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Week by week guide to pregnancy


 Pregnancy is an amazing journey and many parents enjoy charting the progress of their unborn child. Below is a fascinating week-by-week guide which presents one point of interest per week for both Mum and Baby.

midwife  


Weeks 1-2

Mum
Once the fertilised egg has travelled down the uterine tube and reached the uterus, the pregnancy has begun in earnest.

Baby
Your baby starts life as a ball of cells, which embryologists call a blastocyst. It looks rather like a microscopic blackberry.


Week 3

Mum
You may not feel any symptoms that indicate pregnancy yet - usually the first warning women get will be a missed period.

Baby
Once the blastocyst* becomes implanted in the uterine wall, some of it's outer cells start to form into the placenta. As the placenta develops, it attaches itself to the uterus and acts as a link between you and your baby. In a few weeks your baby will begin to take nourishment through it.
Babies start life as a ball of cells called a blastocyst.


Week 4

Mum
You may experience `spotting' - small amounts of blood, like a very light period. This is a sign that the fertilised egg has successfully attached itself to the uterine wall. However if you are at all worried about your bleeding always seek medical advice.

Baby
Your baby's cells are dividing and multiplying at an ever faster rate. From now until the tenth week, the developing baby is called an embryo.


Week 5

Mum
You feel as if your period may be about to start and your breasts will feel swollen and tender. You may feel a little nauseous and may find you need to urinate more than usual.

Baby
The embryo is 2mm long. It has a head and a tail and the beginnings of a brain.


Week 6

Mum
You may be experiencing some queasiness, but only about half of all pregnant women have true morning sickness, and of these one third suffer vomiting as well as nausea.

Baby
The developing embryo is about 5mm long and is now shaped somewhat like a tiny seahorse, with a tail, head, torso and limb buds from which the arms and legs will develop.


Week 7

Mum
You may feel dizzy, in which case sit down and rest for a few minutes until the feeling passes.

Baby
Your baby is 1.3cm long and now has properly developed arms and legs, and small hands and feet have also formed, complete with tiny bumps from which the fingers and toes will grow.


Week 8

Mum
Your hormones are now starting to affect your hair, which may seem drier than usual.

Baby
On average, your baby is about 2.5cm long at this stage and looks less like a little prawn or seahorse, and much more like a tiny baby.


Week 9

Mum
You will notice that your waistline is starting to disappear, so you may now be finding your clothes are getting a bit tight. Wear unrestrictive clothing as much as possible.

Baby
Your baby is starting to make use of its developing muscles and bones by moving around in the uterus, although the baby is so small (about the size of a strawberry) and the movements so gentle that you will not be able to feel anything.


Week 10

Mum
You will definitely notice that your breasts are getting bigger and may be feeling tender, especially around the nipples.

Baby
Your baby is about 4.5cm long, and about the size of an apricot. The tiny delicate bones in the ankles and wrists have formed, and the fingers and toes are visible on ultrasound.


Week 11

Mum
If you have been suffering from morning sickness, you may now find that it is less of a problem. This is because your body is starting to adjust to the high levels of hormones circulating in your bloodstream.

Baby
Although your baby's sex was decided at conception, it is only now that the external genitals are starting to develop. By the end of the 11th week, the rest of the baby's organs are fully formed inside the torso - during the rest of the pregnancy they simply grow bigger.


Week 12

Mum
You may now notice that your weight and abdominal shape is changing, but others probably won't be aware just yet.

Baby
Your baby responds to external stimuli, such as noise or movement, and has fully-formed eyelids which are closed.


Week 13

Mum
Around this time, or sometimes a little later, a dark line, known as the linea nigra, starts to appear down the middle of your abdomen. It gets darker and more pronounced until after the birth when it begins to disappear.

Baby
The fetus is really starting to look like a baby now as the arms and legs develop and are in normal proportion with the head and body.


Week 14

Mum
You will now start to notice that all your clothes are getting much tighter around the abdomen as you fill out.

Baby
Hair has started to grow on your baby's head, and the eyebrows have formed.


Week 15

Mum
Your heart is now big enough to pump the extra blood (up to 30%) around your body and to your placenta to keep your baby properly nourished.

Baby
Your baby is now 9-10cm - about the size of a tennis ball and weighs around 50g.


Week 16

Mum
You may now feel full of energy and vitality and your skin may feel softer and more supple than usual.

Baby
Your baby's skin is semi-transparent, so you would be able to see blood vessels lying just under the surface.


Week 17

Mum
You may feel a slight pain or discomfort in your side when you move. This is a sign that the ligaments attached to your uterus are being stretched slightly. It is not usually a problem and will go away when you rest, but talk to your doctor or midwife if it gets more severe or is accompanied by other symptoms.

Baby
Your baby is starting to lay down brown fat, a deposit of fatty tissue, particularly around the torso. This will help the baby regulate body temperature after the birth.


Week 18

Mum
You may have trouble sleeping and may need more pillows to support you so you can get comfortable.

Baby
Your baby may be startled by loud noises now, causing movements that you may feel.


Week 19

Mum
You may notice the beginnings of stretch marks across your abdomen, just above your hips. Skin creams may help reduce these marks, and they will fade somewhat after the birth.

Baby
Your baby is kicking more, and can grasp and suck. During a scan, you may notice that the baby moves so much that the image can be quite difficult to follow. You may even see him or her sucking a thumb.


Week 20

Mum
You may find that your baby is more active in the evenings, and your partner will soon be able to feel movement through your abdomen.

Baby
Your baby is coated in a waxy substance called vernix. This protects the baby's delicate and wrinkled skin from the effects of being suspended in amniotic fluid for such a long time.


Week 21

Mum
You may be starting to experience heartburn after a large meal.

Baby
Your baby moves freely, swimming around your womb - which may feel strange. He may even do the occasional somersault.


Week 22

Mum
You may get a stitch down your side more often. This is sometimes caused by the muscles in your side stretching to accommodate your new shape.

Baby
Your baby's fingernails are starting to grow, as are the lines on the palms of the hands. The patterns that these lines make are unique and will stay the same throughout your baby's life.


Week 23

Mum
You may start to feel what seem like contractions, but this does not mean you are going to give birth prematurely. They are called `Braxton Hicks' contractions and are a form of `rehearsal' for the muscular movements that will occur during labour.

Baby
Your baby can hear and recognise your partner's voice, and studies have shown that fathers who speak to their unborn child are able to bond more quickly.


Week 24

Mum
You will be feeling your baby kick all the time now, and may be keeping a kick chart. Don't let it slide - it is important to monitor your baby's activity in the womb as this is another indication that your pregnancy is proceeding well.

Baby
Your baby's heartbeat can be heard by means of a fetal stethoscope placed on your abdomen, which your midwife will sometimes use. A heartbeat of about 160 neats per minute is an indication of good fetal health.


Week 25

Mum
You find you need to urinate even more often as your growing baby and expanding uterus press on your bladder. There's not much you can do to prevent this, but pelvic floor exercises will help bladder control and so are worth doing for this reason alone.

Baby
Your baby's brain is growing to fit the skull, which is now in proportion to the rest of the body.


Week 26

Mum
Stretch marks may start to appear around your hips and abdomen, if they haven't already.

Baby
Your baby's skin is becoming thicker, with more layers of fat forming just under the surface to provide insulation.


Week 27

Mum
You may start to have trouble sleeping, if you haven't already. Your increasing size makes it more difficult to find comfortable positions, and your nocturnal lavatory visits are more frequent. Do try to get as much sleep as possible - your baby is still growing at a rapid rate and needs you to be as rested as possible.

Baby
Your baby now weighs just over 1kg and is 26cm from crown to rump. The delicate eyes can now open, as the protective covers have fallen away, so he or she can practise blinking and looking around.


Week 28

Mum
Back pain can be an increasing problem as the greater weight you are carrying affects your walking posture. Try to safeguard your back as much as possible by paying attention to your posture when you are sitting and walking. Take frequent rests and prop a small cushion into the small of your back. Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes which push your pelvis forwards and put extra strain on your lower back.

Baby
As the free space inside your uterus steadily diminishes, so your baby will start to settle into a head-down position in the next four weeks or so in preparation for delivery.


Week 29

Mum
Colostrum may occasionally leak from your nipples. This is perfectly normal, but to protect your nipples from getting sore you might consider buying some breast pads.

Baby
The fatty deposits under your baby's skin are continuing to build up, with the result that the skin now looks less wrinkled and more like that of a plump newborn baby.


Week 30

Mum
Your expanding uterus is reducing the space inside you still further and your ribs may now feel a little sore.

Baby
Braxton Hicks' contractions may last up to half a minute by this stage and your baby is aware of them, even if you can't feel them most of the time.


Week 31

Mum
You may feel more breathless at times. This is normal - your heart and lungs have to work much harder now in providing oxygenated blood for you and your growing baby. Don't rush about or take on too much, as you'll need plenty of rest during these last two months.

Baby
Many babies now lie upside down, with their heads inside the cradle of mum's pelvis, ready to be born head first.


Week 32

Mum
You may be feeling really heavy and sluggish, and worry that your pregnancy seems never ending. In some ways, these can be the most difficult weeks as you prepare your home for the arrival of a newborn, and must wait and keep rested until you have carried your baby to term.

Baby
Your baby now measures 42cm and is perfectly formed. All the necessary layers of fat have yet to be laid down, and the lungs are still not capable of unassisted breathing.


Week 33

Mum
Your lower ribs or pelvis may be feeling particularly sore at the moment, in which case hot water bottles (not too hot) or a warm bath may help.

Baby
Your baby may go through periods of jerking around repeatedly, often due to hiccups. This can occur to unborn babies if they gulp a little too much of the amniotic fluid as they practice their swallowing reflex.


Week 34

Mum
Once your baby's head engages, you'll find breathing easier as there is more room above your abdomen for your diaphragm and internal organs. You may also find that if you have been suffering from heartburn this will ease up.

Baby
Your baby will be kicking less, as he or she cannot move around as freely as a month ago. Instead, your baby will shuffle and “squirm” which is the most he or she can do curled tightly inside you with the legs tucked underneath the body.


Week 35

Mum
By now your blood volume has increased by up to 40 per cent to cope with the extra needs of your changing body as well as the extra needs of your growing baby, which can sometimes make you feel breathless.

Baby
Your baby is receiving antibodies from your system via the placenta. This gives some measure of protection against infection after the birth. If you breastfeed, your baby continues to receive antibodies through your breast milk, which can help to continue the protection for up to six weeks.


Week 36

Mum
You may find that you are clumsier than usual, and feeling quite off-balance. This is normal - your bump is now so big that you have to lean back to offset the weight of the baby.

Baby
The baby's intestines are filled with a dark substance called meconium, which is made up of secretions from the baby's glands, and cells discarded as the body develops. The baby voids this substance during or straight after the birth.


Week 37

Mum
It is quite normal to find yourself cleaning out a cupboard or dusting everything in the house. This is called the “nesting instinct” because it is akin to birds preparing their nest for the arrival of eggs. Take care not to overdo it, though.

Baby
Your baby's last few weeks in the womb are spent putting on weight at a rapid rate - up to 1oz per day. No wonder you're feeling hungry!


Week 38

Mum
You may be feeling rather heavy and sluggish at times, and may be worried that you won't have enough energy for the delivery. Don't worry, the mother's body always rises to the occasion and ensures you have plenty of strength. This “winding down” prior to delivery is a way of conserving energy.

Baby
The skin on your baby's hands and feet is wrinkled after nine months in amniotic fluid.


Week 39/40

Mum
Your breasts are starting to swell and fill with colostrum - your baby's first feed. You may feel a little unsure about your emotional state, and experience some mood swings. This is usually caused by the hormonal changes initiating the onset of labour.

Baby
Your baby is practising the “rooting” reflex - moving the head from side to side while sucking. This is in preparation for breastfeeding, which can start virtually the minute your baby is born.


 All text is taken from Pregnancy: A Week-by-Week Guide by Dan Bromage
Abbeydale Press (an imprint of Bookmart Limited)
Copyright 2000 Bookmart Limited
 

Please note that the information contained on this page is for reference and entertainment only. It is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. If you have any medical concerns you should contact a health professional.