At about nine weeks after conception, your embryo has developed enough to be called a fetus, and the most important part of its development is over. The baby will grow a great deal at this time -- from about 1 inch long at the beginning of the week, to about 2 inches by the end (with its head measuring about half its length). The eyelids will fuse shut, and the irises will begin to form. At some point this week or next, blood will circulate between the baby and uterus through the umbilical cord, and the placenta will begin to function, providing oxygen and nutrients.
Most women wonder what the ideal amount of weight gain is during pregnancy. The recommended weight gain during pregnancy is generally somewhere between 25 and 35 pounds, but it will depend on your weight before pregnancy and other factors that your health care provider will discuss with you. Wherever your starting weight stands, you should not go on a diet, nor should you eat for two or more during your pregnancy. Too little and too much weight gain can lead to problems for both you and the baby in the months ahead.
Most physicians will recommend that you gain anywhere from 3-5 pounds in the first three months of your pregnancy. For the remainder of your pregnancy, most recommend gaining 1-2 pounds per week. Women who start out overweight should gain less, and women who start out underweight should gain more.
Keep in mind that most of the weight that you gain during pregnancy is baby-related (not fat) between the baby, the placenta, amniotic fluid, and the fluid that accumulates in your body tissues. About half of that weight will melt away in the first 6 weeks after your baby is born. You’ll loose the rest by about 6 months after you deliver.
Sometimes things don't always go as planned. In about 3 in 100 pregnancies, the fetus has a birth defect. Several genetic tests are now available as early as 11 weeks. If you learn your baby may be at risk, you should see a genetic counselor to help you better understand the consequences of a particular diagnosis. Your counselor can help explain the risks, the options regarding treatment, and the possibilities of the condition recurring in future pregnancies. To learn more about what genetic counseling is all about, click here.
Keep up with your Kegel exercises -- one of the simplest and most important exercises you can do from the get-go. By contracting the muscles of the pelvic floor, which support the pelvic organs (the uterus, bladder, and bowel), you may alleviate problems that can begin during pregnancy and last long afterward (like leakage of urine and hemorrhoids). The best part about Kegels is that you can do them at any time, any place - while you're driving in the car, sitting at the computer, or eating dinner. To begin, tighten the muscles as if you're stopping a stream of urine. Hold for ten seconds at a time and then relax the muscles. Repeat this exercise four or five times in a row. Try Kegels with every commercial when you’re watching TV, or while you’re stopped at a traffic light.
Review Date: 12/9/2012
Reviewed By: Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.