Congratulations, you are in the second last week of the first trimester and what a journey it has been! From missing your periods to seeing your pregnancy kit confirming the good news, from insane morning sickness to weird food aversions, from that unsettling feeling to feeling more secure about yourself and the baby; you have come a long way. With yet another trimester looking back at you, it is natural to feel the jitters as you stand at the threshold of new beginnings. Now that your baby is growing by leaps and bounds, there is every possibility that your appetite will be back soon and you might have to deal with cravings of all sorts. This is the time to hold on and not giving in to every hunger pang with junk and such. This article will discuss the changes that you can expect in the coming days and how you can deal with the food cravings or other symptoms that can crop up this week.
Your Baby At 12 Weeks
Weighing half an ounce this week, your baby is almost the size of a lime now. If you could measure the Crown Rump length1 this week, it would come to a little over 2 inches; still quite tiny but growing ever so rapidly. Your baby’s reflexes are developing this week. Very soon, your baby will start opening and closing its fingers, its eye muscles will start twitching and clenching like we normally do and he will start making sucking movements. You could clearly imagine how that would look and feel when he is outside the womb and his tiny little mouth sucking at your breast for milk! If you happen to tap your tummy this week, your baby will respond to the tap by squirming. However, you are still a few weeks away from feeling any movement. Along with these incredible new things that your baby has learnt, you would be happy to know that your baby has more than doubled in size in the last couple of weeks!
What Else Takes Shape?
With the basic structure in place, your baby is now adding up the rest of the details and that includes formation and development of the digestive system. Its systems will continue to evolve and take shape in the next 28 weeks so that it can thrive independently after birth. Your baby’s digestive system is pacing up developmentally and has already begun practicing contractions that it will need to transfer food and water through the intestinal structure.
Along with digestion, your baby’s bone marrow is ensuring that enough white blood cells are being made and preserved for it to ward off infections outside the womb. This is a significant development since the immunity that your baby will use for the rest of its life is being structured this week.
If your baby is a boy, the pituitary gland at the base of his brain is already producing hormones so that he can make effective use of his reproductive system in the future.
Your baby’s intestines are ready to move into the abdominal cavity via the umbilical cord and his kidneys have begun to function by excreting urine into the bladder.
The brain is developing at a very fast pace, going from simplistic structures to a more rounded and complex network. With synapses forming rapidly and nerve cells multiplying with each passing day, you could lend a helping hand by having appropriate amounts of Omega-3 and DHA to support this complicated development.
Each passing week brings your baby closer to looking more like a human, with his eyes and ears moving into place in the 12th week. Your baby’s eyebrows and lips have come into focus and all the 20 nails on fingers and toes are now clearly visible inside the womb.
How Is Your Body Responding To The 12th Week Of Pregnancy?
As your grapefruit-sized uterus moves from the pelvic area to a center position in the abdomen, there will be a number of ways in which your body will respond to this pregnancy. While there are promises of a few annoying symptoms making way for better ones, there are still a couple of new irritants to not look forward to. The only thing that you need to remember is how the symptoms are all great for the development of your baby. That might help you bear with them when the going gets tough.
With the uterus weighing heavily on your pelvis, the last few weeks were pretty disturbing for sure because of frequent bathroom visits. However, this week is a welcome change since your uterus will finally migrate from the pelvis to a central position in your abdomen and that heaviness in your pelvis will start waning. However, it is recommended that you keep drinking to thirst and keep an eye open for UTI-like symptoms.
If you feel a burning sensation and an urge to urinate every often without really having anything to excrete, you should call your doctor right away to rule out an infection. You might also want to keep doing Kegels because pregnancy-induced incontinence and the uterus migrating to the pelvis yet again in the third trimester could trigger frequent urination yet again.
Your Uterus Has Grown
Your doctor will now be able to feel the top of your uterus right above the pubic bone because it has grown rapidly to accommodate your growing baby. Although you are far from showing, you might start feeling more comfortable in maternity wear or loose, unrestrictive clothing.
Reflux May Or May Not Worsen
Every pregnancy is different and while one woman might have severe reflux issues in the first trimester that gets better as she steps into the second, yet another might suddenly start experiencing heartburn and indigestion. Our placenta produces more progesterone in pregnancy that relaxes the esophagus and the valves, making it easier for stomach acids to seep up the pipe, causing heartburn and digestive issues.
You might feel uncomfortable lying down right after meals because stomach acids can easily pass into your esophagus and reach your throat to give you that annoying reflux you thought you would never have. Reflux can get worse with time because your uterus will only grow bigger for the entire gestational period and crowd your stomach cavity. What can help is to eat small, frequent meals and stay away from the triggers that result in reflux.
Just when you thought you were done with nausea, food aversions and sore breasts, you have a new visitor as a symptom of the 12th week; dizziness. Like you do for everything, you can blame your pregnancy hormone progesterone for relaxing and dilating your blood vessels, increasing the flow of blood to your baby while slowing down the flow back to your body. This could give you the dizzy spells that you have been experiencing for a while now. While this means good news for your baby because your body is ensuring it is nourished and looked after in all possible ways, it could mean trouble for you, especially if you try getting up in a hurry. If you want to avoid accidental falls, the best way out is to take things slowly and take more time to get up after sitting down for a long time.
Yet another reason for light-headedness is your low blood sugar that happens if you are not frequent with your meals. Never go for more than 2 hours without eating something, especially when you are pregnant, because your instable blood sugar could also cause instability in your fetus.
There are no real solutions to this except for the fact that the moment you start feeling dizzy, you must lie or sit down, call for help, loosen tight clothing and take deep breaths. Once you start feeling better, fuel your system with food or beverages. The last thing you would want in pregnancy is to have a fall.
Is that really you saying this to your husband? Because for all your life, you have probably never said no to sex but this low sex drive is driving you insane, but rest assured that this is normal and happens to a lot of women. While pregnancy hormones might turn on some women quite often in pregnancy, they might dampen your spirit more than ever before. If your friend from the prenatal class can’t stop gushing about her raging sex drive, do give your physiology a good thought before jumping to conclusions that there must be something terribly wrong with your system.
With extra large and sore breasts, gag reflex at its peak, heartburn and frequent urge to pee, there is no doubt that you will want to bury your head under the pillows at night without even blinking. What is important at this point is to stay emotionally connected to your partner, who might be as confused as you are. Please avoid blaming him for wanting to have sex because he is physically not feeling any of your symptoms. You two could have a direct conversation regarding this and find ways to deal with it. A lot of women report that the second trimester is better as far as sex drive as concerned so you might as well have hope in the near future.
What Is That Discharge You Are Seeing Lately?
Vaginal discharge is common at around the 12th week of pregnancy and most women experience mild to moderate discharge without any other symptom. The discharge that you commonly see is known as leucorrhea2, which is mostly odorless and mild-smelling and looks milky in appearance. This kind of discharge is not only common during pregnancy but also before you conceive, for example, when you are ovulating or just before your periods arrive.
In pregnancy, vaginal discharge is a lot more enhanced because your body is producing more estrogen and there is more blood flowing to your vagina. Cervical and vaginal secretions, cellular remains from the vaginal walls and vaginal flora make up this discharge during pregnancy.
Now you might wonder if you should be worried about this vaginal discharge, especially if you are pregnant for the first time, but should you lose your sleep over this? No, you need not be that concerned as long as the discharge is odorless and not watery. Explained below are the circumstances in which you might need to worry about your vaginal discharge:
There is a slight possibility of you leaking amniotic fluid that could easily be misunderstood for normal vaginal discharge. If you feel that the discharge is too watery, you can contact your doctor immediately to rule out any abnormality.
If you haven’t reached 37 weeks and are experiencing a fluid-like discharge that is muddy, blood-tinged or brownish in color, you could very well be having a pre-term labor. Your midwife or your doctor will know how to handle this and will suggest means to delay or postpone the labor, is possible. The postponement also depends on whether your baby and you are ready for labor and childbirth. While most pregnancies are considered full-term by 37 weeks, it is recommended that 40 weeks be reached to ensure complete building of immunity and accumulation of iron stores for life outside the womb.
If you have a burning sensation while urinating and there is an odorless discharge that comes with a discomfort, pain, irritation and soreness and your vulva has inflammation, you could be having an yeast infection. Every woman of reproductive age has yeast infection at least once in her lifetime and while it is extremely uncomfortable, it is easier to cure, especially if diagnosed early. Yeast infections can be treated with fungicidal creams and oral medication. However, you must always ask your doctor before using any medication in pregnancy.
If your discharge is thin and grayish in color and has a fishy smell to it, there is a chance that you might have bacterial vaginosis. While all these infections do not happen to every pregnant woman, it could happen to you and it is a wise idea to be aware of what to expect in such circumstances.
Have you heard of trichomoniasis3? Research suggests that a lot of pregnant women report a greenish or yellowish frothy discharge along with pain and discomfort, which could be trichomoniasis, in a lot of cases. This is a sexually transmitted disease and could affect you if proper precaution is not availed during pregnancy. Even if you could not get pregnant again, do consider keeping STDs at bay by using a condom every time you indulge in an intercourse.
Whatever symptoms you might be having; never resort to self-treatment, especially when you are pregnant. It is quite difficult to distinguish one symptom from the other, as far as vaginal infections and discharge are concerned, so the best bet is to inform your doctor instead of reaching out for OTC medication.
12 Weeks already? Have you got your blood pressure checked?
Now that you are at the threshold of the second trimester, you should take a look at your blood pressure. If you have had high blood pressure before conception, you might have to worry a little more about it now ever before. Pre-existing maternal health conditions can lead to premature births or low birth weight babies. However, if you are aware of your condition and take good care in pregnancy, you could completely avoid complications before, during or after birth. Listed below are the things that you need to know about high blood pressure in pregnancy:
- Stop ACE inhibitors right away
If you have been taking ACE inhibitors4 for your pregnancy, you should stop them right away because they could cause low blood pressure, kidney impairment, and excessive accumulation of potassium; all of which can be potentially harmful for the baby. You will be switched to a safer alternative by your doctor till he or she feels that you need the medication.
- Chances of preeclampsia
Research suggests that one-fourth of women develop pre-eclampsia and although the chances of this happening do not start until 28 weeks, you should be having an idea about it and how to manage your lifestyle around it.
- Placental abruption
High blood pressure in pregnancy could also cause separation of the placenta from the uterine wall which could not only cause bleeding but could also be fatal for both mother and baby.
- Regular checkups
Your doctor will initially want to check you every week till the blood pressure settles down to a normal high and will expect you to keep a regular check at home. You might also be asked to get monthly urine tests to check for protein because a significant sign of pre-eclampsia is excessive protein in urine.
- Stay active
Staying active through pregnancy has a number of benefits and that includes taking care of lifestyle disorders. When you are pregnant, your body is involved in a dual activity of helping your baby grow rapidly while slowing down in a few sectors for the pregnancy to thrive. Research suggests that staying active in pregnancy could help avoid high blood pressure or at least help manage the symptoms to a good deal.
Shall you tell the world that you are pregnant?
Is it time yet to break the news of pregnancy? Well, if you are asking from the medical point of view, it could be, since your chances of a miscarriage greatly reduce by week 12. If you are wondering about letting your employers know about this pregnancy, consider the consequences of both the decisions and then come to a conclusion.
Your co-workers might hound you with a number of questions regarding the pregnancy and if you are still dealing with first trimester symptoms, you could do with some peace at work. If you have a project at hand that requires dedication and could be a career-changing decision, making pregnancy announcements can wait. Unless you are really petite and are showing up already, there is no real need for it.
However, if you need to switch to a different role or avoid certain responsibilities because your health does not permit it, talk to your employer right away. You might also have a complicated pregnancy for which an early maternity leave would be a blessing. Get all your papers and pay-slips ready so that even if your current organization does not comply with your conditions, you can always switch to a different company.
How can you help your wife at 12 weeks?
At the brink of the second trimester, things might have just started to look up for your pregnant partner and all you could do is to help her see the changes in a positive light. What began as a roller-coaster ride might continue to be the same till your kids turn into fine young men and women but the love and bonding that you share now will remain as happy and priceless memories forever.
Like every week, she will need to take her supplements on time. Reminding her to take them is a responsibility that is easy to begin with. She might finally want to go out and have fun after all the annoying nausea and food aversions have started fading. Take her out for movies, dinners and you could also send her out with reliable people who are close to her.
This is also the week where you will need to be careful about avoiding accidental falls and such. Low blood pressure might make her dizzy and light-headed so try and keep the house as uncluttered as possible. Learn to identify the red flags of every week and never ignore any symptom that could have the slightest possibility of turning into a preterm labor.
Your wife could start feeling more conscious about her body because it could be changing rapidly now. You will need to keep assuring her how she is still as beautiful as before and how nothing could ever make a difference to the love that you share.