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Pregnancy Day by Day : Welcome to your First Trimester (part 33)

- 9 Bad Habits That Can Cause Miscarriage
- How to have natural miscarriage
- Foods That Cause Miscarriage
- Signs Proving You Have Boy Pregnancy
You are 11 Weeks and 1 Day 202 days to go…

In this final week of your first trimester, you’ll probably have your first ultrasound scan and see your baby for the first time.

Your baby today

Although on a scan it might look as though the baby is resting on her back, the fluid in the amniotic sac means that she is floating in a near weightless environment and can easily move into any position within the uterus.

You and your partner have reached an exciting milestone. You’ll have your first ultrasound around now and see your baby; this may help you feel closer to her. For many men, seeing the baby on the scan may be the first time the pregnancy becomes a reality.

At this scan, your baby’s length will be measured (see You are 11 Weeks and 2 Days) and this will be used to figure out her age. Up until about 12 weeks of pregnancy, all babies grow at around the same rate so irrespective of whether you and your partner are tall or short, at this time your baby will be the same size as others at this stage of development.

Figuring out your due date (see When will your baby be born?) using the first day of your period, isn’t always accurate, especially if your menstrual cycle is long or irregular. The dating scan can give a more accurate expected date of delivery, but it by no means tells you for certain—very few babies arrive on their actual due date.

You may be given a printout of your baby. Don’t be surprised to find yourself looking at it again, and again, and again! It’s also a great way to share the news with others.

… Dads
It’s really happening!

As a dad-to-be, going to your first scan will be a time of great excitement, but you may be anxious too. It’s normal for you and your partner to wonder if your baby is okay and be desperate to hear that all is well.

The first scan may seem quite technical since it is used to detect your baby’s heartbeat and take some measurements, but it’s also very emotional. In reality, the first scan gives you the first look at this new life. It lets you see your baby moving around, with legs kicking and arms flailing, even though your partner can’t feel these movements yet.

Perhaps, as a man, the biggest shock of the scan is the fact that it confronts you for the first time with the physical evidence that your baby really exists. Your partner is likely to be more used to the idea of pregnancy, because she’s carrying the baby, but the scan will make the pregnancy much more real to you, and you may be surprised at how emotional you feel.

First Ultrasound Scan

Your first scan at 8–14 weeks can pinpoint the length of your pregnancy to within a five to seven day window. Such accurate dating helps to estimate your due date and determine the right time to perform tests later in pregnancy.

Your first scan

This ultrasound helps to accurately establish your baby’s gestational age. This is particularly useful if you are not sure when your last menstrual period was, if you have irregular periods, or you became pregnant immediately after you stopped using contraception such as the pill. At this stage of pregnancy, your baby can be measured from crown to rump (from the top of the baby’s head to its bottom). In addition to establishing your due date and the timing of other screening and diagnostic tests, accurate dating of your pregnancy is important since it helps avoid misdiagnosis of problems such as poor fetal growth. Your due date will usually be changed at this scan if there is more than a five to seven day difference between your menstrual dates and the dates based on the crown–rump length.

A scan may be given before 10 weeks if you have bleeding or pain to rule out the possibility of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

How the scan is done

During an ultrasound scan, high-frequency sound waves are emitted through the abdomen via a handheld device called a transducer. As the sound waves hit solid tissue, they translate into an image that is viewed on a computer screen and interpreted by the sonographer.

At this scan, you will need to drink plenty of water to raise the uterus and provide a clearer image. The sonographer will put some cold gel on your abdomen to maximize contact with the skin and will then move the transducer gently over the area.

By 12 weeks the fetus has taken on a human appearance. The forehead, eye sockets, and small button nose are all visible in profile.

Measuring the diameter of your baby’s head (the biparietal diameter) helps assess your baby’s growth and date your pregnancy.

What the scan shows
What can be seen on a first scan?

In addition to confirming your dates, your first scan may reveal some other useful information.

  • This scan usually confirms whether you have a single or multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, or more).

  • Uterine anomalies can be seen, such as a double uterus, although this is rare. Uterine fibroids (benign tumors) will also be identified.

  • The scan may reveal an ovarian cyst (corpus luteum) on the ovary that produced the egg. These are common and can persist in the first trimester.

  • Major anomalies may be seen, but most are diagnosed at the 20-week scan when the organs are seen.

You are 11 Weeks and 2 Days 201 days to go…

The dating scan is reassuring because it’s an opportunity for your baby’s progress and development to be thoroughly checked.

Your baby today

This image shows the yolk sac at the 12 o’clock position with the placenta seen as a thickening to the lining of the uterus on the left. The baby is in the lower part of the uterus and is positioned lying on her back.

At your ultrasound scan, the pregnancy is dated according to your baby’s length from crown (head) to rump (bottom) because he is—and will remain—quite curled up. This is known as the CRL (crown–rump length).

Since your baby can flex his spine and stretch his neck, this measurement needs to be taken with your baby in a specific position so it can take some time to achieve. The measurement is used to estimate your baby’s date of delivery and this may be different than the EDD you calculated .

This first ultrasound scan should be able to recognize all four limbs, your baby’s hands and feet, the spine, some aspects of brain development, the fluid-filled stomach, and the bladder. From now on your baby’s kidneys will be producing small amounts of very dilute urine and the bladder will start to fill.

… Doctor
Q: I’ve had quite a few pregnancy symptoms and don’t feel as though my body is my own. How can I relax and enjoy being pregnant?
A: Not all women adapt well to pregnancy and for some dealing with the symptoms and worrying about issues such as weight gain, makes them feel out of control. The best way to cope with these feelings is to embrace the changes and remain in touch with your body by exercising and taking time to focus on what is happening inside you. We spend most of our lives listening to all the things that happen on the outside, but very little time focusing on the inside.

Take a few minutes each day to practice deep breathing and relaxation and consider learning some pregnancy yoga and meditation techniques (see image).

The dramatic changes happening to your body may be mirrored in the wide swings of emotions and feelings you experience throughout your pregnancy. Some days you may feel excited and elated at the prospect of becoming a parent, and on others you may feel overwhelmed and anxious.

Perhaps the nine months’ gestation period is nature’s way of giving us time to get used to the idea of becoming a parent, and allowing us time to deal with our emotions and prepare for the birth. So try to relax but if you’re feeling really anxious, speak to your doctor.

This simple yoga pose allows you to fully relax your body and mind. Consider joining a pregnancy yoga class since it’s a great way to learn techniques and also an opportunity meet other moms-to-be.

Dating scans are only an estimate. The chance of delivering on your due date is only around 5 percent.

So keep the estimated due date in mind but don’t expect your baby to abide by it!

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