In the 13th week of pregnancy, most pregnant women see their morning sickness improve and their appetites increase. The switch from transvaginal ultrasound to transabdominal ultrasound might leave some women feeling relieved. What are the other items of good news you can look forward to in Week 13?
Bigger belly, maternity clothes
The uterus grows to the size of a small melon, and as your baby bump becomes more noticeable, people might be able to guess from your figure that you’re pregnant. It’s about time to start purchasing maternity clothes if you haven’t gotten around to doing that.
Pay special attention to clothing like maternity bras and underpants, as they come in direct contact with your skin. Note the absorption properties and the protection the clothes offer you against the cold, and choose clothes that suit your skin type best (as in dry, sensitive, etc.).
Symptoms: Morning sickness subsides
In Week 13 of pregnancy, morning sickness gradually becomes less severe and, the number of days you feel better will increase. As the uterus comes to rest on the top of the pelvis, the pressure on the bladder will decrease, resulting in the decrease of the frequency in which you need to visit the restroom. However, in the later stages of pregnancy, the fetus will become bigger and its weight will put pressure on the kidneys and bladder again, bringing back the frequent need to urinate.
Week 13 is about a week shy of the “safe period” – the second trimester, when the symptoms of pregnancy become less severe and the risk of a miscarriage decreases. That’s something to look forward to, isn’t it? Take some time to think about what you want to do in the second trimester when you’re feeling a little better!
13 Weeks Pregnant: Weight gain and stretch marks
When your belly becomes bigger and you gain weight, lines appear on your skin and it seems like your skin is being torn apart. These lines are called pregnancy stretch marks. When your belly grows bigger, the skin stretches, but is unable to catch up with the pace at which the belly expands, resulting in “tears”.
Once stretch marks form, they usually do not disappear. You can prevent stretch marks and reduce the appearance of stretch marks by using lotion, oil or cream to soften your skin and help it expand more easily. However, remember that your skin is especially sensitive during pregnancy, so it’s essential that you choose products suitable for you.
13 Weeks Pregnant: Sonogram of the fetus in your belly
The fetus is 7–8 cm long, weighs 20–25 grams, and gradually grows to resemble a human in terms of their appearance. The individual fingers grow and fingernails continue to form. Baby also becomes more lively! Your baby can now clench and unclench their fists and suck on their fingers.
You might not know for sure what your baby is doing at this moment, but in time to come, fetal movements will remind you of Baby’s presence and bring a smile to your face! You might be able to feel fetal movement sometime around Week 20 of pregnancy, but that’s still about 2 months away. It will be an exciting wait till then, won’t it?
- Hands continue to develop: thumb and fingers separate and fetus can move them
Reproductive organs develop and the sex of the fetus is mostly distinguishable
Bones and muscles in the mouth form, giving shape to the face
Milk teeth are growing under the gums. The windpipe, esophagus and larynx are still forming
Practice makes perfect: The fetus “breathes” amniotic fluid into the lungs and then expels it out to prepare for breathing air
The spleen is functional and acts like a filter for the immune system, removing the old red blood cells
13 Weeks Pregnant: High fiber foods help prevent constipation
As in Week 12, many women continue to be troubled by constipation. In order to be able to move your bowels more easily, actively increase your intake of fiber-rich foods like pumpkin, spinach, apple, banana, wholegrain cereals, and dried fruits like apricot and prunes. Take note that you are drinking enough water as well.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia
Around Week 13 the placenta finishes forming, and the fetus needs even more iron and protein than before. Baby gets first dibs on iron in your diet, so if you can’t keep up with your increased needs, you might get iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is characterized by symptoms such as heart palpitations, breathlessness, dizziness, feeling physically weak or lethargic and looking pale.
To reduce your chances of anemia, try eating more iron-rich foods like red meat, liver, prunes, seaweed, tuna, spinach, tofu and sesame seeds, and foods high in folic acid like edamame, spinach, broccoli, and asparagus. If your doctor says it’s a good idea, you can also use supplements to complement your diet. However, eating too much of any one food might not necessarily be good for health, so take extra precautions when you are planning your diet.
Symptoms and risk factors of preterm labor
One-third of miscarriages take place during the first trimester. The risk of a miscarriage decreases when the heartbeat of the fetus is detected, but it is only when the placenta is completely formed at the end of the 4th month (Weeks 12 to 15) that the pregnancy enters a relatively “safe” period.
However, even when the placenta is formed and when the pregnancy enters the second trimester, a preterm labor – contractions of the uterus before Week 37 that result in a preterm birth – can happen. A preterm birth is a birth that occurs between Week 20 and Week 37 of pregnancy. According to the WHO, multiple pregnancies, infectious diseases, or chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to a preterm birth.
Some signs and symptoms of a preterm labor include bloody and watery vaginal discharge, an increase in the amount of vaginal discharge, cramps, back pain, or regular contractions about once every 10 minutes or so. This does not mean that you will give birth prematurely: fortunately, in some cases, doctors are able to treat preterm labor. If you are in doubt, don’t shoulder the worry by yourself – go to the doctor for advice. Depending on your condition, the doctor might give you orders to stay at home and rest or to be hospitalized until the baby is delivered.
13 Weeks Pregnant: Enjoy being pregnant
The realization that you will soon become a mother might hit you when, through an ultrasound scan, you see your baby stretching and bending arms, and sucking thumbs and fingers. Week 13 is the last week of the first trimester and during this period, symptoms of pregnancy will usually not be as severe. From this week onward, it is recommended that you start preparing items you might need for the rest of your pregnancy life and continue to have as stress-free a lifestyle as possible.