Pregnancy Week by Week (Weeks 13-16)

Week 13

You
This is officially the beginning of the second trimester. Your pregnancy is now safer, as miscarriage risks are falling. Because of this, many mums-to-be decide they are now ready to share the good news they’ve been bursting to tell for weeks. Also, morning sickness may now start to ebb, energy levels zoom – and people may start to tell you you’re blooming. Not only that – they may soon begin to spot your tell-tale bump.

Your baby
With no fat to plump it out, your baby’s skin is wrinkly and translucent – a web of blood vessels clearly visible beneath it. The stumpy limbs have grown and are in proportion with your baby’s body.

Dry your eyes
Due to hormonal changes, your eyes can feel very dry and prickly.
• If you wear contacts, change to glasses when your eyes are sore (hormone changes can also affect the curvature of the cornea, so see your optician).
• Ask your GP to prescribe some eye drops.
• Wear sunglasses to protect eyes from the wind.
• Limit use of the computer or take frequent breaks.

Feel the beat
At your check-ups, your midwife will use a hand-held ‘microphone’ called a Sonicaid to hear your baby’s heartbeat – you’ll hear it too, clocking up an incredible 150 beats per minute (about double your heart rate).

ONE MUM SAYS… ‘This was a magical time. Once people knew I was expecting, and could just about see the evidence, I was treated with such care. Yes, people offered unwanted advice. But more often that not, friends and colleagues went out of their way to be kind.’

Week 14

You
You’ll start packing on the pounds now. It’s not just the baby and the bump. You’ll lay down fat stores as an energy resource for when you’re breastfeeding.

Your baby
The placenta, which started developing at the beginning of pregnancy, now brings food and oxygen to your baby via the umbilical cord – three coiled blood vessels, one taking vital supplies to your baby, and two removing what’s not needed.

Public property?
Once you’re showing, you’ll find everybody – your mum, your mother-in-law, the woman at the bus stop – has an opinion about all aspects of pregnancy and a comment to make about your bump. Some mums-to-be love the attention, others can’t stand it. And, of course, you can never be sure the advice or information you’re getting is correct (there are lots of pregnancy myths about). If you are ever worried about anything they tell you, remember it’s likely to be an old wives’ tale. Just ask your midwife for reassurance.

Keep fit
Don’t stop exercising when you’re pregnant. Just follow a few rules:
• Avoid impact exercise like running and aerobics.
• Don’t let your heart rate rise over 140 beats per minute.
• Don’t get too hot as your baby can’t regulate its temperature.
• Don’t overstretch or you’ll harm your ligaments.

ONE MUM SAYS… ‘I didn’t exercise much during the first trimester (I felt queasy and tired). But then I did aquanatal classes at my local pool, and loved it. It kept up my fitness levels, was really relaxing too, and meant I met lots of other pregnant mums.’

Week 15

You
For many mums, skin colour begins to deepen. Often nipples darken by several shades (and may stay that way after the birth). Some mums get chloasma (a butterfly-shaped shadow on the face known as the mask of pregnancy), but it will fade. You may also get a linea nigra – a brown stripe down the middle of your bump.

Your baby
The flexible cartilage that makes up your unborn baby’s skeleton starts to harden into bone – and carries on hardening during childhood.

Take a break
The middle trimester is the best time for a holiday – once you’re past the sickness but before you get too big. Check out gurgle.com’s feature on travel for planning a trip when you’re pregnant.

Getting it right
Although you don’t have to tell your employer you’re pregnant for another 10 weeks, it can be a good idea to let him or her know early, especially if you know they’ll be positive about your pregnancy. That’s because there are a number of laws that protect your health and that of your baby at work, such as:
• The right to time off for antenatal appointments
• The right to time off for antenatal classes or parentcraft classes
• The right to an individual assessment of your working conditions
• The right to alternative work if your job is dangerous for you or your baby

MOTHERCARE TIP You may find that your company offers better rights, leave and pay than the legal minimum, so have a chat with human resources.

Week 16

You
Hormones that made you miserable with sickness last trimester, now make your hair gleam and your skin glow. Any gauntness in your face is banished by the slight plumping of your cheeks.

Your baby
Your baby is 16cm (6 1/4in) long – now more of a grapefruit than a peach. He is covered in swirls of soft hair called lanugo (don’t worry; it’ll fall out later in pregnancy). There are also swirling patterns on his fingertips as he develops the spirals of unique fingerprints. These amazing miniature fingers can also flex and grasp.

Take the test
Around now you may be offered a blood screening test that checks levels of various substances in the blood. It can give an indication as to whether your baby is at risk of conditions like Down’s syndrome. It can’t, though, give you a definite diagnosis. See gurgle.com’s feature on antenatal tests for more information.

The next step
If your blood serum screening is worrying, or if there’s another reason to believe your baby might be at risk of a genetic disorder, you may be offered an amniocentesis. A needle is inserted through your bump to collect some amniotic fluid, which contains some of your baby’s cells. These are then tested for any problems. The test carries a small risk of miscarriage.

ONE MUM SAYS… ‘I decided to have an amnio after my blood screening showed my baby might have Down’s. It was a hard decision because of the miscarriage risks, but I knew I couldn’t get through the rest of the pregnancy not knowing if my baby was ok. Luckily, everything was fine.’

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