At 14 weeks, the fetus measures approximately 8cm (crown to rump) and weighs around 40g. Growth is now focusing on the body, rather than the head. Lanugo will be starting to form and cover the skin. These are fine, downy hairs that will eventually cover the entire body, but have usually disappeared before birth. The function of lanugo is to keep the fetus warm until body fat is developed enough to take on the role. Hair is also sprouting on top of the head and the eyebrows.
The kidneys are now fully capable of producing urine, which is excreted into the amniotic fluid. Meconium is now also being produced in the intestines. This is the waste product that will form the first faeces after birth. The development of the placenta is now complete, and it is fully supporting the fetus – providing nourishment and essential hormones needed to support pregnancy this should hopefully concide with a decrease in sickness and nausea symptoms.
Brain impulses are now sufficiently developed that facial expressions such as squinting, frowning, grasping and grimacing are all occurring. The palate and roof of the mouth are also continuing to form. In addition to this, limb movements are becoming more fluid and less ‘jerky’.
Your uterus is continuing to grow and is now about the size of a grapefruit. It may be pressing on your bladder, making is necessary to you to go to the toilet more frequently. If this is the case, you should ensure that you don’t cut down on your fluid intake to attempt to combat this. It is important for both you and your baby that you remain well hydrated during your pregnancy. You may be experiencing an aching sensation in your lower abdomen. This is caused by the muscles and ligaments in your abdomen being stretched by the weight of your expanding uterus and – although it may feel a little uncomfortable – is completely normal. If you feel that you are experiencing any unusual abdominal pain, you should consult your Midwife or Doctor.
Now that you are in your second trimester, and your body is finishing the development of the placenta, you may find that your energy levels are returning to normal. Many women also see an end to, or decrease in, nausea and vomiting during the second trimester and you may also be experiencing less tenderness in your breasts (although they will be continuing to grow).
You may find that you are more susceptible to colds and flu while you are pregnant. This is because your immune system is suppressed during pregnancy to prevent your body from rejecting the fetus. Try to increase your intake of Vitamin C to support your immune system. Throughout pregnancy, care should be taking when considering taking any medication. Your Doctor will advise you on which medications are safe during pregnancy, but you should also be aware that some herbal, homoeopathic and aromatherapy remedies are not safe for use during pregnancy. If you choose to use herbal, homoeopathic or aromatherapy remedies during pregnancy, you should ensure that your practitioner is qualified and make sure that you inform your midwife or Doctor about any complementary therapies you are considering.
Around this time, you may be offered a blood test that is used to calculate the risk of the fetus having Down’s syndrome. Depending on the results, you may be offered a chorionic villus sample (CVS) or an amniocentesis. Both tests are used to diagnose Down’s syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. These tests carry a small risk of miscarriage, your midwife or Doctor will be able to explain any procedures to you should the need for them arise. You should be aware that a new test has been introduced since late 2012 that uses a DNA blood test in this role helping to avoid an invasive procedure, this is called the Non-Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT).
Symptoms to watch out for
Any vaginal bleeding or significant abdominal pain is not normal at this time. The tummy is starting to get noticeably bigger. Mild or stabbing pain is probably due to stretching of the ligaments however there are sometimes more significant causes such as urinary tract infection or fibroids.
There may be some normal vaginal discharge but this should be constant in colour and quantity. Many women have pregnancy related headaches which usually improve with time. The stretching and stressing of bones, ligaments and muscles often leads to pains particularly in the spine and pelvis.
What is routinely offered on NHS
By now you should have had contact with your local GP or midwife. They will be able to give you general advice and your pregnancy blood testing should have been done.
You should have had a booking appointment. This to register with the hospital where you expect to deliver the baby. If they find you have a significant issue they may refer you to the local hospital or ultrasound department. An ultrasound scan should be reassuring particularly if you are experiencing vaginal bleeding. You may be referred to a specialist.
What other care is available
If you choose to do so you can self refer yourself to a private clinic. There is no need for a referral letter. In a private clinic you can see a Doctor or a Midwife. An ultrasound scan is available at short notice to provide reassurance as are other investigations. A specialist doctor will be available to assess your condition and give advice.