women

1. How Big Is Your Baby?

The fetal crown-to-rump length by this week of pregnancy is 4 to 4½ inches (9.3 to 10.3cm). The fetus weighs about 1¾ ounces (50g). It’s close to the size of a softball.

2. How Big Are You?

Changes in your lower abdomen change the way your clothes fit. Your pregnancy may not be obvious to other people when you wear regular clothes. But it may become obvious if you start wearing maternity clothes or put on a swimming suit. You may be able to feel your uterus about 3 or 4 inches (7.6 to 10cm) below your belly button.

3. How Your Baby Is Growing and Developing

It’s still a little early to feel movement, although you should feel your baby move in the next few weeks! Your baby’s skin is thin, and you can see blood vessels through the skin.

Your baby may be sucking its thumb. This has been seen with ultrasound examination.

Ears now look more normal. In fact, your baby looks more human every day. Bones that have already formed are getting harder. If an X-ray were done at this time, the baby’s skeleton would be visible.

4. Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP) Testing

As baby grows, it produces alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in its liver and passes some of it into your bloodstream. It’s possible to measure AFP by drawing your blood; too much or not enough of the protein in your blood can be a sign of problems.

An AFP test is usually done between 16 and 18 weeks of gestation. Timing is important and must be tied to the gestational age of your pregnancy and to your weight. An important use of the test is to help a woman decide whether to have amniocentesis.

An elevated AFP level can indicate problems in the baby. A connection has been found between a low level of AFP and Down syndrome. If your AFP level is abnormal, your healthcare provider may choose to do other tests to look for problems.

Tip for Week 15

Start now to learn to sleep on your side; it will pay off later as you get bigger. Sometimes it helps to use a few extra pillows. Put one behind you so if you roll onto your back, you won’t lie flat. Put another pillow between your legs, or rest your top leg on a pillow. Consider using a “pregnancy pillow” that supports your entire body.

The AFP test is not done on all pregnant women, although it is required in some states. It is not used routinely in Canada. AFP is often used with other tests. If the test isn’t offered to you, ask about it. There’s little risk, and it helps your healthcare provider determine how baby is growing and developing.

5. Changes in You

During your first prenatal visit, you probably had a Pap smear; one is usually done at the beginning of pregnancy. By now, the result is back, and you’ve discussed it with your healthcare provider, particularly if it was abnormal.

A Pap smear identifies cancerous or precancerous cells coming from the cervix. This test has helped decrease the number of deaths from cervical cancer because of early detection and treatment.

Image

By week 15 of pregnancy (fetal age—13 weeks),
your baby may suck its thumb. Eyes are at the front of
the face but are still widely separated.

An abnormal Pap smear during pregnancy must be handled individually. When abnormal cells are “not too bad” (premalignant or not as serious), it may be possible to watch them during pregnancy.

If your healthcare provider is concerned, he or she may do a colposcopy, a procedure to examine the cervix. Abnormal areas can be seen so biopsies can be taken after pregnancy. Most obstetricians/gynecologists can do this procedure in the office.

There are several ways to treat abnormal cells on the cervix, but most treatment methods aren’t done during pregnancy. After pregnancy, the problem will be revisited.

Women who deliver vaginally may see a change in abnormal Pap smears. One study showed over half of the women who had problems before giving birth had normal Pap smears after their baby was born.

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