New this week: Webbed fingers and toes are poking out from your baby’s hands and feet, his eyelids practically cover his eyes, breathing tubes extend from his throat to the branches of his developing lungs, and his “tail” is just about gone.
How your baby’s growing:
In his brain, nerve cells are branching out to connect with one another, forming primitive neural pathways. You may be daydreaming about your baby as one sex or the other, but the external genitals still haven’t developed enough to reveal whether you’re having a boy or a girl. Either way, your baby – about the size of a kidney bean – is constantly moving and shifting, though you still can’t feel it.
How your life’s changing:
You may notice that your bra is getting more snug. Soon you’ll likely need a larger size with better support. Rising levels of hormones cause breast growth and other tissue changes, all in preparation for lactation. Your breasts may continue to grow throughout pregnancy. Don’t be surprised if you go up a cup size or two, especially if it’s your first baby. Keep this in mind, and allow for room to grow when investing in a new bra.
Feeling fatigued? Hormonal changes – in particular, a dramatic rise in progesterone – may be contributing to your sluggishness. Nausea and vomiting can certainly cost you energy, too. And you may be having trouble getting a good night’s sleep at this point, especially if you’re uncomfortable or find you need to get up to pee.
Decision Guide: Which prenatal tests are for you?
Your healthcare provider will offer you a range of genetic screening and diagnostic tests during your pregnancy. Some are simple blood tests, while others involve more invasive procedures – and all are optional. Before you agree to any test, ask your caregiver to explain what it is, how it’s done, whether the test itself is risky in any way, and what the results will tell you. Many prenatal tests are for screening rather than diagnostic purposes. Screening tests give you a sense of your risk for certain conditions. But only a diagnostic test can tell you for sure whether your baby has a problem. Here are your options during the first trimester:
First-trimester combined screening test: This relatively new screening test combines a nuchal fold scan (using ultrasound to measure the clear space in the tissue at the back of your developing baby’s neck) with a blood test to measure two proteins. The scan is performed between 11 weeks of pregnancy through the end of 13 weeks, and the blood test may be done at the same time or possibly a few weeks earlier.
First-trimester combined screening gives you information about your baby’s odds of having Down syndrome and may tell you whether your baby’s at higher risk for a few other problems as well. Although it’s not diagnostic, the screening is essentially risk-free and may help you decide whether you want invasive diagnostic testing such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis, which slightly increase the risk of miscarriage.
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS): This diagnostic test involves collecting cells from the placenta, which are then sent to a lab for genetic analysis. CVS can identify whether your baby has any of hundreds of chromosomal abnormalities and other genetic disorders. It’s done in the first trimester, usually between 11 and 12 weeks, making it an earlier alternative to another diagnostic genetic test called amniocentesis, which is done between 16 and 20 weeks.