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Guide to Being 12 Weeks Pregnant

In week 12, you're wrapping up your first trimester, and you're hopefully in for smoother sailing. See more pregnancy pictures.
©iStockphoto.com/diego_cervo

The day comes when you take a drive without a pit stop, when you get through a day without vomiting, and when your partner's slightly annoying habits don't turn you into a raging and/or weeping lunatic.

That day may or may not be in week 12, which finds you wrapping up the first trimester, on the brink of what for many women turns out to be a smooth second-trimester ride -- and for others turns out to be more vomiting. Either way, though, this week finds you that much closer to the end -- and, even better, the beginning.

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But hopefully, your first-trimester symptoms are starting to ease up this week, leaving plenty of room for a whole new set of interesting sensory experiences …

Week 12 doesn't mean those persistent pregnancy headaches are going anywhere anytime soon.
Week 12 doesn't mean those persistent pregnancy headaches are going anywhere anytime soon.
©iStockphoto.com/diego_cervo

Week 12 can be something of a turning point. In the final days of the first trimester (or the opening days of the second), your body is making some changes that can have you feeling, well, a little different.

For one thing, some symptoms might be starting to wane. You may find yourself feeling less nauseated and moody (due to altering hormone levels). And you may notice that you don't have to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes (because the uterus lifts up off the bladder as it starts getting bigger). At the same time, you may be aware of some new feelings, including:

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  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • A disappearing waistline

… and some old ones that just won't go away, such as:

Yes, some women vomit the entire time (and not just in the morning). But even if that's you, take heart: What's happening inside your uterus right now will most likely ease (some of) the pain.

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Weight: about half an ounce. Length: about 2.5 inches. Face: recognizably human.

Around week 12, bits and pieces are moving into permanent position, and systems are starting to rev up. Eyes move around to the front of the face (they were on the sides), nerve cells multiply rapidly and brain synapses start firing. The whole digestive system is practicing its contractions. Everything is falling into place.

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Also this week:

  • Muscle reflexes are developing (including the clenching of fingers and toes and the sucking reflex).
  • The liver is producing red blood cells.
  • Bone marrow is producing white blood cells.
  • External genitals are recognizably male or female.
  • Tooth buds are forming.

It's a madhouse of activity in there. You may not be able to feel the clenching or the sucking or (thankfully) the intestinal movement, but oh, it's going on, and it's enough to make a woman dizzy.

In fact, you probably are dizzy, which is one of the things your partner might want to be aware of this week …

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Libido might be low during week 12, but it's still a good time to connect physically -- pregnancy yoga followed by a movie night snuggle, perhaps?
Libido might be low during week 12, but it's still a good time to connect physically -- pregnancy yoga followed by a movie night snuggle, perhaps?
©iStockphoto.com/diego_cervo

As the first trimester comes to a close, the hormone progesterone triggers a change in your blood vessels: They dilate, or expand, allowing the increased blood flow your fetus needs to get all this work done. Those dilated vessels cause a drop in blood pressure, which in turn can make you feel dizzy or faint.

This shouldn't cause a big problem, but it's something for your partner to be aware of. A shoulder to lean on or a supportive hand (or cold washcloth) might come in handy at this time.

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Another bit of knowledge that will do everybody some good? Pregnancy affects sex drive.

Obvious, perhaps, but some people don't realize that not everyone responds to pregnancy hormones in the same way. Partners, be aware: Your woman might go either way on this one, and, around this time, aversion is probably a more common response. Her boobs hurt, she's dizzy, heartburn is searing her chest and her waist is going bye-bye. Don't feel too hurt if she's not up for it. You'll have her back soon enough (very soon, perhaps -- many women report increased libido in the second trimester).

Make the effort to connect physically in other ways -- perhaps a massage, or a good, long hug, or a snuggle-on-the-couch movie night ("Knocked Up," anyone?). It's not sex, but it's nice.

Some other things to think about during week 12 …

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You may not be showing yet, but you will be soon. Now's the time to think about how and when you'd like to spread the happy news.
You may not be showing yet, but you will be soon. Now's the time to think about how and when you'd like to spread the happy news.
©iStockphoto.com/diego_cervo

By week 12, you've probably been doing enough thinking (and worrying) to last you quite a while: Will you be a good mom? Will you have a boy or a girl? Will you go natural? How much will it hurt?

All of that can wait. Right now, you have a few more pressing considerations, such as:

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  • Will you have an amnio?At this time, your doctor might be asking about testing for defects. "Screening" for conditions like Down syndrome, Tay-Sachs, spina bifida and sickle-cell anemia require simple blood tests and will tell you whether you need further testing. If you're in a high-risk group, though, you might be thinking about amniocentesis, a test that's more definitive but carries a risk of miscarriage. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits, and give it some thought as a couple before you decide how to proceed.
  • Can you do something about some of these new symptoms?Yes! For heartburn, eat smaller, more frequent meals; cut down on highly acidic foods, and wait an hour after eating before lying down. For constipation, increase your fiber intake and go easy on the cheese.
  • Are you ready to tell?If you've been waiting until the second trimester to make your pregnancy public (some people do this because the risk of miscarriage drops dramatically after the first trimester), now might be a good time to start thinking about how you'll tell people -- and how you'll deal with their reactions. If you've got siblings or friends who are trying without luck to conceive, you may need to be tactful, as well as prepared for whatever immediate reaction you get.If you have other children, start thinking about how you'll explain what's happening. News of a second child can be confusing, upsetting and/or exciting for little ones (and bigger ones). There are books on the subject, in case you'd like some help.

Yes, you have plenty of legitimate issues to keep you up at night -- so why not cross a few less-necessary ones off your list …

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Whenever something new, unknown and perhaps unpleasant arises during these 40 weeks, you might start to worry. Sometimes it's warranted; more often it's not. If you experience any of the following, there's no need to be freak out (unless that makes you feel better. In that case, have a field day):

  • You don't want to have sex.Totally normal. Some women want it around now, some women shudder at the thought. Whatever you're feeling will pass, and you'll eventually return to your normal self.
  • You're feeling huge.It happens. Sure, there are women who feel positively glorious and beautiful as they starting rounding out, but far more women feel kind of, well, fat. It doesn't make you less maternal, and it doesn't mean you don't want to be pregnant. It means you'll need some time to get used to a new shape.
  • You're looking like a teenager -- in a bad way.Some women glow, others break out. It's those darned hormones again. Your skin will go back to normal as soon as your hormones do.

In week 12, as in all others, the main point is this: Take care of yourself, and try to reduce your stress level as much as possible. Your body and mind have a lot to deal with just carrying a baby and dealing with the unavoidable emotional effects of fluctuating hormone levels. Sit back, relax, and get prepared for trimester two: Soon, perfect strangers might try to touch you.

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For more information on pregnancy, parenting and related topics, look over the links on the next page.

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Related Articles

Sources

  • "Fetal Development." National Institutes of Health. (March 13, 2011)http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002398.htm
  • "Pregnancy Week 12." BabiesOnline. (March 13, 2011)http://www.babiesonline.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/week12.asp
  • "Week 12 of Pregnancy." What to Expect. (March 13, 2011)http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/week-12.aspx
  • "Your pregnancy: 12 Weeks." BabyCenter. (March 13, 2011)http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-12-weeks_1101.bc
  • "Your Pregnancy: Week 12." Parenting. (March 13, 2011)http://www.parenting.com/pregnancy/timeline/first-trimester-week-12

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