It is 56 days since conception. Now all the internal organs, like kidneys, lungs, genitals and gastrointestinal organs, have formed and have started to work together, but are still immature. The heart is fully developed and ticks rhythmically. Many of the brain's and the nervous system’s functions are already fully formed. Already your baby secretes a small amount of urine which becomes part of the amniotic fluid. The skin between the fingers and the toes disappears (there are slight indications of joints and nails), and you can see the foetus's shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. This week the thyroid gland is beginning hormone production. And your baby can experience the first case of hiccups. Tooth buds of the first baby teeth are forming inside the mouth. The taste-buds and inner ears are in place (but your baby cannot hear yet). You could say that the pattern has been drawn, and the next 30 weeks will be about improving and developing the full picture. And if you could touch your baby, he or she would feel that now. Illustration by Karoline Lenhult
Your baby is floating in the amniotic sac, the temperature is perfect. All organs are in place; he or she now just has to mature. Isn’t that utterly amazing? And you are glowing! Because there is a positive side effect of this rollercoaster ride of hormones: Pregnancy glow! The hormones do things to your skin; they even out your wrinkles and make them disappear. The increased blood volume makes your skin look slightly flushed and plump. And you need some upside, because these can be trying times! Some women feel swollen, the waistband of your trousers may feel too tight (especially after lunch and it just gets unbearable around four o’clock), the belly works slower than ever causing constipation and/or a lot of wind. So it is fair enough that you at least glow. Remember: nap, snack, relax and refuse to feel guilty! This is a good way of handling this and other trying weeks.
There are a number of methods for checking how your baby is doing and developing. The most common is ultrasound, which is offered to all pregnant women. Next comes, NT (Nuchal Translucency Ultrasound Scan), where the width of a column of fluid in the foetus’s neck between 11 and 13 weeks of pregnancy is measured. This measurement can then be used to calculate the risk of the child being born with Down’s or another chromosomal abnormality.
Pregnant women over the age of 35 are also offered amniocentesis, which