10 Weeks Pregnant
End of the embryonic period
10 weeks pregnant:
placentaPlacentaAt this point, the placenta is mature enough to take over as the main support system and the site of your hormone production. It is responsible for bringing oxygen and nourishment to your baby, then taking away waste products.
amniotic sacAmniotic SacThe membranes that will cushion and protect your baby in the womb are forming and filling with amniotic fluid.
What's happening with you:
Breast changes are impossible to ignore now. The tenderness that appeared early on in your pregnancy has blossomed into painful sensitivity, and you'll notice that the areola, or area surrounding the nipple, is darkening. The bumps you see around the nipple are enlarged sweat glands and the network of blue veins under the surface of your skin is brighter because more blood is moving through your body by week 10. By the end of your pregnancy, you will have gained two pounds in your breasts alone!
Your body is continuing to work very hard, and with your increasing blood volume and surging progesterone, fatigue is likely your usual state by now. Considering the emotional changes, loosening ligaments and the seemingly ever-present nausea that you're battling, this can be a tough time to carry out your regular tasks and focus on the positive. Take comfort in the fact that you've made it through an important stage, and the approaching milestones will surely bring some relief.
What's happening with your baby:
This is a big week for Baby, as it marks the end of the embryonic period and the beginning of the fetal period. A 10 week ultrasound would show that all of your baby's vital parts are now in place, and since most congenital malformations occur by the end of week 10, the most critical phase of development is almost at an end. From here on out, focus will shift to tissue and organ growth, and your placenta is getting ready to take over as the main support system for your baby.
With this transition comes another milestone -- Baby is now heavy enough to be weighed! Of course, you would only be able to measure the weight of a 10 week old fetus with a sensitive scale, since he's about 5 grams and only 1 ¼ inches, or the size of a brazil nut. In any case, take comfort in the fact that you can officially attribute some of the weight you've gained to the little body inside you.
Things to do this week:
You might find your growing breasts uncomfortable and frustrating, or perhaps you're delighted at your overflowing bosom. In either case, you can bet they'll be sticking around for the rest of your pregnancy and as long as you continue to breast feed. Your best line of defense (or enhancement, depending on how you see it) will be a new bra.
First, steer clear of flimsy styles that put fashion over function. These new breasts of yours need to be carefully supported and protected for the rest of your pregnancy if you want to stay comfy (and perky) in the months to come. Instead of squeezing into a little lacy number, invest in a couple of supportive maternity bras that offer full coverage, tough elastic instead of underwire, four rows of hook-and-eye fastenings to adjust the band size and wide, soft straps. Honor your sensitive form with a reputable brand that fits well, and be sure to visit the shop again in your second or third trimester, when you're likely to go up another cup size.
A test called chorionic villus sampling may be conducted this week to find out a few things about your developing baby. The test helps to identify genetic problems like Down syndrome, making it an appealing alternative to amniocentesis, a second trimester test that aims to uncover genetic disorders. Basically, if you do discover severe defects in the fetus with a CVS test, the pregnancy can be terminated earlier and that may bring fewer risks for you.
Not everyone will need a CVS test, so consider your specific circumstances before you make your decision. Women over 35 have the greatest risk of carrying a baby with chromosomal abnormalities, but family history and any previous pregnancies with birth defects will also affect your chances. If you do decide to have this test done, be aware of the slight health risks that it brings: while complications are extremely rare, there is about a 1% chance that you could miscarry and an even smaller chance that your baby could be born with a limb defect.
It's important to keep in mind that a CVS test won't bring all the answers you're after, and it may even bring wrong answers. Unlike amniocentesis, CVS won't be able to identify spina bifida. There's also a chance that the tissue cells your doctor will take for the test are found only in your placenta and not in the fetus, leading to a false reading. No test will show you everything about your developing baby, so weigh the risks and benefits of prenatal testing before you decide what to screen for and which testing method to use.
Tips for your partner:
You may find that you and your partner are just out of sync these days when it comes to sex, and that can be worrisome. However, it's also perfectly normal. There are many emotional phases in early pregnancy, and each can hit you hard -- from fear to excitement to anxiety, you might find that your mind is too preoccupied with prenatal concerns and expectations to even entertain the idea of sex. On the other hand, you could be yearning for intimacy while mom-to-be is making it perfectly clear that her libido is down for the count. In either case, the causes behind your sexual incompatibility are only temporary, and sometimes all you need is some reassurance.
If your problem is a psychological one, overcome it with this important fact about sex during pregnancy: for those having a low-risk pregnancy, making love will not hurt or endanger the baby. Yes, it may seem like a risky endeavor, but rest assured that the act of intercourse or the mild contractions that come with orgasm will not have any negative effect on the baby or the mom-to-be. In fact, studies show that women who remain sexually active throughout pregnancy are less likely to deliver prematurely!
This week's FAQs:
What can I do to prevent stretch marks?
Unfortunately, stretch marks can be hard to avoid in pregnancy. In fact, over 90% of expectant mothers will develop these light pink or silvery lines on their breasts, stomach, hips or buttocks. It's really no surprise that they're so common, considering that skin generally isn't elastic enough to handle such a sudden and rapid growth spurt.
On the other hand, there are a few things you can do to maintain good skin tone and reduce the effects of stretching. First and foremost, try and control your weight gain: steady and moderate weight gain through your three trimesters will help your skin adjust to your new form gradually instead of forcing it to comply with a big weight increase all at once. Nutrition plays a big role in skin elasticity, too, so be sure to focus on whole foods that are high in nutrients and drink plenty of water. And while there's no proof that special creams will protect against stretch marks, hydrated skin is healthy skin, so adding a moisturizer to your battle plan can't hurt.
Can I be vaccinated against diseases during my pregnancy?
It's a good idea to get caught up with your vaccinations well before you get pregnant, since not much is known about the effects of vaccines on developing babies. If you do get pregnant before you've had a chance to be immunized against potentially harmful diseases like mumps, measles and rubella, your best course of action is to do your very best to avoid exposure.
There are a couple of cases where immunizations are safe and even recommended for pregnant women. The seasonal flu vaccine is one such case, and it's recommended that all moms-to-be who are in their second or third trimester during flu season get the shot. It's also safe to get a tetanus shot during your pregnancy if needed, but any live vaccines will need to be administered after you deliver your baby.
I'm starting to crave strange foods these days -- is this normal? Should I give in to my cravings or fight them?
Cravings are a given when your body starts to pump out pregnancy hormones, and for the most part they're simply a nuisance. Whether you subscribe to the pickles and ice cream passion or you're turning into an insatiable carnivore, try to limit your indulgences and maintain a nutritious pregnancy diet most of the time, and you'll be just fine.
In many cases, a craving is your body's way of telling you which vitamins and minerals may be missing from your diet; in rare cases, cravings involve highly innutritious things, which can threaten your body and your baby. Pica is the urge to eat inedible things like chalk, dirt, paint chips, coal, toothpaste or clay, and when a mother-to-be gives into this urge, she can cause a great deal of harm. Pica can interfere with your body's ability to absorb essential minerals and can even have toxic consequences, so you'll want to mention any extreme cravings to your doctor as soon as possible.
Do you find that getting through the work day is, well, hard work? From sudden fits of fatigue to hunger pains to sore joints and muscles, an eight hour stretch can seem twice as long when your pregnancy symptoms escalate. However, there are a few techniques that will help you continue to work safely and comfortably through your pregnancy. First, be sure to keep healthy snacks close at hand (your top desk drawer is a good site) and adjusting your desk and chair height to promote better posture can keep aches and pains at bay. If stress is a major factor in your work, learn to delegate tasks and be sure to incorporate small periods of meditative breathing, stretching and strolling into your day to calm your mind.