Throughout the nine months of pregnancy, babies in the womb undergo several phases of development. Women’s bodies adjust accordingly to accommodate the needs of the unborn child.
About 2-3 weeks after the last menstrual period, the fertilised egg moves down from the fallopian tube and settles in the uterus area.
The first four weeks for a woman are generally the easiest phase, with little noticeable signs and uncomfortable experiences, but within the womb, the embryo is already growing and developing.
Beyond this initial period, changes begin to ramp up significantly. Midway through the pregnancy, what should you expect?
Organs develop and facial features become apparent
After 12 weeks, the embryo transforms into a fetus. At this stage, the organs, limbs, bones and reproductive organs are in place. The facial features have also formed by this time. During ultrasound scanning services, your doctor can even help you make out features like the nose and eyes.
By week 15, the fetus starts to become sensitive to sound and light. They may hear digestive sounds within your body or muted sounds from outside the womb (e.g. people’s voices, music).
What it means for you:
- You won’t feel fetus movement just yet, but you might start experiencing constipation. Make sure you maintain a healthy diet that is rich in fibre. Whole-wheat bread, cereals and fruits can help you avoid constipation.
- Cramping in your legs and feet is another common issue that can pop-up. Maintain good circulation in these body parts by doing simple leg and foot exercises daily.
- As your abdomen swells and the womb expands further, back pains become more likely. Many women experience pain in their lower backs. You may take paracetamol to ease some of the pain, but if your doctor permits. Beyond meds, regular exercise, sufficient rest and products designed for back support, can help you cope.
Frequent movements and full formation
When you get to week 25, the fetus is moving frequently. Stimuli (e.g. sound and light) from within the body and from the outside world will make them kick and react.
After 28 weeks, the fetus is fully formed. Your baby will weigh about 1kg but will continue gaining weight as you progress through the pregnancy. At this stage, you can also hear the heartbeat, which can be heard faintly by ear or more clearly through a stethoscope.
What it means for you:
- The 25th week is also the ideal time for you to file a maternity leave. Make sure to inform your employer in advance.
- Face, hands and feet may start swelling, which happens when the body is exerting efforts to retain water. This is a common occurrence and is rarely a cause for alarm. Have it checked by your doctor so that serious conditions, like pre-eclampsia, can be ruled out.
- You may also start experiencing heartburn or acid reflux, which are all normal in pregnancy. Aside from making better food and drinking choices (e.g. avoiding too much caffeine and cutting off alcohol consumption), it will also help if you switch to eating smaller daily meals.
- Smoking is also known to cause heartburn and acid reflux so best to avoid cigarettes.
Fifteen weeks more to go
You have several weeks more to go until delivery. As the fetus continues to mature, monitor all the changes that are taking place. When in doubt or when unknown problems surface, always consult the general practitioner or obstetrician before trying out some other potential solutions.