Pregnancy Week Twelve

Now that you're in the 12th week of your pregnancy, you've reached the end of the first trimester. Congratulations - your pregnancy is about to enter its second stage. Although all stages of pregnancy carry some risks, including that of pregnancy loss, the end of the first trimester is seen as the "safe" time limit after which many women choose to make their pregnancies public knowledge. In fact, once you enter your second trimester, you may no longer be able to keep your pregnancy a secret - the larger breasts and growing tummy may give you away! Many pregnant women prefer to wait until after they've had a Doppler ultrasound examination, which allows you to listen to your baby's heartbeat, before announcing a pregnancy. The Doppler ultrasound test is usually carried out before the end of the third month, so if you've reached week 12 and you haven't had this test yet, ask your doctor when he or she plans to give you it.

Other Pregnancy Tests

After your initial pregnancy check up, which you should ideally go for as soon as you realize you are pregnant, you will usually be asked to attend appointments with your doctor once every four to six weeks (if your pregnancy is considered "high-risk" you may have more frequent check ups). The tests your doctor will give you during this period will vary according to the way in which he or she works, but in general, the following tests should have been carried out by week 12:

A measurement of your weight and of your blood pressure

A urine test to check for proteins and your sugar levels

A fetal heart beat test

A check on the size of your uterus - usually the doctor uses his hands to feel externally whether or not the size of your uterus corresponds to the estimated due date he has given you. (By the 12th week, you should, in fact, be able to feel your uterus above your pubic bone - it's probably just a bit bigger than a grapefruit by now).

A check to find out how high the top of your uterus is positioned in your body

A check for swelling of the hands and feet and for varicose veins in the legs

Down's Syndrome

By the 12th week of pregnancy, you may have been offered a test to determine whether or not your baby might have Down's syndrome. Down's syndrome is a chromosomal disorder which results in learning difficulties and physical abnormalities in people who are affected. Some women choose not to continue with a pregnancy if they find out that their baby has this condition. This is a very personal and difficult choice. During the first trimester, an ultrasound exam may be used to determine whether or not there is excessive fluid behind the fetus' neck. A blood test may also be carried out to check for certain proteins associated with Down's syndrome in babies in the womb. If these tests indicate some abnormalities, you'll be offered further testing later in the pregnancy to confirm whether or not your baby has Down's syndrome. If you haven't been offered these initial tests by week 12, ask your doctor about them - some doctors don't offer these tests until week 14.

What Your Baby Looks Like

By week 12, your baby is approximately as big as an apple. He or she has genital organs which should be visible during an ultrasound examination. The baby's head is still the largest part of his body, but he now has a neck and some hair on his scalp. His eyes and ears are moving into the correct position. He has soft finger and toe nails, and taste buds. By now your baby can even pee! He passes his urine into the amniotic fluid that surrounds him.


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