9 Weeks Pregnant

Ups and downs of early pregnancy

9 weeks pregnant:

What's happening with you:

Your uterus has doubled in size since you conceived -- it's now a bit bigger than a grapefruit -- and although you won't be able to feel it under your skin, it is making your waistline grow thicker. The physical symptoms are piling up, and in some cases they seem to be a little contradictory: food cravings and aversions are fairly common at this point and you may be salivating more than ever, but morning sickness is in full swing.

The same volatility applies to your emotions. Your mood swings may begin to get stronger, taking you back and forth between joy and fear, elation and worry. And while it can be frustrating to lose control of your emotional states and physical form, take comfort in the fact that you're approaching your second trimester -- a phase of pregnancy that brings relief and contentment for many women.

What's happening with your baby:

Your baby-to-be is a small but very complex embryo, about the size of a green olive or a grape. Her arms and legs have grown quite a bit over the last couple of weeks, and now the hands meet over the heart area and the feet may be long enough to meet below the umbilical cord. The little digital plates of a 9 week old fetus have sprouted fingers and toes. In general, Baby's body is straightening up by now and her features are moving into place.

Baby has all of her organs and muscle groups by now, but they still have a lot of growing to do. Most organs are just beginning to function, but her little heart is beating fast now (between 155 and 195 beats per minute), and you may be able to see those beats with a 9 week ultrasound or hear them with the help of a precise instrument called a Doppler if you visit your doctor this week.


Things to do this week:

Fine-tune your stress-relief routine. Given your worrisome thoughts about Baby's health, your increasing fatigue and your fluctuating emotions, it's no surprise that you're feeling particularly stressed out these days. Unfortunately, stress and pregnancy don't go well together, so you'll need to overcome your tension and anxiety. If you can't seem to relax and exercise is just not helping as much as you'd like, introduce two classic stress relievers -- warmth and tenderness -- to smooth out your knots of tension.

Warm bubble baths will help you relax, especially with some naturally relaxing aroma like lavender or chamomile in the tub. Keep the water warm, not hot, and you can rest assured that you and your baby are perfectly safe while you soak. If baths are not your thing, pay a visit to a prenatal massage therapist to ease the tension that's building in your back and hips, or else stay in the comfort of your own home and have your partner massage your feet. A warm heating pad, whether homemade or store-bought, will give you quick and easy relief when you can only squeeze in a few moments for yourself.


Medical musts:

As you approach the end of your first trimester, you approach the end of the most vulnerable phase of your pregnancy. Soon your risk of severe complications and miscarriage will decrease considerably, but that means this is the time to be vigilant and attentive to any changes in your body that don't seem right. Ectopic pregnancy is one possible complication that can be detected by this week, but it only occurs in about 1% of all pregnancies. However, while it's fairly rare, it can also be a very serious threat to your health, so you should get immediate medical attention if you experience warning signs of this condition.

In a normal pregnancy, your egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube and then it travels into your uterus where it implants in the cavity wall. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the egg doesn't make it to that cavity wall or when it goes too far: if it implants in the ovary, fallopian tube or cervix, your pregnancy and your body are at risk. The typical symptoms start before week 12 and include cramping, tenderness in the abdomen, bleeding, fainting, nausea and even shoulder pain. Since symptoms of ectopic pregnancy can resemble regular pregnancy symptoms, honest and thorough communication with your doctor will help catch it early, which can preserve your fertility and improve your chances of a full recovery.

Tips for your partner:

Expect to feel changes and learn how to handle them. Although, you're not the one who's overcome with hormones or sidetracked by physical discomforts battling for attention, it's not uncommon for partners to experience pregnancy-like symptoms. Whether your deep empathy is simply helping you understand how mom-to-be is feeling or you're actually experiencing some sympathy pains, acknowledge your mood swings and forgetfulness in order to stay on top of everything.

If you notice that you're sharing your partner's pregnancy brain, most notably memory lapses, take precautions and get some things out of the way while they're fresh in your mind. There's paperwork and other administrative duties that you'll need to handle, so why not get your insurance information together and pre-register at the hospital now? You'll thank yourself when mom-to-be is ready to deliver, and afterwards when you're knee-deep in the back-and-forth battle for insurance money.

This week's FAQs:

  • Is it still OK to take hot baths and use hot tubs in pregnancy?

    While a warm bath can be just what the doctor ordered for your pregnancy stress and discomfort, it's best to steer clear of very hot water, air or accessories that could bring your body temperature above the normal range for more than a moment. Moreover, the byproducts of heat matter as much as temperature, so be cautious about where you go and what you do while baby is growing.

    There's still quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the long-term effects and acceptable levels of temperature, radiation and other invisible threats, so find alternatives where you can. The low-level electromagnetic field of an electric blanket may be perfectly safe, or it may cause some harm -- more research is needed to come to a conclusion. On the other hand, there's no reason to avoid the microwave at a time when convenience really matters, since studies have shown that they can be very safe if used with caution. Standing 20 inches away from the microwave brings 100% less exposure than you have at two inches away, and as long as the seal is good working order, you should be perfectly fine using the machine for the rest of your pregnancy.

  • I'm very bloated with gas these days. Is there a way to prevent the discomfort?

    There are several things you can do to avoid bloating and gas pain in pregnancy, and most of them involve the way you eat. For one, certain foods are known to cause gas, so begin by cutting those out of your diet. The usual suspects are beans, cabbage and fried or rich foods, but this list will be different for everyone; some seemingly neutral foods may even start irritating your tummy once you become pregnant, so start paying careful attention to everything you eat.

    What you eat is one thing, but when and how you eat will also make a difference. Small meals are a must if you're trying to avoid gas, and staying regular with lots of fiber and water will fight constipation and the bloating that comes along with it. Finally, the mechanics of eating come into play: rushing through meals, big bites and the subconscious gulps you take when you're stressed out will lead you to swallow air along with your food, which is the main culprit behind the unpleasant pain and embarrassing sounds of excess gas.

  • I'm feeling very tired and weak lately. Is this normal?

    Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms in the first trimester of pregnancy, but severe fatigue can be a sign of an underlying condition. Your blood volume increases enormously (up to 50%) during pregnancy to nourish your growing baby and protect your own body after delivery, which means that there is more of each blood element -- plasma, red blood cells and white blood cells. This increase in plasma and red blood cells can cause anemia, or an iron deficiency, which can lead to severe fatigue and a general feeling of illness or poor health.

    If you find that your fatigue is getting worse or is interfering with work and other daily duties, you may want to visit your doctor to rule out anemia before it takes a greater toll on your body and your baby. In the meantime, take a close look at your diet and your prenatal vitamin to ensure you're getting adequate amounts of the most important vitamins for your pregnancy.

Helpful hint:

Your cravings, aversions, hormone fluctuations and psychological hurdles can have a powerful affect on your eating habits, and you may be starting to worry whether you're gaining enough weight or putting on too much too quickly. Every woman is different and there can't be one universal answer to the weight gain question, but keep in mind that your body will use 80,000 calories to grow your baby. This translates to an extra 100 calories each day during the first trimester and about 300 more calories a day in the following two trimesters. While your specific height, activity level and metabolism will adjust that number a little bit, be sure to increase your calorie intake slowly in these early weeks.

Pregnancy Timeline

First trimester fitness and yoga videos - Prenatal Yoga

First trimester cooking and nutrition videos - Healthy Snacks for Pregnancy

First trimester lifestyle videos - Morning Sickness Relief