You've almost made it to the end of your 1th trimester, the one many women find the hardest of the 3. So take a deep breath and give yourself that much needed peace and rest: you’ve earned it.
Speaking of taking deep breaths, you may as well get used to doing just this. From now until you have the baby, you are likely to get the feeling that you just can't expand your lungs as much as you'd like to, or that your breathing isn’t the same. There's a good reason for this - someone else is taking up the space and the feeling is likely to hang around for a while longer.
It is common for pregnant women to have an almost insatiable appetite for particular foods, even those which have never had much appeal before. Often, it is the texture of foods which are craved for rather than the taste. Ice to crunch on, crisp raw vegetables, smooth yoghurt and chewy lollies all hold a certain attraction. Keep a supply of your favourites on hand; you don't want to fall short when in need. Everything in moderation is good for you!
Your physical changes this week
- The skin around your nipples could be getting darker and you notice darker patches of pigmentation on your face. There could even be the beginnings of a dark vertical line running from your navel to the top of your pubic area. This is because of hormonal influence and will fade after you have the baby.
- That nausea and fatigue you thought was a part of life is slowly fading away. You’re likely to feel energized and brighter.
- The increase in your overall blood volume may cause you to have that pregnancy "glow" which everyone talks about. Those pesky pimples which have plagued you for the last few weeks are probably settling, making way for a clearer complexion.
- You won't need to dash to the bathroom quite so frequently from week 12 onwards. Your uterus is lifting up and out of your pelvis, giving your bladder some room for urine. You may even be able to feel the top of your uterus poking up from the top of your pubic bone. When you are lying flat on your bed and have a full bladder can be the best time to feel it.
Your emotional changes this week
- You could be feeling almost euphoric from this week on. Your energy is starting to return and you're more like your old self. Many women say they have a sense of wanting to get out there and almost celebrate, simply because they are reminded of how good it feels to not be as queasy all the time.
- You may find yourself just more relaxed and at ease from week 12. The risk of miscarrying is significantly reduced and many couples feel this is the ideal time to let others know they are expecting a baby.
- You could still be a bit weepy and more sensitive than you usually are. Prams, other pregnant women, babies and even soft fluffy animals can be enough to start a fresh flood of tears. It’s best to cry it all out because that can leave you feeling so much better. We tend to think that crying is a sign of weakness, but it’s the opposite.
One surprising change around now is that you may find your partner more sexually attractive than you have for weeks. The last thing on your mind has probably been a little bedroom activity, but your libido, which has been in hibernation for a while has suddenly crept back, with a vengeance. This is because you've got more energy than you've had for a while, and there's extra blood supply going to your genitals. All thanks to oestrogen!
It is perfectly safe to continue to have sex throughout pregnancy, unless you are at risk of premature labour, or your membranes have ruptured. In fact, many women say that they have never felt more sensual, have a higher libido or enjoy sex more than when they are pregnant. Others worry that the baby could be corrupted or hurt in some way. Don't worry. Your baby is well protected by a thick plug of mucous covering your cervix and the amniotic fluid is acting as a buffer!
Your baby's changes this week
- Your baby is twice the size it was just 3 weeks ago. This time, your baby is the same size as a ripe plum. It is around 5.0-6.5 cms or 2-2.5 inches long.
- Your baby is moving all the time, kicking and stretching, twisting and turning. But because it is still so small and your uterus is only just at the top of your pelvis, you still won't be able to feel it moving. As your baby gets bigger and starts pressing against your uterine wall, you will then be able to feel its movements clearly.
- This week, your baby's bone marrow is starting to produce its own white blood cells. These are the infection fighting cells which will help it to stay well and healthy.
- Between weeks 12-18, is a major, critical period in your baby's brain development. Avoid any alcohol, tobacco or drugs now because these could have long-term effects on your baby. This is also when your baby's pituitary gland starts working and manufacturing its own hormones.
- Your baby's placenta is now doing its all-important work in filtering oxygen and nutrients to assist your baby to grow.
- This week, your baby can suck its thumb. Its eyelids will fully cover its eyes so they are well-protected.
- Your baby's intestines start contracting and relaxing, so they get in lots of practice for healthy digestion when they are born. The first bowel motion a baby has is called meconium and it serves as an important sign. You’ll find out more about why.
Tips for the week
- Avoid exercises which could potentially reduce the oxygen supply to your baby. Scuba diving, mountain climbing, travelling to low altitude areas are all risky and are best avoided from now until after you deliver your baby.
- Think about writing a letter to your baby. Although this may sound silly, it is something you'll both look back on in the years to come. This is an exciting time and although it seems like it will last forever, you will be surprised how quickly it goes.
- Be mindful of foods which could cause you or your baby to become sick. Listeria is a food-borne illness which is very risky to pregnant women and their babies.
- Foods you need to avoid eating include soft cheeses such as camembert or brie, raw seafood and sushi, pate, readymade salads, and cold delicatessen meats. Raw meat is also dangerous and you'll need to be very careful about your general kitchen and food handling hygiene.