You have made it to the second trimester! Congratulations! This week, the baby is between six and eight centimetres tall from crown to the buttocks, weighing about 23 grams and about the size of a lemon.
So, what happens now? A lot, actually, and quite quickly. At 13 weeks, your baby will begin developing their bone structure. He will also keep growing in size, among lots of other things! At the same time, your body will be going through a number of changes.
Your baby at 13 weeks
By now your baby is developing rapidly, with the main focus being on brain and muscle control. All his major joints will be fully formed, allowing him to enjoy a wide range of movements.
Your baby’s arms and legs are developing quickly. The hip joints will mature in the course of the week, and the toes will separate. The bones will also start developing, and since the body has no fat at all, the skin at this time is delicately draped over the bones. Your baby will also be very active in the amniotic sac. This is their whole world, and they will float and swim freely in it without a care!
Also, by the 13th week, your baby’s forehead will be slightly raised and a little bulky. In it, the joints of the bone plates that make up the skull are moving, gradually closing up the gaps between them. In the brain, the left and right cerebral hemispheres begin to connect.
The areas that control movements will be the first to mature, followed by the sensory nerves, which are the ones that control feeding. Brain development starts to accelerate this week, and over the next three to four weeks, a lot of milestones will be crossed in the baby’s brain.
Your body at 13 weeks
From the 13th week, the typical discomforts that you may have gotten used to by now will likely start to disappear. This is no doubt a cause for celebration because those first 12 weeks were no joke!
Your uterus is still expanding, so you may notice a slight pain in the pelvis area, starting at the groin or lower belly, on either side. It may travel to the hips after a few days. This is completely normal and you will soon adapt to it by finding sitting postures that are comfortable for you.
Sometimes, this discomfort may be prolonged and accompanied by cramps. If you experience this, and you notice some bleeding and a burning sensation when peeing, consult your healthcare provider.
Your immune system is significantly weakened during pregnancy. This is a good thing because it helps to prevent your body from rejecting the developing baby. However, it will make you prone to catching colds and other infections. Your hormones won’t make any of this easier, because they’ll be causing their own range of symptoms such as a stuffy nose. Expect all this to become more pronounced over the next few weeks.
Also, by now, your weight gain might be evident. You should have gained between two to five kilograms. Much of this will be fluids because your body tends to retain more water when you are pregnant. Your tissues will feel swollen, and you will be able to physically see the weight and feel the swelling of your ankles and feet. Of course, the cocktail of hormones you have inside you is the reason.
The good news is that all this is just temporary. In fact, most of these discomforts can be easily eliminated by restoring good blood circulation. You can do this by reducing your salt intake, being active instead of sitting for hours at a time, and avoiding high heels and tight pants.
Finally, you will also notice that your breasts are getting larger and your nipples are darkening. Owing to increased blood flow, you may also see some superficial veins beginning to show.
You may also be experiencing bouts of headaches from time to time. It may have already started a few weeks ago, or you may start getting them on the 13th week. Headaches are a common pregnancy symptom and are caused by hormonal changes.
Taking care of yourself during this time
Above all else, it is very important that you maintain a healthy and balanced diet as your pregnancy progresses. Calorie requirements during this second-trimester range between 2 100 and 2 500 calories daily, depending on your body mass index and physical activity.
Exercise is also very important. Granted, you may not be as limber as you used to be, but you still need to get your body moving regularly. It is perfectly fine to practise some form of sport during this time, as long as it is not too extreme or jeopardises your own or your baby’s safety. Avoid activities that involve a high risk of falling or those that involve resting on your back for a long time. You should avoid doing things that make you twist the upper part of your body.
Adrenaline intensive sports like scuba diving, cycling or horse racing, mountain climbing, ski or snowboard, water skiing, ice skating or bungee jumping should also be avoided. If you had a previously ruptured placenta or premature delivery, all sports activities should be avoided but if you do want to do some gentle movement, please consult your doctor.
While vaccination before the 13th week of pregnancy is not recommended, you can now get vaccinated against the influenza virus. You should try as much as possible not to take any medication for such issues. The use of medications is not recommended during pregnancy unless it is absolutely necessary – your doctor will be able to guide you on this.
Finally, try to control your stress levels during this time. Find ways to deal with stress triggers, such as delegating tasks, or talking to someone about your problems. Include physical activities in your daily routine and practise relaxation techniques such as meditation.
Eat healthily, in small portions throughout the day, and drink lots of fluids. Try to follow a regular sleep routine.
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