At this stage of pregnancy, the fetus measures approximately 28cm (from crown to heel) and weighs around 350g. Although the fetus has not developed body fat at this stage, the body and head size are now proportional and the limbs are no longer tightly curled to the body. The skin is still wrinkled and appears translucent and will remain this way until body fat has developed beneath it.
The pancreas, which is fundamental for the production of hormones, is continuing to develop during this week. Skeletal development is also continuing and the bones that form the skull are starting to harden. In addition to this, the lips and other facial features are becoming more distinct and the eyelashes, eyebrows and perhaps hair on the head are all continuing to grow.
The eyes are now fully formed. The irises of the eyes, (the coloured part) still lack pigmentation, but this will develop before birth. Sensory development is also continuing and the fetus is now able to perceive light and dark and hear external sounds such as voices as well as hear the internal sounds of your body, e.g. your heartbeat.
Your weight gain will continue steadily from this point and you are likely to be gaining around 250g per week. Your pregnancy bump is likely to be noticeable to others now and you may be finding that you are a little off-balance due to a shift in your centre of gravity. Avoiding wearing high-heels can help with this. You should also take extra care when bending and lifting. Try to ensure that you bend from the knees.
You may still be experiencing food cravings and/or aversions. Many women continue to have cravings/aversions throughout their pregnancy. As long as cravings are not for inappropriate or harmful foods, it is fine to indulge them within reason. If you are struggling with aversions to fruit and vegetables, it may be helpful to look for alternative sources of vitamins. Many women find dried fruit and nuts more palatable, but you should consult your midwife or Doctor if you have any nutritional concerns. It is also very common to suffer from heartburn and/or indigestion throughout pregnancy. This is the result of the uterus restricting the available space for the stomach, causing stomach acid to be forced upwards out of the stomach into the oesophagus. You may find it helpful to drink before, and after eating, not during. Overloading the stomach with too much food and liquid at once can aggravate indigestion.
You should not cut down on the total amount of fluid that you drink though as it is important that you stay hydrated.
Haemorrhoids (piles) are common during pregnancy. They are swollen veins, caused be pregnancy hormones making veins relax, and occur around the back passage. They may itch, and/or feel sore and may even bleed a little. Eating a high-fibre diet and drinking plenty of water can help, but treatments are available from your Doctor or pharmacist if you are feeling too uncomfortable. You may also find that you are suffering from constipation.
This may be caused by the uterus pressing down onto the bowel, making it harder for waste products to pass through it. Taking regular, gentle exercise can help to stimulate bowel movements.
Symptoms to watch out for
At this time in the pregnancy there is often a sense of wellbeing and an absence of symptoms. However there may be troublesome aches and pains in the bones and muscles. These come and go. There should be no bleeding or significant abdominal pain. The fetal movement may be felt later with a first baby than if you have had one before. The sensation starts as initial flutterings and develops gradually into discrete movements.
What is routinely offered on NHS
The NHS offers an anomaly scan between 18 and 22 weeks. A better and more detailed view of the baby will be seen at 20 to 22 weeks. This provides better detail about organs such as the heart. If the baby is not in an ideal position the sonographer may find it difficult to assess the full detail and you may be asked to move around or come back later. If the sonographer has any difficulty or there are abnormal findings then you will be asked to return to see a specialist doctor. After this scan you will have an appointment with the midwife or, if there are any problems, the consultant.
What other care is available
If you want additional advice you can refer yourself to a private clinic. There you can have an appointment with a midwife, specialist and you can have a high quality ultrasound scan. If you do not have confidence in the NHS scan for whatever reason it can be repeated. 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.
If you are concerened about your diet and nutrution you can arrange to see a specialist pregnancy nutritionist. You may like to have pregnancy massage to help with aches and pains.