Well into the second trimester of pregnancy, life has probably never been better! You are luxuriating in your new-found glow and there is your voluminous and bouncy hair to add to all the beauty pregnancy is gifting you. You can finally look pregnant because your baby is growing by leaps and bounds and when we say that, we mean it. Your life is probably revolving around thoughts of your baby all the time and you are happily basking in the glory of it all. If you have already found out the sex of your baby, you could go on short shopping trips with your family or best friends but always remember to keep your outings for not more than a couple of hours. That is because even if your energy levels are back, you might tire out after constant walking or shopping since your body is continuing to evolve and adapt in the process of making this pregnancy successful. All your organs and the network of veins and blood vessels are busy keeping your baby in the most optimal environment.
Your Baby At 15 Weeks
At 15 weeks, your baby’s Crown to Rump length is around 4 inches and he weighs around 2 ½ ounces. If you happen to look at a large navel orange, you would understand how big your baby is at the moment. The amniotic fluid in your womb is helping him to open up those air sacs in her lungs as it moves through his nose and his developing respiratory tract. The legs that were still not proportionate to his arms are now growing longer and her joints and limbs are all mobile by now. What is interesting to note is how her eyelids are still fused together but she can sense light and will move away from a source of light that is pointed at your abdomen. Her taste buds are also rapidly forming that will test your culinary skills in a couple of years from now. If you haven’t had an ultrasound that could tell you the sex of your baby, having one now will help. However, it also depends on how well the doctor performing the procedure can locate the baby’s genitals. Babies are known to hide their sexual identities pretty well in the womb so an accurate identification might not always be possible.
The ears of your baby that were earlier positioned at the neck have now moved to the sides of the head and the eyes have moved into position to the front of the face. These changes and developments are making your baby look more like a human with each passing day. Your baby is squirming a lot inside the womb but you still have a few weeks to go before you can feel the moves.
Have you wondered what keeps your baby busy inside the womb? Apart from being lulled in and out of sleep by the rhythmic movements of your body, your baby is continuously practicing the ways of life outside the womb. The one practice that keeps your baby close to real life is sucking its thumb that it does pretty often. She is gearing up for life in other ways too like breathing, sucking and swallowing so that quintessential life skills are well adapted to before leaving the womb. There is an entire abdominal gym going on inside your tummy because your baby is kicking, curling its toes and moving about those arms and legs quite a lot. It will be a while before you start feeling those kicks jab you at entirely unexpected moments and that is because your baby does not weigh much yet.
What Are You Doing About Your Mouth?
Have you been shying away from saying cheese to the photographer lately? Have your pearly whites been looking compromised lately? You can blame your pregnancy hormones for this as well. The same hormones that are responsible for your stuffy nose and nosebleeds are also to be blamed for gingivitis, bleeding, swollen and red gums that have different reactions to the bacteria that is present in the plaque. Most of these symptoms will disappear once you deliver your baby but till then you will need to do better at your oral hygiene regime so that bleeding gums are not persistent. You might also notice tumor like formations on your gums and this is normal as long as they do not secrete any pus or blood.
If you thought you could take gingivitis for granted, you will need to know the link between it and periodontitis. Gingivitis1, if not cured on time, can deteriorate to become a major infection of bones and tissues known as periodentitis and there have been potential links between this and premature labor. All you need to do is take extra precautions while you are brushing, floss regularly so that there are no tiny bits and pieces of food etc stuck in your teeth, use an anti-bacterial mouthwash once or twice a day and keep away from sugar-laden snacks. These will keep the bacteria away and will significantly reduce gum inflammation and discomfort.
What Is Pregnancy Rhinitis?
Not only are your pregnancy hormones giving you more work to do on your teeth and gums but also ensuring that your nasal passage is blocked quite often. The hormonal changes and the increased flow of blood to the mucus membranes make the nasal passage feel stuffy and uncomfortable. This is called pregnancy rhinitis or ‘rhinitis of pregnancy’, whichever way you feel like naming it. The volume of blood flowing to the nose makes the blood vessels swell up and leads to the stuffy feeling.
Would You Need An Amniocentesis?
Somewhere between weeks 15-20, your doctor might suggest an amniocentesis. Whether you want to go for this test or not is a decision that your doctor will probably make for you, if there is a family history of genetic abnormalities. On hearing about this procedure, you will surely have a number of questions on your mind, for example, what happens in the procedure, does it hurt, will it harm my baby etc. Described below is a detailed description of what the process is like and what you could expect from it.
Your doctor begins the procedure by locating a patch of amniotic fluid which lies at a safe distance from your baby and the placenta. This itself takes about 20 minutes. Your belly will be sterilized using iodine or alcohol and a cotton swab. The next step is to insert a long and thin needle into that sac of amniotic fluid via your stomach and your abdominal walls. The doctor will draw out around two tablespoons of amniotic fluid which will take about a minute. Do not worry about the fluid reducing in quantity because your baby is well protected and that tiny amount of fluid will be refilled by your body pretty soon.
You might be petrified to think about the consequences of hurting the baby while the needle is being inserted but that is least likely to happen. If the needle does brush against your baby, he is sure to move in a different direction without bothering much. Once the needle has drawn enough fluid, it will be removed and your test will be over.
If your blood group is RH negative, you will be given a shot of immunoglobulin2 so that your blood and your baby’s blood do not fight each other.
The chromosomal study of the amniotic fluid is done in 10 long days in a laboratory. Your baby’s cells are extracted from the collected amniotic fluid and are studied carefully to rule out chromosomal abnormalities. If you are at a risk of genetic abnormalities, that too can be identified with the help of an amniocentesis. What’s more, you will be able to find out if there are structural or neural tube defects. The alpha feta protein in the amniotic fluid helps detect neural tube defects while structural defects can be diagnosed if the baby’s gender is detected. The results of the latter are available in two weeks from the date of the procedure.
To answer your question regarding the pain; while some women do not feel a thing while the process is carried out; some others do find it quite uncomfortable. It also depends on your pain tolerance levels. The feeling of pain probably ranges from pinching, cramping or a sense of heightened pressure. You could choose to opt for an anesthesia injection but that might be worse than the pain of the procedure itself.
Are there potential side-effects of an amniocentesis? Yes, like every other procedure involving injecting or withdrawing fluid from the tummy, amniocentesis too carries a small risk of a miscarriage. The potential consequences are always talked about before opting for this procedure. After it is done, the doctor will ask you to take complete rest for a couple of days and avoid heavy weights, sex or too much exertion. He will also ask you to look out for symptoms like cramping, leaking of amniotic fluid, spotting or a fever that refuses to go. If any of these things happen, you should immediately rush to the emergency.
When Will I Feel My Baby?
The movement of your baby is a living proof of his or her presence in your womb but most women do not feel the moves till around the 21st or 22nd week. It is important to note that your baby is already moving quite a lot in the womb and the movements had started when she was around 8 weeks old in the uterus. You couldn’t feel any of the movements because your baby is still too light to make a difference. Has it been an eternity since you have wanted to feel the first kick? Know about flutters below!
Better known as the first flutters, your baby’s movements will be quite evident around the 22nd week and is medically termed as ‘quickening’. A number of factors are responsible for you to feel the movements faster than others. A first time mother will most definitely miss the first movements and take them for gas or rumbling which is again pretty common in pregnancy. Veteran mothers, on the other hand, would know very well how to distinguish between a gas rumble and the baby’s kick. Yet another factor that is responsible is how you are built. If you have a slim structure, you will feel the movement earlier than your heavier counterpart.
There is an entire range of sensations that pregnant women have described the first flutters as. While some say it feels like popping of popcorns, some others talk about butterflies flying around inside the tummy; a few mums call it the first swim of a goldfish while a few others feel bubbles being blown inside their tummy. These gentle yet adorable movements are easy to miss initially but when they start happening more frequently, you would know how to keep a track of them. You will notice after a while that these movements are especially noticeable when you have been quieter or have been lying down for a while.
Should You Be Worried If Your Baby Is Not Moving Yet?
At 15 weeks, your baby still needs to gain some weight for you to feel the movements clearly. You should be ideally able to feel the movements by 21st or 22nd week but there is an ideal for everyone so to generalize the time would not be a wise idea. When the movements become more regular, you will be asked by your doctor to keep a tab on them or maybe count them. You will also be asked to report to your doctor immediately if the movement decreases or reduces. While lesser movement may simply mean that your baby is resting or sleeping, it could also mean trouble. To avoid any kind of problems, it is better to get yourself checked out as soon as you don’t feel your baby much. A non-stress test will be able to identify the issue and in most cases, nothing wrong is reported.
How Much Weight Gain Is Enough?
The first trimester was surely disappointing as far as weight gain was concerned because forget about piling on the pounds, you were probably losing a couple here and there, owing to your food aversions and morning sickness. Now that you are in the second trimester, gaining weight will most probably not be an issue. You are ideally supposed to put on four pounds a month and it completely depends upon you how you want to gain them. Aim for a weekly gain of one pound and restrict your intake of empty calories if you feel that you are gaining more.
Tracking your weight gain and keeping it under control can help you in a number of ways. You will not only feel fitter and healthier but will also lose the added weight more easily after you deliver. Keeping a weighing scale at home helps if you have a tendency to go overboard but your doctor will check you at the monthly visits for everything so if you are not particularly obese, you can skip weighing in every week or so. It will unnecessarily add worries to your already worried mind.
Tips And Tricks For The 15th Week
- If you haven’t got the flu shot yet, it is time you do because your immune system is suppressed for the time being and you are prone to the cold more than ever. You could ask your doctor about it when you visit him at the next appointment. Apart from a slight soreness on your arm, there is nothing much that the flu vaccine will leave you with.
- Have you got the triple marker test yet? If not, ask your doctor about it because it measures your risk of developing birth defects like Down’s Syndrome, spina bifida etc. while a lot of these tests could come up with alarming results, only a handful people have babies with Down’s syndrome.
- You could be ready to move up to the next bra size so if your bra strap is really pinching into your ribs, consider a shopping trip to the lingerie store. Your breasts are continuing to grow and this is the time to invest in comfortable maternity wear. Buy bras that have wider and thicker straps that provide enough room for your breasts to grow comfortably.
What Other Changes Can You Expect?
Do you see that dark line running down your belly from your breasts to your pubic area? It is called the linea nigra3 in medical terms and almost all women get it in pregnancy. It starts appearing at around 15 weeks, darkens over time and fades away after delivery.
You might laugh at yourself pretty often when simple activities like driving, sleeping, lying down and sitting down to eat will require you to accommodate as per your belly’s comfort. Always ensure that your seat belt is positioned properly. You might also need to adjust your steering position by 15 weeks because it is safer to stay as far away from the airbags and the dashboard as possible.
For a change, your sex drive might be back and how! Not only will this mean good news for yourself but also for your partner. Make the most of this phase when all your hormones are working in sync and not too big to be going down under the sheets. With the symptoms of first trimester leaving you for good, longer hours of sleep, a well-rested body and mind and a good appetite, an enhanced sex drive is icing to the cake. Increased blood flow to the pelvic area as well as the clitoris will help in enhanced arousal and better orgasms. If you find a few positions uncomfortable, only indulge in the ones that you like. Communicate with your partner about the changes in your body and he is sure to understand how to trigger the good vibes.
Lifestyle Changes At 15 Weeks
If you have been eyeing that cup of coffee for a while but are apprehensive that it might harm your baby, relax and get hold of it before your cravings go overboard. One cup of coffee a day is perfect alright to be consumed during pregnancy because moderate consumption of caffeine does not do any harm to the baby.
What you need to take care of is to quit smoking and drinking completely when you are pregnant. If you haven’t been able to make these two lifestyle changes, it’s time you took it seriously. Avoiding all kinds of toxic substances is important and say an absolute no to drugs. If you have been on any kind of anti-depressant, make sure you let your doctor know about it so that he can find out if it is compatible with pregnancy and suggest an alternative if it is not.
You can continue to have organically harvested and reliably sourced fish in pregnancy but you will need to keep a tab on what kind you are consuming. Always try and avoid the ones that have a tendency to lurk around in unclear waters and are exposed to mercury and other toxins. Smaller varieties of fish are healthier and safer to consume. Avoid shark, swordfish, mackerel, as these kinds contain higher amounts of mercury that could harm your baby’s developing nervous system and the brain. As mentioned before, always eat food that has been thoroughly cooked, for example eggs should not be runny, dairy should always be pasteurized and meat should be cooked to perfection. A lot of cases are reported every year about pregnant women suffering from food poisoning and ending up with preterm labor.
What Can You Do For Your Spouse At 15 Weeks?
If you smoke on a regular basis, consider giving it up for the safety of your pregnant spouse and unborn baby. Passive smokers are at an equal risk having lung cancer and the effects on an unborn baby can never be emphasized enough. Hold her hand through this and she will cherish the pregnancy for a lifetime and more!