Well, it’s now week 15 and your baby is quickly making his or her presence known. You are slowly gaining weight now and will start to think about buying those cute maternity clothes. The milestone for your baby this week is that he or she is practicing to breathe!
Your Baby This Week
At week 15, your baby has now grown to the size of a naval orange, or about 10cm (4 inches) long. Last week, your baby weighed about 42 grammes (1.5oz). This week, your baby’s weight has again nearly doubled and is about 70 grammes (2.5oz).
A remarkable development by week 15 is that your baby is practicing how to breathe. Those tiny lungs are not fully developed yet, but the muscles that control breathing are. Therefore, you baby is already using these muscles to inhale and exhale small amounts of amniotic fluid.
More of your baby’s bones are hardening now and if you were to have an x-ray, you would be able to see what looks like a mostly complete skeleton. Your baby’s neck is now strong and able to hold the large head up more, giving the appearance of a longer body. The pattern of hair on your baby’s scalp is even developing already. Elbows and knees are bending more freely this week and arms and legs continue to grow longer and stronger. This means it won’t be long until you feel that first punch or kick!
Internal organs continue to function more efficiently each week. Your baby’s tiny heart is now pumping about 25 litres of blood each day through his amazing circulatory system. This amount increases throughout your pregnancy and will be an impressive 200 litres per day by the time your baby is born.
Your Body This Week
At week 15, you are probably very excited to see that your profile is changing. Most women will have gained anywhere from 2 to 5 kilos (5 to 10 pounds) by this time and their once flat belly will now be sticking out. It’s more than likely the only time in a woman’s life that she is pleased at the idea of gaining weight! If you have not gained as much weight as you think you should, talk to your doctor about it. At this early stage of your pregnancy, it’s probably not anything to worry about though. It could be that you have had more nausea and your appetite is just not what it should be yet. Once you get to feeling better, you can bet that you will have a ferocious appetite.
As your uterus continues to grow and rise above your hipbones, the doctor will be able to start measuring the growth which should closely coincide with your gestation (i.e. 20 weeks should be about 20 cm long). The doctor will start by feeling around for the top of the uterus (also called the fundul) just below your navel and down to the pelvic bone. Many women mistake this measurement as a measure of the baby. While this fundal height measurement gives the doctor and indication of the baby’s size, it is not an actual measurement of the baby. True measurements of your baby will happen when you have your first ultrasound which normally occurs between 18 to 21 weeks into your pregnancy.
A new symptom that may occur around week 15 is varicose veins. Most women believe that they are caused by the added weight of being pregnant but that’s just half the cause. Varicose veins form because the circulatory system is working overtime to pump the increased amount of blood through your body. Occasionally, this extra amount of blood causes a vein wall to stretch or the valve of the vein not to close properly. This causes blood to pool in an area of the vein, causing the vein to enlarge and become irregular in shape.
Although the varicose veins will usually go away after delivery, they can be uncomfortable during your pregnancy. To ease the discomfort, rest with your legs elevated higher than your heart, try not to cross your legs when you sit, avoid situations where you have to stand for long periods of time, and take daily walks to get the blood flowing.