Week 12 is here and that means that you are almost a third of the way through your pregnancy. For many women, this is a turning point. The nausea may be over with now, the critical time for your baby is passed, and you begin to have more energy and just feel better.
Your Baby This Week
It’s week 12 and your baby is now just about the size of a plum, and measures around 5.3cm (2.1 inches) in length. The weight has doubled from last week and now your baby weighs in at around 14 grammes (1/2 oz).
During week 12, your baby begins to develop reflexes and will move in response to stimulation. You probably won’t notice the movement, but when you rub your abdomen, you baby knows it. Amazingly, your baby can now suck on his thumb and even scratch his nose! Fingers and toes curl and muscles in the face start to work, allowing your baby to make sucking movements and even clench his eyes tight. The intestines are developing rapidly at this time. In fact, they are growing so fast that they protrude into the umbilical cord (they will move into the abdomen soon). And, your baby is even practicing the process of digestion by using the muscles in the intestines in preparation to eat that first meal!
Your baby’s face now looks perfect. All the features are there and in the right places. The mouth opens and closes, the nose is formed, ears are located in the proper position, and even the eyebrows are forming.
Week 12 is the beginning of a critical time of brain development. There are two phases during a pregnancy where the baby’s brain goes through this rapid development; between 12 and 18 weeks and again between 24 and 36 weeks. During this time, it’s especially important that you avoid being exposed to anything that could alter this development. Alcohol, tobacco, chemicals, even stress can alter the growth that is taking place inside your baby’s developing brain.
Your Body This Week
Week 12 of pregnancy is certainly a turning point for many women. The critical time of your developing foetus is now passed, dramatically reducing the chance that something could go wrong, and you are feeling better. Many women begin to tell others that they are expecting around this time.
You’ll have had your first prenatal visit around now, or soon. If you haven’t had it or don’t have one in the diary, you need to schedule the appointment right away. Prenatal care is essential to a healthy and happy pregnancy. You are probably gaining more energy now that the morning sickness is subsiding and your appetite is back. So, don’t be surprised if you start to have those pregnancy cravings you’ve heard about! If you continue to have morning sickness, try not to worry about it. Many women unfortunately will feel some degree of nausea throughout their pregnancy. Just make sure that you tell your obstetrician about it.
Your body is more than likely starting to retain some water now and you may feel a bit more bloated this week. If you are tracking your weight, which you should, you will probably notice that you have gained a couple of pounds now.
The increased estrogen and progesterone in your body may also bring changes to your facial skin. You could start to see patches of dark pigmentation on your cheeks, nose, upper lip, or forehead, or your existing freckles may look darker than usual. Don’t be alarmed. This is normal and is not dangerous. It’s called Melasma or Mask of Pregnancy and mainly affects women with light brown skin who are exposed to intense sunlight. To lessen this cosmetic discoloration, make sure to use a good sun block on a regular basis.