You should give yourself a pat on the back as by the end of this week you will have completed your first trimester. Many women find the first trimester the most difficult due to the anxiety over threatened miscarriage and the nausea. As your pregnancy progresses you will find that you’ll have to adjust to the weight gain and extra strains on your body but many women report surges in energy during the second trimester.
Your baby now measures between 6.8cm and 8.0cm from crown to rump (or head to bum) and weighs approximately 14.2g to 21.3g. At thirteen weeks, your baby’s bones are beginning to form in the arms and legs and the intestines are beginning to spread from to the umbilical cord to the abdomen. The vocal cords are also developing at this stage. The amount of amniotic fluid increases to around 100ml.
Your baby is developing what looks like a personality on a scan as she or he has the reflexes to suck and root. The movement in the arms and legs is now more refined, making it possible for the fetus to put its hand in its mouth. Many babies on scans at this stage can often be seen sucking their thumb. The muscles in the neck are now sufficiently developed for the head to move freely from side to side and up and down
If the fetus is a girl, the ovaries will now contain approximately 2 million ova, (eggs). This number will decrease to 1 million by birth.
Your Body and Symptoms
If you do have the energy surge that some women experience, take advantage of it to do some gentle exercise. This will release endorphins that will lift your mood while helping you sleep soundly. This is a good habit to get into as in the later stages of pregnancy you may find it difficult to get comfortable in bed while common ailments such as indigestion and heartburn, or frequent urination may interrupt a good night’s sleep. Your rest is highly important.
Your midwife or doctor will be able to advise on the best types of exercise along with some you may need to avoid. Although your energy levels may be higher than usual it’s important that you don’t overdo it. Stick to low impact exercise don’t get out of breath or too hot, and remember to drink plenty of water and stretch afterwards to prevent cramps.
You may still be, or start to experience a change in your vaginal discharge. This thin, milky discharge is known as leukorrhea and is completely normal. Its function is to help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the birth canal and reduce the risk of infection.
You may also notice that veins are more prominent and noticeable all over your body. This is simply because the veins are now transporting an increased blood flow around your body to carry the additional nutrients needed to support the placenta and baby. These veins will fade after you’ve given birth.
By this stage, you are likely to be noticing a change in your body shape, with your tummy becoming noticeably more rounded. Your midwife will now be able to easily feel the top of your uterus, as it is now large enough to rise above the level of your pelvis. If you feel that you are gaining too much weight too quickly, it is more likely that your abdomen may be distended due to bloating rather than actual weight gain. Your midwife or doctor will be able to discuss this further if you have any concerns.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
Vaginal bleeding is not uncommon. When it is not paired with menstrual cramps, it’s usually harmless although medical professionals will call it 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 bleed 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. If you have any concerns at all, call your midwife or call in to see your Doctor.
Your Care on the NHS
By now you should have had your booking appointment along with your “dating scan”. The ultrasound would have given you a more precise age of your baby. You’ll now have a definite due date although few babies are actually born on this day. It’s perfectly normal to give birth anywhere between 37 weeks and 42 weeks.
You may have already taken the combined test to determine the probability of chromosome disorders such as Down’s syndrome. Your results may not be back just yet but if they do show a high probability with the ratios the NHS use, you may be offered a CVS or amniocentesis test. See our website for more details on NIPT testing as this is completely safe.
By this stage an ultrasound scan should have been scheduled. This is the 12 week scan or nuchal translucency scan. This is the routine combined test for screening for fetal abnormalities. The nuchal fold, the back the the neck of the fetus, is measured and a blood test is taken for two pregnancy hormones. A risk estimate for Down’s syndrome is then calculated. The result may take a few days because most hospitals send the blood to an outside laboratory. This scan will also check the fetus generally for abnormalities. The following structures will be checked: head spine, body, stomach, bladder legs, arms, hands and feet. It is important to note that abnormalities of the heart, kidneys and face will not be obvious at this stage.
Private Care Available
In a private clinic you can have a full consultation whether you have particular concerns or not. You can have the nuchal translucency scan (12 week scan) with a blood sample (the combined test) similar to the NHS one and if desired you can have the TDL VeriSeq v2 by Illumina, SAFE Test or Panorama test. This is particularly relevant if you are over 35 years or have had a confirmed chromosome condition in a previous pregnancy.
If you are still experiencing heartburn or indigestion you can talk to a nutritionist who will help you identify the trigger foods to avoid for relief.
You can also book a scan privately at any time during your pregnancy to see how your baby is growing. Some mothers like to see their baby on the screen every few weeks!