How the miracle unfolds: Your pregnancy, week by week

If you have had an increase in libido, take advantage and have fun.
If you have had an increase in libido, take advantage and have fun.

Congratulations!

In the run of 40 weeks, your body is going to do something incredible. Two cells – one of yours and one of the child’s dad – will grow inside of you and become a unique little person… your baby.

While you’re reading about the growth and development of your foetus, also allow yourself some time to think about the big life change that’s coming.

You’re going to be a mom.

This thought will no doubt have you all excited sometimes, and at other times almost panic-stricken.

It’s normal. The emotional rollercoaster is also made worse by your hormone levels and all the physical changes you’re going through.

Chat to your partner about everything and ensure enough quiet time and rest so that your body and soul can prepare for what’s to come: the biggest challenge and adventure of your life.

First trimester

Week 6

Your baby

The nose, mouth and ears develop. The embryo has black dots where the nostrils will be and small dimples for ears. Arms and legs start taking shape as small protrusions.

You

Symptoms vary, but if you’re feeling nauseous, tired and slightly grumpy, welcome to your new pregnant world.

Week 7

Your baby

Hands and feet grow from the protrusions and look like strange amphibian fins, but of course, you already think your baby’s beautiful. Small veins become visible under a paper-thin skin.

You

Your uterus has doubled in size. About 100 per cent more blood is now coursing through your veins, and you have to wee all the time.

Week 8

Your baby

The “tail” running from the embryo’s coccyx is almost gone. Respiratory tubes run from the throat to the developing lungs. You feel nothing, but your baby startles and stretches spontaneously.

You

Talk a brisk 20-minute walk every day. That will help against the lethargy caused by raising progesterone levels.

Week 9

Your baby

The heart completes its division into four chambers. Hart valves take shape. A sonar should pick up a bouncing heartbeat. Small bumps form under the gums where the teeth will go.

You

Stay away from warm baths, spas and saunas. If your body temperature remains raised for too long, it can damage the embryo.

Also read: Can’t touch this? Foods to avoid when you're pregnant

Week 10

Your baby

No longer an embryo, your baby is now officially a foetus. The most critical part of the development has now passed. The hands are bent at the wrists and come together in front of the chest.

You

The foetus, placenta, breasts and uterus need amino-acids for growth and recovery. Take 170g every day, which is a cup of milk or yoghurt.

Week 11

Your baby

The baby is almost completely shaped and formed and looks more like a person. Elbows, knees and joints are already visible. The face becomes rounder and eyes move forward. Hair follicles start to take shape.

You

Finger- and toenails grow quicker or can be very fragile and brittle. Don’t stress. It’s not permanent.

Second trimester

Week 12

Your baby

Congratulations! It’s the last week of the exciting first trimester. The foetus weighs about 14g and pees for the first time after it learnt how to suck and swallow the fluid surrounding it.

WATCH: The unexpected way Katy Perry is preparing for motherhood

You

Headaches? Blame the hormonal changes. Sit up straight, eat regularly, avoid fluorescent light and get some fresh air.

Week 13

Your baby

A rapid growth phase kicks off. The eyes and ears move to the right spot. The gut goes from the umbilical cord to the abdominal cavity. The foetus has doubled in length from week seven to 7,8cm.

You

That soft, round ball you feel under your abdomen is your uterus growing upward after it’s filled your pelvis.

Week 14

Your baby

Baby’s head now grows faster than his body. Just last week it was half the size of his body. He can suck his thumb, make faces and frown thanks to brain impulses. The eyelids are still firmly shut.

You

You’re hungry again! The appetite suppressing morning sickness – often the cause of weight loss up to week 12 – is gone.

Week 15

Your baby

The big organs have been formed, but the heart and liver keep developing up until the last trimester. The neck becomes more visible and longer, and the chin no longer rests on the chest like that. He’s 10cm long.

You

Your blood plasma (the oxygen part of your blood) has already increased. You’re getting more red blood cells to prevent anaemia.

Week 16

Your baby

The heart pumps about 24 litres of blood per day. It will increase as the foetus develops further. Although it’s still early, the sex of the foetus can be seen with the help of good sonar equipment.

You

Stretch marks might start appearing now. Keep your weight gain gradual and increase your skin’s elasticity with Vitamin C foods.

Week 17

Your baby

The fat that has to regulate his body temperature is being built up under the skin. Meconium forms in the gut. Shortly after her birth, it will be his first sticky black poo.

You

Your body secretes a hormone (relaxin) that makes everything relax to make space for Baby. You might feel clumsy, so take care.

Week 18

Your baby

A protective layer forms around the nerves. It will keep going until a year after birth. The lungs keep developing, and he practises to open and close his mouth as if he wants to cry!

You

Get up slowly from lying down or sitting, otherwise, you might feel dizzy. Your body’s changing on a cardiovascular level, and your blood pressure is lower.

Also read: Sex during pregnancy: What you need to know, trimester by trimester

Week 19

Your baby

The three bones in his inner ear have already been formed so that he can hear your heartbeat, rumbling tummy and even the blood coursing through the umbilical cord. Sing him a song.

You

You might be less emotional and teary now. The pregnancy feels more real. You have more energy.

Week 20

Your baby

Halfway! Rapid growth diminishes, but important development still takes place. Nerves responsible for taste, smell, hearing, sight and touch start forming in the brain.

You

The vertical muscles running from the ribs to the pelvis separate from the midline to make space for Baby.

Week 21

Your baby

Arms and legs are finally in proportion. Cartilage throughout the body changes into bone. Neuron links between brain and muscles have been formed, so movements are more coordinated.

You

If you have not felt your baby moving, you’ll feel the joy within this next week.

Week 22

Your baby

By now, Baby can absorb little bits of sugar from the amniotic fluid around him. The bone marrow starts making blood cells. The liver and spleen have been responsible for this up till now.

You

You walk like a pregnant woman: slightly wide-legged and bent back to counter gravity.

Must read: Using cannabis during pregnancy could be bad news for your baby - new research

Week 23

Your baby

The lungs start making surfactant that help the alveoli to inflate and prevent them from sticking together upon a deflation. The foetus practises his lungs and inhales and exhales amniotic fluid.

You

Your ribs move up and your lower ribs spread to the sides. You have less space to take deep breaths and might feel out of breath.

READ:

Third trimester

Week 24

Your baby

His weight increases by 170g per week. The skin is still thin and translucent, but this will change soon. The face has brows, lashes and even hair (still white) on the head.

You

Your old hair doesn’t fall out as easily, so your tresses look fuller and more glossy. Enjoy this while you’re pregnant.

Week 25

Your baby

The inner ear, which is already fully developed, lets the baby feel like he’s lying upside down or upright in your womb. The hands are developed, but the nerve connections still need to grow.

You

Keep your weight gain as constant as you can to limit backache. The average is a 0,5 to 1kg weekly increase.

Week 26

Your baby

The eyes, although they’re already developed, are still closed and may only open in a week. The spine is becoming stronger and more supple but remains flexible to make the birth easier.

You

Save your back. Avoid walking and standing for long periods. Sleep on your side with cushions or pillows between our knees.

Week 27

Your baby

Measurements are no longer done from crown to torso but from head to toe. He weighs almost 1kg now and is almost 27cm tall. Your little one’s skin is a healthy reddish colour.

You

A blocked nose and ears, nosebleeds and sensitive gums that bleed when you brush may be part of your joys.

Also see: All about coping with constipation during pregnancy

Week 28

Your baby

He already sleeps for a half an hour at a time. The eyes open and shut, but he’s only able to see at a later stage in this trimester. His eye colour is also fixed but can still change within six months after birth.

You

Tests may be done now for gestational diabetes – when you can’t control your blood sugar level.

Week 29

Your baby

He has about 300 bones now but will only have about 206 after birth for the rest of his life. He starts storing iron, phosphorous and calcium to make the bones nice and strong.

You

Are you dreaming of knitting jerseys from lasagne and other weird and wonderful things? Relax. That and forgetfulness is part of pregnancy.

Week 30

Your baby

He starts practising breathing through his diaphragm, and when he has hiccups you might be able to feel light spasms in your uterus. He weighs about 1,2kg and will now gain 0,5kg a week until the end of week 37.

You

Hands, feet and ankles feel puffy at night. It sounds strange, but drink more water to flush waste products.

Week 31

Your baby

The digestive system is almost fully developed. Although Baby is practising to breathe, his lungs aren’t fully developed yet. He sleeps for longer periods and gets REM sleep.

Must read: 'Midwives are using technology solutions': The future of maternity care post-Covid

You

Keep track of Baby’s kicks. Ten times per hour is a good count. Eat something or walk a bit if the count is lower.

Week 32

Your baby

The layer of soft, downy hair (lanugo) that protected his body against fluid can start falling off. Your baby weighs about 1,8kg and enjoys sucking his thumb. Billions of new nerve cells are forming.

You

Enjoy sex unless your doctor advises otherwise. Baby falling asleep afterwards is normal, safe and healthy.

Week 33

Your baby

His eyes might be open and his pupils can observe light. If you shine a torch on your belly, he’ll notice. His nails reach the tips of his fingers. You might want to cut them at birth!

You

Is your pregnancy starting to bore you? Play with your child through your belly and remind yourself of the miracle growing inside you.

Week 34

Your baby

The lanugo falls off and vernix thickens this week. That’s the sticky white substance with which babies are born and that helps with the birthing process. Boys’ testicles drop in the scrotum.

You

Itchy red hives or pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPP) can appear on the skin.

Week 35

Your baby

There is not much space left for movement in your uterus. So Baby’s doing fewer summersaults, but he’s still kicking just as much. If he could stand up, he’d measure about 50cm.

You

You know important things like your baby’s name, but make sure the birth plan and labour day logistics are in place.

Week 36

Your baby

All the fat makes his little face nice and round, and as it amasses around his ankles and elbows, his bony body disappears. All systems, from the circulatory to the musculoskeletal, are ready.

Also read: Have you felt your baby move yet? Look out for a flutter under your heart

You

You carry more baby than amniotic fluid. It’s quite cramped inside, and you’re hard-pressed to take in more than a morsel at a time.

Week 37

Your baby

He’s probably turned into his birth position and is lowering into your pelvis. Braxton-Hicks contractions – practice for birth – start increasing.

You

You might experience an increase in vaginal discharge. If there’s mucous blood, labour day is imminent.

Week 38

Your baby

A few last preparations before the big day. He loses the lanugo and vernix and makes more surfactant. His brain and nervous system are operational and grow by the day.

You

For most women who labour naturally, the waiting game begins. Spend some time with your partner and sleep while you can.

Week 39

Your baby

Finally, the lungs are fully operational! The placenta that worked wonders during pregnancy provides the oh-so-necessary antibodies for the first six months after birth.

You

Keep on monitoring movement. Call your doctor immediately if you feel nauseous, your tummy cramps or if you experience visual disturbances.

Week 40

Your baby

It’s (maybe) time. All you can do is wait until he decides he’s ready. You can stay pregnant for a shorter or even longer – mostly up till 42 weeks.

He might be slightly taller than 50cm and weigh between 2,5

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