Your chubby bubby starts off as a cluster of cells ― learn ways to spur his growth in your womb.


Remember your first prenatal ultrasound? All you’d have seen was a little sac, but it held all your hopes and dreams. While ultrasounds let you peek into your peewee’s physical progress during those nine months, there’s way more going on inside your body.

Discover the important changes that’ll take place every trimester and how you can optimise your growing baby’s development.


BABY IS GROWING… “The foetus will develop all of its organs by the end of the first trimester, so this is a crucial time,” notes Dr Kelly Loi, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Health & Fertility Centre for Women. Your sweetie’s heart starts pumping at 4 weeks and the neural tube (the forerunner of the central nervous system, which comprises the spinal cord and brain) starts to close.

By week 7, the head develops; at week 8, the eyes take shape, while the toes and neck develop from weeks 9 to 10. By the time you reach the end of your first trimester, bubba’s genitals and nails would have been fully formed.

Muscles start forming at 20 weeks, and by 25 weeks, bubba might respond by kicking gently when he hears sounds.

BOOST BUB’S GROWTH… Take folic acid to prevent neural tube defects ― malformations of the brain and spinal cord — in your growing foetus. It also reduces your risk of developing anaemia (lack of red blood cells), which can make you feel weak and tired. SmartParents ob-gyn expert Dr Christopher Chong advises against smoking, drinking alcohol and taking herbs of any kind. “Many of them have hormones that we know little about and there aren’t enough studies to show how they will affect the foetus,” he explains.

YOUR HEALTH… While you may not look pregnant, your body is going through enormous changes such as fatigue, morning sickness, headaches, constipation, as well as swollen and tender breasts. Nausea may derail your healthy eating plans, so eat smaller more frequent meals. “Try five to six small meals a day to help ensure sufficient nutrient intake,” advises Dr Loi. If you’re throwing up a lot, drink more water to rehydrate. If you’re unable to retain fluids, see your doctor at once as you might have hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness. Your doctor will either prescribe meds to stop the vomiting, or admit you to hospital and put you on an intravenous drip to re-hydrate you.


BABY IS GROWING… Between weeks 13 and 15, the foetus’ skeleton and bones start to form. Since the genitals are fully formed by week 12, you can discover your baby’s gender at the next scan. Muscles start forming at 20 weeks, and by 25 weeks, bubba might respond by kicking gently when he hears sounds. When this trimester ends, your baby’s eyebrows and eyelashes would have grown, as would his finger- and toe-nails. His skin will produce vernix (a white pasty substance that protects skin from the surrounding amniotic fluid) and he’ll start looking more like an infant and less like some alien.



BOOST BUB’S GROWTH… Your body needs 500 to 700 more units of calcium during pregnancy to support your baby’s skeletal and dental growth. So, take a calcium supplement and eat more calcium-rich foods such as milk, tofu and dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach. It’s also a good time to start take a high-dose fish oil supplement as it will serve as brain food for bubba. Dr Loi advises, “Cut back on fat, salt and sugar but increase the intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and low-fat dairy products.” And always avoid raw or undercooked meat, as well as unpasteurised dairy products as these may lead to infections such as toxoplasmosis and listeriosis, which can affect your unborn child.

YOUR HEALTH… Though the second trimester is often referred to as the “cruising period”, it’s not always a walk in the park. “Backaches are common during this time as the growing womb may strain the spine,” Dr Chong points out. Ease aches with massages, heat rubs, simple stretches or do low-impact exercises like swimming (try the breast-stroke). Get regular prenatal check-ups to monitor your weight, blood pressure and urine ― these will help identify issues such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.

Keeping active (even if it’s just a slow evening walk), is good for blood circulation and little one.


BABY IS GROWING… Your chubster will pack on the pounds from 34 weeks until he’s ready to emerge. By week 29, your baby should be moving about 10 times an hour. At week 30, his bones are fully developed, although they’ll remain soft and pliable, to help his journey down the birth canal. “The brain also increases in size and his nervous system would have matured to a stage where it can control the body’s temperature,” Dr Loi adds. As your sweetie hits the home stretch, his lungs should be strong enough for him to start breathing more independently.

BOOST BUB’S GROWTH… Your sole aim now is to keep bubba inside for as long as possible and avoid pre-term labour (before 37 weeks). Studies have indicated that emotional stress can lead to the release of hormones that can trigger labour contractions, leading to premature birth. So, if the stress of impending motherhood or pregnancy pain is leaving you down, speak to the hubs, your BFF or a therapist. While exercise may be the last thing on your mind as you lug around a human being inside of you, keeping active (even if it’s just a slow evening walk), is good for blood circulation and the little one.

YOUR HEALTH…Water retention often becomes apparent or worsens in the last trimester,” Dr Chong notes. Sometimes, water retention at the wrists can compress the nerves, causing pins and needles or numbness. Flexing your wrists regularly or wearing a compression wristband can help with this situation. Try not to travel after 30 weeks. If you do, the flight should be less than seven hours as you are at a higher risk of getting deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in your leg from the extended period of inactivity). Go for your check-ups faithfully and monitor bubba’s movements closely. If he’s moving less as the days go by, call your doctor at once.

Best pregnancy eats

Boost your health ― and bubba’s growth ― with these goodies.

1. GREEN LEAFY VEGGIES Are high in folate (prevents spina bifida), calcium (bone and skeleton formation) and iron (increases blood volume).

2. AVOCADO Loads of beneficial fats and magnesium to ease muscle cramps.

3. FLAX AND CHIA SEEDS Rich in omega 3, which is vital for baby’s brain and eye development.

4. EGGS Contain choline (brain development) and vitamin D, to aid calcium absorption in the bones.

5. FISH Such as salmon is high in DHA, an essential brain food.

Photos: iStock

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