YOUR CHANGING LIFE
No pain, no gain
Welcome to week 14 of your pregnancy – the first week of your second trimester. It probably seems like you've been down a long, winding and somewhat painful road to get to this point, but relax – you're probably feeling better already! Now that morning sickness is likely subsiding and you're feeling more energetic, you might start to feel like normal again. But what kinds of changes are happening with your body this week?
For starters, you might have noticed some aching on the sides of your abdomen. This is happening because your muscles and ligaments are stretching to support your expanding uterus. It may be a bit uncomfortable, but it just means that pretty soon, you'll be able to rub that baby bump.
While you don't have a pronounced pregnancy belly just yet, you might be able to see a small pooch forming above the waistline of your pants. If you're having multiples though, you probably have a bit of a bump growing already.
Your breasts are still growing as they prepare for breastfeeding, but they probably aren't as sensitive and sore as they were during the first trimester. However, many pregnant women report that the skin around their breasts and bellies starts itching a lot at this time. This is totally normal – your skin is stretching as your bump and boobs grow, and pregnancy hormones are often to blame as well. To soothe the itch, try taking warm oatmeal baths and keeping your skin moisturized. This can also prevent stretch marks from forming.
While it's definitely not one of the more pleasant symptoms of pregnancy, constipation is an issue for many women at some point or another. It might be related to the increased amount of iron you're getting from your healthy diet and prenatal vitamins. It's a good idea to try to treat this naturally, otherwise chronic constipation could leave you with hemorrhoids. Drink plenty of water and incorporate high-fiber fruits and veggies into your diet – but do it slowly. Adding tons of fiber at once can increase the chance of you passing gas.
On a more positive note, glancing in the mirror, your hair might be looking extra lustrous lately and your skin may be dewier than normal. That pregnancy glow could even make you more confident in the bedroom – many women report feeling sexier and up for more sexual activity during the second trimester.
YOUR BABY THIS WEEK
From peach to lemon
Last week, your baby was about the size of a small, ripe peach. This week, he or she is the size of a lemon – about 3.5 inches long. The body is finally starting to catch up to the size of the head, which still makes up about one-third of your baby's height, but that torso and those limbs are growing rapidly. In fact, by the end of the week, the arms will be proportional to the rest of the body. The legs still have some growing to do, though.
In other news, brain impulses are making it possible for your baby to make facial expressions, including squinting, frowning, smiling and grimacing. The arms and legs are also moving around all over the place. In fact, if you get an ultrasound soon, you might even witness your baby sucking on his or her thumb!
Instead of relying on the yolk sac for nutrition like he or she did in the past, your little one is now fully dependent on the placenta. And all of those nutrients are making their way through your baby's body – he or she can actually pee at this point, emptying the bladder into the amniotic fluid about once every 30 minutes. It sounds kind of weird, but he or she is swallowing this fluid, which is filtered by the kidneys and cycled out again. It's completely healthy!
Deal with changes in your health
By now, you know that changes in your body and mood are part of the regular daily routine. There are tons of symptoms you're dealing with, many of which aren't the most glamorous or pleasant. But did you know that your immune system also goes through some alterations?
When you got pregnant, your body started weakening your immune system to ensure that your baby, who was like a little alien, wouldn't get rejected. After all, he or she was basically a foreign object at first! But while it's a good thing for your little one, it's not so great for you – now that your white blood cells and other immune system players aren't working as hard, you're more likely to get sick with ailments like a cold, the flu or other bugs.
That means you're going to have to make up for the slack by being extra vigilant about keeping healthy. Wash your hands on a regular basis and keep hand sanitizer around for times when a sink's not available. Avoid sharing food or drinks with other people – even your partner – and stay far away from anyone who you know or suspect is ill. If you think you're coming down with something, head to your healthcare provider right away.
Dental health is also important to stay on top of during a pregnancy. Pregnancy makes your gums swell, which can open the gates for bacteria and infection. Floss, brush your teeth and use mouthwash every day, and schedule a dental exam and a couple of cleanings.
Finally, keep track of any changes in your vision. The shape of your eyes often changes during pregnancy, and your tear ducts aren't producing as many tears as they usually do. This might mean your contacts no longer fit, your glasses aren't improving your vision or your eyes are a lot dryer than usual. Ask your optometrist for a new prescription if necessary.