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Pregnancy Week by Week : Week 13 (part 1) - Stretch Marks, Changes in Your Breasts

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- Signs Proving You Have Boy Pregnancy

1. How Big Is Your Baby?

Your baby continues to grow rapidly! Its crown-to-rump length is 2½ to 3 inches (6.5 to 7.8cm), and it weighs between ½ and ¾ ounce (13 to 20g). It is about the size of a peach.

2. How Big Are You?

You can probably feel the upper edge of your uterus about 4 inches (10cm) below your bellybutton. Your uterus fills your pelvis and is growing upward into your abdomen. It feels like a soft, smooth ball.

You have probably gained some weight by now. If morning sickness has been a problem and you’ve had a hard time eating, you may not have gained much. As you feel better and as your baby rapidly starts to gain weight, you’ll also gain weight.

3. How Your Baby Is Growing and Developing

Fetal growth is particularly striking from now through about 24 weeks of pregnancy. The baby has doubled in length since the 7th week. Changes in fetal weight have also been dramatic.

There is a relative slowdown in the growth of your baby’s head compared to the rest of its body. In week 13, the head is about half the crown-to-rump length. By week 21, the head is about ⅓ of baby’s body. At birth, your baby’s head is only ¼ the size of its body. Body growth speeds up as head growth slows down.

Eyes are moving closer together on the face. The ears move to their normal position on the sides of the head. Sex organs have developed enough so a male can be distinguished from a female, if examined outside the womb.

Intestines begin to develop within a large swelling in the umbilical cord outside the body. About this time, they draw back into the abdominal cavity. If this doesn’t occur and the intestines remain outside the abdomen at birth, a condition called an omphalocele occurs. It is rare (occurs in 1 of 10,000 births). The condition can usually be repaired with surgery, and babies do well afterward.

4. Stretch Marks

Many women have stretch marks, called striae distensae, during pregnancy. They occur when the elastic fibers and collagen in deeper layers of your skin are pulled apart to make room for baby. When skin tears, collagen breaks down and shows through the top layer of your skin as a pink, red or purple indented streak.

Nearly 9 out of 10 pregnant women develop stretch marks on their breasts, tummy, hips, buttocks and/or arms. They may appear any time during pregnancy. After birth, they may fade to the same color as the rest of your skin, but they won’t go away.

You can help yourself by gaining weight slowly and steadily during pregnancy. Any large increase in weight can cause stretch marks to appear more readily.

Drink lots of water, and eat healthy foods. Foods high in antioxidants provide nutrients you need to repair and heal tissue. Eating enough protein and smaller amounts of “good” fats, such as flaxseed, flaxseed oil and fish oils, may also help you.

Although you’d like to think you can keep stretch marks from happening to you, there really isn’t much you can do to prevent them. Creams and lotions you see advertised on TV and in magazines don’t really work. You’ll get stretch marks if you’re going to get them (some lucky women get very few, if any!). They’re just a part of being pregnant.

Stay out of the sun! Keep up with your exercise program.

Ask your healthcare provider about using creams with alpha-hydroxy acid, citric acid or lactic acid. Some of these creams and lotions improve the quality of the skin’s elastic fibers.

Don’t use steroid creams, such as hydrocortisone or topicort, to treat stretch marks during pregnancy without first checking with your healthcare provider. You absorb some of the steroid into your system, and the steroid can pass to baby. And stretch creams really can’t penetrate deeply enough to repair damage to your skin.

Treatment after Pregnancy. After pregnancy, you have quite a few treatment options. Some treatments hold promise. If you’re left with lots of stretch marks, you may want to ask about prescription creams, such as Retin-A or Renova, or laser treatments.

Retin-A, in combination with glycolic acid, has been shown to be fairly effective. Prescriptions are needed for Retin-A and Renova; you can get glycolic acid from your dermatologist. Cellex-C, with glycolic acid, also helps with stretch marks.

The most effective treatment is laser treatment, but it can be costly. It’s often done in combination with the medication methods described above. However, lasers don’t work for everyone.

Massage may help—it increases blood flow to the area, which helps gets rid of dead surface cells. Discuss treatment with your healthcare provider if stretch marks bother you after pregnancy.

5. Changes in Your Breasts

Your breasts are changing.  The mammary gland (another name for the breast) got its name from the Latin term for breast—mamma.

Before pregnancy, your breasts may weigh about 7 ounces (200g) each. During pregnancy, they increase in size and weight as you add fat in your breast tissue. Near the end of pregnancy, each breast may weigh 14 to 28 ounces (400 to 800g). During nursing, each breast can weigh 28 ounces (800g) or more.

A breast is made up of glands, tissue to provide support and fatty tissue for protection. Each nipple contains nerve endings, muscle fibers, sebaceous glands, sweat glands and about 20 milk ducts. Milk-producing sacs connect with the ducts leading to the nipple.

Grandma’s Remedy

If you want to avoid using medication, try a folk remedy. If you get a paper cut, apply some lip balm to help heal the cut and reduce skin irritation.

From the beginning of pregnancy, your body is getting ready to breastfeed. Soon after pregnancy begins, the alveoli begin to increase in number and to grow larger. Milk sinuses, located close to the nipple, begin forming; they hold the milk you will produce. By as early as 20 weeks of pregnancy, your breasts will begin to produce milk. Even if you give birth weeks earlier than your due date, your breast milk will be nutritious enough to nourish a premature baby.

You may notice veins appearing just beneath the skin and a change in nipples. They may get larger and more sensitive. The nipple is surrounded by the areola, a circular, pigmented area. During pregnancy, the areola darkens and grows larger. A darkened areola may act as a visual signal to baby. Bumps on your nipples, called Montgomery glands, secrete fluid to lubricate and protect your nipples if you breastfeed.

Image

Development of the maternal breast by the end of
the first trimester (13 weeks of pregnancy).

During the second trimester, a thin yellow fluid called colostrum begins to form. It can sometimes be pressed from the nipple by gentle massage. You may also notice stretch marks on your breasts. During the third trimester, your breasts may itch as skin is stretched. An alcohol-free, perfume-free moisturizer may help. Your breasts will reach their maximum size a few days after baby’s birth.

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