You may have already had your first prenatal visit — you’ll likely have one between weeks eight and 10. Most women look forward to these visits, which will grow more frequent as your pregnancy progresses.
Your baby is still miniscule, weighing in at just one-third of an ounce, but each day brings new milestones in her growth and development. By the end of the 10th week, your child has moved out of the embryonic stage and is now a fetus, which means “offspring” in Latin.
The brain is developing at the astonishing rate of almost 250,000 neurons each minute. At this stage, the baby’s head still appears very large in relation to the body, with a high, bulging forehead. The eyelids are fused and will remain so until after 24 weeks. Twenty tiny tooth buds are taking form in the baby’s gums. At this point the fingers are almost fully separated, although the toes may still be webbed for a few more days, and joints have formed at the wrists and ankles. If your baby is a male, his testes will start producing testosterone.
As of week 10, all the vital organs are formed and are starting to operate in concert. The heart is now beating at a regular 140 beats a minute. During this week, your baby can move her limbs separately. The soles of the feet face each other. The spinal cord and the nerves attached to it are all in place.
As of this week, your baby is far less likely to develop any new congenital problems. Still, congenital problems developing in the first 10 weeks may not become apparent for quite some time, and to increase the probability of a healthy outcome, you will still want to take good care of yourself and your baby in the weeks ahead. Avoid smoking and drinking (smoking is linked to miscarriage and preterm labor, and alcohol can cause brain damage to the fetus), and treat yourself to plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Bloating, gas, and other minor irritations
As you grow along with your baby, you are probably noticing that your body is presenting you with some surprising changes — some more pleasant than others. As you enter the second trimester, you’ll probably start feeling pretty good — you’re starting to get over your morning sickness, and you’ll find your energy returning. But you can expect to have occasional pains and achiness as your body grows and adjusts to the additional weight.
Many pregnant women also experience a sometimes embarrassing side-effect: chronic bloating and gassiness. Like so many other pregnancy-related problems, hormones are the likely culprits. The hormone progesterone slows your digestive organs, which can lead to pain, flatulence, abdominal swelling, and general discomfort. Heartburn, which usually shows up toward the end of the second trimester, sometimes rears its head, as does constipation and indigestion.
There isn’t anything you can do to avoid these problems altogether, but you can certainly ease them. Avoid foods like certain beans, carbonated drinks, and sugarless gum or candies that contain sorbitol, all of which produce a lot of gas. Replace large, heavy meals with small, light ones and frequent snacks. Exercise aids digestion, so take a walk after you eat whenever you can. You can also take over-the-counter calcium products like Tums or Rolaids, which ease digestion problems and also boost calcium intake.
Another annoying symptom of pregnancy is a chronic stuffy nose and nosebleeds. The nasal congestion is caused by hormonal changes, and there isn’t much you can do about it. You can ease your symptoms by using pure saline sprays and a humidifier at night to ease dryness, but as usual, don’t try other medications or sprays without consulting your physician.
The first prenatal visit
You may have already had your first prenatal visit — you’ll likely have one between weeks eight and 10. Most women look forward to these visits, which will grow more frequent as your pregnancy progresses, as an opportunity to check in with an expert about what is going on with their bodies, to discuss any concerns, and — perhaps most exciting of all — to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
At each visit, your practitioner will check your weight, blood pressure, and urine; measure your abdomen and the position of the baby; and check the baby’s heartbeat. At your first visit, your practitioner is likely to conduct a physical examination, take your personal and family medical history, counsel you on diet and exercise, and send you for a series of blood tests. It’s a good idea to make a list of any questions and concerns you have before each visit, so you can make the best use of your time with your practitioner.
Pregnancy Calendar, Week 10, from Nemours Foundation. http://kidshealth.org/
Campbell, Stuart, MD. Watch Me Grow! St. Martins Press.
Supple, William F. Jr., PhD. Becoming A Baby: How Your Baby Grows From Day-to-Day. Picket Fence Publishing.
Curtis, Glade, OB/GYN and Judith Schuler, M.S. Your Pregnancy Week by Week. Da Capo Press, 5th edition.
Fetus, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition.
Shanahan, M. Kelly. Your Over-35 Week by Week Pregnancy Guide. Prima Publishing.
Todd, W. Duane, editor, et al. The Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Complete Guide to Pregnancy. Crown Publishers.
“Gas in the Digestive Tract.” National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disorders.
Sears, William and Martha Sears. The Pregnancy Book. Little, Brown and Company.
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What to Expect When Your Expecting