The fetus is now approximately 35cm long – from crown to heal – and weighs around 680g. Body fat is continuing to form and build up during this week. This causes the skin to appear less wrinkled and translucent. Sensory development also continues and the fetus is now able to respond to both light and touch. All major organs are now formed and in the correct place and the remainder of the pregnancy is primarily focused on fetal growth and increasing weight and body fat.
Capillaries are continuing to form and fill with blood, enhancing the circulatory system. The lungs also continue to develop and, although they will not be fully functional yet, air sacs are forming within them and surfactant (a substance that will help lung expansion after birth) is being produced. In addition to this, the nostrils are beginning to open and the vocal cords are also developing.
By this stage of pregnancy, some women experience aching and/or numbness in their wrists, hands and fingers. The carpal tunnels in the wrists, which contain nerves and tendons, become swollen during pregnancy, exerting pressure on the nerve and causing pain in the hand. You should consult your midwife or Doctor if you are struggling to cope with the discomfort.
Varicose veins are common during pregnancy. They most often occur in the legs and are simply swollen veins. Varicose veins usually disappear after your baby is born. If you are concerned about varicose veins, you should try to avoid standing for long periods of time. It may also be helpful to elevate your legs while sleeping. Some women also suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) during pregnancy. This is characterised by a tingling in the legs and an urge to move the legs. Although the symptoms are uncomfortable, they are not harmful however some healthcare professionals believe that there is a link between RLS and anaemia. so you may want to request a blood test to rule this out if you have any concerns.
Snoring is another common symptom during pregnancy and is reported by many women. The cause of pregnancy-related snoring is usually the swelling of mucous membranes in the nose – caused by increased levels of progesterone – causing nasal congestion. Although this may be irritating, it is not usually a cause for concern, however you should talk to a health professional if you are concerned.
You may be having an antenatal appointment around now. During this appointment, you will have your blood pressure checked and will be asked to provide a urine sample for testing. These tests will identify conditions such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes and enable them to be treated if necessary.
Symptoms to watch out for
Although rare at this stage pre eclampsia is a potentially very serious condition. It is characterized by headaches, swelling of the legs and particularly the face, flashing lights or little black floaters in the eyes.
When severe there can be pain below the ribs. There should be no vaginal bleeding or change in vaginal discharge at this stage. Fetal movements should in general be well established.
What is routinely offered on NHS
You will have a midwife check about this time. She will ask you questions about how you are feeling. She will check your blood pressure and urine for signs of pre eclampsia. She will feel your tummy and may use a tape measure to measure it. From this stage your tummy will increase in size from the top of the lump to the bottom by one centimetre per week. If she finds this is not the case you will be referred for a scan. The midwife will start to discuss antenatal preparation classes which are usually run locally.
What other care is available
You can be seen in a private clinic without a referral letter. You can see a midwife or a specialist to discuss any concerns you may have, including a comprehensive ultrasound scan where needed. In a private clinic there should be more time, often better equipment and access to highly skilled expertise. If you have had a previous late miscarriage or carry twins then a cervical scan is readily available. You can have a detailed discussion with a specialist about any concerns you may have.
You can book pregnancy-safe complementary treatments, such as pregnancy acupuncture and shiatsu massage.