Welcome to Week 12! We’ve been saying it for a few weeks now, but if you’ve been suffering from morning sickness, those symptoms should really start to lessen now. Heading into your second trimester, this is when the growth really begins—for you and your baby.
Even though it might feel like you’ve been pregnant forever—especially if you’ve had severe first trimester symptoms—it’s likely that most people who see you will still have no idea you’re pregnant, even if you’ve gained some weight in your breasts, tummy, and legs. You might also notice skin changes, including color changes in your skin.
You might be able to just now feel your uterus, which has expanded now to the size of a large grapefruit, but your baby bump is still very small (or possibly non-existent, depending on your frame). You might still be wearing your regular street clothes, too, especially if this is your first baby.
Speaking of your uterus, until now it has remained in its normal position at the bottom of your pelvis. Right around this stage, however, your uterus will gradually relocate closer to the front of your abdomen. This shift is designed to give the uterus and baby more room to grow—believe it or not, your uterus will expand in size 500 to 1,000 times its pre-pregnancy size by the time your baby is born.
Lastly, while it will be a relief to leave behind the fatigue, morning sickness, and urge to urinate of the first trimester, this doesn’t mean your hormones are done with you yet. Throughout your pregnancy, your production of progesterone increases, which can have a wide range of effects. You might feel dizzy at strange times as this hormone makes your blood vessels a little leaky, which means more of it pools in your legs and less gets up to your head (while this sounds dangerous, it is not as long as you are not so dizzy you pass out!) Your sex drive can also be dramatically affected, with some women suddenly becoming voracious lovers while others find the whole idea of sex a major turn-off. However your hormones affect you, remember to be gentle and understanding with yourself. If you’re dizzy, take a moment to relax and sit back down. Getting up slowly and staying well hydrated can help.
During your 12-week visit, make sure to ask your doctor or healthcare provider any questions you have, including questions about screening for genetic disorders such as Down’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and other abnormalities. With today’s advanced diagnostics, it is possible to screen for many genetic disorders—but that doesn’t mean you have to be screened. This is a personal decision, and it’s best to get all the information you need to help you and your partner (if you have one) to make the best decision possible.
Your baby is now 10 weeks old (using its fetal age) and about 2.5 inches from crown to rump. Last week your baby was about the size of a date—this week he or she is the size of a small onion or lime.
At this point, the major external features are mostly developed. Your baby’s facial features look very human now and have moved into their proper positions. The eyes are closed and the ears are fully formed. Little wisps of hair are even appearing on the scalp. The nose is formed. Likewise, your baby’s fingers and toes (and fingernails and toe nails) are formed, and your baby may begin to reflexively open and close fingers and toes by now.
With the external development done, many of the most exciting things are happening internally. Your baby’s brain and central nervous system are developing very rapidly, along with the major organ systems. The small intestine is now capable of absorbing sugar (although of course your baby is still receiving all of his or her nutrients from the umbilical cord). The kidneys are now functional, and the pituitary gland is beginning to operate normally and signal for the production of hormones. All of this means that your baby can now react to you, pursing his or her mouth, squeezing hands open and shut, and opening and closing his or her mouth. You won’t be able to see any of this, considering the baby is still deep within your uterus, but rest assured that it’s all happening in a normally developing baby.
“Each genetic screening test—including blood tests and ultrasounds—has its risks and benefits.”
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, November 2018