Pregnancy Week Fifteen
The 15th week of pregnancy marks the second half of your fourth month. You're now approaching the end of the first third of the second trimester. Your baby is growing rapidly from week to week and you are probably noticing your weight gain and your growing pregnancy belly. By week 15, your baby probably weighs about 2 to 2.5 ounces and he's approximately four inches long. He's about the size of an apple, if that's easier for you to visualize.
Changes In Your Baby
At week 15, your baby is looking more and more "human." For example, his head, which until recently seemed to be connected directly to his body, is now sitting on his neck. His eyebrows and eyelashes and the hair on his head are all starting to grow. By now, his legs are growing as long as his arms, with the effect that his whole body is starting to look much more in proportion. His sex organs may have been visible on the outside of his body for a couple of weeks already. By week 15 you should be able to see the sex organs, if you want to, in an ultrasound exam (although the view you have will depend on the baby's position in your uterus at the time of the exam).
By now, your baby is practicing many of the essential muscle movements he'll need to perfect in order to survive outside your body. For example, he makes sucking and swallowing motions. This causes him to consume amniotic fluid, which might give him the hiccups! He's also making practice "breathing" movements, through which he inhales amniotic fluid through his little nose and into the upper part of his respiratory tract.
Your baby's eyes are still shut but they are becoming more and more sensitive to light. If you try shining a flashlight at your pregnant stomach, you may find that he moves away from the light. However, you may not yet be able to feel his movements...
Your Baby's Movements
Although you may feel some flutters or butterflies as your baby moves around in week 15, it's more common for pregnant women to begin sensing these movements somewhere between week 16 and week 22 of the pregnancy. Women who have been pregnant before sometimes feel their babies' movements earlier in the next pregnancy than they did the first time they were pregnant, because they know what to look out for. The same goes for thinner women - they are more likely to feel their babies' kicks and punches at an earlier stage of pregnancy.
A testing procedure called amniocentesis is usually carried out (if the parents want it) between week 15 and week 18 of the pregnancy. This test involves removing some of the amniotic fluid which surrounds the baby in the uterus. The amniotic fluid contains cells and chemicals produced by the baby. This allows doctors to test the fluid to determine whether or not the baby is likely to have any genetic defects (namely, whether or not you are carrying a normal, healthy fetus). This type of testing can be used to detect hundreds of genetic and chromosomal problems. Some parents, however, prefer to opt out of such testing. Remember that most parents receive good news after such tests are carried out. If you have questions or concerns, speak to your obstetrician.