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Pregnancy

11 Weeks Pregnant—Baby is Now a Fetus

Your baby graduates from an embryo to a fetus this week. This means your baby has entered a new stage of development. During the embryonic phase, your baby formed her major organs, including the brain, lungs, and heart. The fetal phase involves the growth and development of her organs and body parts. You might be showing an actual baby bump (not just bloating) this week.  

How big is my baby?

Baby’s Length: 1.61 inches.

Baby’s Weight: 0.25 ounces.

How is my baby developing? 

Your baby is now officially a fetus and will continue to look more like a baby over the next few weeks. She’s moving around quite a lot, though you still won’t feel this movement for a month or so.

This is an exciting week—by the end of it, your baby’s external genitalia will start developing into either a penis or a labia majora and clitoris. An ultrasound won’t be able to tell the gender yet, but you’re getting closer. If you’re having a girl, her ovaries have begun to form, as well.

Red blood cells are forming in her liver, and some of her bones are beginning to harden. She’s continuing to be active, and actually gets hiccups due to the early formation of her diaphragm. You won’t feel any of this. At this point, her head and the rest of her body are about equal in length. She also has tooth buds, wide-set eyes, and hair follicles. Soon, she will be able to open and close her hands.

Your baby can breathe underwater right now. She inhales and exhales small amounts of amniotic fluid to help the lungs develop.

What’s happening in my body?

Physical Symptoms

You may notice that your veins are becoming more visible, especially on your belly and breasts. As your pregnancy continues, the veins close to the surface of your hands and feet will also become more prominent. Your baby needs a lot of blood, but your veins are the ones doing all the heavy lifting. You may experience dizziness or faintness as your body struggles to produce enough blood to fill your expanding circulatory system.

The first trimester is generally exhausting, as you’re working overtime to grow a human and may not be sleeping well. You may experience leg cramps at night if you’re not getting enough magnesium or potassium. Gas and/or constipation are likely still occurring thanks to your slowed digestion. If you haven’t experienced heartburn yet, you might notice it, especially when you lie down. This is due to hormones relaxing the valve between your esophagus and stomach.

On the plus side, you may start to notice changes in your hair. During pregnancy, the estrogen and androgen hormones change the usual pattern of hair growth, resulting in less shedding and hair growing in thicker and faster. You may also experience hair texture changes, too; some women report drier or oilier hair during pregnancy. If this hair growth isn’t limited to the hair on top of your head, know that shaving, waxing, and even laser hair removal treatments are all safe during pregnancy. 

If you’re starting to show, it’s possible that your bump is now actually from your baby and uterus, rather than simply bloat, but it’s hard to know for sure. If this isn’t your first pregnancy, you’ll likely begin showing a little earlier than the first-timers.  

Prenatal Testing

If you did the NIPT, this information will likely be combined with information gathered in the nuchal translucency screening (called the NT scan). This test typically happens between weeks 11 and 14 and is used to test for Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. An NT scan is completed with an ultrasound where the baby’s nuchal fold (back of the neck) is measured. Your doctor is measuring the clear space in the tissue that is at the back of your baby’s neck; babies who have abnormalities tend to accumulate more fluid, which will cause the clear space to be larger than average.  

The results of the NT scan, along with your NIPT and one more blood test, can determine your overall risk level. During this test, your doctor usually examines your baby’s heart to look for congenital heart issues. Some doctors will also look for your baby’s gender and will reveal this information to you if you want to know. Keep in mind, it may be too early to tell and some practitioners do not share gender information at this point.

If your pregnancy is deemed high-risk, your doctor may discuss other prenatal testing options with you. These include more invasive tests, like chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis.  

Stress levels

At this time during your pregnancy, it is quite common to experience mood swings not only due to hormonal changes but because you’re likely getting less sleep. It is also completely normal to feel nervous prior to your NT scan. Nap whenever possible, practice self-care, and delegate responsibilities to your partner and other loved ones. You may not be able to eliminate stress entirely, but every little bit helps. Stress during pregnancy has been shown to affect neonatal outcomes, so taking time out for yourself means you’re helping your baby, too.

Wash your hands

Catching a cold is annoying at the best of times. Adding illness on top of pregnancy can move beyond unpleasant into dangerous. Pregnant mothers are among the most at risk for complications, hospitalization, and death related to the flu. Doctors recommend that all pregnant mothers receive a flu shot not just to protect themselves, but to protect their babies. Because infants cannot get their own flu shots until they are six months old, the only protection they have from influenza are the antibodies passed on from their mother’s flu shot.

What should I be doing?

  • Reduce foods that contribute to bloat and gassiness, such as beans, dairy, and very fibrous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli.
  • If you experience heartburn at night, try sleeping with your head slightly elevated. This can prevent stomach acid from leaking into the esophagus.
  • Be sure to take your time standing if you’ve been having trouble with faintness or dizziness. To alleviate any faintness that happens, either put your head between your knees and breathe, or lie flat, with your legs slightly elevated.
  • Look into classes or activities that help you relax and clear your mind, such as prenatal yoga or meditation. Studies show that prenatal yoga significantly reduces stress and enhances immune function during pregnancy.  
  • Prepare a list of questions for your week-12 doctor’s appointment. 


Lindsay Meisel

Lindsay Meisel is the Head of Content at Ava. She has over a decade of experience writing about science, technology, and health, with a focus on women's health and the menstrual cycle. Her work has been featured on The Fertility Hour, The Birth Hour, The Breakthrough Journal, and The Rumpus.

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