The 12th Week of Pregnancy

Fetal developmentSensations in the stomach
Possible problemsChanges in the body of a woman
Fetal development ultrasoundScreening
RecommendationsFood at week 12

Development of the Fetus at Week 12 of Pregnancy

At this stage, the doctors call the baby the fetus, not the embryo. You can already see the future child with the help of ultrasound examination. Now the baby has a disproportionately large head, and moves actively.

At the 12th week of pregnancy, the unborn child is usually 61-63 millimeters in height.

The ears and the entire hearing system are formed, the neck becomes distinctive and elongates, and you can watch baby’s facial expressions change during ultrasound – it opens and closes its mouth, blinks. The facial features become clearer and clearer.

The fingers and toes come apart, and the tiny nails are formed.

The weight of the fetus by that time is about 9-13 grams. Despite the fact that the baby moves quite actively, the future mother barely feels it, because the baby is too tiny. It’s normal for the pregnant woman to gain up to half a kilogram of extra weight weekly over this period. In this way, the woman’s body creates deposits for the fetus to take nutrients from.

Inside the baby, every system and organ grows up by the second:

  • intestine becomes longer;
  • production of bile starts;
  • laryngeal muscles get better at swallowing movements;
  • sucking reflex develops, as well as the reflex of clenching and unclenching the fists;
  • breathing organs of the fetus develop, the chest is raised a little as it inhales.

Experiences during week 12

The first trimester ends at the 12th week of pregnancy, which means the most troubling and challenging period is over. The fetus has already gotten settled in the mother’s uterus. The baby’s body grows bigger and stronger daily. Now the future mother has much less to worry about: the morning sickness bothers her less frequently, and things get better.

The signs of the 12th week of pregnancy:

  • morning sickness goes away or weakens greatly, but in some cases, it can follow the woman throughout the whole period of pregnancy;
  • the uterus by this time is usually up to 10 cm in width;
  • the enlarged uterus rises into the abdominal cavity, ceasing to put pressure on the bladder, so the future mother has less frequent urge to urinate and feels more comfortable;
  • mood swings and irritability disappear, depressed state improves;
  • weakness and drowsiness are reduced, but may persist – you should remember that the body needs a great deal of energy and resources to works for both the mother and the baby;
  • the belly grows distinctly; the skin may become itchy, which means stretch marks are about to appear. Specialized skin products can prevent their development.

The women pregnant with their first child can notice that most of the clothes of their usual sizes still fit them, since the belly hasn’t grown significantly.

Week 12 is a time when the expecting mother becomes accustomed to her new feelings, so she can finally relax and enjoy bearing a new life in her womb.

The woman becomes fully aware of her responsibility for the child’s life and well-being, and along with overall improvement, she can feel joy and excitement about her situation.

Possible concerns

Pain and cramps

The expectant mother can still have a bunch of unpleasant symptoms at week 12. She has to keep monitoring her health closely, listening to the needs of her body. And, when needed, she must seek timely medical care. Pain and cramps often accompany the pregnant women through this period.

  • Pain in the abdomen and lower back is caused by stretching the ligaments of the uterus as part of preparing for delivery.
  • Mild stabbing pain in the pelvis and pubis are another sign of it. To feel better, the pregnant woman needs to take a good rest and sleep more.
  • Headache and increased heart rate.
  • Progesterone may cause stomach cramps and constipation. Eating more foods rich in fiber will help to fix it.
  • Feelings of irritation and burning on the skin of the chest, thighs and abdomen under the action of hormones and due to the growing uterus. Moisturize the skin and use special stretch mark creams to reduce these symptoms.

Discharge at week 12

Light odorless discharge is absolutely normal. You should be alarmed if discharge is smelly, dark brown, bloody or cottage cheese-like. At best, such symptoms indicate the presence of infection; at worst, it’s a sign of threatened miscarriage. If you have noticed any abnormal discharge, contact a gynecologist promptly, so you can start treatment in time and prevent the worst case scenario.


In case of bleeding, the expecting mother must keep calm, act smart and fast.

Call an ambulance and inform about the main warning signs:

  • nature of discharge: bloody, watery, cotton cheese-like;
  • abundance of discharge (more than one tablespoon of discharge is considered abundant);
  • the presence or absence of pain and cramps in the uterus;
  • the presence or absence of fever.

An ambulance team arrives to examine the pregnant woman on the spot and decides on the treatment. Home treatment is an option, but in severe cases the expecting mother may be hospitalized.

Sex life at week 12

There are fewer limitations in intimate life in the 12th week of pregnancy. If the woman feels good, doctors are not against this. However, she should closely monitor the nature of the discharge and her feelings after intercourse. Sex is contraindicated in cases of multiple pregnancy and low insertion of placenta.

External changes of the woman’s body

What does the future mother look like at this period? Many women have noticeably larger belly at week 12 – not too big yet, but enough to see the proof that a little person is growing inside. The body keeps preparing for breastfeeding, so the breast becomes larger and the changes continue. The condition of skin, hair, nails may also change, and not always for the better. Pigmentation of the nipples and midline of the abdomen becomes more distinct.

Positive signs of this period:

  • healthy appetite returns;
  • the expectant mother is ready for her new status and upcoming delivery;
  • during the second and subsequent pregnancies, there is already a chance to feel the baby moving at this time;
  • the baby bump might have become noticeable, and the surrounding people begin to treat the future mother with more care and attention;
  • the urge to urinate is likely to become less frequent.

Causes of discomfort at week 12:

  • if there were chronic diseases of the kidneys, heart, liver before pregnancy, there is a possibility of their exacerbation at this time;
  • blood pressure may increase due to a greater than usual volume of circulating blood;
  • there is a possibility of constipation – the growing uterus makes intestinal motility more difficult.

The 12th week of pregnancy: how many months?

The calendar month has 30 or 31 days, the obstetric month – 28 days, that is exactly four weeks. Therefore, the end of the 12th obstetric week of pregnancy corresponds to the end of the third obstetric month of pregnancy. Whereas the third calendar month of pregnancy will last another week or week and a half.

Recall that we begin counting obstetric weeks and months from the 1st day of the last menstruation, two weeks before the fertilization of the egg. However, embryonic weeks of pregnancy (we don’t use this reference system in our pregnancy calendar) begin from the moment of conception. Therefore, the 12th obstetric week corresponds to the 10th embryonic week.

Because of the different reference systems, inexperienced young parents may be confused.

Fetal development ultrasound

  • After taking a photo of the fetus, the ultrasound doctor can clearly see the eyes that are still closed. The baby already reacts to light and vibration, the heart beats at a rate of up to 160 beats per minute.
  • The baby looks like a real person, in contrast to what was in the embryonic period of development. Although the head is still bigger than the body, the features of the face are clearly distinguished.
  • At this time, a specialist usually can determine the sex of the baby, although with some error, because external genital organs continue to form. Also, if you wish, you can have a photo of the fetus.
  • The baby can already suck on its finger and move erratically.
  • All internal organs, which began to be laid one after another since the moment of fertilization, are already formed, and their development continues.

Screening at week 12

By this time, the mother and baby are already accustomed to each other and live as one. 12 weeks have passed since the beginning of the last menstrual cycle and 10 weeks since the fertilized egg attached to the wall of the uterus, and conception occurred. Doctors believe that this period is the right time to conduct the first screening, a survey that all women have to undergo. The result helps the specialists to establish what is happening to the baby and to make sure that the course of the pregnancy is correct.

What examinations are being done as part of screening?

  • Ultrasound, which allows to identify pathology. For example, the size of the back of the head on an ultrasound helps to establish whether there is a threat of Down syndrome.
  • Blood test for hCG hormone.
  • Blood test for PAPP-A protein.

These studies will show whether there is a chance that the fetus has a serious genetic pathology. In case of suspicion of malformations, the doctor will refer a pregnant woman for a consultation to the geneticist.

Diet of the expectant mother

Proper nutrition of a pregnant woman is a guarantee of her health and healthy development of the fetus. The best case scenario is when the expectant mother begins to eat properly before pregnancy. A balanced and healthy menu of a woman in a “delicate condition” is not only useful for the baby, but also helps not to gain extra pounds and to remain young and attractive.

The diet of the future mother has to include only fresh and quality products. In the first months, there may be a lack of vitamin B9, or as it is called folic acid.

The lack of this trace element manifests itself in the following symptoms:

  • loss of appetite;
  • drowsiness;
  • fatigue;
  • mood swings.

It is recommended to increase the intake of foods that contain vitamin B9, that is, folic acid:

  • cabbage;
  • egg yolk;
  • green onions;
  • beans;
  • beets;
  • tomatoes;
  • cheese;
  • cottage cheese;
  • carrots.

During the entire first trimester and especially at the end of the third obstetric month, the fetus actively grows and needs even more energy. Therefore, you should gradually increase the amount of food intake.

The body begins to require more calcium and vitamin D.

This is natural, because a skeleton is forming in the fetus at that time. Calcium deficiency is manifested in the form of caries and muscle pain in the future mother.

The following foods are rich in calcium:

  • milk;
  • cottage cheese;
  • dried grapes;
  • oatmeal;
  • butter;
  • chicken eggs.

These products are now especially relevant in the diet of the pregnant women: liver, rosehip, currants, apples, and buckwheat.

Recommendations to the expectant mothers

  • Reconsider and adjust your daily routine and diet: give up harmful foods and alcohol, don’t go to bed too late.
  • Make sure that weight gain does not exceed the established norms; keep taking vitamins for pregnant women.
  • Beware of viral infections, because any cold can adversely affect the health of the baby.
  • Don’t wear high-heeled shoes to protect yourself from unintentional falls or varicose veins.
  • Worry less, walk and travel more.

Make sure that weight gain does not exceed the established norms; keep taking vitamins for pregnant women.

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