Congratulations, you are pregnant! Witnessing the miracle of life progress in your very own body is an experience you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. From the day of conception, your foetus is growing and developing at an exponential rate. One minute he’s growing an eyeball, the next thing you know, he’s making his presence known by kicking you with his tiny feet.
It’s exciting to keep track of junior’s progress through regular prenatal scans, but there’s so much more to your munchkin’s growth than meets the eye. Being aware of all the vital changes your cutie is going through during the next nine months or so will not only keep your mind at ease. Here’s the low-down on your little one’s progress at every trimester…
“Generally, during the first half of the pregnancy, the organs form and during the second half, they grow.”
FIRST TRIMESTER (weeks 1 to 12)
Bub is as big as a: Bean
Physical developments: “Generally, during the first half of the pregnancy, the organs form and during the second half, they grow,” notes SmartParents’ gynae expert Dr Christopher Chong, a consultant obstetrician, gynaecologist and urogynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital. This is a crucial time for the embryo, which will develop all its organs by the end of the third month. The heart starts pumping from four weeks and the neural tube, which is part of the central nervous system will start to close. It’s vital that the neural tube closes, otherwise it could lead to neural tube defects such as spina bifida, which affects the spine, and anencephaly, the absence of a major portion of the brain and skull. “By week 7, the foetal head develops, the eyes can be seen at week 8 and between weeks 9 and 10, the foetal toes and neck develop,” Dr Chong points out. By week 12, foetal genitals and nails will also start to take shape.
Approximate weight and length by the end of the trimester: 1g/1.6cm
Major highlights: Your bump may not have popped yet, but you’ll be able to hear the sweet sound of your little one’s heartbeat by week 7, which will be music to your ears!
SECOND TRIMESTER (weeks 13 to 27)
Bub is as big as a: Nectarine
Physical developments: “The skin of the foetus goes through many changes and begins to produce vernix at the twentieth week,” explains gynaecologist and fertility specialist Dr Kelly Loi, who runs The Health and Fertility Centre for Women. Vernix is a white pasty substance that covers the foetus’ skin to protect it from the surrounding amniotic fluid. Soon, junior will begin to look less like a fruit and more like a little fella as his skin becomes less transparent, fat develops, skeleton bones start forming and his genitals are develop fully. By week 21, bubba can suck, swallow and hear. His hair starts forming at week 23 and he may even start responding to sounds and voices by the fifth month. This is a good time to start reading your favourite childhood storybooks to him!
Approximate weight and length by the end of the trimester: 875g/36.6cm
Major highlights: Your baby bump will be taking shape now, so flaunt it! At your five-month prenatal scan, you should also be able to find out if you’re having a little boy or girl. It’s also around this time that you can expect to feel some kicks from your kewpie. If this is your first baby, this feeling is best described as having butterflies fluttering inside your tummy.
At your five-month prenatal scan, you should also be able to find out if you’re having a little boy or girl.
THIRD TRIMESTER (weeks 28 to 40)
Bub is as big as a: Large cabbage
Physical developments: As your pregnancy is in the home stretch, all of your munchkin’s developments from this point are prepping him for the big day when he meets the world. First, he will keep packing on the pounds as the fat he gains will provide him with energy and keep him warm after birth. By now, junior’s bones have also formed fully, although they will remain soft and pliable, so that it’ll be easier for him to squeeze his way down the birth canal. His eyes would have also developed to such an extent that he can detect light, while his now full-mature lungs will allow him to breathe on his own once he’s out. Dr Loi adds that during this trimester, bubba’s brain will also have increased in size, while his nervous system will mature to a stage where it can control the body’s temperature.
Approximate weight and length by the end of trimester: 3.4kg/51.2cm
Major highlights… Bubba is almost here! You will feel a whole lot of movement now, but if seems like junior is slowing down, speak to your doctor as it could be a sign of distress. Even if it’s the last thing you want to do, keep active as it can help you enjoy a smooth delivery. Prenatal Pilates or even a slow post-dinner walk helps to keep the blood flowing and muscles relaxed.
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