Pregnancy: Week 13

Your second trimester starts at the end of week 13—rejoice! For most women, the second trimester is a time of smooth sailing. By now, your baby is going to be fairly active, you’ll be feeling better, and your baby bump will be starting to show. Here’s what else you should know:

Physiological Development

Your baby now has fingerprints, though her skin is still translucent enough to be able to see her veins and organs. By week 13, your fetus’s body should start catching up with the size of its noggin, making him/her look less like a cartoon baby and more like a human one. By this time, the baby is about the size of a peapod—about three inches long. If you’re having a girl, by the thirteenth week, your daughter’s ovaries are the proud owners of around two million eggs. If you are having a boy, their testes are fully developed inside of their body.

The skeletal system will continue to develop, with the clavicle and thighbone forming first, and organs will continue to grow. The thirteenth week is also when vocal cords and lungs start to develop, and they will be able to take their first few breaths, though they will be breathing in amniotic fluid, as oxygen is supplied through the umbilical cord.

Your baby is also now very active—kicking, moving their head, yawning, and hiccupping, providing plenty of entertainment for you and anyone else who decides to rub your tummy. (By the way, when strangers try to do this, it’s okay to tell them to get their hands off you, in varying levels of vulgarity.)

Your Thirteenth Week Ultrasound

The second trimester is when you usually have the first ultrasound that really allows you to see your baby somewhat clearly. The head will be clearly identifiable, as will the arms and legs—you may even see your little one sucking his/her thumb. With a 3D ultrasound, you may be able to see your child’s eyes and ears. The thirteenth-week ultrasound is a great one to bring your partner to if you have not done so already because, for the first time, the baby actually looks like a baby, which can help get disinterested or uninvolved partners into the excitement.

Changes in You

At the end of the thirteenth week, you will officially be in your second trimester, which should come as a great relief, as by now, most of the unpleasant pregnancy side effects have subsided and the risk of miscarriage is greatly reduced. You should also be starting to show by now, and not just in your stomach area. The increased blood supply going to your baby will cause your veins to become more pronounced—this is a good sign (and they fade away after giving birth).

Your symptoms of fatigue, faintness, and dizziness should be subsiding (hurray!), but heartburn, indigestion, and constipation are likely to continue.

You may be experiencing leukorrhea—a mild-smelling/odorless, milky, thin vaginal discharge that is perfectly normal, and that will continue throughout your pregnancy. The discharge is caused by an increase in estrogen production and by the greater amount of blood flow in the pelvis. Leukorrhea actually serves a purpose—it protects the birth canal from infection and maintains your vagina’s bacterial ecosystem. However, some women may find it irritating, in which case, use a panty liner to absorb it. DO NOT DOUCHE.

What You Should Be Doing

If you weren’t exercising before, now is the time to start. Yoga, walking, and swimming are some of the best activities in which a pregnant woman can take part.

Some women find that they are more sexual during pregnancy; others find that they do not want to be touched. It depends on the person, but by the thirteenth week, most women should at least not feel too sick to have intercourse if they so desire. You will likely find that your sex drive fluctuates during pregnancy, so just go with the flow and do what feels best.

Breast aches and tenderness can be a real pain (rimshot), so use this time to go and buy a comfortable bra that offers plenty of support to ease any discomfort that you may be feeling. In fact, if you have not already done so, the thirteenth week is a perfect time to go out and shop for your maternity wardrobe. If you wait until too late, you may not feel up to shopping due to your burgeoning belly.

Getting plenty of fiber can help relieve pregnancy-related constipation, so invest in healthy, fiber-rich foods and make sure to eat the skin of your fruit—that’s where the fiber is! You also want to be sure to get plenty of calcium, iron, and protein. Even if you are taking prenatal vitamins, it is still essential to make sure that you are eating healthy and getting enough nutrients.

Stay away from caffeine, citrus, mint, chocolate, spicy, and fatty foods if you find that you are still plagued by heartburn and other stomach complaints.

Ending Week 13

With your thirteenth-week ultrasound in hand and your showing baby bump, now is often the time chosen to break the news to family and friends who are not already in on the big surprise. With your second trimester starting, you can look forward to (hopefully) fewer symptoms and start experiencing more of that pregnancy-induced glow that has so far, probably remained elusive.

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