13 Weeks Pregnant
A time of relief and excitement
13 weeks pregnant:
mouthMouthThe muscles around the mouth are some of the most important, and these are maturing quickly. Now your baby can open and close her mouth, suck amniotic fluid and yawn.
eyes & earsEyes and EarsEyes have moved forward to the front of the face, while the ears have moved up to the sides of the head.
liverLiverA baby's liver will begin to secrete bile at this point, helping to advance the digestive process.
What's happening with you:
Congratulations, you've made it through what many consider to be the most vulnerable and most uncomfortable phase of pregnancy! As you round the bend into your second trimester, you're probably already feeling the spoils of victory: decreasing or disappearing morning sickness, a spike in energy and a growing appetite. Your body has adjusted to pregnancy hormones and this means some relief from the discomforts you have been struggling with for the last few months. Of course, every woman is different, and some of the more unlucky moms-to-be will deal with their discomforts for a while longer.
This week can bring some happy changes, but perhaps the greatest relief of all is your drastically reduced risk of miscarriage. The most important developments have taken place in your pregnancy at 13 weeks, and your baby is very likely growing just as expected. Now that the risk has dropped by about 65%, many women feel comfortable announcing the pregnancy to friends and family. In many cases, you won't have much of a choice -- your uterus is almost certainly pushing out the beginnings of a baby bump!
What's happening with your baby:
A fetus at 13 weeks is around 3 inches now and weighs between ½ ounce and ¾ ounce (or 13 to 20 grams). Her peach-sized body has doubled in weight over the last two weeks, but her head (which composed nearly half of the body length until now) won't be growing quite as fast as the rest of her body through the next two trimesters.
While your baby continues to grow in length, her internal organs are growing in complexity. Her liver begins to secrete bile, her pancreas starts to produce insulin and her intestines have moved from the umbilical cord into her abdomen. Changes are happening on the outside of a 13 week old fetus, too: the eyes have moved closer together on the front of the face, the ears are settling on the side of the head and the little muscles around the mouth are able to form a smile or a frown. A 13 week ultrasound would show a tiny human form with limbs, a discernible head and a fluttering heart beat.
Things to do this week:
Are you basking in the glow of your radiant complexion? Many women experience the "pregnancy glow" that comes with a greater blood volume, a slightly higher body temperature and water retention. On the other hand, fluctuating hormones can lead to breakouts, blemishes and broken blood vessels that are perfectly harmless but extremely frustrating. Whether you want to overcome your skin distress or hold on to your smooth complexion, adopt a pregnancy skin care regimen now that you can stick with through the coming months.
In addition to cleaning your face at least once a day with a mild cleanser, be sure to use hypoallergenic makeup and apply sunscreen on exposed skin every day. Pregnancy hormones can make your skin more sensitive than usual, so you'll need to be extra careful to cover up in the sun and keep your skin hydrated with moisturizers like vitamin E and cocoa butter. If you haven't already, find a stretch mark cream that incorporates these rich natural oils to keep your skin supple and prevent stretch marks as your breasts, belly and hips continue to grow.
Remember that what runs through your body will very likely cross the placenta, so be particularly attentive to your diet and any symptoms of illness. Hormones can do funny things, and your body during pregnancy might react strangely to things that you would normally enjoy. Caffeine, for instance, can bring on headaches, jitters and stomach upset, even if you had never had a bad reaction to coffee or cola before. Of course, there's also the risk of harming your baby with too much of a given substance, so discuss your diet openly with your doctor to ensure that you're not counteracting your good intentions with one poor choice.
Nine months is a long time, and chances are you won't get through your pregnancy without a sniffle or two. Although a cold will leave you feeling lousy, take comfort in the fact that your stuffiness, headache and even mild fever won't hurt your baby at all. On the other hand, coming down with the flu during pregnancy can cause some trouble for you and your baby, so it's important to speak to your doctor when you're hit with weakness, severe fatigue, a deep cough or a fever above 102 degrees Fahrenheit. If you let the flu go untreated, especially if one of the symptoms is a high fever, it could lead to birth defects or premature delivery.
Tips for your partner:
Inject some intimacy into your relationship with your own brand of prenatal massage, which can also help mom-to-be maintain healthy, toned skin. She's carrying a heavier load now, and that can begin to take its toll on her back, hips, legs and feet. A massage for her aching muscles will sound like heaven at the end of a long day, so get some vitamin E cream to help your hands glide over her skin.
Sex during pregnancy can be great or it can be, well, less than great. If intimacy has taken a back seat to prenatal visits and pregnancy books, a massage can be the perfect way to spark a romantic mood. First trimester discomforts are likely beginning to drop off, so your partner might feel sexier now. On the other hand, it can take some time to overcome your worries and hang-ups about the safety of sex in pregnancy, so a massage can also be a nice replacement for sexual intimacy until you're both feeling ready for sex.
This week's FAQs:
- Is it normal for my skin to get patchy and darker?
Skin changes during pregnancy affect every woman a bit differently, but there are some common conditions that can stick around throughout your last two trimesters. Women who have darker skin may notice a dark brown or black line that runs vertically down the middle of the abdomen. This is called the linea nigra, and it's brought on by pregnancy hormones, which are also responsible for your darkening areolas and the spider veins that pop up on various parts of your body.
Another fairly common condition is known as chloasma, or mask of pregnancy. On lighter- skinned moms-to-be, this is a patchy brown marking on the face, but it shows up as a lighter discoloration on darker-skinned women. This too is brought on by hormones, so chloasma will typically begin to fade after delivery and eventually disappear. If you notice your freckles or moles darkening as well, you can blame the hormones and rest assured that your skin will eventually return to normal.
- I'm beginning to worry that the new baby will disrupt our family. How do I prepare my first child for her new baby brother or sister?
Now that you're announcing your pregnancy to friends and family, you're faced with the challenge of informing your other child that a baby is on the way. This can be an easy or a difficult task, and a lot will depend on the age of your child and how you present the situation. A good place to start is with your child's interest in babies: explore their fascination and curiosity with books, pictures and visits to other families with newborns. Talk about what's happening in your tummy and how your child can participate in your pregnancy, whether that's helping to decorate the nursery or sitting by your side at your prenatal check-ups.
Sibling rivalry is a tough reality, but keeping young children involved in the pregnancy will reassure them that their role in the family is every bit as important as the new baby's. Give them a little gift when you're expecting friends or family to stop by, since visitors usually come bearing gifts for the baby and you don't want your other child to feel left out. Do what you can to intercept any situation that may lead to resentment or jealousy, and you'll be ahead of the game when the time comes to introduce the new addition to your family.
- My morning sickness is fading, but I have so much saliva that it makes me queasy sometimes. What can I do about it?
In the first few months of pregnancy, the salivary glands go into overdrive: your cheeks and tongue may begin to swell, saliva starts to taste bitter and all of a sudden there are copious amounts of it. The name for the condition is ptyalism, and though it's rather uncomfortable, it's harmless to you and you baby.
The only thing to do is try to counteract the unpleasant sensation until you hit the halfway point of your pregnancy, when excessive saliva will generally vanish. Sometimes you can reduce the symptoms by cutting down on starchy foods and adding more fruit to your diet. Mint is the best mask for a bitter taste, so chew on gum and brush your teeth frequently to freshen up.
Your baby's senses are developing, and you're helping to shape them with the choices you make. A 13 week fetus is starting to swallow amniotic fluid, which will contain the flavor and odor of the foods you eat, and while his ears won't be fully formed until week 24 or so, there is some evidence to suggest that your baby can start to sense sounds now. This means that your baby is beginning to learn about you, and your voice is becoming the most familiar and comforting sound to his ears. Nurture this blossoming connection to the life inside you by communicating with your little one and choosing a wide variety of healthy food!