Feeling Better Has A New Name; The 13th Week of Pregnancy

Are you experiencing a pregnancy bloom this week? Is your skin glowing more than ever and have most of your friends asked you if there is good news to share? Welcome yourself into the phase when things might finally start to look up for you. You might also feel triumphant because of having overcome most of the difficulties of the first trimester and having stepped into what is known as the ‘golden period’ of pregnancy. While your skin is glowing and your hair feeling more luxurious than ever, you are also starting to feel your appetite again. Most of your aversions would have been gone by now and all you can wait for is to start eating your favorite cuisines again. You could also plan a babymoon of sorts if you feel like it because now is the time for short vacations which you might not enjoy much in your third trimester.

Your Baby At 13 Weeks

Would you believe when we tell you that the tiny fingers of your baby have their unique fingerprints already? Along with that, its body is also starting to pick up pace and grow out in accordance with the head. As the head is still bigger in size, your baby might still look less human and more like an alien but in a few more months, the disparity will be gone and you will face a proper human-like structure.

Your baby’s skin is still translucent and the organs and veins can be clearly seen through it. Since the skin is still forming, this is common at 13 weeks but it will turn opaque very soon. Measuring almost 3 inches long, your baby is almost the size of a peach now. Your baby weighs around an ounce and at this point, it is important to understand that every baby grows differently and although there is a range of normal height and weight gain, there is no particular percentile that needs to be followed. While some babies grown faster, some others take time to catch up on the same path of development.

It is interesting to note that if your baby is a girl; her ovaries already have 2 million eggs that might use in the future to start a family!

Your 13 week old baby in the womb is also developing bones in her arms and legs. Your baby’s movements are still twitchy and jerky so it will be able to put its thumb into the mouth and suck just like newborns do. In the latter, this is more of a self-soothing mechanism.

Your baby’s intestines are growing at a rapid pace and they will move to the abdominal cavity of your baby from the umbilical cord cavity where they were developing earlier. Along with this, the placenta is growing in order to keep pace with your baby’s needs and you can expect it to contribute to your weight gain.

Yet another significant development this week is the formation of your baby’s vocal cords. He or she will start making sounds and noises in the womb soon enough but voice cannot travel through the uterus which is why you will need to wait till after your delivery to hear your baby’s voice.

Frequent bouts of hiccups are strengthening your baby’s diaphragm to help your baby develop the respiratory system. All the necessary organs are at work, either absorbing nutrients or excreting waste matter. Your baby’s vital organs like pancreas, gall bladder and thyroid are all developing rapidly, the kidneys are producing and excreting urine and the bone marrow is making white blood cells1 to form immunity. All in all, this is a phase of rapid developments and the coming three months would witness major changes in the pregnancy and your baby.

Your Body At 13 Weeks

Unless you have experienced Hyperemesis Gravidarum2, chances are high that your nausea and food aversions would be gone by now. If not completely gone, you will at least have some relief from the spontaneous tendency to throw up. This could, in fact, be a very good time to start a new exercise and one of the safest and the most effective form of exercises could be swimming. However, whatever forms of exercise you choose to start, it is a wise idea to ask your doctor about it before starting.

Continuing from the previous week, leucorrhea might still be present as one of the symptoms of this week. While the primary function of this discharge is to protect your birth canal from common infections during pregnancy and to keep up the healthy flora of your vagina, it can definitely mess up with your undergarments. Using panty liners can help save expensive lingerie and also keep you feeling drier. You would hear from people who used to swear by douching in pregnancy but the last thing you would want is to allow any foreign object into your vagina right now. Douching with water is absolutely unnecessary and could also upset the natural flora of your vagina, worsening the situation and inviting more infections to breed in there. The best idea is to let your vagina be as it is for the coming months.

This week, your breasts are not only fuller and rounder but are also busy making colostrum for your baby’s nourishment in the first few days after birth. The milk glands are preparing themselves for breastfeeding and although the birth might be months away, your body is all geared up for the latest addition to your family.

Double Trouble?

If you are already showing up or are feeling the symptoms worse than what they are usually, you could be having second thoughts about twins. A twin pregnancy can occur for a number of reasons and one of them is a family history of fraternal twins. The other reasons can range from fertility treatments and maternal age over 35 that also decide the possibility of having twins.

Apart from the fact that you could be having twins, there might also be other reasons like bloating and gas that make you feel uncomfortably full. Even if you are 13 weeks pregnant, bloating could make you feel like you are well into the second trimester. Furthermore, if you have been eating more than what you usually do, that could also make you feel heavy and uneasy. With your family members making all kinds of assumptions about the pregnancy, it could get difficult to understand if you are really carrying twins or not. If you haven’t had an ultrasound yet, it is likely that the one coming up will help you with a clearer picture.

Varicose Veins

Week 13 is a time when you might start getting varicose veins and they will look like a network of veins running all over your body, especially your breasts, abdomen and your legs. Why do you get varicose veins? During pregnancy, the volume of blood being produced by your body is doubled which is why the blood vessels carrying them become more pronounced and show up on your body as varicose veins. If you are fair-skinned, you might start seeing them early in pregnancy and if you are darker-skinned, they might take some more time to start appearing but you will eventually see them.

The network of blood vessels carries nutrients from your body to your baby and they are a vital part of this pregnancy. The pregnancy demands a 40 percent increment in the production of blood by your body which is carried out by your blood vessels and in their attempt to keep up with this production, they become more noticeable.

There is more blood flowing to your breasts, your belly, your pelvic area and your legs and these are the areas where the varicose veins will show up. You would be happy to know that these veins are not here to stay. They will be here till you deliver and will be gone once the body’s blood production stabilizes. In some cases, the varicose veins stay on till you are breastfeeding your baby but they disappear once you start weaning.

Your diet at 13 weeks of pregnancy

 

As hard as it is to believe that you need not eat for two, it is a given fact that the wrong kind of information regarding diet and lifestyle can be harmful for you as well as your baby. Your family members might want you to eat every hour but trust your body’s cues before giving in. Health practitioners believe that you do not need any additional calorie in the first trimester, a mere 340 calories additional calories in the second trimester and 450 calories when you step into your third trimester. Overdoing at any stage could not only leave you feeling bloated but also cause issues like gestational diabetes for which you might need additional care later.

If you are obese or overweight to begin with, you might need to restrict your calorie intake. Your doctor will be able to guide you regarding this. If you are underweight, your calorie requirements will be higher in order to be able to nourish your baby. If you are having twins or multiples, your doctor might ask you to make certain changes to your diet based on your current weight.

It is essential to remember that you will need to make every calorie count so having nutrient-dense food is a must. Skip empty calories and always focus on getting enough iron, protein and calcium. Given below is a detailed description of what you could follow as far as diet is concerned.

How Much Protein Is Enough?

While people think that you can have as much protein as you want to and we need more of it in pregnancy, it is perfectly alright to have 71 gm of protein per day. You will easily find this amount in lean meats, eggs, dairy products like milk, cheese, nuts, beans, tofu etc. You should ideally aim for three servings of protein a day. The easiest form of protein would be available in fish but you will need to take care of contamination issues since a lot of varieties are usually exposed to toxic substances.

Are My Iron Stores Enough To Last This Pregnancy?

You will often find yourself asking this question because it has been seen that with the onset of the second trimester, pregnant women start showing signs of anemia. This is because the maternal iron stores are quickly depleted by the baby’s growing needs and it could make the mother weaker and feel dizzy often. Your personal iron stores need to be replenished as and when exhausted by your baby, which is why you will need proper food and supplementation. Most pregnant women need iron supplements all through pregnancy because iron fortified food might not be as effective in stabilizing iron levels as much as supplements are.

It is important to get 27 mg of iron every day. While this might sound like an easy feat for meat-eating people, it surely is not that convenient for vegetarians. A vegetarian diet, unless backed by proper nutritional choices, fails to provide the amount of iron a pregnancy needs to thrive. It is a well-known fact that animal protein is better absorbed than plant protein. If you are a non-vegetarian, lean red meat is your best source of iron. Fish, well-cooked shrimps, eggs and chicken can also be excellent sources of iron. Plant based sources of iron would be spinach, flaxseeds, red lentils and peanuts.  What is interesting to note is that there is a way in which maximum absorption of iron can be ensured from plant based sources. If you pair plant protein with Vitamin C, there is a significant amount of iron absorption so if you are planning to have a salad of spinach and chickpeas, ensure that you drizzle a good amount of lime juice over it. You can also make freshly squeezed orange juice as a regular part of your diet that will ensure you ensure the right amount of iron in pregnancy. Other sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, strawberries and yellow, cauliflower, tomatoes, yellow and red bell peppers. It is important to remember that Vitamin C is heat sensitive so it might not be as efficient after being cooked as it is when uncooked.

Are You Having Enough Calcium?

It is imperative for a pregnant woman to include enough calcium in her diet because her own and the developing baby’s calcium requirements are taken care of by her body. This is primarily a reason that a lot of women start getting joint aches early in life because their own calcium levels get thoroughly depleted in pregnancy and continue to deplete while she breastfeeds. Doctors recommend a daily dosage of 1000 mg of calcium in pregnancy. Your baby needs the extra calcium for the proper formation of his bones and teeth and if he doesn’t find it in abundance, he will deplete your resources, leaving you calcium deficient.

Along with that, it is also important to note how essential Vitamin D3 is for maximum absorption of calcium. It is alarming to see how several people all over the world are not only insufficient in Vitamin D but also highly deficient and that keep their bodies from absorbing calcium from food in an effective manner. Furthermore, if you are deficient in Vitamin D in pregnancy, it is likely that your baby would be too. Hence, ask your doctor for supplements if you blood test shows a deficiency.

Will My Prenatal Supplements Be Enough?

Your prenatal supplements will be enough to take care of your added requirements so that you are never deficient in anything but you will need to have a balanced diet, to begin with. Nothing can replace the benefits of healthy eating and it will easier to fill up the deficiencies if your diet is right. Always ensure that you are getting three servings of protein a day, three servings of calcium and are having enough leafy greens to keep up your fiber intake.

What Should You Be Doing This Week?

With your energy levels returning, you can expect yourself to start planning ahead of time and what better way to do that than planning for educational purposes. Like we all know, nothing can really prepare you for pregnancy and parenting, which is why it is important to keep yourself updated with the recent finds in these fields. While nobody can provide an epidural for parenting, if your facts are sorted, you will probably sail through this complicated journey. To hold your hand through pregnancy and childbirth, there are birth education classes that are available in most places. These birth classes help prepare you and your partner for pregnancy and what all can be expected from it.

While some birth classes can last more than months, some others are short and last not more than one day or a couple of days. Different kinds of classes follow different sets of ideology and you will need to identify your ideology in the first place. However, the common points of discussion in these birth classes are signs of labor, pain relief options, the different stages of labor and the way you can comfort yourself during labor. Some of the popular childbirth classes are discussed below:

  • Lamaze

A natural form of childbirth class, Lamaze classes believe in following the body’s cues towards labor. The primary objective of Lamaze classes is to help women have a safe delivery which is why they believe in educating women about the practices they could follow for a natural and safe childbirth. The practices include allowing labor to come on naturally without unnecessary medical intervention, moving around when labor is here so that the process is hastened and following your body’s natural urge to push when the time is right.

  • The Bradley Method

The Bradley method4 lasts for 12 weeks and is meant for women who do not want to resort to medicines for childbirth. For all those who are aiming for a natural and medication-free birth could potentially benefit from these classes.

  • Hypno birthing

As far-fetched as that sounds, hypno birthing is for real and believes in teaching techniques of self-hypnosis to reduce fear and anxiety during childbirth. This method believes in the power of hypnosis to rule out fear that is the primary cause of pain. It encourages pregnant women about to give birth to open up like a lotus and birth babies without any form of anxiety. It is all about giving in to the feeling of absolute power in creating a baby.

Apart from these methods, The International Childbirth Education Association can train and educate women who want to be advocators of natural childbirth. If you haven’t been able to come across any of the above-mentioned classes yet, you could always look for ICEA-certified people in your neighborhood.

Stretch Marks

Now that your belly might finally start to stretch out, do remember to keep an eye on those stretch marks. It has been seen that almost 90% of women get stretch marks. They start as faint and itchy lines on your abdomen, breasts and on your thighs. With time, they start looking like pink or reddish streaks and get deeper. If your weight gain is gradual, you can avoid the chances of stretch marks but if you gain weight all of a sudden, it is likely that you will get them. You can start applying lotions that contain Vitamin E and alpha hydroxyl acids that can help with the itchiness and the discomfort. Stretch marks are deep sin tears and will eventually fade but never go. If you do get a lot of them, take pride in having them because it is a living proof of your pregnancy.

What Can You Do For Your Partner?

If you have recently found out that your pregnant wife might be sensitive to gas fumes, you could help her by filling up the gas tank yourself. Not only will that be of immense help, but also a cherished memory that she might tell her grandchildren one day.

Like every week, take it one day at a time. There will be ups and downs in pregnancy but what is important is you feel good about this incredible creation.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_blood_cell
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperemesis_gravidarum
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_D
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradley_Method

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