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!
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!
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 (see 'Your first 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.
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've been pregnant before tend to start showing earlier than first time mums. Don't 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 – and shock might be one of them if you discover that you're pregnant with twins! 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. Maybe the baby isn't growing properly or the heart isn't beating. This can be devastating but there is lots of support available for you. Please speak to your midwife or doctor.
You might feel so tired that all you want to do is sleep – but gentle exercise, such as walking or swimming, could help you to feel better.
Your early signs of pregnancy could also include:
There's more too! Tommy's, the baby charity, has a list of 10 common pregnancy complaints with advice on how to manage them.
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.
You might want to make appointments to look around local hospitals and birthing units. There's a lot to consider – and 1 in 50 women will decide to give birth at home. You can start to think about a birth plan, and we'll discuss this more in later weeks.
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 antenatal classes in your area, as they get booked up very quickly. You could also contact your local branch of the National Childbirth Trust as they may offer classes such as yoga for pregnancy and birth workshops.
It's early days, but ask your partner if they would like to go with you when the time comes (usually after week 28). This is the start of a new phase of your lives. These classes will give you the chance to meet other people – and prepare you for parenthood.
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.
During the winter months, you should also consider taking a daily dose of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D, as it's hard to get this sunshine vitamin when the skies are grey. 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 in the park, or go for a swim. If you start any classes, make sure the instructor knows that you're pregnant. 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?
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!