14 Weeks Pregnant
A bigger and better beginning
14 weeks pregnant:
neckNeckThe neck has formed and can hold the head up off the chest now.
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.
legsLegsAlthough you won't be able to feel them quite yet, the baby's legs can push and kick in reaction to the sounds and movement outside your belly.
What's happening with you:
Welcome to your second trimester! Many women agree that the start of the second trimester is the dawn of a fantastic phase, one that's full of vitality and unmistakable milestones. Your hormones are still hard at work, but your body has grown used to them, and that unpleasant morning sickness is starting to wane. Most women report feeling more energized, content and excited as they enter this next phase of pregnancy, even if it brings some mild discomforts and surprising changes.
Your regular outfits are probably not fitting very well these days, as your uterus has grown up and out. That expanding uterus is pushing on your organs and your bladder as well as your waistband, so don't be alarmed if you feel some aches and pains in your abdomen or if you need to visit the bathroom more often. Heartburn, gas and bloating are probably still bothering you, but headaches and breast tenderness are becoming less severe and less frequent at 14 weeks pregnant. If you're still struggling with nausea and fatigue, be patient: the vast majority of moms-to-be find relief within the first weeks of this trimester.
What's happening with your baby:
At around four inches long (9 cm or so), Baby is the size of your fist and weighs about an ounce. Her little body is continuing to unfold, and her chin no longer rests on her chest. Her reflexes are becoming smooth and regular, too: she can bend, flex, kick and recoil from pressure and sounds, although it's still a bit early to feel any of her movements. The eyes and ears of a 14 week old fetus have moved into their appropriate positions, though they still have a lot of developing to do. She may even have a wisp of hair on her head by now!
Your placenta is almost fully functioning, and it continues to provide oxygen and nutrition to the developing fetus at 14 weeks through the umbilical cord. However, your baby-to-be is actively exercising the abilities she'll need as soon as she leaves the womb: her lungs are practicing breathing movements in preparation for the big day, although they're taking in amniotic fluid instead of air right now.
Things to do this week:
If morning sickness kept you confined to your bathroom for a good part of the first trimester, you're probably itching to get out and interact now that you have more energy and less nausea. This is a great time to journey out of your corner of the neighborhood and greet the outside world, since the most vulnerable phase of fetal development has come and gone. However, you still need to be careful about where, when and how you travel during pregnancy.
Generally, the middle of the second trimester is the best time to take flight, when the risk of miscarriage and other complications is at its lowest. Air travel during pregnancy is generally fine, but check with your doctor before you fly if you're at a higher risk for complications. This is also a good time to embark on a road trip, since morning sickness is (hopefully) long gone and you'll be able to look at the passing scenery instead of the inside of a plastic bag. If you are still a little queasy, motion sickness wrist bands can help fight off the nausea, and loose-fitting clothes will keep you comfortable while you're buckled up. Taking care of your health should be your number one concern, so stick to your pregnancy diet wherever you go and be sure to balance rest and activity with regular stops en route to stay comfortable and keep up your circulation.
There are a few types of places to avoid while you're pregnant. For instance, high altitudes can compound your breathlessness and may limit the amount of oxygen that gets to your baby. Other areas will require you to be immunized against certain diseases, but vaccinations during pregnancy can bring risks. And then there are the places that, despite their rich culture and intrigue, are simply too risky for your health and safety. This is not a time to take chances, so if you've been longing to visit the Indian subcontinent or vacation in the Alps, you'd better wait until your little one has arrived.
While it may seem like your only concern, pregnancy doesn't trump other health conditions; sometimes you need a certain test or examination that has nothing to do with your pregnancy, but could have a powerful effect on it. While a 14 week ultrasound will show you an image of your baby, it doesn't use harmful rays to do so. On the other hand, tests such as X-rays, CT scans and MRIs involve small amounts of radiation, and the effects of radiation on developing babies can be severe.
Radiation can lead to mutations in your developing baby and his risk of developing cancer later in life will increase. But what if your doctor needs to conduct an X-ray to diagnose a potentially serious danger to your health? Well, you'll need to determine the risk and whether there's another way to go about diagnosing your condition. In turn, it's very important to be open and honest about your pregnancy and how far along you are, no matter which type of healthcare professional you visit for medical tests during pregnancy.
You shouldn't put off important dental procedures, whether you're pregnant or not. Infection, pain and injury to your mouth can have terrible consequences for you and your baby if left untreated, so this is the time to have any dental work done. Luckily, steps can be taken to prevent any radiation from reaching your uterus, and emergency procedures that require medication and antibiotics won't pose much of a risk to you or your baby as long as your physician is informed and your dentist takes extra caution.
Tips for your partner:
The most vulnerable period of the pregnancy has passed and mom-to-be is likely feeling a bit more comfortable, so packing up the car for a little road trip or a visit with family and friends may be a nice idea. However, don't expect road trips to be like they used to be: a pregnant body is a demanding body, and you'll need to adapt your journey to suit those demands. First, don't try to stick to a strict schedule, since a number of factors can quickly throw you off course. For one, you'll likely be stopping fairly regularly so mom-to-be can get out and move around, plus frequent bathroom trips are a given when a bladder is at the mercy of a growing uterus.
No matter where you're going, you'll want to keep a good supply of snacks and water in the car so you don't have to go looking for a restaurant when hunger strikes. And while your pregnant partner is more energetic these days, remember that fatigue can hit hard at any time, so you should probably be on driving duty for now.
This week's FAQs:
My gums bleed every time I brush. Is this a serious problem? How can I avoid it?
Bleeding gums are pretty common during pregnancy, and they can be blamed on pregnancy hormones, which tend to inflame mucus membranes and cause them to bleed more easily. The easy dental hygiene routine you knew before pregnancy has become a dreaded and sometimes painful exercise, but as long as the pain and bleeding are mild to moderate, a softer toothbrush and more frequent brushing will be the best tools to calm your aching gums.
When your gums turn red, become very tender and start bleeding fairly frequently, you may be suffering from gingivitis. Not only is this a very uncomfortable dental condition, but it can turn into periodontitis, or gum disease, which can have an effect on your baby's development. As with other conditions, it's easier to prevent than treat gum disease, so brush soon after eating sugary foods, consume more vitamin C to strengthen your gums and see your dentist at least once during your pregnancy to get a good cleaning.
Is it normal to be this congested all the time?
If you're talking stuffy nose, clogged sinuses and postnasal drip that never seem to go away, then yes, it's quite normal. Actually, nasal congestion is a widespread complaint during pregnancy, as the high levels of progesterone and estrogen cause mucus membranes (like the nasal lining) to swell and produce more fluid than normal.
You might find that you're also getting more nosebleeds these days, which can be attributed to increased blood flow that's putting pressure on the veins in your nose. Dry air can really aggravate the problem, so you may want to invest in a humidifier for the winter months. For quick relief from the congestion, you can try a saline nasal spray (not a medicated spray) or breathe steam from a simmering pan of water. You can stop a nose bleed by applying pressure just below the bridge of your nose for a few minutes.
My friend insists that exercise is bad during pregnancy, but I also hear that it can be good for my baby. Should I be exercising at all?
Exercise is a controversial subject in pregnancy, and like many other elements of a healthy lifestyle, it can be good or bad depending on how you use it. Generally, pregnancy fitness is a fantastic addition to your prenatal routine, as it can boost your immune system, prepare your muscles for labor and keep your energy and metabolism up. However, it's not always a good idea to carry on a challenging exercise routine, and some exercises are simply not appropriate when the health of your baby is your highest priority.
As with many debates, there's truth to both sides of the pregnancy exercise question. While regular light to moderate exercise can do wonders for your mental and physical health, over-training (that is, exercising to the point of exhaustion) can actually wear down the immune system. If you do get sick, follow the neck-down rule: when your symptoms are concentrated in your head (a common cold), a little exercise can help clear them up faster, but any pain and discomfort below the neck (chest cough, fever, aches and other flu-like symptoms) means that you need to rest and recover completely before getting back to your workouts.
Now that your appetite is on the rise, you may be tempted to revisit some of your favorite foods. Variety is good for any diet, but as you know, food safety is especially important during pregnancy. The dangers of eating raw fish or spoiled anything are pretty evident, but there are other dangerous dishes that are cleverly disguised as safe choices. Traditional Caesar salad dressing contains raw egg, as does that fluffy lemon meringue pie and tiramisu that you've been craving. Some vegetables are particularly prone to bacteria, especially those that grow under the soil, so take good care when washing your produce. Even if you only suffer a short bout of food poisoning, your baby could be severely affected, so it pays to know exactly what you're eating and how safe it is.