Entering your 12th week of pregnancy means you are ending your first trimester. This is also the time that the risk of miscarriage drops significantly.
If you haven’t announced your pregnancy to your family, friends, or co-workers, this might be the perfect time for the “big tell.”
You may still be able to fit into your regular clothes, but they’re probably snugger than they were a month ago. It might be time to buy some maternity clothes so you can avoid constrictive clothing.
Typically, weight gain to this point is only about 2 pounds. What’s causing your jeans to fit a little differently these days is the other ways your body is preparing to carry your baby. Your uterus, for example, is growing rapidly. Your doctor may be able to feel your uterus in your lower abdomen now.
Week 12 is a time of big changes for your baby. They are now about three inches long and weigh about 1 ounce. Their external sex organs should be appearing now or very soon because of increased hormone activity. Your baby’s fingers and toes aren’t webbed anymore, and fingernails are starting to develop. Their eyes will move nearer to each other this week and their kidneys can start to produce urine.
At week 12 they are developing complex reflexes, such as sucking. Your baby may also start moving spontaneously this week, though you probably won’t feel it until weeks 16 to 22.
The vocal cords your babies will use to cry and coo are getting ready to develop this week. Their kidneys are also working now. Your babies are approximately 3 inches long, and they each weigh about an ounce.
You still may experience some of your earlier symptoms like nausea, but symptoms by this week can include:
- weight gain
- increased skin pigmentation, also known as melasma
- darker areolas around the nipple
- tender or sore breasts
The surge in hormones produces all kinds of changes in your body. One of them is an increase in pigmentation. The “mask of pregnancy” is a condition known as melasma or chloasma. It affects about half of pregnant women, and results in dark spots appearing on your forehead and cheeks.
These spots usually disappear or lighten considerably soon after delivery.
Your areolas are likely to become darker at this stage of your pregnancy. Breast tenderness or soreness may continue into the second trimester.
Tips for relief:
- A good-fitting bra can be helpful, but make sure it’s the right size. Wearing a bra that has become too tight will make you more uncomfortable.
- Ice packs, cool cabbage leaves, or bags of frozen peas on your chest while you lie down may also offer some relief.
- Look for small, silicone-filled breast soothing products that you can keep in the refrigerator and wear inside your bra.
Because you’re gaining weight simply due to the pregnancy, you should pay closer attention to your diet to make sure you don’t gain too much. Too much weight gain can lead to complications like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and pain in your back and legs. Carrying around a lot of extra weight can also lead to greater fatigue.
Also, don’t avoid eating. If you haven’t started following a balanced diet each day, try to end your first trimester on a healthy note. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. Avoid junk food. Instead, eat snacks like yogurt and dried fruit, which contain protein, calcium, and minerals.
Ask your doctor for suggestions, or talk with a dietitian. And if you haven’t already, talk with your doctor about taking prenatal vitamins.
If your usual diet hasn’t been especially healthy up to this point, now is the time to make a change. You and your baby need a variety of nutrients to get through the rest of your pregnancy.
Your skin is also becoming more sensitive. To help reduce the effects of “mask of pregnancy,” be sure to wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher whenever you are outside, and wear a baseball cap or hat to help keep the sun off your face if you’re outdoors for a prolonged period.
Week 12 can be a good time to start doing Kegel exercises to strengthen your vaginal muscles. This can help with delivery and recovery after the birth. If you’re unsure how to do Kegel exercises, talk with your doctor. You may also learn about these exercises if you participate in a birthing class.
The risk of miscarriage drops near the end of the first trimester, but it’s still vital that you pay attention to warning signs that could indicate problems. These include:
- bleeding with cramps
- spotting that lasts for three or more days
- severe pain or cramps that last all day
By this point you know what normal morning sickness feels like (even if it’s slight nausea experienced throughout the day). If you suddenly experience severe nausea and vomiting more than two or three times a day, call your doctor right away.