trimester, most women feel exhausted and find it difficult to cope with their daily tasks. Rest as much as you can and adjust your schedule so that you can get enough sleep during the day. Stay positive. Fatigue usually subsides in the second trimester. 
  • Nausea. Nausea is a common and quite annoying symptom of pregnancy. Although it is present almost throughout the day, it is particularly intense in the morning. Prefer small and frequent meals and avoid foods that may irritate your stomach. Make sure you stay hydrated. If the symptoms become severe, consult your gynecologist. 
  • Bloating. Your tummy has started looking bigger, but at least for now, it’s not because your womb has grown. The hormones of pregnancy and progesterone, in particular, make your bowel slow down, which can cause constipation. Drink plenty of water and eat foods rich in fibers, such as salads and whole-grain products. 
  • Skin changes. You may have noticed that your skin has become darker, especially in certain areas, such as the nipples and the midline of your abdomen. The hormones of pregnancy make your skin darker. Avoid the sun as much as you can and wear a hat or sunscreen when going for a walk. Take extra care of your face, to avoid chloasma or more commonly known as the “mask of pregnancy”. 
  • Leg cramps. They are common in pregnancy. If they wake you up at night, try doing some stretching exercises before going to bed. 
  • Abdominal pain. Your baby is rapidly growing and so is your uterus. Because of that, the ligaments that hold your womb in place are stretched, causing discomfort in your abdomen. If it is mild and not combined with other symptoms, such as spotting, then it should not be a cause of concern.  

Tips

Continue following a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Do not forget to take your folic acid supplement daily. 

If you consider starting some form of exercise, then moderate-intensity training, such as walking, yoga, pilates, or swimming, is ideal for you and completely safe during pregnancy. 

By this week you should have completed your first pregnancy check-up and scheduled your nuchal translucency scan. If not, then now is the time to do so. 

Have you bought your maternity clothes yet? If not, it is time to go for a shopping spree, since very soon your old clothes will no longer fit. Buy responsibly, though, because your body will continue to change. 

12th Week

Fetal size

a lime.

What happens in the 12th week of pregnancy?

This is the 12th week of your pregnancy and soon you will be three months pregnant. This is an important milestone, as in this week the nuchal translucency scan takes place. This is an ultrasound performed by a gynecologist, specialized in fetamedicine. This scan checks the fetus’ basic anatomy and detects markers that increase the risk for chromosomal aberrations. At the same time, blood sample is taken from you to measure the levels of 2 or 3 hormones These measurements will help calculate the specific risk your baby has for a chromosomal anomaly. 

Fetal size

Your baby is growing fast. It is now larger than 5cm, i.e. it is the size of a lime or a figIt has developed most of its vital organs, which will continue to mature until birth. Its external genitalia will soon complete their differentiation, however, your doctor will not be able to distinguish the sex of the baby by using the ultrasound, for at least until the 14th week. At this stage, the ears continue to grow, while the nails begin to do so too. This week is very important for another reason. After this week, organ development, i.e. the organogenesis, will be complete. Therefore, it is now less possible for environmental or other factors to impair your baby’s development. 

Symptoms

  • Headache. In this week, headaches may appear. Possible causes for that are stress, dehydration, or sleep deprivation. Make sure you follow a regular sleep schedule, eat healthy, and drink plenty of water.
  • Dizziness. Nausea is gone, dizziness begins. Dizziness can be caused by a variety of factors, such as fatigue, lack of sleep, a sudden drop in your blood pressure, or even abrupt changes in your blood glucose levels. Always keep something sweet in your bag. In case you feel dizzy, try to sit or lie down, until the symptoms subside. If sweets won’t do the trick, try eating something salty. Make sure you get enough sleep. It is especially important for you during this phase.
  • Increased vaginal discharge. During pregnancy, there is increased perfusion to your uterus and vagina, resulting in increased vaginal secretions. This is normal and protects your vagina from infections. The discharge is usually watery and odorless. If it has a strange color or foul odor, then you should contact your gynecologist, because this might be a sign of infection.

Tips

In this week, along with the folic acid that you’re already taking, your gynecologist will probably suggest two other important supplements for pregnancy. These are iron and calcium (usually combined with vitamin D). They are prescribed now and not earlier because during this week nausea usually subsides, hence they are better tolerated. 

 Your energy levels return gradually back to normal. So, it is time to start exercising if you have not already done so. Moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, yoga, pilates, or resistance training, is ideal for pregnancy. 

 Do not forget to put your sunscreen on whenever you are exposed to the sun. A pregnancy-safe sunscreen will protect your skin from UV rays and prevent the appearance of chloasma, or more commonly known as the “mask of pregnancy”. 

 Your belly and breasts get bigger. As a result, the skin that covers these areas starts stretching, resulting in the appearance of stretch marks. To prevent this from happening, make sure you keep your skin always hydrated, using cream or essential oil. 

 From this week on, you can start creating your pregnancy diary. There is a special and beautiful way to do this. Take a picture of yourself every week and paste it into a book writing down your thoughts. This way, you will make a timeline of your pregnancy, which you will be able to browse, both during and after pregnancy. You can also show this diary to your baby when he or she grows up. 

Kalampalikis Andreas MD, MSc,
PhD Candidate, School of Medicine, University of Athens