The embryo measures about 0.13 to 0.31 inches (4 to 8 mm) and has a tiny tail. When referring to the length of the embryo at this stage, we normally use the crown-to-rump measurement because the legs (which are not visible at this stage) are often bent and difficult to measure. The length of the embryo is known as crown-rump length.
The embryo’s fingers and toes start to grow at this point and look like tiny paddles. The heart now has a left and right chamber and beats at about 110 to 160 beats per minute—about twice the average adult rate. You’ll be able to see the fluttering heart on an ultrasound around now. The embryo can also make various reflex movements such as turning, and raising and lowering the arms.
The lungs, intestines, kidneys, liver and internal reproductive organs are nearly fully developed. With the development of all the internal organs, the embryo is now at a particularly sensitive stage. For this reason, it is important that the mother-to-be continues to abstain from anything that may adversely affect the baby’s development such as alcohol, nicotine, drugs and certain medicines. Get into the habit of always consulting your health care provider before taking any medication during your pregnancy.
Some mothers-to-be feel tired and dizzy. Although it’s not dangerous, it certainly feels unpleasant. Try to slow down a bit!
By now, your metabolism has sped up slightly and you need to consume approximately one sandwich and one glass of milk extra per day. Furthermore, your heart rate is higher due to the increase in your blood volume. Your nipples may be more prominent and the areolas—the skin around your nipples—will darken.
Try to avoid “eating for two”. Instead, vary your diet and eat lots of green vegetables and iron-rich food. It’s also a good idea to eat a couple of snacks—fruit, for example—every day.
At times, you’ll probably feel more hungry than usual because your baby is going through a growth spurt. Eat more during these periods—ideally small, frequent meals. Avoid sweets and supplement your diet with a multivitamin tablet that also contains folic acid.
If you’re overweight when you conceive, it’s a good idea to speak with your health care provider or dietician for dietary advice, recommendations and support. The reason for this is that mothers-to-be who are overweight are at greater risk of complications—for both the mother and the baby—during the pregnancy and birth.
The same applies if you suffer from an eating disorder. In some cases, pregnancy can exacerbate eating disorders, and it’s important to get help.
Alcohol and nicotine
It’s simple. From the moment you know that you’re expecting, you must abstain from both. Alcohol and nicotine pass directly to the baby via the placenta. Because the fetus’s liver is unable to break down alcohol, your baby will be affected if you drink a glass of wine, for example.
Also bear in mind that there is alcohol in light beer, some ciders and other drinks.
You may want to check on the safety of any over-the-counter or prescription drugs, such as antidepressants, that you take on a regular basis. Taking any medicine during pregnancy is all about weighing up the pros and cons. Ideally, this decision should be made by your doctor, who will be able to weigh the benefits of a particular medication to the mother against the risks to the baby.
You can take certain painkillers during your pregnancy but, to be on the safe side, always consult with your health care provider or pharmacist first. If you’re taking prescription-only medicines, always consult with your health care provider.
Exercising and moving around when you’re pregnant is a good thing—whether you’re a seasoned exerciser or a beginner. Both you and your baby thrive on regular physical activity.
You may find you get a bit more breathless than usual due to the increase in your blood volume. Listen to your body and pay attention to what it’s telling you!
At this time, the mother-to-be may be feeling very tired and you might have to dial down planned activities. Bear in mind that an enormous process is underway inside her body, and she’s under both physical and mental stress. If you can, let her have a few extra sleep ins or support her in other ways.