Week 9 is exciting, you’ve not too long to go until the second trimester. You’ll also be noticing a lot of change with your own body.
Your embryo is now a fetus and continues to grow rapidly, measuring approximately 3.1cm by the end of this week (double the size of last week!) and the fetal sac is approximately the size of a quail’s egg (3.7cm).
Your baby’s eyelids now cover the eyes completely and are now fused. They won’t open until week 26. The very beginnings of earlobes are now also in evidence. An early form of skeletal structure is now in place and wrist and ankles joints are now fully formed with the arms being able to bend at the elbows. The separation of fingers and toes are now clearly visible and muscles are developing in the arms and legs to the extent that small movements are now possible. Genitals are beginning to form although it is not possible to determine the sex of your baby by ultrasound just yet. Your baby’s heart now comprises 4 chambers and is beating at the rapid rate of twice the speed of an adult human. Now that basic forms of all major body parts and organs are formed and in the correct position, they will continue to grow, develop and increase in complexity.
The placenta is now sufficiently developed to produce nutrients and take away waste products from the fetus. It is also now able to support the production of hormones – a crucially important task.
Your Body and Symptoms
You may notice that you have gained some weight, especially about your waist. This is common at this stage of pregnancy and is most likely to be due to water retention. You are also still likely to be suffering with fatigue. This is due to your energy supplies being consumed by the production of the placenta and the maintenance of the fetus and its development. You are also likely to be experiencing a drop in blood sugar levels and blood pressure due to surges in your metabolic rate and hormone levels. When the construction of the placenta is complete (during the course of the next few weeks) both fatigue and morning sickness should abate, however some women continue to experience both throughout pregnancy. You should consult your Doctor or midwife if you have any concerns about fatigue or morning sickness. If you are suffering from heartburn or indigestion, it may be helpful to chew sugar-free gum. This increases the production of saliva, which in turn helps to neutralise stomach acid, helping to alleviate the discomfort of acid indigestion. Some antacids are also safe to be taken during pregnancy, but you should seek the advice of your Doctor or midwife before taking any prescription or non-prescription medication.
It’s important that by this stage of your pregnancy you have stopped smoking. Every time you inhale a cigarette your baby’s heart rate increases to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. You may also wish to avoid second hand smoke whenever you can too. Your doctor or midwife can give you advice and support on smoking cessation.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
Vaginal bleeding is not uncommon. Usually not associated with menstrual pain it does not harm the pregnancy although it is called a threatened miscarriage. Bleeding 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 any concerns or think that your symptoms are unusual, call your midwife.
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.
What is routinely offered on NHS?
You do not need to see your Gp to let them know you are pregnant. Most Maternity Units have online self-referral forms. This form will generate a “Booking in appointment” At this appointment the Midwife will ask lots of questions about your health, family history, previous pregnancies and births. She will take some blood samples that are routine in pregnancy and may also take the blood sample used for the Combined Test for Down syndrome. It is unlikely that an ultrasound scan will be done at this visit but she will arrange an appointment for a few weeks later.
Private Care Available
You can also have a consultation with a midwife to discuss everything about your pregnancy and gain advice. A nutritionist will also be on hand to help you choose the right foods during pregnancy for your health and your baby’s. As always you will be offered an ultrasound scan and at this stage you will be able to see the shape of the fetus and hear a heartbeat.
Our Consultant Obstetricians are available if you have urgent questions for example about current medications you are taking or are high risk due to a health condition or previous pregnancy complication.