How your baby’s growing
Your baby – just over 1 1/2 inches long and about the size of a fig – is now almost fully formed. Her hands will soon open and close into fists, tiny tooth buds are beginning to appear under her gums, and some of her bones are beginning to harden.
She’s already busy kicking and stretching, and her tiny movements are so effortless they look like water ballet. These movements will become more frequent as her body grows and becomes more developed and functional. You won’t feel your baby’s acrobatics for another month or two — nor will you notice the hiccupping that may be happening now that her diaphragm is forming.
How your life’s changing
If you’re like most women, you’re feeling a bit more energetic now and your nausea may be waning. Unfortunately, you may also be suffering from constipation (caused by hormonal changes, which can slow digestion) and heartburn (hormones again, relaxing the valve between your stomach and esophagus). Just remember, all this discomfort is for a good cause.
Don’t worry if nausea has made it impossible for you to eat a wide variety of healthy foods or if you haven’t put on much weight yet (if you started at a healthy pre-pregnancy weight, experts recommend that you gain 1 to 5 pounds during the first trimester). Your appetite will likely return soon, and you’ll start to gain about a pound a week.
Learn which of your symptoms are normal and which are signs that something might be wrong. You’re probably also wondering things like: Can I keep going to dance class? Could the air bags in my car hurt my baby? Which cold medications are safe to take now? Find out what’s safe and what’s not during pregnancy.
Learn about: Pregnancy food safety
You’ve probably heard lots of warnings about risky foods during pregnancy. While it’s true that some foods do pose a potential risk to your baby, the vast majority are safe, and the risk of developing a food-related pregnancy complication is very low. Here’s the bottom line on food safety so you can make wise choices without needless worry.
What foods should I stay away from during pregnancy?
Avoid any food that could harbor bacteria or parasites that could make you sick or harm your baby. That includes raw or undercooked meat, poultry, and fish; runny, undercooked, or raw eggs (and any foods that contain raw eggs, like homemade cookie dough or hollandaise sauce); and unpasteurized soft cheese. Don’t eat refrigerated meats and spreads (like salami, hot dogs, smoked salmon, pâté, or deli-style ham or turkey) unless they have been heated until steaming hot. And skip prepared cold salads from the deli (like chicken salad and egg salad), any buffet or picnic food that’s been sitting out for more than two hours, and any fruits or veggies that haven’t been washed.
Some types of seafood are high in methylmercury, which may cause harm to a child’s developing brain. To minimize your exposure to methylmercury, don’t eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish (also called golden or white snapper). And limit yourself to no more than 6 ounces of albacore (“solid white”) tuna or tuna steaks a week.
On the other hand, there are benefits to eating seafood: It’s a good source of protein and the primary source of certain omega-3 fatty acids that may benefit your baby’s vision and brain development. The key is to choose fish with the lowest levels of contaminants and eat them in moderation You can have up to 12 ounces (about two to three servings) a week of low-mercury fish, such as salmon, shrimp, pollock, or trout.
What drinks should I avoid during pregnancy?
Alcohol is the main offender during pregnancy. It travels quickly from your bloodstream to your baby, and even one drink a day can increase your baby’s risk of a problem. There’s no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy, so it’s best to avoid it completely. The other drinks to steer clear of are unpasteurized juice and milk, and eggnog. There’s a slight risk that these beverages could contain E. coli or other bacteria that could harm you and your baby.
While you may have heard that caffeine is another big no-no during pregnancy, it’s actually okay in moderation. After years of controversy, most researchers now believe that, although caffeine does cross the placenta, moderate amounts (less than 300 milligrams a day) won’t harm your baby. That’s about what you’d get from two to three 8-ounce cups of coffee. (However, you could get that much from just one 8-ounce cup if it’s brewed very strong.) And be aware that caffeine lurks in other places, such as chocolate, tea, cola, and many other soft drinks.
How can I protect myself from food poisoning?
Cook all meat, poultry, and fish thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to test the internal temperature of meat, or cook it until it’s no longer pink in the middle.
- Don’t leave leftovers out for more than two hours. Reheat them until steaming before you eat them.
- Keep uncooked meat separate from other foods.
- Thoroughly wash or peel all your fruits and vegetables.
- Use hot soapy water to wash your hands – and any surface that comes in contact with unwashed produce; uncooked meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs; hot dogs; and deli meat – before you touch clean produce or cooked meat so you don’t contaminate your food.
- Consume perishable and ready-to-eat food as soon as possible after you buy it, especially once you’ve opened the package, even if it hasn’t yet passed the “use-by” date. The use-by date refers to unopened products.
Activity: Reach out to other moms
Women who’ve already made the transition to motherhood can offer good advice and a deep understanding of what you’re going through. If you and your mother have a good relationship, she may be an important source of support. (Some – but not all – women find pregnancy brings them closer to their own mom.) If you don’t know where to start the conversation, ask your mom or a friend to tell you about her best and worst pregnancy memories. You can also reach out to veteran moms in your BabyCenter Birth Club – it’s a great place to find women you relate to.