The 12th week is the last week of the first trimester of pregnancy. The pregnancy has advanced to the end of the first stage and it is mostly at this time that most women announce the news of their pregnancy to those around them. Some women might look slightly overweight at this stage with slight swelling of the face in case of water retention however the changes are still negligible.
Internally, the woman has undergone rapid changes and the fetus is fully developed now. Only increases in the weight and size of the fetus will occur now in the further stages of pregnancy. This is a better stage compared to the previous weeks as the nerves begin to settle down and the fatigue and nausea that was experienced earlier now start vanishing. The energy levels improve and this is a good time to develop an exercise pattern to suit you such as walking or yoga. Light exercises done from this stage onwards will keep the body healthy and assist in rapid recovery after delivery.
Your Symptoms: Nipples and areola begin to darken. For many women, nausea and appetite are improving.
Baby’s Development: Reflexes! Baby can now open and close her hands, respond to external pressure on the abdomen, and possibly suck his thumb.
Baby’s Size: 6 cm (size of a kiwi).
To Do: You may or may not be starting to show, but at the very least, your pants are feeling tighter. Now is a good time to shop for maternity clothes. Many stores have an artificial baby bump you can use when trying on clothes.
The baby continues to grow and develop rapidly in the 12th week of pregnancy. The baby’s brain starts making hormones and the nerve cells of the baby also multiply extremely fast now. The baby will be sucking and swallowing food and the kidneys will be producing urine as well. The baby continues growing in length and size now. Muscles start responding to the brain which is not as mature yet to control things totally. The simultaneous development of the muscles and the brain bring about natural movements in the baby’s body such as bending arms, twisting wrists and elbows and clenching and opening fists. The features of the face can be traced with the pinching of the eyebrows or pursing of the lips. The placenta functions effectively and the umbilical cord begins to help in circulation of blood. Technically speaking the baby keeps developing more than the previous week inch by inch and the eyes and ears move closer towards their rightful positions on the face. The reflex movements of the baby also keep increasing at each stage.
Changes with your body
The uterus will weigh more as the size of the baby continues to expand. In this week the uterus will appear above the pubic bone. The uterus will continue growing in size in the abdomen thus increasing the weight of the mother around 2-3 pounds. You can notice skin changes and pigmentation after the 12th week. Freckles and spots can darken further. The skin around the nipples and areolas can darken. A dark vertical line called linea nigra might develop in some women which lies in the centre of the abdomen and can disappear later after delivery. Some women might develop patches of brown skin on the face.
Most women use sunscreen during pregnancy to protect the skin from harmful effects of the sun, even anti-wrinkle creams or skin firming lotions can be used. Large doses of vitamin A can however damage the liver and cause jaundice hence that must be avoided. More heartburn can be experienced in the 12th week in the chest, throat and upper abdomen due to increase in the progesterone hormone. This can be reduced by having small frequent meals at regular intervals and eating light, high fiber food throughout pregnancy. A molar pregnancy can be detected at this stage if the morning symptoms do not decrease and if there is vaginal bleeding or some abnormal spotting. A molar pregnancy is also referred to as water filled cysts and occurs due to abnormal development of the placenta. This is a reason for miscarriage as the baby never develops or starts to develop but does not survive. If there is no vaginal bleeding or abnormally high blood pressure and morning sickness symptoms then the pregnancy can be considered to be safe from the 12th month onward.
What to expect
The good news if you have reached the 12th week successfully is that the risk of miscarriage is much less now than it was in the previous weeks. The other frustrating symptoms like morning sickness, nausea and fatigue also seem to reduce drastically and you start feeling much better physically as well as mentally as your hormones seem to adjust to the changes in the previous weeks. There are noticeable changes in the external physical body as the uterus increases in size. In case of twin pregnancy the size might be larger. During this time the skin becomes very sensitive to the harmful ultraviolet rays and you can develop freckles or darkening of the skin. Burning sensation in the chest, throat and abdomen can increase and you can reduce these symptoms by following a healthy lifestyle and diet pattern. The heartburn can reduce with increased intake of water and healthy meals.
The body releases necessary hormones like hCG and the development of the uterus and placenta are normal and up to date. The baby’s heartbeat can be felt quite distinctly now. There is considerable changes in the reflex action and muscular development of the baby. By the end of the 12th week, you must have made necessary changes in the diet and lifestyle pattern to suit you and the baby. Unhealthy habits are totally eliminated by now including smoking, drinking alcohol and any strong medications. You can enroll in a prenatal class now to interact with other women who are pregnant as well as gain more knowledge about the pregnancy. If you are working this is the time to apply for a leave which you will be requiring later. If you have forgotten to inform others about your pregnancy it can still be done. Regular monthly or weekly check ups need to followed by you to check the development of the fetus and your body as well. The advice of the health care experts needs to be taken seriously.