When does your baby’s life actually begin?

The life of your baby is teemed with “very first moments” which are equally important for both of you. We’ll try to capture here the most important ones, although each and every moment has its own particular importance and impact on both the mother and the child. So, whether you are a first-time parent or you’ve already had this wonderful experience, you’ll definitely enjoy our brief account.

Your baby’s first heartbeats are an essential moment in its life, and, at the same time, have both medical and emotional significance for the mum-to-be.

Basically, a baby’s heart begins to beat as early as 18th days after conception, but its heartbeats will already be visible on ultrasound by the time you are five or six weeks pregnant. Keep in mind that a baby’s heartbeat is very rapid, much faster than in adults. In fact, your baby’s heart beats at about 100 to 120 beats per minute, speeding up to about 160 to 180 beats per minute at 10 weeks! To see and hear your baby’s first heartbeats, all you have to do is to book an appointment for a baby scan by calling our clinic. The moment will be definitely unforgettable!

Your baby’s brain is formed at about six weeks after the conception, when the brainwaves can be detected (the first electrical brain activities have been recorded on EEG, not until the end of week 5 and into week 6, usually around forty to forty-three days). Some studies have shown that, starting from the ninth week of pregnancy babies experience rapid eye movements (REM), which are characteristic of active dream states.

During the sixth week of pregnancy, your baby moves for the first time. Although babies moves up to 50 times per hour (they kick, stretch, sometimes they even seem to swim and jump), the movements are not so intense and can often go unnoticed by the mother. However, these wonderful moments can be captured by an early baby scan.

The rapid growth of organs leads to a complete development of the baby’s lungs around the fourteenth week of pregnancy, although the baby will not breathe until its birth. The respiratory system is one of the most important systems of the human body so this point in time can also be considered one of the most significant first moments.

The sixth week of pregnancy

By the sixth week of pregnancy, the changes that occurred in both the mother and the unborn child are now visible. The mother is now fully aware that a new human being is growing fast inside her. The future mum’s lifestyle is highly important at this point since the following weeks are a very critical point in fetal development. Therefore, it is more important than ever to stay healthy and avoid smoking, alcohol, medication as well as any other toxic habits that can interfere with your baby’s early development.

Your baby is growing fast, reaching now the size of a small bean. Since its head is oversized and appears bigger than the rest of its body, the basic elements of its face can be distinguished. Your baby’ has now little limb buds that are starting to lengthen into shoulders, arms, hands, and even the beginnings of fingers, which are linked by a tiny membrane. The same happens with the little leg buds which are lengthening into thigh, leg, and foot parts.

Your baby’s heart beats at about 100 to 130 beats per minute, almost twice as fast as an adult’s heart. This means that blood has already begun to move through the main vessels. At this point, intestines as well as rudimentary bronchial buds start developing. The neural tube along the baby’s back is now closed and the cerebral development of the baby is in progress.

Due to the development of joints and first muscle tissues, your baby may experience its first movements by the end of this week. It is however too early to feel these movements, but if you are willing to see your baby’s “aware activity” inside your womb, we advise you to have a baby scan done, perhaps a 4D ultrasound to have a clearer image of your child-to-be, at our London clinic where our highly qualified personnel is more than pleased to assist you.

The digestive and respiratory systems are also developing. Therefore, this period is crucial for the baby’s future evolution. But how do these changes affect you? Definitely, your body undergoes more than just physical changes, so it’s better to know what to expect next.

First of all, you will gradually gain weight but this should not be a reason to worry about because the extra weight you gain during pregnancy provides nourishment to your developing baby, being also stored for breastfeeding your baby after delivery. You may also experience morning sickness, muscle cramps, fatigue, abdominal and pelvic discomfort. These symptoms are frequently similar to the premenstrual syndrome. However, keep in mind that women are different and so are the symptoms!

Mood swings are very common during the sixth week of pregnancy. You may experience extreme mood swings and can feel sad one day and joyful on the other. These fluctuations are normal because the levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone in your body change dramatically, and these changes have a significant effect on your brain’s chemistry.

This is the time to schedule your first prenatal checkup to see if everything is all right. Be optimistic and avoid stress as much as possible, because this period is one of the happiest moments in a woman’s life!

Babies and Pets

Both babies and pets are innocent, cheerful and cute creatures. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they get along so well. The joy of playing together can be easily seen on their faces.

But sometimes we hear that some pet owners give their pets up or put them up for adoption when expecting a baby, believing that pets can harm children. Fortunately, there is no danger to the baby if there’s a pet in the house. Studies show that babies who in their first year of life have lived in houses with a dog or a cat got sick less often than those who had no pets around.

Scientists believe that this happens because pets bring from the outside only small microbes that help the immune system form faster and better. It is well known the fact that it is unhealthy for children to live in a very sterile environment, with no dirt whatsoever, because the outside world, the one in which they will grow and live, is not the cleanest. So pets help your baby’s body adjust to the real world.

Pets are also very tolerant of children. You can find tons of pictures of babies sleeping or playing together with pets. Even though it is possible that pets may be little blue at first, after bringing the baby home, because they are no longer the centre of attention, if the pet owner manages to integrate the pet in the baby’s life, everything will go nicely, and the two may even become very good friends.

However, extremes are never good. This means that no matter how tolerant the pet is, you should never let it alone with the baby, unattended, especially when it comes to dogs which, for example, are less tolerant than cats. Therefore it’s a good idea to have a fence separating the house, so that everyone has its own play area; also, as much as possible, train the dog for the baby’s arrival before the baby is actually brought home by teaching him to be calm and obedient. A good idea for keeping a dog calm is to give it food regularly.

For cats, even if they are more tolerant, it is best to keep them as little or even not at all in the baby’s room and prevent them from reaching objects that must be sanitised at all times, because there are cases where more possessive or jealous cats urinate on these items.

Before the baby comes home, you can bring one of its objects so your pet can get accustomed to its smell. The two can live together very well, so remember that you don’t have to put your pet up for adoption when the baby arrives. Moreover, due to these types of relationships, high sensitivity and a lifetime friendship between the two can be born.

Preparing your home for new baby

Guided by her deeply-rooted maternal instinct, every mum-to-be or first-time mum will feel the need to make the best preparations for the arrival of the newest member of the family. Every mum’s dream is to arrange a loving, caring and comforting environment for her baby. So is your dream too!

What kind of colours should I pick? What is the best nursery furniture? How many clothes and what sizes should I buy? Should I buy this toy? Is this crib too small? How should I decorate this room? So many questions, so many ideas … As you see, preparing for a new arrival can be overwhelming – especially for the first-time parents! Therefore, it is advisable to start preparing before you come home with your newborn baby. Don’t start everything by yourself! Ask your partner, your friends and family to help you! You’ll be surprised to find out that they’ll be pleased to assist you in your preparations!

The first thing you should do is to paint the baby’s room, not only to avoid the risks of infections or diseases caused by potential pathogen agents, dampness or mould but also to create a fresh, comforting and fun environment. Using only eco-friendly paints in your baby’s nursery is a must!

Start with the basics like a crib, rocking chair, changing table, diaper pail, diaper shelves, pram and dresser where you can deposit the baby’s clothes. Don’t forget about a good baby care book, diapers and breast and bottle feeding essentials, such as feeding equipments (bottles, sterilizers, and formula), breast pump, breast pads and a special feeding pillow.

As for the decorations and toys, let your imagination go wild! Keep in mind that babies love warm, bright colours (however, when choosing a colour, consider the baby’s gender). We advise you to read our articles for more ideas and information on this theme. You can buy stuffed toys, a CD player and CD-s with soothing classical music and lullabies to help your baby fall asleep, and fun music you can both sing along to during playtime.

This is it! Few steps to follow and your baby has his/her nursery ready, waiting for him/her to come and fill it up with joy, love and smiles.

How to announce your pregnancy


The day when you find out you’re pregnant is probably one of the happiest moment in your life, especially if you have been expecting this to happen for some time. Now your life will definitely change. But is it just yours? No, also the lives of those around you, especially your loved ones are to be changed. A baby should bring joy and happiness to all.

The first person you should announce is your partner, because he is the closest person to you and this wonderful news is to definitely affect his entire life. It is possible that, if you have tried for some time to conceive, he will rather be very happy than surprised. Nevertheless, if the pregnancy has not been planned, be confident, make sure you give him the news naturally, and, at the same time, tell him that this change can be good for both of you, because your family will increase and the little baby yet to come will bring you closer.

I have heard so many ingenious ways and ideas on how to tell him the great news but at this very moment, the only examples that come into my mind are the funny ways of printing the message “You will be a daddy!” on his favourite T-shirt th or on his coffee mug he uses for his morning coffee. Also, can you customize a photo of this message and save it on the computer’s desktop or you can print it and put it next to the alarm clock, to be the first thing he sees when he wakes up. Whatever you do, make sure you will be present, because you do not want to lose his ecstatic reaction when he finds out.

The very next persons you should inform are your parents, because they are to become the grandparents of the baby that is now growing healthy in your womb. To give them the news properly, it would be good to think about some things first. Your age is, for example, one important factor you should consider when telling them the great news. If you are already an adult and they somehow expect this to happen naturally, telling that they are to be grandparents shouldn’t be problem. Be inventive and make them their own customized message! However, if you’re younger and they do not expect it, then it’s better to be more careful and try to explain this is what you want and that you are ready to become a mother.

If you want to share this wonderful news with your friends and relatives, you can simply do it by posting a funny message on a social networking site or you can invite them all to a family meeting. An interesting idea which however requires our help is to have a ultrasound scan done before sharing the news, to multiply the image and send it together with an emotional message introducing the new member of your family. Therefore, you are more than welcome in our London clinic to have your first baby scan done and share this fantastic news with us!

What do you think about these ideas ? How do you plan to tell the world your wonderful news? We are waiting for your suggestions.


How to get rid of muscle cramps during your pregnancy?


Muscle cramps occurring during the first months of pregnancy are perfectly normal and are not usually accompanied by any other discomforts.

As the baby develops, your belly grows and implicitly your muscle and ligaments stretch and prepare to support your swift developing baby.

You may experience cramps and spasm mostly on your right side because, as your baby grows, your uterus tends to tilt to the right. Therefore, don’t worry! Keep in mind that carrying a baby puts a lot of pressure on your entire body, and it’s hardly surprising if you’re experiencing these uncomfortable cramps!  There are several ways to get rid of these annoying spasms and cramps.

If you’re feeling that the pain is about to come, just sit comfortable on a chair and raise your legs (this may be actually very helpful) or lie on the bed on the opposite side. Relax, take a warm shower and place a hot water bottle or something warm next to the painful spot. You can also ask your partner or a friend to give you a light massage.

Eventually, these pains may be tolerated well if you clearly understand the reason they occur. Briefly, as your baby grows, it needs more room to move. However, if the pains persist, we advise you to make an appointment to our clinic to see if your pregnancy is evolving properly.

Usually, the more severe pains have other causes and are typically accompanies by a series of other symptoms, such as fever, shivers, nausea or general weakness.

The 5th Week of Pregnancy

Until now, we have talked about the importance of the first trimester of pregnancy and particularly, about the need of your unborn baby to stay in a warm, healthy and serene place, considering the fact that the baby’s vital organs are developing now. Therefore you, as a mum-to-be, have to make sure that your unborn child has everything it needs for a proper development. Technically, you have to follow now several basic rules: start eating a healthy well-balanced diet, live a healthier life, be more responsible and avoid stress. The risk of genetic abnormalities is increased during the first trimester of pregnancy, so pay attention to your lifestyle!

Your baby undergoes a rapid development during the 4th and 5th week of pregnancy: if, at the beginning of the 4th week of pregnancy, it was no bigger than a poppy seed, by the end of the 5th week, it easily reached the size of an orange seed (5 or 6mm). After conveniently settling in its new home, the embryo starts developing a rudimentary placenta while the yolk sac is being gradually replaced by the umbilical cord; both the placenta and the umbilical cord are in charge of delivering nourishment and oxygen to the baby.

Your tiny baby has already formed its head and small buds are signalling the “location” of the future limbs. The heart starts beating for the first time and the neural tube, which forms into the brain and spinal cord eventually, begins to form. This is also the time when the baby’s gender starts developing. However, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of your unborn baby’s gender by the end of the 16th week of pregnancy. Nevertheless, some ultrasounds will be able to pick out the baby’s major developments, such as the ears, mouth and nose. Therefore, you are more than welcome to make an appointment to our London clinic to actually see these changes and to have your pregnancy properly and constantly monitored by our highly qualified physicians.

Except for the early pregnancy signs you’ve experienced by now, your body is not showing yet any major changes so most people won’t be able to tell, by looking at you, that you’re 5 weeks pregnant. However, you should consider starting an exercise routine now. Exercises will help you develop good muscle tone, strength and endurance and why not, manage the extra weight you’ll put on. Choose a safe, moderately vigorous activity you like: yoga, walking and swimming are fine when you’re pregnant.

Also, if this is your first pregnancy, you should pay attention to the hormonal changes you’re undergoing, since they may lead to depression. Do not panic! This may not necessarily happen to you but it’s good to know and the sooner you’ll determine the root cause of depression, the better you’ll fight against it!

You may also notice significant changes in your breasts: they may be tender to touch, sore and even swollen. Spotting, especially at night, is also a sign of pregnancy, indicating that the embryo has successfully reached and implanted into the uterus. However, all mums talk about this period as the most beautiful period of pregnancy because now you’re actually feeling that you’re expecting.

Most parents-to-be chose to withhold this wonderful news until after the third month because the risk of miscarriage is pretty high during this period. Remember: this is your private news for as long as you choose! However, if you’ve decided to share this great news with your friends and family, choose an original manner to do so! We’ll come back later on with several ingenious ways to let the world know that a tiny you it’s on its way!!


Babies and colours


Do babies like colours? What colour should I paint my baby’s nursery? Here is a brief description of the psychological effects the colours may have upon you and your baby:


Blue – the colour of the sky and ocean, blue calms the mind and body, lowering blood pressure, heart rate and respiration and decreasing feelings of anxiety and aggression. Children with sleeping disorders may benefit from spending time in a blue environment. Therefore, this colour is perfect for the nursery, especially if used in light shades.

Yellow – Bright and cheerful yellow is another colour preferred by many parents when painting the nursery, especially due to its “zooming” and brightening effects on the room. Soft, subtle yellow shades promote concentration while brighter shades can stimulate memory and increases metabolism. However, too much yellow can evoke feelings of anger and frustration resulting in fussy, over-stimulated babies.

Green – is a secondary colour deriving from the mixture of yellow and blue. It symbolizes nature and thus it promotes a serene and calming environment, especially in softer shades. Green is also a comforting colour, able to calm down a fussy baby and, at the same time, it is also a refreshing colour, able to inject energy into the nursery room.

Orange – Friendly, warm and welcoming, orange borrows many of its parent’s positive attributes.Orangehas a distinctly social nature, inspiring interpersonal communication and putting people at ease. Even if your baby cannot speak yet, be sure that he/she feels your love, energy and enthusiasm expressed by means of this comforting colour.

Pink – It’s no coincidence that little girls love pink. It is the universal colour of femininity and implicitly, fertility. Pink is very calming as well – particularly with children who are prone to throwing fits or tantrums.  Pink walls or solid pink crib bedding can be extremely distracting, especially in bright colours. However, soft pinks or pink accents can be soothing and serene.

Therefore, colours can influence our mood and behaviour, stimulate the brain and body and even affect our health. It’s thus important to make sure that your baby’s environment is fit for his/her needs and is able to foster your child’s physical, mental, and emotional development by allowing him/her to take in information — a little bit at first, and eventually much more — about the world around him.

What to expect when you’re expecting twins

At a global level, statistics say that twin or multiple pregnancies currently account for 3% of live births. So, if you’re wondering about your chances of having more than one baby at a time, the answer is simple: basically, your chance is about 3% or 1 in 33. Going further, the chance of having ‘natural’ fraternal twins is only about 1.7% or 1 in 60. The chance of having identical twins has remained steady, and is about 0.4% or 1 in 250. The chances of having twins with the use of fertility treatments can be as high as 20 to 25%.

As you’ve probably know, when we’re talking about a twin pregnancy, we may be talking about fraternal twins (also known as dizygotic or non-identical twins) and which are more common, accounting for two-thirds of all twins, and identical twins (monozygotic twins), which occur randomly and account for only one-third of all twins.

Fraternal (dizygotic or non-identical) twins usually occur when two separate eggs are fertilised by two separate sperms, resulting thus two separate embryos, each having its own individual characteristics as well as its own placenta and sac. This means that the non-identical twins are no more alike than any other two siblings, with different genetic heritage. The babies may be of the same sex or different sexes; half of all fraternal twins are boy-girl pair and the other half are same sex pair. Fraternal twins are more common for older mothers, with rates doubling over the age of 35. Fraternal twins occur in about 1 in 50 pregnancies.

Identical twins are sharing everything. They are the result of a single fertilized egg splitting into two separate embryos. The two embryos can share a single placenta and can be in the same or different sac. Since identical twins come from the same fertilized egg, they have the exact same DNA and consequently, the same sex, eye colour, hair colour and blood type. Furthermore, even if at birth, the babies have different heights and weights, as time passes by, their constitution will somehow become as similar as possible. Nevertheless, the environment that the twins are exposed to (in or out of the womb) determines fine physical characteristics. Therefore, identical twins usually have different fingerprints and as they get older, more differences generally develop.

However, statistics say that identical twins occur in about 1 in 250 pregnancies and this appears to be a random event rather than a hereditary trait, and is uniformly distributed in all populations around the world.

30 years ago, the mums-to-be usually found out that that they had been carrying more than one baby when they were ready to deliver. Now, things have changed: the first baby scan can tell you whether you’re expecting more than one baby. Therefore, if you haven’t had your first baby scan done, you are welcome to come to our London clinic where our highly qualified sonographer can confirm or infirm a single or multiple pregnancy.

There are also certain “signs” that may indicate a multiple pregnancy. So, you are more likely to become pregnant with twins naturally, when you are in your 30s and 40s since the chances of having twins increase with age. Also the likelihood of twins increases if: you took fertility medication or underwent other fertility treatments, or if you had a multiple pregnancy in the past because studies say that for the mothers who have already had one set of fraternal twins, their chances of conceiving another set are five times greater than the average woman, or if there is a family history of twins, or if you’re African-American woman because studies have shown that African-American women are more likely to have twins than any other race.

Women with twins may notice their pregnancy signs sooner or these signs may be more intense. This is because they have higher levels of both the human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) and the alpha-fetoprotein (protein released by the fetal liver and found in the mother’s blood) in their system. Other hormones increase during pregnancy as well, mainly progesterone and some oestrogen, which contribute to many of the early physical signs of pregnancy. The discovery you are expecting twins is often made quite early in pregnancy after you have a routine ultrasound scan. Two gestational sacs or foetuses are seen rather than one.
A twin pregnancy is sometimes suspected if the womb feels larger than expected to the doctor or midwife who examines you. Later in pregnancy, the two separate babies may be felt abdominally during an examination, and again this will be confirmed by ultrasound scan.

However, the safest confirmation occurs when your GP tells you that he/she’s hearing two heartbeats and, around the sixth week of pregnancy, the sonographer may see two little gestational sacs. Therefore, you are more than welcome to come to our clinic in the heart of London to find out together whether you’re expecting more than one baby and to prepare for and enjoy this wonderful journey.

The first medical examination and the first baby scan

Medical exams, prenatal care as well as the office visits to the healthcare provider are very important because they help to permanently monitor your pregnancy, they are designed to keep you posted on the development phases of your baby and help you, as a mother, to make sure that everything is alright. Contact or visit us anytime at our clinic inLondonto schedule your prenatal appointment.

The prenatal check-up is usually scheduled after finding out that you’re pregnant and, considering its multiple benefits, it’s better to schedule your prenatal check-up as soon as possible.

During your first prenatal check-up, your GP may tell you the estimated due date, may exclude the probability of an ectopic pregnancy, can verify whether you’re carrying more than one baby and can accurately determine the embryo’s gestational age.

Before heading to the medical office, make sure you bring your complete medical history information. This may be records from your previous pregnancies, surgeries or anything you think your doctor or midwife might want. If this is not your first prenatal visit then be sure to let your practitioner know if anything has changed in your medical history since your last appointment. It is essential to present all medical records as well as any other medical-related information (such as medications or vitamins you’re currently taking or you have recently taken) to exclude any possibilities that might affect your pregnancy.

The baby scan is a very important non-invasive procedure (as we highlighted in our previous articles) that allows you to first meet your baby – you may see how it looks like and how it moves, stretches and even smiles at you. This is a unique, bonding experience you will forever cherish in your heart. Therefore, you’re always welcome to come to our baby scan clinic to enjoy these magic moments in a professional, friendly environment.