Week-by-week guide to pregnancy
Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is full of essential information. From staying fit in pregnancy to advice on your maternity rights, you'll find it all here. Happy reading!
Week 14 – your second trimester
Welcome to week 14! You're probably feeling more like yourself again now, after the tricky first trimester. As your energy soars, you may find that your appetite does too… but take it easy. Your baby doesn't need any extra calories now, and too much weight gain in pregnancy isn't good for you or the baby. If you get hungry between meals then ditch the crisps and top yourself up with super snacks that will give you a healthy boost.
What's happening in my body?
It's 'all systems go' inside your pregnant belly. There's still a lot more growing to do, but everything's in place.
You have an extra organ in your body that wasn't there 14 weeks ago, and that's the placenta. The placenta is pancake shaped – the word placenta means 'flat cake' in Latin. It's full of blood and pumps out nutrients, oxygen and hormones, while removing waste products such as carbon dioxide. The placenta is firmly attached to your womb and links up with your baby through the umbilical cord.
Your blood and the baby's blood come into close contact in the placenta – but they won't ever mix. That's because you might be different blood groups, and mixing them up could be dangerous. Your body's thought of everything!
Love, love, love
Make love, not war with your partner. Relationships can come under strain when you're pregnant, due to all kinds of financial and practical worries. You might start arguing about big things, like sex and money, and smaller things, like whose turn it is to put out the recycling. Talk about your feelings and involve your partner as much as possible at scans and antenatal classes. Tommy's, the baby charity, has more advice on relationships and pregnancy.
Many women love it when their breasts get bigger. However others hate the extra weight, as it gives them backache, and swollen breasts can be painful. You could also get stretch marks and big blue veins. As usual, your hormones are to blame, along with the extra blood that's now circulating around your body.
Keep an eye out for any yellow stains in your bra. This is probably colostrum, which is the first milk produced by mums-to-be. It's telling you that your breasts are raring to go, so go with the flow. If it's a problem, then start using breast pads.
Ask the doctor or midwife to have a look if you're worried about any changes. Don't be embarrassed – they've seen breasts before!
Second trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 14 weeks)
Hopefully you're looking and feeling much better now. That first trimester really was a slog, wasn't it? However you may still be getting a smorgasbord of symptoms. Your signs of pregnancy could include:
- swollen and bleeding gums
- pains on the side of your belly, caused by your expanding womb (known as 'round ligament pains')
- bloating and constipation
- indigestion and heartburn
- sore breasts
- leg cramps
- feeling hot
- swollen hands and feet
- urine infections
- vaginal infections
- 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
- symptoms from earlier weeks, such as morning sickness, weird pregnancy cravings, a heightened sense of smell, mood swings, a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina and light spotting (seek medical advice for any bleeding)
Tommy's, the baby charity, has a further list of common symptoms.
What does my baby look like?
Your baby, or foetus, is around 8.5cm long from head to bottom, which is the size of a kiwi fruit. The head is getting rounder and more in proportion with the rest of the body. Your baby is kicking around, but you probably won't feel it yet. However your midwife might be able to hear the heartbeat, using a handheld monitor placed on your tummy.
Inside you, your baby is doing something quite miraculous – having a wee! This might not seem impressive, but it's a first for them! Small amounts of the amniotic fluid are swallowed by the baby and pass into the stomach. The kidneys then kick in and the fluid is passed back out again as urine. Round of applause please!
This would be an excellent week to tick off a few of these jobs…
Many women will tell their employer after they've had their first pregnancy scan at around 12 weeks. Once you tell your employer, you have maternity rights and can attend antenatal appointments during paid work time. You can also ask for a risk assessment of your workplace to ensure that you're working in a safe environment.
It's a good time to tone up those muscles 'down under'. Gentle exercises can help to prevent leakage when you laugh, sneeze, cough or jump around on your future baby's trampoline. Get the muscles going by pretending that you're having a wee and then stop the 'urine' in midflow. Visit Tommy's for more ideas about pelvic floor exercises.
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.
Ask your partner if they would like to take part in the antenatal classes. Even if you've had children before, they're still worth going to as you can meet other parents-to-be. The NCT offers online antenatal classes with small groups of people that live locally to you.
We can usually get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but as we are at home a lot more at the moment, you may not be getting enough. If you're pregnant, or breastfeeding, you should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement. It's worth checking if you're entitled to free vitamins.
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! Eat for you. You don't need any extra calories until the third trimester, which starts in week 28. Try to 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.
This week's treat
There's always so much to do isn't there? However this week, on your 'to do' list, add the word 'relax'. Find some music that makes you feel peaceful and listen to it. Some mums listen to music when they're giving birth, so why not start picking out a playlist now? There's no strong evidence that music can alleviate pain, but it could help to keep you calm.
For inspiration, download Spotify Free and search for 'Birthing Playlist'.