Wow you’ve reached week 12. It’s not uncommon for many women to feel as though this point of the pregnancy is a little surreal as this is the week many wait for with bated breath. If your NIPT and other results have come back fine you can now relax a little and may even be planning a little shopping or maternity leave.
Your baby is being supported through the placenta which is now fully formed, although it will continue to grow until week 14. The fetus typically measures between 5.4cm and 7cm (crown to rump) and weighs approximately 8.5g to 14.2g. Although you are unlikely to be able to feel the movement yet, the fetus now has sufficiently honed reflexes to react to touch, i.e. your baby will ‘squirm’ tap your stomach. The fetus can now curl fingers and toes and clench eye muscles. The neurological connections within the brain are developing rapidly and nerve cells throughout the body are also multiplying.
Vital organs are now developed to the extent that they are able to perform more complicated tasks. The liver is now producing bile and the kidneys are now secreting urine into the bladder. The fetal digestive tract is also practicing peristaltic movements, the muscle contractions necessary to digest food, and bone marrow is producing white blood cells. The pituitary gland in the brain is also now producing reproductive hormones in both males and females, girl babies have their ovaries already while boy babies are developing their testes.
Your Body and Symptoms
By this stage your uterus will have swollen to the extent that your midwife may be able to feel the fundus, the name for the top of your uterus as it protrudes above the pelvic bone. Now is a good time to start practicing pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles is preparation for labour and birth. Your midwife will be able to advise you further on this, however it basically involves clenching your buttocks or vaginal muscles, as if you are stopping yourself from urinating mid flow, but never intentionally stop yourself weeing midflow as this can cause urine infections. You can do this sitting at a bus stop or watching the TV and no one will notice.
Hopefully any nausea or vomiting you’ve experienced should be beginning to subside although some women experience it throughout the whole of their pregnancy. If you feel as though you aren't keeping fluids down speak to your midwife. Occasionally, pregnant women can suffer from constant sickness that leaves them dehydrated and needing IV fluids, known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
Many women experience occasional bouts of dizziness and/or feeling faint. This is partly due to high levels of progesterone that causes increased blood flow to your pelvic area and your baby, subsequently leaving other areas of your body with decreased blood pressure. Women typically also have lower blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Eating regularly, standing up slowly and ensuring that you get plenty of rest can all help with dizziness.
The risk of miscarriage lowers significantly after 12 weeks and, although it is perfectly natural to feel anxious about your pregnancy, many women find reaching the twelfth week of pregnancy reassuring.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
Vaginal bleeding is not uncommon. When it is 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. Always seek reassurance and talk to your midwife if you experience bleeding in your pregnancy. It may be nothing but it’s always best to check.
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
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. If this is your first pregnancy it’s perfectly normal to be pregnant for 42 weeks, 2 weeks after the estimated due date.
You may have already taken the combined test to determine the chances of chromosome conditions 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 this as it can provide some risk however there is an alternative that is completely safe.
Private Care Available
Frrom week 10 Non Invasive Prenatal Testing can be performed. This 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
At this stage you’ll also have the full support of yourmidwife so you can ask any questions you need to. Privately you can chose pregnancy packages which are Midwife Led or Consultant led. If you are interested in your options please see the pregancy packages on our website. You can book a further scan if you’d like to see how your baby is growing too. There are also nutritionists who can help you make the right choice with your diet so you feel at your best throughout the pregnancy while your baby thrives inside.
If you have decided to opt for private care throughout your entire pregnancy, you will be having appointments with a private midwife and obstetrician regularly, along with approximately one ultrasound scan a month to check on your baby's development.