Week-by-week guide to pregnancy

happy couple looking at pregnancy test results
When you're pregnant, you have lots of questions. Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is packed with lots of useful information. From what's happening inside your body, to how your baby is developing, and tips and advice on having a healthy pregnancy – this is your one-stop pregnancy guide!

First trimester

Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is full of essential information. From early pregnancy symptoms to how your baby is growing and developing, you'll find it all here. Happy reading!

Week 11 – your first trimester

You're doing brilliantly. The first trimester can be really hard going and you've hopefully got through the worst now. In just two weeks, you'll enter the "honeymoon period" of pregnancy known as the second trimester. This is when many women start to "glow" and regain their energy, as their hormones settle down.

You'll be offered a range of tests around now that will look at your blood, urine and blood pressure. A highlight for many women is their first ultrasound scan. These tests provide you with opportunities to get your health, and your baby's health, checked out – but if you don't want to have them, then that's your choice. You can find out more about antenatal checks and tests here.

What's happening in my body?

You'll probably think your "bump" is really obvious, as your waist starts to thicken – but most people will be completely unaware there's a baby in there. Women who have been pregnant before tend to start showing earlier than first time mums. Do not worry if there's nothing to see yet, your time will come.

As you start to bulge out a bit, your muscles and ligaments will stretch, and this could give you pains around your stomach. If it hurts a lot, then see your midwife or doctor as soon as possible.

Your body is now pumping around up to 50 per cent more blood than usual. The blood feeds your womb – but it can also make you feel hot, sweaty and dizzy. That's your baby's way of telling you to put your feet up and have a drink!

Your baby has previously been fed by a yolk sac, but a new organ called the placenta is now poised to take over, or it may have done so already. The placenta will nourish the baby and remove waste. While the switchover happens, the hormones involved could make you feel really tired and emotional.

Your first scan

Hospitals in England will usually offer you two ultrasound scans during your pregnancy. The first is a dating scan between eight and 14 weeks. The sonographer who takes the test uses harmless invisible waves to build up a detailed picture of the inside of your womb. You won't feel a thing and nor will the baby. The test can include a nuchal translucency test (NT) that measures the fluid at the back of the baby's neck, as part of a screening process for Down's syndrome. Seeing your baby for the first time on the screen is a highlight for many women. You might feel all kinds of emotions. If all's well, then you will be given a date when your baby or babies are due. Unfortunately a small percentage of women will get bad news. This can be devastating, but there is lots of support available for you. Please speak to your midwife or doctor.

Early pregnancy symptoms (at 11 weeks)

You might feel so tired that all you want to do is sleep – but gentle exercise such as walking could help you to feel better.

Your early signs of pregnancy could also include:

  • aches and pains around your bump
  • nausea – find out about morning sickness remedies
  • mood swings
  • a metallic taste in your mouth
  • sore breasts
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • new likes and dislikes for food and drink – anyone fancy tea with marshmallows? You can read our advice on weird pregnancy cravings here
  • a heightened sense of smell
  • a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina
  • light spotting (see your doctor if you get bleeding in pregnancy)
  • cramping, a bit like period pains
  • darkened skin on your face or brown patches - this is known as chloasma or the "mask of pregnancy"
  • greasier, spotty skin
  • thicker and shinier hair
  • bloating and the feeling of being bloated

There's more too! Tommy's, the baby charity, has a list of 10 common pregnancy complaints with advice on how to manage them.

What does my baby look like?

Your baby, or foetus, is now around 41mm long from head to bottom, which is about the size of a fig. They almost look human now. The head is still supersized, but the body is growing quickly to catch up. The fingers and toes are losing their Spiderman webbing and separating out. There are tiny fingernails and miniature ears. Although your baby is kicking around inside your womb, you won't feel anything for several weeks.

Action stations

You might want to start thinking about your birth plan – visit the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for the most up to date advice.

It's also a good time to do the following…

Share the news with your GP or ask for an appointment with a midwife at your doctors' surgery. Alternatively you can refer yourself to your local hospital – look for contact details on their website.

You'll need to arrange a booking appointment. This usually takes place between weeks eight and 12 and takes around an hour. You can talk about the options for your pregnancy and the birth. Plus you'll be offered screening tests for infectious diseases, and conditions such as Down's syndrome. You could ask about the Maternity Transformation Programme and how it could benefit you.

You will be offered your first dating scan at eight to 14 weeks. This is a highlight for many women.

In total, most first time mums will have around 10 appointments and two scans. Ask if it's possible to see the same carer for your entire pregnancy, to give you continuity.

Ask your midwife or doctor about online antenatal classes – they may be able to recommend one. The charity Tommy's has lots of useful information on antenatal classes and preparing you for birth.

It's early days, but ask your partner if they would like to take part in the antenatal classes. These classes will give you the chance to meet other people and prepare you for parenthood. The NCT offers online antenatal classes with small groups of people that live locally to you.

Do your best to stop smoking, give up alcohol and go easy on the cappuccinos. We know that's easy to say, but hard to do. Ask your midwife or GP for support.

Take prenatal vitamins. You're advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid, every day, until at least week 12. This helps your baby's nervous system to form and offers some protection from conditions such as spina bifida.

We can usually get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but between October and March it's best to take a vitamin D supplement every day. Just 10 micrograms is all you need (it's the same for grown-ups and kids). It's worth checking if you're entitled to free vitamins.

Do you think you or your partner could have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)? If so, get checked out, as this could affect your baby's development. Talk to your midwife or GP, or visit a sexual health clinic.

Get moving! It's recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. You could start off with just 10 minutes of daily exercise - perhaps take a brisk walk outside. Check out Sport England's #StayInWorkOut online exercises (scroll to the pregnancy section). Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.

Don't eat for two! That's a big myth. If you pile on the pounds, you could put you and your baby at risk of health problems such as high blood pressure. Eat healthily, with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and avoid processed, fatty and salty foods. You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.

If you have a long term health condition, then let your specialist or GP know that you're pregnant as soon as possible. Don't stop taking any regular medication without discussing it first with your doctor.

How are you today? If you're feeling anxious or low, then talk to your midwife or doctor who can point you in the right direction to get all the support you need. You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family. You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live. Don't bottle it up – you're important, so ask for help if you need it!

Want to know when the baby's due?

Use the NHS pregnancy due date calculator. You'll get a more accurate date from your doctor or midwife when you have a dating scan (usually at eight to 14 weeks).

Go back to week 10

Go to week 12

This week's treat

Buy a jar of coconut oil – you can find it in supermarkets for under a fiver. Rub it very gently over your bump if you're getting little aches and pains, and slather it into dry patches. Many women swear that it prevents stretch marks – and although there's no evidence for this, it feels soothing and smells amazing!

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