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Pregnancy

9 Weeks Pregnant—Baby Starting to Look Like a Newborn

At 9 weeks pregnant, you’ve reached a significant milestone:  marking the start of the third month of your pregnancy. Your baby’s heart is finishing dividing into four chambers, and heart valves begin to form.

Your baby 

Your baby’s neck is much more developed, and her head is more erect, too. She will begin to look more and more like a newborn baby over the coming weeks. She’s moving around more—though you still won’t feel this as she’s still tiny. Her arms are starting to grow, her bones are developing, and she can bend her arms at the elbows. Your baby’s ears and eyelids continue to develop, and her toes begin to form. Even more exciting, her heart finishes dividing into four chambers, and heart valves begin to form. Her embryonic “tail” has disappeared, and her external sex organs are formed, but you won’t actually be able to tell the gender for a few more weeks.   

Your body

Even if you haven’t yet gained weight, now may be the time you notice that your pants are getting a bit tighter. Your uterus is continuing to grow which is likely causing your waist to thicken. However, if you’ve been struggling with nausea and vomiting, you may not have noticed any marked weight changes.  Craving certain foods—or even having an aversion to foods you once loved—is very common; you have progesterone and estrogen to thank for these changes.

You may also notice heartburn due to these pregnancy hormones relaxing the valve between your stomach and esophagus, allowing stomach acid to leak into the esophagus.

Prenatal testing

Non-invasive prenatal testing is a personal decision. Some women don’t give it a second thought and opt in or out without hesitation. Others find this decision much more difficult, not knowing how they would proceed if a genetic disorder is detected. If you decide to continue with testing, waiting for the results can be excruciating. But for some women, especially those considered high-risk, this test can provide a sense of relief that genetic disorders are unlikely and more-invasive testing is not needed.    

Check-ups

Any time after nine weeks of pregnancy, you may elect to have noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT). NIPT is an optional, simple blood test where cell-free DNA (cfDNA) is analyzed to determine your baby’s level of risk for certain genetic disorders including Down syndrome (trisomy 21), Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18), and Patau syndrome (trisomy 13). Though this blood test is not 100 percent conclusive, it is highly accurate. This information will likely be combined with data from the nuchal translucency screening (which happens in the next two to five weeks) to help determine whether additional diagnostic tests are appropriate. If you decide to do genetic testing, an added bonus is that you can find out the gender. If you prefer a surprise, your doctor will hide this in your results.  

Pregnancy discharge

Most instances of pregnancy discharge are normal, but in the cases of bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection, you’ll want to call your doctor.

Bacterial Vaginosis

What it looks like: white-grey discharge, can have a foul or fish-like smell, sometimes can present with itching and burning

What it means: This can be a sign of bacterial vaginosis, or when bacterial overgrowth leads to infection. These symptoms can be easily confused with yeast infection symptoms, so talk to your doctor to confirm whether it is bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection.

What Should You Do: See your doctor immediately. Bacterial vaginosis can travel to the uterus and can increase the chances of preterm labor. Your doctor may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics to treat the infection.

What it looks like: usually clear, but can have a tint of yellow, green, or pink, and will not have an odor.

Yeast Infection

Symptoms: thick, white discharge along with itching

What it means: Major hormone changes can cause an imbalance in vaginal bacteria and yeast growth, leading to a yeast infection. Pregnancy hormones increase the likelihood of yeast infections.

What to do: Many women experience yeast infections during pregnancy, but if you’re not sure if it’s a yeast infection or if you’ve never had one before, check with your doctor to confirm. Sometimes the symptoms can be confused with bacterial vaginosis (described below), but it’s essential to distinguish between the two. If it’s a yeast infection, anti-fungal suppositories and creams can be used, and you can ask your doctor for recommendations about which ones are best or if a prescription treatment is necessary.

Normal pregnancy discharge

What it looks like: thin, white, milky discharge

What it means: It means that your pregnancy hormones are rising, particularly estrogens.

What to do: It’s perfectly normal to observe this form of discharge as it simply means there are major hormone changes happening, as to be expected with pregnancy. So you don’t need to do anything! (For more information about pregnancy discharge, check out our post on what it means and when to see a doctor.)

Infections during pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, you can be more susceptible to complications from infections like the flu, pneumonia, hepatitis, herpes, and malaria. There is also some evidence for increased severity of measles and smallpox. The reasons why aren’t well understood, but infection prevention, as well as early identification and treatment of suspected infections like the flu during pregnancy, are critical.

How to prevent infections in pregnancy

  1. Maintain good handwashing hygiene, especially if you’re around small children.
  2. Avoid contact with people who are ill.
  3. Stay up to date on the Zika virus and whether it’s active where you live or may be traveling.
  4. Talk to your doctor about vaccinations.
  5. Avoid unpasteurized milk and products made from it. (Learn more about Listeria.)
  6. Talk to your doctor about Group B Strep.
  7. Protect yourself from and get tested for STDs.
  8. Stay away from cat litter, rodent droppings, and have any rodents professionally removed from your home. (Learn more about Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, a rodent-borne viral infectious disease.)

 

 

 

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