Your pregnancy: 11 weeks

In week 11 your baby has become quite an active little guy, kicking and swallowing away inside your womb.

Felt brussels sprout used to show how big baby is at 11 weeks

Photo: Mandy Milks, Erik Putz, Anthony Swaneveld. Felt: thefeltstore.com

WHAT’S GOING ON IN THERE?
At 11 weeks pregnant, your baby is about the size of a Brussels sprout or lime now and weighs in at just seven grams (1/4 ounce)—about as much as a toonie. He has lost the webbing on his hands and feet and now has 10 tiny fingers and 10 tiny toes. His head is still oversized, accounting for anywhere from one-third to one-half of his length. The bones in his little face have formed, and he has ear buds, nasal passages, hair follicles, nail beds and a tongue.

Thanks to his brand new diaphragm, he is breathing small amounts of amniotic fluid in and out and maybe even getting the hiccups. Though you probably won’t be able to feel any of this at 11 weeks, he is starting to stretch out, do somersaults and kick, practising those moves that will have you groaning closer to the end of your pregnancy.

YOUR SYMPTOMS

Good news: The hard work of the first trimester is almost over. In the next few weeks, you might start to feel more energetic and have less nausea (though for some women, morning sickness may last until around week 16). At the same time, your hormones will continue to ramp up, especially progesterone, which is responsible for relaxing your uterus and preventing contractions. Unfortunately, this hormone also calms the muscles in your intestines that help keep things moving, causing constipation, gas and burps, and it relaxes the valve at the top of your stomach, which makes it easier for gastric acid to get into your esophagus, causing heartburn. But most women find that these are minor inconveniences compared to the fatigue, queasiness and low appetite experienced during the first trimester, so hang in there!

What’s with these breakouts?
Feel like your pregnancy glow is more like pregnancy acne? You’re not alone: Many women have acne during their first and second trimesters. Once again, you can thank progesterone, which increases your skin’s oil production. To prevent zits, wash your face regularly and eat healthy. Serious acne treatments, such as Accutane and retinoid products, are off limits because they can cause birth defects. If you’re considering taking any over-the-counter treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid, check with your doctor or pharmacist first. 

ON YOUR MIND
Your first prenatal tests
At the end of your first trimester, you might begin the genetic testing process (if you choose to do genetic testing at all—not everyone does). Some women will do a blood test now and have the results given to them later, around week 16. Others will have a combination of blood tests and an ultrasound scan, often referred to as the nuchal translucency (NT) scan, which measures the fluid and tissue at the back of the baby’s neck and checks for chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down’s syndrome. (Ask your healthcare provider if you need to schedule the bloodwork and ultrasound scan for the same day—some require it.) Doctors can sometimes spot congenital heart problems at these scans, which normally happen between weeks 11 and 14.

Photo: Hamin LeeMy daughter has Down syndrome and I wouldn't change a thing

Your doctor or midwife will combine the results of these two tests with your age to identify your risk of having a chromosomal abnormality. You’ll get a number back with your chances having a baby with a genetic difference. A high-risk number will be one in 150 or less; a low-risk number will be more like one in 1,500 or more. Together with your doctor or midwife, you can use this information to decide whether you’d like to pursue further testing, which will tell you whether your baby specifically has the difference.

There are a few options to test for this difference. Older methods, such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS), are both very accurate but involve the removal of cells from your uterus with a needle by your doctor, which comes with a small risk of miscarriage (less than one percent). A relatively newer option, called non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is becoming more popular. Conducted anytime after week nine, NIPT is a regular blood draw from your arm (did you know that fragments of your child’s DNA are already floating around in your bloodstream?), so it doesn’t carry a risk of miscarriage. (Bonus: You can also find out your baby’s gender via NIPT instead of having to wait for the 18- to 20-week anatomy scan.) NIPT sometimes comes back with false positive results, so doctors recommend that any positive results from NIPT be confirmed by amniocentesis or CVS.

JUST FOR KICKS
Take a belly shot: If you’re hoping to produce a keepsake series of photos during your pregnancy (or a time-lapse video, compiling them all—this bump to baby example is suuuuuper cute) 11 weeks pregnant is a good time to start because your bump might get a lot more visible soon. For bonus points, choose an outfit that you’ll be able to replicate easily throughout your pregnancy, such as jeans and a white tank top.

BABY NAMES
From Sample and Princess Beyoncé to Dill and Frank Jr. Jr. (any Friends fans out there?), here are 10 of the most unusual baby names born to characters on our favourite TV shows.

TO DO THIS WEEK
Consider buying a footstool: Sitting for a long time while pregnant can reduce blood flow, leading to swelling in your legs and feet and pain in your lower back, neck and shoulders. A low footstool can help prevent this, especially if you’re on the shorter side. It should be set so that your thighs are parallel to the floor, and it’s also helpful to use it to change positions, resting one foot and then the other on it.

Put fish on the menu: Fish is packed with omega-3s, vitamin D and iron, and eating enough is good for your baby’s brain and eye development. That’s why pregnant women should eat at least two servings of fish each week. Choose canned salmon over canned tuna, and steer clear of raw fish. Two to three servings a week is ideal, but make sure that it’s low in mercury (salmon, herring and rainbow trout are safer options).

Read more:
What is a birth centre?
The more you know: The ethics of prenatal testing
Next up: Week 12

 

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