By the end of this week, the embryo will more than double its length, growing from approximately 4 to 5 millimeters to 11 to 13 millimeters. It is now about the size of a raspberry. The head is disproportionately larger than the rest of the body, and dark spots mark where the eyes and nostrils will be. The forebrain has divided into the two parts that make up the cerebral hemispheres of the brain, where as many as 100 nerve cells are created each minute.
This week, you’ll probably go in for your first prenatal checkup with an obstetrician or midwife, who will discuss your medical history–including any previous pregnancies and diseases or genetic disorders that might run in either family–determine your due date, and begin to chart your weight gain. She will also take some blood for routine lab tests–blood type, STDs, rubella immunity, and complete blood count to check for anemia. And you may also be given a pelvic exam and perhaps a transvaginal ultrasound, which is safe and painless, to check on the embryo. This is your chance to ask any questions you have about the pregnancy. Start your list now and take it with you, in case you get distracted once you are there.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do try to meet each obstetrician or midwife at your clinic sometime in the next six months so that if you go into labor and your regular health care practitioner isn’t on call, your baby won’t be delivered by a complete stranger. If your doctor has a solo practice, ask what happens if she’s out of town or unavailable, and make a plan to meet her backup.
Make salads a mainstay of your diet. Your baby will thank you for all the vitamins and minerals you’re sending his way, and your body will be grateful since your diet will help ward off constipation, a common pregnancy complaint. Leafy greens, which are full of fiber, help keep you regular, but if you just don’t have a taste for them right now, load up on other fiber-rich foods such as apricots, raisins, and bran.
Mom to Mom
What did other moms do when they learned they were pregnant? “I ran out and bought two books: What to Expect When You’re Expecting and The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy. Now I have a whole library.”–Ellen Prebelich, Troy, MI
You may not be ready yet for maternity pants, but your growing breasts may justify an early shopping trip for maternity tops. Those that fit especially well in the shoulders will be most flattering.
Work out with light weights to tone your hamstrings, buttocks, lower back, and shoulders. It’ll strengthen you for the demands of childbirth, not to mention give you the muscles you’ll need postpartum to push a stroller, wield a diaper bag and a car seat, and carry a baby (hopefully not all at the same time).
Ask your partner to keep a running list of both your questions for your next checkup. You may be so overwhelmed with new information that you forget to ask any questions at all.
Spend lots of one-on-one time with your older child in the upcoming months. Let him pick the activities (watch The Lion King for the umpteenth time? Sure!), and tell him now how much you value having fun together. After the baby is born, it will take a lot more effort to get this one-on-one time with your other family members.
Women carrying a single baby are advised to add 300 calories to their daily diet. On top of that, women carrying multiples need another 150 to 300 calories for each additional baby, says Ellie Krieger, R.D., nutritionist and new mom. That translates up to 600 extra calories a day for twins and 900 for triplets.