11 Weeks Pregnant
Baby's growing rapidly
11 weeks pregnant:
skeletonSkeletonThe fetal skeleton is completely formed, although the bones have yet to harden. They enclose all of the organs, which are now beginning to operate.
fingernailsFingernailsThe fingernails begin to appear as the pads of the fingertips become more pronounced.
eyesEyesThe retinas of the eyes appear as dark spots, and the eyelid folds are beginning to form around them.
What's happening with you:
Although you may not notice any physical difference between this week and last week, some symptoms could become a bit more pronounced in your pregnancy at 11 weeks. Are your hands and feet feeling warmer these days? That's likely due to the increase in blood volume and your boosted metabolism, which can also make you hungry more often. Your thirst may increase as well, which is your body's way of reminding you to keep those fluids coming.
If you're lucky, you'll also notice some of the unpleasant symptoms begin to drop off. Your second trimester is right around the corner, and it often brings more energy and less morning sickness. On the other hand, heartburn during pregnancy is hard to avoid and constipation may be on the rise, both of which can accentuate your growing tummy and leave you feeling pretty uncomfortable. A high-fiber diet, small meals and a lot of water will help you stay regular and reduce bloating.
What's happening with your baby:
The fetal period has begun and your baby will be growing at an enormous pace over the next three weeks. Now the size of a lime, an 11 week old fetus weighs about 8 grams, measures between 1 ¾ and 2 ¼ inches long and his head, which makes up half his body size, is beginning to uncurl toward his spine. Baby's tiny organs are also functioning now, including the umbilical cord that is working in tandem with the placenta to keep his body nourished and filtered.
Now that the skeleton and vital organ systems are fully formed, smaller details begin to arrive: the irises of the eyes develop under the fused eyelids, the fingernails appear and the genitals become more defined. A fetus at 11 weeks has also passed the critical stage of development -- as of this week, there's much less risk of congenital defects or fetal damage from infection.
Things to do this week:
Your uterus is continuing to grow and you may find yourself between your regular wardrobe and maternity clothing, which can leave you feeling disappointed with your new body and scrambling to find anything that will fit. Since it's probably still a bit early to make the change to maternity wear, opt for helpful accessories that are ideal for this transitional time instead.
Belly bands are popular items among moms-to-be, and for good reason -- they will let you wear your favorite pants and skirts long after you can no longer zip them up. As soon as your waistbands start to feel uncomfortably tight, wrap the stretchy belly band around the top of the waistband, your abdomen and hips to reinforce the pants or skirt. Basically, this band acts like a very wide, comfortable belt that works with your form, whether it's the beginning of a bump in your first trimester or the full belly of your third trimester. Compare different brands and styles to find the perfect fit and look for you, as you'll likely find a huge variety in online stores and local baby boutiques.
Keep a close eye on your body, and take any bleeding, pain or sudden swelling seriously. While you're nearly into your second trimester, you're not out of the woods yet -- certain pregnancy complications can become apparent at any point in the first trimester and need to be handled swiftly. The most obvious signs of trouble are heavy bleeding, painful cramping, chest pain and excessive vomiting or diarrhea that comes with fever or chills.
One symptom that may go unchecked is swelling, as water retention during pregnancy tends to cause mild puffiness in most women, but when that swelling is sudden, severe or localized, there may be something to worry about. If you or your doctor notices that your uterus is growing too big too fast, you'll likely be tested for molar pregnancy, also known as gestational trophoblastic neoplasia or GTN.
A molar pregnancy is when the tissue that normally forms the placenta grows out of control and interferes with embryo development, leading to rapid growth of the uterus. Sometimes a brownish discharge and particularly bad morning sickness accompanies the suspiciously large baby bump. If you are concerned about your size and symptoms, visit your doctor right away to have an ultrasound conducted and your hCG levels tested to determine whether you may be experiencing a molar pregnancy.
Tips for your partner:
If you haven't already done so, get acquainted with your kitchen. Many partners would much prefer to leave culinary responsibilities to mom-to-be, especially if she is a particularly good cook. However, as this first trimester has undoubtedly taught you, pregnancy can take a toll on appetite and energy stores, which can result in a pretty limited menu for everyone in the household. Luckily, the era of saltines and ginger ale is coming to an end, which makes this a perfect time to explore healthy and tasty dishes suited to a pregnancy diet (which, incidentally, will be a healthy diet for you too!)
If you're new to cooking, you may shy away from dishes that are made from scratch. Luckily, you can get around the complex cooking techniques and messy five-step methods with some clever helpers. For instance, canned corn, peas or tomatoes can serve as the base for a deliciously gourmet pureed soup (add some milk and other veggies to make it more interesting). But if you want a dish that's really impressive, affordable and deceptively easy to make, roast a chicken or lean pot roast with a few baked potatoes thrown in for good measure. Honestly, all you'll need is a bit of spice, a meat thermometer and an oven that goes to 350 degrees Fahrenheit to make a delicious feast that you can be proud of.
This week's FAQs:
I'm worried about getting hemorrhoids. What can I do to prevent them?
Hemorrhoids, which are essentially varicose veins in the rectum, can lead to pain, itching, bleeding and embarrassment. They can worsen unexpectedly, be tough to control without specialized creams (which are off-limits during pregnancy) and will occupy your thoughts to no end. No wonder most moms-to-be are concerned about developing them.
For many women, hemorrhoids are one of the more unsavory effects of later stages of pregnancy, but the constipation you are experiencing now can play a big role in their severity. Try to counteract the surging progesterone that's causing your bowel troubles by staying very hydrated and exercising regularly to keep your digestive system functioning well. Straining during bowel movements might bring them on and will surely make them worse, so do your best to relax.
My hair is growing like crazy -- and showing up in new places. Is this normal?
An increase in circulation and metabolism during pregnancy will often lead to faster hair growth and slower hair loss. The result is thicker and often more lustrous hair, a change that many women will welcome -- when it's confined to the head. However, the hormones responsible for your new mane (mainly androgens, or sex hormones) are not always selective, and you may notice hair growing on your abdomen, breasts, back or face.
Fortunately, this is a completely normal occurrence; unfortunately, you have few treatment options. If you simply cannot put up with the unwanted hair until your hormone levels return to their pre-pregnancy levels, you can pluck, wax or shave the hair away. Depilatory creams and bleaches are off limits, as the chemicals could affect your sensitive skin or your fetus. Once you give birth, your hormones should start returning to normal, and both the extra hair on your head and the bothersome hair on the rest of your body will begin to fall out.
Should I be worried that my heart seems to be beating faster these days?
With all of the extra blood running through your veins, your heart has more to handle. By the second trimester, your resting heart rate is 40% higher than it was before your pregnancy, so it's common to notice a change. While a faster heart rate is generally connected to certain health problems, when it occurs during pregnancy it's actually indicative of good health.
A harder working heart may bring some other noticeable changes like heart murmurs or palpitations. In most cases, these are nothing to worry about -- they're just side effects of your stronger, more active heart. However, abnormal heart sounds and rhythms may require treatment, so speak to your doctor if you experience any painful sensations or if the irregularities in rhythm become more frequent.
As your morning sickness wanes and you ease into a more well-rounded diet, keep in mind that not all fat is created equal. While it's definitely a good idea to limit your consumption of saturated fats, trans fats and oils, keep in mind that some "good" fats are vital for your baby's health and development.
Oily fish like sardines, salmon and herring, as well as flax seeds and walnuts, carry a substantial amount of omega-3 essential fatty acids, molecules that will actually form 60% of your baby's brain. While it's most important to consume an adequate amount of omega-3 fatty acids during the last three months of pregnancy, when baby's brain is growing at an enormous pace, introducing them sooner will help keep your blood pressure under control and kick-start a healthy pregnancy diet that you can stick with.