Your Growing Baby
As women learn they are pregnant and what their pregnancy options are, they often wonder when does the baby’s heart start to beat? When does she get fingernails? When will I feel her kick? How do I find out how far along I am?
It is wonderful to take a few minutes to learn how your baby is growing and changing. You are now already a mother, so taking time to make the best decisions for your baby is a beautiful first step to ensuring your baby has the life you want her to have! This short video provided by the Endowment for Human Development gives a wonderful overview.
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How soon can I find out if I am pregnant?
This is a common question. From the time you conceive, a hormone (hCG) is present in your bloodstream. Generally, a home pregnancy test may detect the hormone around ten days after conception. However, most pregnancy tests will recommend you wait until after you have missed your period for an accurate result.
This may be an anxious time, and you want to know, but you could get a false negative very early on. To avoid this, wait to take a test after you miss your period. Take the test when you first wake up, as the hormone tends to be more concentrated. Early in pregnancy you may have a negative result at night and then a positive test in the morning. If you get a negative result but are still concerned, you can retest a few days later or visit your doctor for a blood test that can detect the hormone within 9 to 12 days of conception.
How far along am I? When is my baby due?
Some women may know when they got pregnant, but many others will not. To figure this out, a doctor will ask what the first day of your last period was and go from there. Generally, we ovulate around two weeks after your period begins, which is when you get pregnant. The doctor will add 280 days or 40 weeks to the first day of your last period. This is the tricky part.
Being as your due date is based on the first day of your last period, you are already at two weeks of pregnancy when you get pregnant. Even if you know the day you conceived, you are still technically two weeks pregnant on that day. This may seem confusing, but there are resources such Lifetime’s online pregnancy due date calculator tool that can help you understand your due date and how many weeks pregnant you are.
Month 1 (Weeks 1-4)
So, as odd as it seems, you get pregnant at week two and probably won’t know you are pregnant until week four or later. However, all the DNA or genetic information is formed as soon as your baby is conceived. This means from day one, things such as what color eyes your baby will have, what sex your baby will be, what color hair, how tall she will be is already decided.
In weeks three and four, your baby is developing fast, and already the cells are becoming different parts of the body. There are brain cells, internal organ cells, and all parts of the body have cells growing towards their formation.
Month 2 (weeks 5-8)
This is the month most women discover they are pregnant. By week six and seven, you may be experiencing some morning sickness (although it isn’t limited to mornings, unfortunately) and feel other changes like breast tenderness. These are often the signs that bring a woman to take a pregnancy test.
Your baby has the brain, spinal cord, and heart developing at week five. Just after this, the heart begins beating by week six. Her arms, legs, eyes, and ears start to develop, and by week eight, even her tiny hands and feet are forming.
Month 3 (weeks 9 – 13)
If this is an unexpected pregnancy, by week nine, you may still be in a bit of shock and trying to figure out what you are going to do. In the meantime, your baby is growing and changing fast.
All your baby’s organs are forming by week nine, and facial features are starting to form by week ten. By week eleven and twelve teeth buds and fingernails are developing, and by week thirteen, it is possible to see if you are having a boy or girl on an ultrasound, although your doctor will probably wait to confirm until you are further along as it can be hard to tell at this point.
Month 4 (weeks 14 – 17)
At week fourteen, you begin your second trimester. You are now only 26 weeks away from your delivery date. You are probably starting to feel better now if you had morning sickness and may find you are hungrier than normal.
Your baby is starting to grow hair and can wiggle her toes. She will even start to hear your voice and other sounds through your body. By your fifteenth week, your baby is moving around in there, and all of her organs are fully formed and starting to work. Over the next couple of weeks, your baby will double her size and can make fists and even suck her thumb.
Month 5 (weeks 18 – 22)
At this point, you will probably start to feel some fluttering sensations, and yes, that is probably your baby moving around in there. By the end of your 5th month, your baby is 8 – 10 inches long and probably doing some somersaults you will feel.
Hair is growing on her head, and her senses such as touch, smell, and hearing are developing fast. This month your baby will also learn to swallow, and her digestive system is up and working.
While it is difficult, a baby can survive being born at this stage. Recently, a mother gave birth to twins at 22 weeks, and with a lot of help, they survived and are now home and doing great.
Month 6 (weeks 23 – 27)
Your baby is now at a point where nearly everything is in place, and she looks just like a skinny newborn. During weeks 23 – 27, she is maturing and starting to put on fat. It is time to put some weight on. You will probably start to feel a pattern of wake and sleep times by your baby’s movements.
An important part of development now is the lungs. By week 27, your baby could survive outside the womb with medical help, but the next few weeks are a really important time for lung development.
Week 27 is the end of your second trimester, and you are already heading into your third trimester.
Month 7 (Weeks 28 – 31)
At 28 weeks, your baby has eyelashes and is starting to blink. She can even see some light coming through. Over the next few weeks, she is growing her muscles, and her body is preparing itself for the outside world. Your baby is now 14 – 16 inches long and weighs about three pounds.
This month and perhaps throughout your pregnancy, you may have some mood swings. You can be up one minute and sad or anxious the next. One in ten women actually experiences depression during their pregnancy. Remember to give yourself a break. You have a lot of hormones raging in your body, and you may be starting to feel kind of uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you can’t shake these feelings.
Month 8 (Week 32 – 35)
This month your baby’s biggest job is to gain weight. While her nervous system and lungs are still developing, she would do well even if she is born around the end of the month. The lungs are generally where a little medical intervention may be needed, but these days hospitals are ready and knowledgeable about how to help a preemie who has difficulty inflating her lungs.
Month 9 (Week 36 – 40)
You’ve made it to your final month, and most women are ready to have their baby at this point. By week 37, your baby is considered full-term, so be prepared. You could go into labor anytime now. While your baby is gaining the fat she needs, you should get a hospital bag ready, so you can grab it and go when labor starts.
While a lot happens during pregnancy, it actually goes by fast. Women usually don’t find out they are pregnant until the middle to end of their second month, and so you really only know you are pregnant for seven months. In that short time, your baby goes from a tiny pea-sized baby with her heart starting to beat at week six to a full-grown newborn in just seven and a half months.
Most women don’t even start to show until their 6th or 7th month, and all that time, even if others are not aware you are pregnant, that precious life inside of you is working hard to grow and thrive. Throughout your pregnancy, love and protect yourself and your baby.
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