12 Weeks

Meanwhile, nerve cells are multiplying rapidly, and in your baby’s brain, synapses are forming furiously. His face looks unquestionably human: His eyes have moved from the sides to the front of his head, and his ears are right where they should be. From crown to rump, your baby-to-be is just over 2 inches long (about the size of a lime) and weighs half an ounce.

How your baby’s growing:

The most dramatic development this week: reflexes. Your baby’s fingers will soon begin to open and close, his toes will curl, his eye muscles will clench, and his mouth will make sucking movements. In fact, if you prod your abdomen, your baby will squirm in response, although you won’t be able to feel it. His intestines, which have grown so fast that they protrude into the umbilical cord, will start to move into his abdominal cavity about now, and his kidneys will begin excreting urine into his bladder.

How your life’s changing:

Your uterus has grown to the point where your healthcare provider can now feel the top of it (the fundus) low in your abdomen, just above your pubic bone. You may already be into maternity clothes, especially if this isn’t your first pregnancy. If you’re still fairly small and not yet ready for maternity clothes, you’ve no doubt noticed that your waist is thickening and that you’re more comfortable in loose, less restrictive clothing.

You may begin to feel heartburn (also called acid indigestion), a burning sensation that often extends from the bottom of your breastbone to your lower throat. Many women get heartburn for the first time during pregnancy, and those who’ve previously had bouts of heartburn may find that it gets worse. During pregnancy, the placenta produces a lot of the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach.

Particularly when you’re lying down, gastric acid can seep back up the pipe, which causes the uncomfortable burning sensation. For many women the problem doesn’t begin (or get worse) until later in pregnancy, when your growing uterus starts to push up on your stomach. The discomfort may range from mildly annoying to intense and distracting.

Sweet treat

“Instead of your morning coffee, try a cup of steamed milk with a shot of flavored syrup. Delicious – and good for you and your baby!” -Tracy

Decision Guide: Should you get an amnio?

Amniocentesis is a prenatal test performed between 16 and 20 weeks. It’s more than 99 percent accurate in identifying chromosomal disorders in your developing baby such as Down syndrome. It can also pick up several hundred other genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, and Tay-Sachs disease, as well as neural tube defects (such as spina bifida and anencephaly). Because amniocentesis is invasive and carries a small risk of miscarriage, women who choose to have it tend to be those at increased risk for genetic and chromosomal problems.

How do I decide whether to have this test?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommends that women of all ages be offered first- and second-trimester screening and diagnostic testing options. Your practitioner or genetic counselor should discuss the pros and cons of the available approaches with you. But ultimately, whether or not to test is a personal decision.

Many women choose screening and then make a decision about diagnostic testing based on the initial results. Other women choose diagnostic testing right away. (They may know that they’re at high risk for a chromosomal problem or a condition that can’t be detected by screening – or they may just feel that they want to know as much as possible about their baby’s condition and are willing to live with the small risk of miscarriage to find out.) Some women decide to have no screening or testing.

If you choose screening first, you can then decide – with the help of your practitioner or genetic counselor – whether your results indicate a high enough risk that you want to have amnio or another diagnostic test, chorionic villus sampling (CVS), to determine whether a problem exists. You’ll need to weigh your desire to know about your baby’s condition against the small chance that diagnostic testing will cause a miscarriage.

What’s the procedure like?

If you do decide you want an amnio, you can expect the procedure to take about 30 minutes (withdrawing the fluid itself usually takes less than 30 seconds). A doctor or technician uses ultrasound to pinpoint a pocket of amniotic fluid a safe distance from both the baby and the placenta. Then, under continuous ultrasound guidance, the doctor inserts a long, thin, hollow needle through your abdominal and uterine walls to extract a small amount of amniotic fluid. You may feel some cramping, pinching, or pressure during the procedure. The amount of discomfort varies from woman to woman, and even from pregnancy to pregnancy.

This Week’s Activity:

Make a baby budget. Sit down with your partner to discuss how you’ll handle new-baby expenses – clothes, food, diapers, toys, and gear can add up fast. Brainstorm where you can trim your budget to make room for your baby’s needs. Consider making some budget adjustments now, and start banking your savings for your baby.

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