You're rounding third on month four, and with just 25 waist-expanding weeks until the moment you've been waiting for, you might be feeling better than you have in some time. For many women, any residual morning sickness and fatigue from trimester one have at last gone away, and daily activities are easier than they've been in a while.
With a few notable exceptions, of course. You are, after all, nearly four months pregnant, probably saying bye-bye to your non-elastic-waist pants, finding sleep a bit more difficult and starting to field some relatively personal questions from perfect strangers. It's the start of something odd and sometimes heartening: Everybody loves a pregnant lady.
Here, the details on week 15 of being pregnant, starting with what's probably the most obvious issue in your daily life: What does this week feel like?
What You Might Be Feeling
For you, week 15 probably feels a lot like week 14: More normal than week 10, less normal than week 0, and filled with more intense heartburn than you knew was physically possible.
That, plus bloating, general indigestion and flatulence (the results of hormone-triggered muscle relaxation that affects your gastrointestinal tract and gets markedly worse following large meals). And with an appetite that grows with each passing minute (a good thing, especially if you lost some weight due to trimester-one vomiting), these issues might be starting to really annoy you. Get used to it.
It's not all digestive, of course. Other week 15 symptoms might include:
- Stuffy nose and/or nosebleeds, from hormone-induced changes in mucous membrane and blood vessels
- Round ligament pain, or that uncomfortable stretching sensation down the sides of your growing belly
- Mild, occasional headaches and/or dizziness
- Bleeding gums (again, hormone-induced)
- An expanding rib cage -- it can get bigger to allow your lung capacity to grow, since you're breathing for two
- Varicose veins -- make sure to walk around throughout the day, as this could help reduce their severity
Your veins, and your rib cage, should return to normal after delivery. But for now, you're stuck with the changes, because the life you're growing needs them for all the activity going on in your uterus this week …
What's Going On in Your Body
Length: About 4 inches. Weight: About 2.5 ounces. Lungs: Starting to develop.
Yes, this is a big week, with a tiny little body setting the stage for perhaps the greatest shock it will experience at birth: the first breath. He or she has started moving amniotic fluid through a primitive respiratory passageway, which triggers the development of the air sacs he or she will use when the environment switches from fluid to air.
Other big developments this week include:
- Continued (or beginning) growth of lanugo, a fine coating of hair all over that acts as insulation until body fat starts to accumulate
- Legs growing to a more proportional length (longer than the arms)
- Continued growth in ability to move, with potential for swimming around and maybe thumb sucking
- Development of pigment in hair follicle, and possible appearance of real scalp hair and eyebrows
- Ability to sense light (through the eyelids -- they're not open yet)
A tiny heart is now pumping about 25 quarts of blood every day -- a pittance compared with the 300 gallons it'll be pumping at delivery, but still impressive for a 2.5-ounce being.
These stunning feats of new life are happening right there inside your growing abdomen -- which brings us to a second-trimester fact your partner might want to take special note of …
What Your Partner Should Know
Your partner probably wants to know what's going on inside that uterus as much as you do. It is, after all, an experience that changes both of your lives forever. But partners might want to be especially aware of something a pregnant woman might not even realize on a conscious level: As her belly grows, so might her stress level, due to all those physical and emotional changes.
And remember, stress is not good for either near-mom or fetus, and lots of people push it into the background. There's enough for a baby-grower to worry about without worrying about worrying. So a partner's awareness of increased prenatal stress, on the parts of both soon-to-be parents, can be especially important.
Partners, take note: Does mom-to-be seem especially tired, or is she getting headaches, or having trouble falling asleep? These symptoms can be the result of stress. Does she spend a large part of the day planning, and is she even beginning the long nesting process, preparing your home for a new member? This can all take an emotional toll, and you can help, not only her but also yourself, since no doubt your stress is increasing as well. A few options to consider include:
- Schedule a couple's spa day
- Plan a brief vacation
- Take a prenatal massage class together
- Arrange a trip to the local baby store and register together for what you'll need
The added benefit to all of these stress-relief activities is the bonding they encourage. It's more important than ever for you two to be in this, and especially talking about this, as a couple.
And because you are in this together, you'll probably want to think together about …
Some Things to Consider
You're well into the second trimester, and it's time to bite the bullet on a few decisions that may be hanging out there. For instance:
- Prenatal testing -- Amnio? Screening? Are you high-risk in any category? What will you do with any information you get back?
- Registering -- If friends and family have started asking what you need, tell them! Register somewhere so people who love you can help with preparations. You'll find lots of newborn checklists online to help you decide what you want.
- Work maternity/paternity leaves -- Who will stay home? What are the leave policies at your workplace(s)?
- Birthing, parenting and infant CPR classes -- If you plan to do some group learning, register for a class that finishes well before your due date, since some babies are in a rush to come out.
Also on the list of things to contemplate right now include weight gain (How will you make that happen? Food journal? Check list? Winging it?) and dental care. Your teeth and gums are, thanks to pregnancy hormones, more susceptible to bacteria, so now is not the time to skip a cleaning.
And finally, a few things that needn't take up any of your precious mental energy …
Don't Worry If…
With all you have to do in the next five months, you can rest assured you needn't spend much time worrying if:
You haven't starting exercising yet. Don't sweat it. Just find a prenatal yoga, water aerobics or personal exercise routine today. Talk to your doctor and/or do some research, and get moving. You'll benefit no matter when you start.
The scale is stressing you out. It's a fact of life that some women don't get along with scales. Don't bother weighing yourself at home, then, unless your doctor has advised it. You'll get weighed at your prenatal checkups.
You're not feeling any movement yet. Some women don't feel movement until the fifth or sixth month. It doesn't mean there's no motion in there, it simply means it's not powerful enough for you to feel it yet through all that padding, or else you're feeling it and mistaking it for indigestion. For first-timers, it can be hard to differentiate the two initially.
Oh, and if you're showing and those questions from perfect strangers are stressing you out, feel free to smile politely, give a one-word response and walk away. You're not obligated to have an in-depth conversation about heartburn with that mother of six in aisle 3. Pregnant ladies tend to get some social-graces leeway.
For more information on pregnancy, parenthood and related topics, look over the links on the next page.
- Guide to Being One Week Pregnant
- Guide to Being Two Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Three Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Four Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Five Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Six Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Seven Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Eight Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Nine Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 10 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 11 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 12 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 13 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 14 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 16 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 17 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 18 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 19 Weeks Pregnant
- Quiz: Pregnancy Myths
- "15th Week of Pregnancy." Similac. (April 11, 2011)http://similac.com/pregnancy/15-weeks-pregnant-baby-growth-development
- "Your pregnancy: 15 Weeks." BabyCenter. (April 11, 2011)http://www.babycenter.com/6_your-pregnancy-15-weeks_1104.bc
- "Week 15 of Pregnancy." What To Expect. (April 11, 2011)http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/week-15.aspx