Your Pregnancy: Week 12
Some women may start to feel more balanced with their feelings at this stage, often having a sense of calm and acceptance. Of course not everyone will feel this way, so don’t panic if you’re still ill at ease. For many women, it takes seeing that tiny, perfect face for them to grasp what’s happening to them.
This is the perfect time to discuss testing for chromosomal abnormalities like Down Syndrome. There are both non-invasive screening tests (which pose no pregnancy risks) and invasive diagnostic tests (which come with a small chance of miscarriage). Screening tests do not diagnose abnormalities but will tell if the woman has an elevated risk of them and suggest whether a more invasive test should be done.
If you haven’t already, let your family and friends in on your secret. (Give yourself points for an extra-creative reveal!)
While you’re at it, tell your boss the good news and thoroughly review your company’s maternity leave policy (if they have one). Then meet with your HR department to discuss the details. (Your husband should also inquire about paternity leave.)
If you’re itching for a romantic vacation before the baby arrives, now is the time to plan a babymoon with your partner. Get in the lazy days, romantic nights and couples-only retreats while you can.
Stop doing any exercises that require you to lie flat on your back (like abdominal crunches) or stand in poses without moving (like in non-prenatal yoga and tai chi).
For women who want to estimate the risk of Down Syndrome, a nuchal translucency screening can be performed in the first trimester. A combination of an ultrasound measurement of the nuchal translucency (a structure at the back of the fetal neck) and certain hormone levels in the first-trimester blood can estimate the risk of a chromosomal abnormality. If a red flag is raised, the patient can undergo a first-trimester invasive test known as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) to determine whether the abnormality is actually present. CVS is performed by testing the cells from the chorionic villi, which are tiny protrusions on the placenta extracted by a catheter through your cervix or a needle through your abdomen, depending on where the placenta is positioned.
More non-invasive screening is offered in the second trimester, and any new red flags can be evaluated through amniocentesis – a procedure that withdraws and tests cells within the fluid surrounding the fetus.
Now the size of a plum, baby’s organs, bones and systems are in high development mode. First comes the framework, then the tissues; muscles and fat will follow later. One complete organ, however, is the pancreas, which is ready to produce insulin. Also, the digestive system is now capable of absorbing glucose and producing contractions that push food through the bowels.
Advice from Dr. Shari E. Brasner
You should be aware that during climax, pregnant women often feel a more intense than usual wave of feeling that can even include a few brief moments of cramping – a kind of mini-contraction. This is normal. It may not be entirely pleasant, and you may not want to repeat the experience, but do not become frightened if it happens, or if, later in the pregnancy, you think that you’ve gone into labor. Mini-contractions triggered by orgasm are much, much, much weaker and less defined than anything you will experience in labor. So feel free to masturbate and have oral sex and make love to your heart’s content.”
Babble recommends Dr. Brasner’s pregnancy book, Advice from a Pregnant Obstetrician.
Mom-To-Mom Advice: Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?
If you’re sporting any belly at this point, it’s probably far from the big round basketball that screams “baby on board” and closer to the post-Thanksgiving, pants unzipped look you’d hope no one would ever have to see. This awkward, bloated “Is she or isn’t she?” phase will end soon; most women have undeniable bumps within the next month or two.
Once the pregnancy is visible to the world, different kinds of pressures can come up. Weight is a national obsession here in America, so it’s no surprise that there is much concern about how much of it a woman gains when she’s pregnant. Attitudes about weight gain in pregnancy have been through a range of changes over the years, from mid-century, tightly controlled diets designed to add a minimum of pounds to the laissez-faire attitude that spawned the infamous “eating for two” mantra (you know, the one that everyone tells you to ignore). Guidelines have recently been revised to accommodate differing starting weights and builds. Aside from your body type, it’s important to factor in your activity level and whatever circumstances or complications you might be dealing with. If you’re feeling stressed out about weight gain, try to remember that the recommendations are based on broad strokes, not your specific situation.
For some, just being allowed to gain any weight at all is something of a relief. Finally, your body is allowed to be round, and growing is not just something to fight against. But pregnancy can also trigger obsessive thoughts about food and weight. Celebrity and women’s magazines tout miniature bumps and magically quick returns to svelteness. It can be easy to get competitive or anxious. Pregnancy can also bring up feelings of vulnerability that can sometimes (re)activate an eating disorder. If you have had a history of eating disorders and feel them drifting back into your life, seek help. It’s important to work this stuff out for many reasons: for the health of your pregnancy but also to help you resolve underlying issues as you move forward into parenthood.
Babble recommends From the Hips, by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris.