With just one week before your second trimester you may already be considering a room for your baby or buying clothes and accessories. If you haven’t told your family and friends yet you don’t have much longer to wait.
At the eleventh week of pregnancy, your baby measures between 4.4cm and 5.5cm from crown to rump and weighs around 8.5g. With all critical body parts and organs in place, the rest of your pregnancy is focused on the growth and strengthening of the structures already formed. The umbilical cord will complete its formation during this time and will be fully functional, carrying nutrients to the fetus and carrying waste products away from the fetus. The blood vessels of the placenta are also increasing in size to accommodate the increasing demands of your rapidly growing baby. In addition to this, your baby’s eyes are complete while the nasal passages are open. If your baby is a girl, she will already have formed ovaries and both sexes have fully formed nipples.
The fingers and toes are now completely separated and have finger and toe nails. Your baby will enjoy a lot more movement now and although you may not feel this until 16 weeks you can see your baby stretching and moving on a scan.
Your Body and Symptoms
If you have been suffering from feelings of nausea and fatigue, the end may be in sight. Although they often continue until week 13 (and sometimes throughout the whole pregnancy), you may notice the feelings subside a little over the coming weeks. It is important to maintain a healthy diet, even if you are struggling with food aversions and feelings of nausea. Although ‘snacking’ can help to alleviate nausea, try to eat healthy snacks. Dried foods, especially apricots, are also iron-rich and nuts provide the protein you need along with many B vitamins. You may experience digestive problems, such as flatulence and constipation, these are caused by high levels of progesterone slowing down the digestive system.
As you approach the end of your first trimester, you may notice the linea negra appear on your stomach, this is a vertical band of dark pigmentation in your skin. This is perfectly normal and not all women experience it.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
Vaginal bleeding is not uncommon. If it is not associated with cramping or pain, it can be harmless. It’s always best to check any bleeding with your doctor or midwife. Bleeding of this type may continue for some days but generally changes from bright red to dark red to brown before it disappears. In some cases an area of bleeding is seen on the placenta on ultrasound scan: this is called a subchorionic haematoma. The dark red bleeding is likely to be persistent if this is present. The risk of an ectopic pregnancy has generally passed at this stage except in rare cases.
If you have bleeding in early pregnancy and you have associated severe abdominal pain you are at a high risk of miscarriage. In about 40% of cases there is shown to be a fetal abnormality incompatible with life. Unfortunately if a miscarriage has begun, there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Your Care on the NHS
Around this stage of pregnancy, you will probably be offered an ultrasound scan. For many women this is the first scan they will have, although earlier scans are possible. During this scan your due date will be confirmed or adjusted. It will also be possible to tell if you are carrying twins. It may be a good time to think about booking antenatal classes.
Private Care Available
You can have a similar consultation to that in the NHS if you wish with an experienced private midwife or a consultant obstetrician. In addition you will be offered an ultrasound scan. Women like this because they can see the fetus and hear the heartbeat. This scan is generally performed through the tummy (a transabdominal scan). At this stage you can also have the blood test to check that the fetus does not have a chromosomal abnormality. Non Invasive Prenatal Test is currently the most advanced non-invasive pregnancy screening available for parents who would like to determine if they have a low probability or high probability for their baby having the conditions Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome. NIPT is available from as early as 10 weeks of pregnancy, for early screening before the NHS Nuchal Translucency scan.