11 Weeks

Your baby, just over 1 1/2 inches long and about the size of a fig, is now almost fully formed. Her hands will soon open and close into fists, tiny tooth buds are beginning to appear under her gums, and some of her bones are beginning to harden.

How your baby’s growing:

She’s already busy kicking and stretching, and her tiny movements are so effortless they look like water ballet. These movements will become more frequent as her body grows and becomes more developed and functional. You won’t feel your baby’s acrobatics for another month or two – nor will you notice the hiccupping that may be happening now that her diaphragm is forming.

How your life’s changing:

If you’re like most women, you’re feeling a bit more energetic now and your nausea may be starting to wane. Unfortunately, you may also be suffering from constipation (caused by hormonal changes, which can slow digestion) and heartburn (hormones again, relaxing the valve between your stomach and esophagus). Just remember, all this discomfort is for a good cause.

Don’t worry if nausea has made it impossible for you to eat a wide variety of healthy foods or if you haven’t put on much weight yet (most women gain just 2 to 5 pounds during the first trimester). Your appetite will likely return soon, and you’ll start to gain about a pound a week.

Learn which of your symptoms are normal and which are a sign that something might be wrong. You’re probably also wondering things like, Can I keep going to dance class? Could the air bags in my car hurt my baby? Which cold medications are safe to take now? Find out what’s safe and what’s not during pregnancy.

3 Questions About… Pregnancy food safety

You’ve probably heard lots of warnings about risky foods during pregnancy. While it’s true that some foods do pose a potential risk to your baby, the vast majority are safe and the risk of developing a food-related pregnancy complication is very low. Here’s the bottom line on food safety so you can make wise choices without needless worry.

Q1. What foods should I stay away from during pregnancy?

Some types of seafood are a concern during pregnancy because they may contain significant levels of pollutants such as methylmercury, which may cause harm to a child’s developing brain. On the other hand, there are benefits to eating seafood: It’s a good source of protein and the primary source of certain omega-3 fatty acids that may benefit your baby’s vision and brain development. The key is to choose those fish with the lowest levels of contaminants and eat them in moderation.

To minimize your exposure to methylmercury, the Food and Drug Administration advises that you completely avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish (also called golden or white snapper). The agency says that pregnant women can safely eat up to 12 ounces (about two servings) a week of other cooked commercially caught fish. However, this should include no more than 6 ounces of albacore (“white”) tuna or tuna steaks, which contain more mercury than canned light tuna. Some experts think this threshold is too high and recommend limiting tuna consumption to no more than 6 ounces of canned light tuna and avoiding other tuna altogether.

Also, never eat any fish caught by family or friends without first checking with local health advisories to make sure the fish isn’t from waters with unsafe levels of mercury and other pollutants. Finally, avoid raw or undercooked fish (including uncooked smoked or pickled fish) when you’re pregnant. It may harbor bacteria or parasites that could make you sick and possibly affect your developing baby.

Others foods to avoid include unpasteurized soft cheese, refrigerated pâté, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, cold deli meats, and foods that contain raw eggs (such as Caesar salad dressing, hollandaise sauce, and cookie batter) because they may contain harmful bacteria.

Q2. What drinks should I avoid?

Alcohol is the main offender during pregnancy. It travels quickly from your bloodstream to your baby, and even one drink a day can increase your baby’s risk of a problem. There’s no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy, so it’s best to avoid it completely. The other drinks to steer clear of are unpasteurized juice and milk, and eggnog. There’s a slight risk that these beverages could contain E. coli or other bacteria that could harm you and your baby.

While you may have heard that caffeine is another big no-no during pregnancy, it’s actually okay in moderation. After years of controversy, most researchers now believe that, although caffeine does cross the placenta, moderate amounts (less than 300 milligrams a day) won’t harm your baby. That’s about what you’d get from two to three 8-ounce cups of coffee. (However, you could get that much from just one 8-ounce cup if it’s brewed very strong.) And be aware that caffeine lurks in other places, such as chocolate, tea, cola, and many other soft drinks.

Q3. How can I protect myself from food poisoning?
  • Cook all meat, poultry, and fish thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to test the internal temperature of meat, or cook it until it’s no longer pink in the middle.
  • Don’t eat cold cuts or deli meat, refrigerated pâté or meat spreads, or refrigerated smoked or pickled fish unless they’re cooked until they’re steaming hot (say, on a pizza or in a casserole or hot sandwich).
  • Don’t leave leftovers out for more than two hours. Reheat them until steaming before you eat them.
  • Keep uncooked meat separate from other foods.
  • Thoroughly wash or peel all your fruits and vegetables.
  • Use hot soapy water to wash your hands – and any surface that comes in contact with unwashed produce; uncooked meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs; hot dogs; and deli meat – before you touch clean produce or cooked meat so you don’t contaminate your food.
  • Consume perishable and ready-to-eat food as soon as possible after you buy it, especially once you’ve opened the package, even if it hasn’t yet passed the “use-by” date. The use-by date refers to unopened products.

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