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Pregnancy

12 Weeks Pregnant—Wrapping Up the 1st Trimester

You’re almost at the end of your first trimester, which means the rollercoaster of hormone-induced pregnancy symptoms may begin to ease off. You might notice you have more energy and feel closer to your pre-pregnancy self. Now about the size of a lime, your baby is still growing rapidly; he has more than doubled his size in the past three weeks.

How big is my baby? 

Baby’s Length: 2.13 inches.

Baby’s Weight: 0.49 ounces.

How is my baby developing? 


Twelve weeks into your pregnancy, your baby is developing reflexes. If you have a 12-week ultrasound and give your belly a poke, you’ll likely see movement even though you can’t feel it yet.

She’s now able to open and close her fingers and curl her toes and is continuing to get larger and stronger. She looks much more like a little person now, with a distinct profile that looks like a baby. You might be able to determine gender visually this week, but at 12 weeks the anatomy of girls and boys still looks quite similar; chances are, you won’t find out your baby’s gender for a few more weeks.

Your baby’s intestines have grown so rapidly that they extend unto the umbilical cord. About now, they’ll begin moving into his abdominal cavity.

 

What’s happening in my body? 


Around this time is when many women start to feel a bit more back to “normal.” Energy levels rise, and your appetite might re-emerge as well. Your pregnancy hormones, including progesterone and estrogen, are starting to level off. Though you might feel less nausea, headaches and dizziness can still occur due to the increases in blood, drops in blood sugar, lack of sleep, stress, blood pressure changes, or dehydration. To avoid dizziness, be sure to eat small meals and snacks regularly throughout the day, and keep reaching for your waterbottle, even when you don’t feel thirsty.

During your pregnancy, you may experience increased vaginal discharge. Leukorrhea (clear, vaginal discharge) helps protect your vagina from infection and is completely normal. If you’re noticing other colors staining your underwear, the discharge may signify an infection. Infections during pregnancy could cause preterm labor. Speak to your doctor if you notice any of the changes described below:

Vaginal Discharge: What does it mean?

  • Before 37 weeks, any increase or change in the type of discharge, especially if it becomes watery or bloody, can be a sign of preterm labor. That said, the cervix is very sensitive during pregnancy, and if you’re spotting after sex, it may be completely normal. Don’t panic, but do talk to your doctor.

 

  • If you’re feeling pain with urination or intercourse; itching, burning, or soreness; or if your vulva looks inflamed and you notice a whitish, odorless discharge, you could have a yeast infection. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to yeast infections, and because you can pass this infection on to your baby, appropriate treatment is necessary.

 

  • After sex, if you notice a thin white or grey discharge and a fishy smell when the discharge mixes with semen, you might have bacterial vaginosis, a different kind of vaginal infection.

 

  • If your discharge is yellow/green and frothy accompanied by an unpleasant odor, you might have trichomoniasis, a common sexually transmitted infection. Other symptoms of trichomoniasis include a red, itchy, or irritated vulva or vagina, and discomfort during sex or while peeing.
  • If your discharge smells bad, is frothy, or is yellow, green, or grey, you may be suffering from another type of vaginal infection or sexually transmitted infection, even if the discharge isn’t accompanied by symptoms of burning, irritation, or itching.

Check-Ups 

Some women will have another prenatal check-up at week 12, but this will depend on your doctor’s preference, your pregnancy risk level, and your insurance coverage. If you have an exam, your doctor will likely check your baby’s heartbeat with either a fetal Doppler or an abdominal ultrasound. A Doppler is a handheld device that allows your doctor to hear your baby’s heartbeat. A urine test will likely be done to check your protein and glucose levels.  

Monitor Your Stress 

Stress during pregnancy should be reduced as much as possible. As you near the end of your first trimester, the reality of your baby has probably set in. Now that you’re almost a third of the way through your pregnancy, you might realize how much you have to do, and how fast the time is going. Try not to become overwhelmed. Enjoy this time as much as possible.  

What should I be doing?

If you haven’t informed your employer about your pregnancy, make a plan for how and when you to share the news. Read up on your company’s maternity leave policies. Treat this meeting with your employer the same way you’d treat any other important discussion. Reassure your supervisor that you’ll be on top of things until you leave, that you’ll bring your mat leave replacement up to speed, and that you’re looking forward to your return. Don’t apologize or feel guilty for taking time off to have a baby.

If you’re not doing them already, start doing your Kegels. You’re going to put your pelvic floor muscles through a lot in a few months, and exercising them now reduces your chances of bladder issues and other symptoms during and after your pregnancy. Squeeze the pelvic floor muscles for 10 seconds, aiming for three sets of 20 every day.

Practice good oral hygiene. One study found that bacteria from a mother’s mouth can be transmitted to her baby via blood and amniotic fluid, potentially contributing to the risk of premature delivery, a low birth-weight baby, the premature onset of contractions, or infection in the newborn.  

Don’t skip the hand sanitizer. Recent studies have found that increased maternal inflammatory markers left by infection (as well as stress and obesity) can negatively affect fetal brain development.


Jackie Ashton

Jackie is a science writer for Ava, with a decade of experience in journalism—interpreting clinical studies and research papers for outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post.

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