At 13 weeks, as you move into your second trimester, your energy starts to return and morning sickness should decrease. Here’s some more great news and interesting facts about your pregnancy at this point.
Your baby’s development
This week your baby is the size of a… mandarin.
In the 13th week of pregnancy, your baby continues to develop quickly.
· The connections between his brain, muscles and nerves are all formed, and he’s moving around your uterus like a future gymnast.
· He can ball his tiny fists and also suck his thumb, which now bears its own unique fingerprint.
· While his eyes start to develop, his eyelids are fused shut for protection.
· Those vocal cords, which will become very familiar to you when he’s born, are forming too.
Even with all of these developments, your baby’s still small enough that you won’t be able to feel his movements just yet. Be patient, those butterfly feelings will come soon enough!
Your physical pregnancy changes
As you hit your second trimester, hopefully those early pregnancy symptoms (such as morning sickness) should subside. Instead, you can focus on new developments to your own body:
· As the oestrogen and progesterone levels in your body increase, your breasts may be significantly bigger and possibly quite sore.
· With your gradual weight gain (on both your stomach and breasts) you may start developing stretch marks. Moisturising with a rich body butter will help minimise their appearance.
· Read on to read more about the common pregnancy complaints and symptoms bothering you and what you can do to relieve them. Most of the issues you face when you are pregnant are annoying rather than life threatening.
· Anaemia (lack of iron)
· As well as providing for your baby when you’re pregnant your blood flow will increase, which means you need more iron. If you don’t get enough iron during your pregnancy you may feel tired and breathless or suffer from headaches and palpitations.
· Do: eat plenty of iron-rich foods, such as red meat (up to 500g per week), whole meal bread, iron-fortified cereals, eggs, dark green leafy veg and dried fruit. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, so drink a little orange juice with your meals, and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Consult your doctor if symptoms persist.
· Back pain
· It’s good to be aware that your body is changing and straining hormone-softened ligaments and the position of your baby can all put pressure on the nerves in your spine. While back pain is common in pregnancy it’s not easy to live with so consult an osteopath or chiropractor if you’re in pain.
· Do: use a lumbar support when sitting, take regular exercise and remember to rest. Lift heavy objects correctly, and squat or kneel down when you’re picking up toys from the floor.
· Bleeding gums
· Bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis, caused by sticky plaque that accumulates on teeth and gums.Higher levels of progesterone in pregnancy can make gums sensitive to bacteria and plaque.
· Do: brush your teeth gently, upwards towards the gums, twice a day or after every meal. Make an appointment to see your dentist if bleeding persists.
· Many pregnant women complain of constipation and hormones are to blame here.
· Do: keep your water intake up and eat more fruit and veggies.
· Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
· Although it is rare the risk of developing blood clots and/or DVT begins in the first few weeks of pregnancy and may continue after your baby is born. Signs of DVT include leg pain, swelling, pain, tenderness, redness or skin that is warmer than normal on your leg. In pregnant women it is often more common in the left leg, rather than the right. See your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.
· Do: regular gentle exercise and stay hydrated.
· Dizziness and fainting
· Feeling dizzy and fainting are common but if you do faint or experience constant dizziness go and see your doctor as soon as possible.
· Do: wear layers so you don’t become overheated, eat regularly to keep your blood sugar levels up and drink plenty of water. Get up slowly from sitting or lying down. If you feel dizzy, lie down on your left side, or sit and put your head between your knees. If you’re driving, pull over straight away.
· Your body is working hard to create a baby so it’s not surprising you’re feeling more tired than usual.
· Do: delegate jobs. Ask your partner to cook dinner while you put your feet up; order your groceries online; take naps on the weekend, and if you have a toddler, sleep when they sleep. Remember, book ‘me’ time into your diary – getting lots of rest is good for you and your unborn baby. If someone offers to help, say ‘Yes, please!’
· Bad headaches could be a sign of high blood pressure. See your doctor immediately if you are getting headaches.
· Do: rest and drink plenty of water.
· High blood pressure
· A number of things can cause high blood pressure, including being overweight, alcohol consumption, lack of exercise and a diet high in fat and cholesterol. Your blood pressure will be checked at every prenatal appointment and your doctor will be able to measure it for conditions such as preeclampsia.
· Do: try to eat as much healthy, fresh food as you can and maintain some regular exercise. Rest if you need to and do your best to avoid stressful situations.
· Gas, bloating and heartburn
· Pregnant women often complain of these three issues which all occur due to high levels of progesterone in your body.
· Do: avoid spicy, rich, fatty and fried foods. Eat small, frequent meals, sip peppermint tea and try not to drink too much liquid when you are eating. You may also find it helps to sleep propped up on pillows.
· Stress incontinence is common in pregnancy with four in ten pregnant women suffering from it. When you become pregnant and as your body prepares for birth, hormones cause the tissues and muscles in your pelvic floor to stretch, which can lead to weakness in the muscles that control the release of urine from your bladder. If these muscles are weak you may find that sneezing, coughing or laughing causes urine to leak without you being able to control it.
· Do: regular pelvic floor exercises during your pregnancy and after the birth, wear a panty liner if you need to and remember to visit the bathroom regularly.
· There are many reasons a woman may have trouble sleeping when she’s pregnant. Sometimes it’s physical – she can’t find a comfortable sleeping position or constantly needs the bathroom. Other times it’s psychological – her mind is busy with plans, emotions and nerves that she can’t switch off.
· Do: try to wind down by listening to calm music, doing gentle exercise (such as prenatal yoga) or have a bath before bed. Adding 2-3 drops of lavender, chamomile or ylang ylang oil into your bath will also help you to relax. Use lavender oil with care in your first trimester and always talk to your midwife or doctor before using essential oils.
· It’s normal to feel itchy in pregnancy as your skin is growing and stretching. Excessive itchiness however could be a sign of obstetric cholestasis (a liver disorder) for which you should see your doctor immediately.
· Do: wear loose, natural fibres and moisturise your skin.
· Leaking breasts
· This leakage of colostrum (the first yellowish milk your breasts produce) is a normal part of pregnancy. If it’s bloodstained then see your doctor.
· Do: wear breast pads in case your breasts start leaking when you’re out and about.
· Ligament pain and leg cramps
· Stretching of the round ligaments that support your growing belly can cause sharp pains, or a duller pain in the lower abdomen that usually begins in the second trimester. Leg cramps are common due to the veins dilating, being low in magnesium or calcium and because you’re carrying extra weight.
· Do: regular, gentle exercise. Rest with a pillow between your legs when you’re in bed. If you have leg cramps, stretch your calves regularly (especially before you go to sleep at night), keep your fluid intake up and try not to stand or have your legs crossed for long periods. See your doctor if sharp pains persist.
· Morning sickness
· Increased levels of oestrogen and hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropins) are the most likely cause of morning sickness. Twelve weeks is the turning point for most women because your hormones are at capacity and the placenta takes over feeding your baby. Low blood sugar and tiredness contribute to nausea and as senses are heightened don’t be surprised if strong smells set you off.
· Do: munch on a plain biscuit or cracker before getting out of bed. Eating small, regular meals and snacks will also help. Ginger will also help – add it to your morning juice or try Twinings Lemon and Ginger Tea. Ice-cold water with a splash of lemon can really take the edge off too. Limit fatty and spicy foods and choose those high in protein and carbohydrates. Check with your doctor if morning sickness results in severe vomiting or weight loss.
· Your increased blood supply can cause the delicate blood vessels in your nose to expand, making them rupture more easily. They are more likely to occur when you have a cold or allergy, or when your nose swells or dries out, such as in cold weather.
· Do: blow your nose gently, drink plenty of water and keep your mouth open when you sneeze.
· Piles (haemorrhoids)
· Piles can be one of the most painful parts of pregnancy (when veins become dilated) and are common in the third trimester and after birth. They are varicose veins of the rectum, which cause itching, pain and sometimes bleeding.
· Do: eat a high-fibre diet and drink plenty of water to avoid constipation, which can make haemorrhoids worse. Steer clear of fizzy drinks, alcohol and caffeine, spicy and fatty foods and do your pelvic floor exercises to help boost blood circulation. A warm bath can help, as can icepacks. Be sure to see your doctor if you experience any rectal bleeding.
· Stretch marks
· Stretch marks (striae) caused by lack of elasticity in the skin. Ninety per cent of women get them so don’t worry, you’re not alone.
· Do: eat a healthy diet to maintain skin elasticity, drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly.
· Swollen ankles
· In pregnancy, it’s normal to have some swelling because the body retains more fluid, but as your baby grows, pressure is put on the veins that carry blood from the lower limbs to the heart. This causes blood to pool, which forces fluid from the veins into the tissue around your feet and ankles. (Severe swelling in your hands and face could be a sign of the serious condition preeclampsia – call your midwife or doctor immediately)
· Do: keep active and eat well. Walking is great, but standing around all day makes swelling worse. Elevate your feet when you can or gently rotate your ankles when sitting down to keep the circulation going. Celery, apples and citrus fruits all act as a natural diuretic and help circulation. Support stockings will also help relieve tired, sore and swollen legs.
· Vaginal discharge
· You will probably notice your discharge increases throughout pregnancy, which is completely normal and caused by the extra blood flow to the area. It is usually milky white (leukorrhea) or clear and mucous-like. While your discharge may have a different odour from what you are used to it should not be offensive, irritating, sore or make you itch as these could be signs of an infection. Bleeding is possibly a sign of something more serious.
· Do: keep your body clean, wear cotton underwear and avoid tight underwear or deodorant soaps. Eat live yoghurt every day as it contains lactobacillus acidophilus, which fights infection. And cut down on refined sugar in your diet. If you have any concerns consult your doctor or midwife.
· Varicose veins
· These veins are most common in the legs though they can appear around the vulva (vaginal opening).
· Do: avoid standing for too long, putting on too much weight, and sitting with your legs crossed. Try to put your feet up as much as possible, take regular gentle exercise and sleep on your left side.
· If you are worried at any time during your pregnancy, contact your doctor.
· Fresh tip: Your doctor has seen and heard everything before so no matter what the problem, don’t be shy about saying exactly what it is (or, if you really can’t summon the words, write it down)!
Your health and fitness during pregnancy
With the reduction in early pregnancy symptoms, you should be feeling more energetic. If you feel as though an upset stomach will no longer be a barrier to exercising, go for it – it’s good for both you and your baby.
Healthwise you may also find that:
· You’re constipated. Progesterone, which has made its mark on your bra size, is responsible for this. Eating foods rich in fibre and drinking lots of water should help relieve this.
· You feel as though you are getting a cold; it’s more likely that it’s nasal congestion caused by the increase in blood supply to mucous membranes (nasal spray can help, but speak to a pharmacist about what products are safe during pregnancy).
Your week 13 pregnancy checklist
· Buy a frame for your first ultrasound picture, or pop it into your pregnancy journal as a memento.
· Invest in some new bras.
· Pamper your skin and treat yourself to a lovely body butter or moisturiser to minimise stretch marks.
· Get your pregnancy exercise programme under way. Research local options.
· Eat lots of fibre-rich fruit, vegetables and cereals to ease your discomfort.
· If you’re feeling more energetic, and less sick, make a date with your partner. He needs a little TLC too.