Week twelve is the last week in your first trimester, and a cause for celebration for many women. The end of the first trimester and the beginning of the second often signals the end of many unpleasant pregnancy symptoms, marks a decrease in the risk of complications, and is an exciting time for fetal development.
Week twelve marks something of a milestone in your baby’s developmental process. First, he or she is now about 2.5 inches long and weighs in at about ½ ounce. To put that in fruit terms, your mini-me is about the size of a large-ish plum. Second, by this time, almost all of your baby’s systems are fully formed, which is pretty impressive, especially when you consider that you’re only in in your twelfth week out of forty total. Of course, those systems are still very small and immature; after all, they must all fit inside of a body that, sizewise, can be compared to that of a small fruit.
And though all of the bits and pieces are present and accounted for at this point, your baby’s body is still pretty squishy, making that fruit comparison even more appropriate.
Over the next 28 weeks, this will change, ensuring that you will not be giving birth to a skin sac that feels like it’s full of jelly, but for now your child is made of cartilage.
From this point on, the developmental process will focus on the maintenance and maturation of your baby’s tiny body.
Not only are your baby’s systems fully formed but they’re also very active. Their digestive muscle is beginning to flex, practicing the contracting motion that it will need in order to push food through the digestive tract once it has been born.
Additionally, your baby’s white blood cell creation is in full swing as their bone marrow works hard to develop those all-important germ-fighting weapons. This is something for which you will be particularly grateful once Junior joins a playgroup full of other little germ magnets, since that’s basically what most small children are—tiny and (sometimes) adorable biological weapons.
And good news for those who are already anticipating having grandchildren! By week 12, your baby’s pituitary gland is producing the hormones that will allow him or her to eventually reproduce.
On a more disgusting note, you will soon be being used as a toilet, since your baby’s kidneys are beginning to excrete urine into their bladder. This means that, any time now, your baby will have to go to the bathroom and your womb is the only option.
Your Symptoms at Week 12
Many women start to notice a decrease in some of the more inconvenient symptoms of pregnancy by week 11, but if you weren’t so fortunate, maybe week 12 will be your lucky week because by this point, most women will find that those irritating and debilitating pregnancy symptoms, such as food aversions, nausea, fatigue, and tender nipples and breasts, are beginning to subside.
Week 12 should also bring some relief to those who have been aggravated by their new, incessant need to urinate; this is because by the end of the first trimester, your uterus has begun to migrate from its normal position at the bottom of your pelvis to the front of your abdomen.
However, before you start to celebrate, know that there are more symptoms that are probably beginning to arise.
One of these newer symptoms is dizziness, which is caused by progesterone.
While essential for any healthy pregnancy, this helpful little hormone can also jack your body up as it goes about ensuring the health of your unborn baby.
Increased dizziness stems from the widening of your blood vessels. This allows for an increase in flow of blood from your body to your baby’s while at the same time slowing the return of blood back to you.
This overall decrease in blood flow causes a drop in blood pressure and means that your brain is getting less blood. These two factors are often the main culprits behind dizzy spells, though they may also be caused by lowered blood sugar levels. Therefore, be sure to eat regularly in order to guard against it.
You can also decrease incidence of dizziness by moving a little slower than usual, such as not getting up quickly from a sitting position.
Hormonal changes can cause all kinds of bodily chaos during pregnancy.
One such change is an increase in skin pigmentation; at around week 12, this particular side effect causes a darkening of your areolas.
Additionally, about 50% of pregnant women will present a condition known as chloasma or melasma, also referred to as the “mask of pregnancy”. This causes dark spots to appear on your forehead and cheeks and often manifests around the 12th week.
If you do happen to experience this, don’t worry. After giving birth, these spots usually totally disappear or lighten up enough to not be very noticeable.
You can minimize the appearance of dark spots by wearing sunscreen when you go out and keeping out of the sun when you can, or at least shielding your face from it by wearing a hat or cap, or by staying under an umbrella.
If you always wanted curves and never had them, you’re in luck. (If you already have curves, then you may or may not even notice this particular symptom.)
At week 12, the growth of your uterus starts to affect your outward appearance by causing your hips to widen. This will allow your body to accommodate your baby’s eventual size.
Not only do hormonal changes wreak havoc on the body, they can also put you on a months-long emotional rollercoaster ride that would make my deceased bipolar grandmother pop her prescription pills from the grave.
If you’ve always been a fairly balanced individual, then this increased emotionality can be one of the most trying symptoms for both you and the people around you, since neither are particularly accustomed to having to deal with random bouts of crying and depression interspersed with bursts of happy.
By week 12, some of the physical side effects caused by changes in your hormones may be subsiding, but you are likely starting to feel their emotional effects, if you haven’t been feeling them already.
Health During Week 12
Maintaining your own personal health during pregnancy is essential if you want to deliver a healthy baby and even more important if you wish to stay healthy after giving birth.
The CDC recommends that pregnant women get flu shots, as flu season lasts from October to March, meaning that most women will be pregnant at some point when the risk of catching the flu is highest. Pregnancy does not increase the risk of side effects from the vaccination and it is safe for both you and your unborn child.
Exercises to Avoid
Pregnancy is a great time to start an exercise regimen if you weren’t already following one.
Toning and strengthening your body is not only good for you in general, but it can help you out in the delivery room and can help you bounce back after you give birth.
However, there are some exercises you should avoid while you are pregnant:
- Contact sports, like football, kickboxing, and judo (and while you’re at it, ladies, stay out of cage matches and bar fights and put your dreams of becoming an amateur wrestler on hold).
- Scuba diving, as your baby does not have a way to defend against gas embolism (when gas gets into your bloodstream) and decompression sickness.
- Any exercise that occurs at heights over 2500m above sea level should be avoided because of altitude sickness.
Decreased Miscarriage Risk
Good news! Because you’re at the end of the first trimester, your risk of having a miscarriage has lowered considerably.
The twelve-week mark is often when pregnant women start to breathe a sigh of relief and relax, and contemplate telling friends and families about their pregnancy, due to the drastic decrease in the likelihood of having a miscarriage.
Tips and Tricks For Your 12th Week
Dizziness during pregnancy is usually caused by low blood sugar, low blood pressure, and/or decreased blood flow to the brain.
To reduce dizziness, be sure to eat small amounts frequently and be mindful of how fast you move. You can greatly reduce the occurrence of dizzy spells by moving at a slower pace, especially when moving from a sitting position to a standing one.
If you do happen to get dizzy even with those precautions, try this: sit down and lower your head to between your knees and take deep breaths.
Also, you should be sure to loosen any tight clothing you may be wearing (and, perhaps, consider either switching to maternity wear or keeping your current clothing at its loosened state).
Once you start to feel better, eat and drink a little something and take it slow for the remainder of the day.
Take Care of Physical Tasks Now
As your pregnancy progresses, the more awkward and harder it will be to move around and accomplish physical tasks. This is why it is so important for you to take advantage of the time you have before you turn into a human blimp to make any changes to your house.
Most women only gain a few pounds during the first trimester, but the second trimester usually kicks off the weight gain train at full speed.
At week 12, you’re on the cusp of entering your second trimester, so if there are any changes you want to make to your house (such as decorating the nursery or childproofing) or if you have not yet gone shopping for maternity clothes or other necessary items, now is the time to take care of those things.
Combatting Breast Tenderness
For many women, breast and nipple tenderness subsides as the first trimester ends and the second begins, but others may experience it well into their second trimester.
If you are one of those unfortunate women still dealing with breast tenderness in your 12th week, consider doing the following:
- Switching to a special maternity bra. You should also make sure that you are wearing a bra of the correct size, as one that is too tight to be comfortable or too loose to be supportive can exacerbate breast tenderness.
- When you’re at home and your rack is racked with pain, lay down and place ice packs or bags of frozen peas on your breasts to help them feel better.
- For combatting breast tenderness while in public (when it isn’t feasible or considered proper to walk around with bags of frozen vegetables attached to your bare breasts), consider purchasing silicone inserts for your bra; these inserts can be placed in the fridge and act as a less conspicuous version of ice packs and frozen bags.
Handling Increased Emotionality
Finding yourself randomly bursting into tears can be a scary and worrying experience.
If you’ve started to feel like you’re riding an emotional rollercoaster, don’t worry; this is normal.
However, the fact that emotional instability (and/or volatility) is a normal part of pregnancy is not a permit to spew your crazy all over innocent bystanders.
Try as hard as you can to keep yourself under control by learning to identify when you are likely to become emotional, or at least recognizing the signs that you’re about to dip or go high, and by learning how to combat instances of extreme lows.
Practice positive thinking (keep a list around if it helps) and refrain from watching or reading tearjerkers, especially anything that involves babies, children in general, or the death of a partner.
In fact, now might be the time to switch to animated movies and cartoons; after all, in the years to come, that’s probably going to be what dominates your television.
Find ways to distract yourself, such as by taking up coloring or another craft, exercising, or reading.
Read this next: 13 weeks pregnant
12 Weeks Pregnant. What to Expect. From: http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/week-12.aspx
12 Weeks Pregnant. Bounty (UK) Ltd. From: http://www.bounty.com/pregnancy-and-birth/pregnancy/pregnancy-week-by-week/12-weeks-pregnant
12 Weeks Pregnant. Meredith Corporation. From: http://www.fitpregnancy.com/12-weeks-pregnant
Exercise in pregnancy. National Health Services, UK. From: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-exercise.aspx#Exercises
Pregnancy Week 12. American Pregnancy Association. From: http://americanpregnancy.org/week-by-week/12-weeks-pregnant/
Roland, James. 12 Weeks Pregnant: Symptoms, Tips, and More. Healthline Media. 7 July 2015. From http://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/12-weeks-pregnant#1
Smith, Lori. 12 weeks pregnant: your pregnancy week by week. MediLexicon International Ltd. 20 Novemeber 2015. From: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299782.php