Scans, Screening And Sharing Your News
Hooray! The anxious first trimester is drawing to a close, and the “glowing” second trimester beckons.
You may still be struggling now, but peaking hormone levels mean that the worst of the sickness should soon be behind you, and you can look forward to getting a good glimpse of that growing bean at your dating and screening ultrasound, which normally takes place at around 12 weeks. Now fully formed — although still tiny at just over two inches long — he or she may even give you a little wave!
Need To Know
Whether or not you’ve already had an early viability scan, the 12 week ultrasound is an important psychological milestone for most pregnant women. Seeing that healthy little heartbeat (or heartbeats!) flickering away on the screen is a great feeling — and a great sign, too. The risk of miscarriage following a successful scan at this stage is very small: less than 1%.
The main purpose of the 12 week scan is to accurately date your pregnancy. The ultrasound technician will measure your baby to give you an estimated due date (EDD), which may be several days to a few weeks off what you might have expected based on the date of your last period. Although the more detailed anatomy scan comes later, at around 20 weeks, he or she will also check that your little one’s spine and major organs appear to be developing as they should, and that your placenta is functioning normally.
Depending on where you live, you may be offered an optional screening test called the nuchal translucency (NT) scan, which is a non-invasive procedure carried out at the same time as your routine ultrasound. The technician will measure the volume of fluid at the back of your baby’s neck, and this measurement will be combined with other factors to give an indication of your baby’s chance of having a range of chromosomal abnormalities or congenital heart problems. The NT scan is not a diagnostic test, but it can tell you whether you are at higher or lower risk of having a baby with a genetic disorder. You would need to undergo further screening to find out for sure.
Good To Have
By 12 weeks pregnant, many women are finding their regular clothes a bit of a tight squeeze, especially if they’re expecting their second or subsequent child. Time to embrace the comfort of maternity leggings!
Maternity wear can be expensive, but there are ways to make your money go further. Ask around to see if any of your mom friends have maternity clothes they no longer need; they’re only worn for a short period of time so are likely to be in good condition. Also, think hard about the clothes you will actually need for the time of year when you’ll be at your biggest: if you’re expecting your baby in September, no need to stock up on maternity sweaters and jeans; if your due date is in April, you probably won’t need all that cute maternity beachwear.
Time To Do
Unless you do undergo further screening tests or opt to pay for early genetic testing, you won’t be able to find out the sex of your baby at this early stage. However, it can be fun to guess the gender based on popular methods like the nub, skull or Ramzi theories, or other traditional “tests”.
During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin is released by your body to loosen up your joints in preparation for labor and birth. This can lead to joint and muscle pain, especially as your bump grows heavier into the second trimester and beyond. Try to avoid overstretching or lifting heavy loads, or you may find yourself regretting it later in the day!
You may notice that your teeth and gums are feeling more sensitive these days. It’s important to brush thoroughly and visit the dentist regularly while you are pregnant and for the months afterwards, as the hormones can really take their toll on your oral health.
If you don’t already, it’s time to swap sleeping or relaxing on your back for your side. Prop yourself up with pillows to make it more comfortable.
Baby Names: To Share Or Not To Share?
You’ve had your first scan and you’re starting to show… time to share your happy news!
Whether you’re planning a big reveal or a quick text to close family and friends, it’s always exciting to let others in on the baby talk. But now that everyone knows you’re expecting, be prepared for everyone to have an opinion on everything, from what you eat to what you wear to — of course — what baby names have made your list.
Have you thought yet about whether you’ll share your baby name ideas, or whether you’ll keep schtum until the baby is safely born and named? There’s no right or wrong approach, but it’s definitely worth thinking, and talking, seriously about. You might want to read this blog post from our archives before deciding which course of action is right for you.