Your little embryo is about five eights of an inch long this week! The heart is beating stronger each day, and the liver is producing large amounts of red blood cells—this will continue until the bone marrow forms and takes over this function. The skeleton is forming, and the arms and legs have gotten longer. The knee and elbow joints have formed as well, and the hands are now flexed at the wrist. In the next few days, foot plates with the beginnings of toes will appear. The brain continues to mature during this week, and nerve cells begin to connect with one another, forming early neural pathways. The intestines start to develop in the umbilical cord, but will later move back into the abdominal cavity.
You may have noticed you are having trouble sleeping through the night. Some women experience insomnia during their entire pregnancy. Hormones contribute to this by causing an increase in both your heart rate and your urine production (so you have to get up to go to the bathroom more during the night). You may feel uncomfortable as the uterus gets larger and presses on different organs and nerves. Some nights you may be excited or even anxious when thinking about the coming changes in your life. You may also be experiencing breast tenderness. An increase in hormones causes more blood to go to your breasts, making them sensitive to the touch. If your breasts are sore at night, try wearing a cotton sleep bra. Cut out caffeine from your diet as much as possible. Make sure you avoid filling up with fluids or eating a full meal within a few hours of going to bed at night because this can lead to indigestion when you lie down. Most women find it helpful to get into a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
When you are able to sleep, you may have strange, vivid dreams. The physical and hormonal changes in pregnancy play a large part in this. Another reason for unusual dreams is that your pregnancy represents a big transition in your life, and dreaming is a way of expressing anxiety you may be having. Your dreams help you adjust to the physical and emotional changes that pregnancy brings. Paying attention to your dreams could give you more insight into what concerns you may have about your pregnancy. Some women find it helpful to discuss their dreams or to write about them in their journal. (To explore this more, visit DivineCaroline’s Body & Soul section: Dreams.)
Hot Topic: First Prenatal Visit
Your first prenatal appointment with your doctor or midwife will take place around this time. You will want to write down a list of questions to take with you. Here are some things to expect at the first visit:
- Your doctor will want to know about your medical history and any symptoms you’ve been having
- Your weight and blood pressure will be taken
- A pelvic exam will be done to check the size and shape of your uterus
- Your due date will be determined
- Other tests include Pap smear, blood tests, and urine tests
- Sometimes, an ultrasound may be done to check on your baby’s growth and position
- You will receive information about medication, vitamins, nutrition, harmful substances, and treatments for some recurrent pregnancy symptoms
A Mom’s Suggestion: Remember to keep up with your dental hygiene during pregnancy. Brush and floss regularly, and see your dentist at your regular intervals in these nine months. Don’t be alarmed if your gums bleed a little more during pregnancy—this is because of an increase in blood volume.
Q&A: Laura Roe Stevens, Parenting Editor for DivineCaroline, researches and interviews experts to find answers to readers’ questions.
Q: Should I be concerned about the human growth hormone used today to increase milk supply and increase the size of chickens? Will this affect my growing fetus?
A: So far, the research is not conclusive. Some experts speculate that excess human growth hormone increases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. A study last year from Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York, found that women who avoided dairy were less likely to have twins. The study, conducted by Gary Steinman, an obstetrician specializing in multiple-birth pregnancies, found that women who drank milk products—which in America contain bovine human growth hormone— had more insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which is a response from the growth hormone. IGF increases the sensitivity of the ovaries to follicle stimulating hormones, thus increasing ovulation and making these women five times as likely to have twins. While women need calcium and doctors encourage that they consume lots of milk and dairy when pregnant, seeking organic dairy without hormones could be a good option.
Eating For Two: Lunch
This delicious soup is high in vitamins, fiber, and fluids, which makes it a great lunch item.
- One twenty-eight ounce can peeled tomatoes
- One cucumber peeled and seeded
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- One chopped green pepper
- Two garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 cups cold water
- Chopped cucumber, tomato, green pepper, onion for garnish
- Croutons for garnish
1. Blend all ingredients (except those for the garnish) in food processor or blender. Add water and blend more.
2. Chill overnight. Garnish with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and croutons.
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