12th Week of Pregnancy

In this last week of your first trimester of pregnancy, your baby will start moving around more, flexing muscles and kicking. It’s now time to switch to comfy maternity wear and discuss with your midwife about changes for the next trimester.

Your baby’s development

Most babies are about the size of a kiwi by at week 12, and a bump may become visible by the end of the first trimester. Your baby’s legs and arms are fully formed, and reflexes have appeared. You might not feel these moves, but your baby will feel when you press your tummy. She can already move her fingers and wiggle her toes. If you’ll have an ultrasound this week, you’ll see that the face looks much more like a human face, with the eyes close together and the ears in the right position.

How your days are changing

You may experience dizziness or the feeling of fainting during the 12th week, especially when standing up briskly. This is caused by the rise of progesterone levels in your body. The role of progesterone is to increase the blood flow to the baby, which means that the blood flow in your body may slightly decrease. Don’t skip your meals and make sure that your sugar levels are sufficient.

As you enter the second trimester of pregnancy, you may notice that several symptoms have waned, such as frequent urination or having excess saliva. Certain smells may become easier to detect. If you’re having problems with strong smells that make you feel nauseous, keep a citrus scent at hand, maybe on your scarf. Your appetite should increase over the next weeks, and you will need plenty of Vitamin C, Zinc, Calcium, Beta-carotene and omega oils for a healthy development. Find out the basic nutritional needs for your second trimester and the recommended food sources.

Ultrasounds in week 12

The Nuchal Translucency scan is ideally carried during the 12th week. This is the first ultrasound to check the baby’s measurements and it also assesses the risk of Down syndrome. Many pregnant women have the first ultrasound during this week, to check how the development is going and to confirm the due date calculations.

Pregnancy Yoga Exercises for the First Trimester

Prenatal yoga is a very popular training for mums-to-be. Besides the fitness advantages, yoga also teaches you how to relax and how to breathe correctly while exercising. Pick a class and go. It’s not for everyone, but you might like yoga and maybe even continue with postnatal yoga.

Types of classes

There are plenty of yoga classes in London that are dedicated to pregnant women, offering beginner, intermediate and advanced yoga trainings for women in their first, second and third trimester. Discuss with your yoga instructor to help you pick the one that is the most suitable for you. During the first trimester you probably don’t have too many restrictions regarding physical exercise, so you can also opt for regular yoga classes – unless your doctor suggested otherwise. For practising prenatal yoga in your second trimester, you will need support for most of the poses. One of the lightest yoga styles is Hatha Yoga. It has a slower tempo and it’s very approachable for beginners.

Yoga postures for the first trimester

If you’re new to yoga, you’ll start your training by learning basic postures and how to breathe correctly. Then, the exercises should focus on gradually increasing your strength and muscle flexibility. Meditation is a core part of traditional yoga styles, but you can opt for classes that concentrate more on the fitness part of yoga and less on meditation. Power yoga is the most popular yoga style that concentrates mostly on the fitness benefits of yoga, but it is also one of the most demanding yoga trainings. Below are a few postures that specifically benefit the muscles that prepare you for pregnancy and giving birth.

Sideways swings

Parighasana, or sideways swings, is a great pose to build your muscles on the sides of your body and to improve spine flexibility.

Cat and dog poses

These are relatively easy to do, and very efficient in strengthening the muscles in your lower back. Alternate the positions to relax and increase flexibility of the spine.

Urdhva Dhanurasana backbends

This pose is a good start point for more advanced backbend yoga poses. This exercise will improve the flexibility of your spine and it will help you build energy and strength.

Warrior poses

These poses will help you strengthen your joints and prepare your body for supporting the extra weight.

Stay safe

Remember to consume extra calories in the days when you exercise and to always consult with your doctor or midwife before starting a new exercise class. If you ever feel that a yoga position is uncomfortable for you, adjust your position. Ask your class instructor to guide you or to suggest another position with the same benefits.

Vitamin D and Pregnancy during Winter

Your Vitamin D levels during pregnancy are important for your baby’s health and help prevent certain diseases. Differences between babies born during summer and babies born after October are believed to be partly due to differences in sun exposure. Because the amount of sun exposure is higher during late spring, summer and beginning of autumn than the rest of the year, women who are pregnant in this period benefit from more Vitamin D intake on average.

Effects of Vitamin D intake during pregnancy

What does this mean? Your baby needs Vitamin D for growth, especially in the second half of pregnancy, when ossification processes and bone growth are developing. Babies born during the summer are more likely to have bigger bones than babies born during the winter season. On average, “summer babies” are 5 mm taller than “winter babies”. This difference is correlated with the difference of Vitamin D levels measured in the blood of the mothers while pregnant.

Vitamin D has many other benefits for maternal and fetal health. It has important effects for the immune system and it may play a role in preventing food allergies, asthma and preeclampsia. Try to spend as much time as possible in daylight, especially during the winter season, when days are shorter.

Food sources of Vitamin D and dietary supplements

Products fortified with Vitamin D are a good choice, since very few foods have sufficient Vitamin D. Cereal, milk and orange juice that are fortified with Vitamin D and Calcium are usually easy to find. Other foods rich in Vitamin D are: egg yolk, tuna, sardines and pink salmon. However, when you are pregnant, your body needs much more Vitamin D than any of these foods can supply. So if the rainy days keep you inside, vitamin supplements are a must. Always consult with your doctor beforehand.

Most pregnant women need to take dietary supplements that include Vitamin D, as intake from food is often not sufficient. The level of Vitamin D in your body can actually be measured if deficiency is suspected, so check with your doctor at the next appointment for advice on taking supplements. Talk to your midwife for nutrition and lifestyle advice that will help you increase your daily intake of Vitamin D. A tip: hold back on using sunscreen with SPF higher than 30, it reduces your Vitamin D intake.

The 4D Ultrasound Scan and Why It’s the Most Popular

4D baby scans are ultrasound scans that use advanced software to render 3D images of your baby in motion. Seeing your baby in motion for the first time is a magical experience for parents, never to be forgotten. This is why 4D baby scans have quickly risen in popularity. At your appointment you also receive a video of the 4D scan to take away. You’ll have a precious memory to share with your loved ones at home, even years after your baby will be born.

The difference between 2D, 3D and 4D ultrasound scans

3D ultrasounds are still pictures of your baby in colour and 3D, while the 4D scan features a fourth dimension: time. That means you will also receive a DVD recording of the scan to see your baby in motion.

3D/4D ultrasounds differentiate from the 2D ultrasound through the type of images they show. 2D ultrasounds are flat looking images in black and white that show rather outlines of your baby, and the skin appears to be transparent. The 2D scan is useful for looking at the internal organs. 3D/4D scan images, however, are formed of multiple flat images of different sections. These images are then converted into a 3D picture, where the skin is opaque and in colour. This enables you to see the baby’s external features from different angles: her shape, her face and other details at skin level.

Benefits of the 4D baby scan

Because it shows images of the baby from different angles, the 3D/4D ultrasounds are used by doctors to diagnose issues at skin level, such as a cleft lip. Besides this medical benefit, the 4D ultrasound scans have the amazing feature of showing your baby in motion. Because of the 3D looking images and the colour, particular details of the face can be seen. You might actually be able to tell if the baby looks more like the father or more like the mother.

The ideal time to have a 3D/4D pregnancy scan

You can have a 3D or 4D pregnancy scan starting with the 17th week, although that might be a bit too early for accurate images of how your baby’s face will look like. It will take another two months for the fat tissue to form under the baby’s skin, which will result in better pictures. Around week 28 is the most promising time to take the 4D ultrasound scan. Already at week 26 you will get better scan images of your baby.

The 4D premium package scan

The 4D ultrasound scan is also the most popular scan at our clinic. This is why it is part of our most elaborate scan package. The 4D premium package scan is not your regular pregnancy scan experience. You will get much more: seeing your baby in 3d, being able to tell resemblances to the dad or mum and seeing your baby in motion. You will receive a DVD recording to take home with you, so you can watch baby in motion over and over again and show it to your close ones.

11th Week of Pregnancy

As you’re heading towards the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, your headaches and nausea should start disappearing. In the 11th week already you may feel more active and symptoms of tiredness should fade. You may also notice an increase in appetite, so you will put on more weight in the following months. Your baby is developing complex features and you already have a pretty face for the ultrasound pic on the fridge.

How your baby is developing

At just over one inch and a half in length, your baby can now kick and he or she can even stretch fingers and toes. The kicks will become more frequent over the next 6 months, as your baby grows stronger. By the 11th week, your baby has distinct features, with tooth buds, nail beds, hair follicles and ear flaps already present. Her sense of smell also began to develop and will become more complex until week 30. By then, everything you eat and inhale will be smelled by your baby as well.

In-between the 11th and 13th week of pregnancy, the Nuchal Translucency baby scan can be carried out. This is an ultrasound scan that checks for certain issues, including Down syndrome, and reports initial measurements of your baby. Talk to your OB/GYN doctor about a recommended time for you to have this scan.

How your days are changing

As your morning sickness starts to wane, you may feel hungrier than usually. Stick to a healthy plan with nutritious food and pick fruits and crackers as snacks instead of junk food. Food cravings will also diminish in the next month, so it will be easier to have a balanced diet, with small and various meals. Include plenty of carbs in you plan and get as much protein as possible from nuts and dried fruits. Despite having the need to pee frequently (you have the hCG hormone to blame for that), you need to stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid caffeine, as caffeinated drinks increase the frequency of urination. Constipation is also a common symptom due to pregnancy hormones, so it’s perfectly normal, but you can try diets that help alleviate this symptom.

You will have more energy in the following weeks, so this is the perfect time to plan a romantic trip with your partner. Most pregnant women feel at the peak of their energetic levels in the first part of the second trimester. Just make sure you’ll have everything you need for a safe travel.

10 Healthy Pregnancy Snacks That Are Actually Quick and Tasty

Ideally, you should eat small meals and plenty of snacks throughout the day during pregnancy. Eating snacks that are healthy for you is important, but not always at hand. If you’re running out of ideas, here is a list of 10 quick snacks recommended for moms to be.

Oranges

  • They contain Vitamin C and folate, so they are especially healthy during the first trimester.
  • Eat them as fruits or juiced early in the morning.

 

Fortified cereals and milk

  • Cereals are rich in fibre and are usually fortified with vitamins and minerals.
  • For those who don’t like drinking plain milk, adding cereals can be the perfect fix.
  • Add berries for extra Vitamin C and yumminess.

 

Baby carrots

  • Easy to carry around, baby carrots are rich in Vitamin A and are the perfect on-the-go snack.
  • Keep them close during your second trimester: the beta-Carotene is important for the development of your baby’s visual system.

 

Leafy greens and nuts salads

  • Fix yourself a healthy snack with spinach (or other dark green leaves), Brazil nuts, fresh cherry tomatoes and some lemon juice.
  • Leafy greens and tomatoes are rich in iron and contain essential vitamins, while Brazil nuts contain calcium and are probably the tastiest source of magnesium.
  • Eat them raw and make sure the spinach is fresh.

 

Granola bars

  • Buy granola bars with nuts or prepare them yourself (non-bake recipes are ideal)
  • Opt for the ones with honey and almond butter (rich in Magnesium), they’re delicious and healthy.
  • The perfect time for a granola bar snack is at brunch.

 

Smoothies

  • Start your morning with a fresh smoothie out of your favourite fruits for yet another awesome day of pregnancy.
  • Mix in raw or roasted almonds for Magnesium intake and a nutty flavour (roasted almonds taste better and preserve their nutritional values pretty well).
  • Check out these healthy smoothie recipes.

 

Dried fruits and nuts mix

  • Create your own trail mix of raw nuts and your favourite dried fruits.
  • The healthy picks for the trail mix are: almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries and apricots.

 

Fresh fruit salad

  • Mix apples, pears, bananas, kiwi and other favourite fruits with low-fat yoghurt.
  • The benefits you’ll get are vitamins, calcium, water and energy throughout the day.
  • It is recommended to eat fruits especially in the first half of the day, after at least half an hour from the previous meal.

 

Avocado dip

  • Mush one avocado together with a small yoghurt, lemon juice, tahini paste, one scallion and a pinch of salt.
  • Avocados contain more folic acid than any other fruits, and tahini is a powerful combo of iron, calcium and magnesium.
  • Serve it with red bell peppers and eat it within a few hours at most, before the avocado will oxidise.

 

Low-fat cottage cheese

  • Cottage cheese is rich in proteins and it’s a delicious source of calcium.
  • Spread it on whole wheat bread or crackers.

Top 5 Activities and Events for Pregnant Women and New Parents in London

Having a baby for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. You’re preparing for a challenging journey and many changes are going on with your body, mood and lifestyle. Now is the time to meet people who are going through the same thing as you do. Workshops, classes, meetups and other fun activities and events can help you connect with expecting mums or new parents in the UK.

Antenatal classes

Antenatal classes are a great place to start preparing for the journey ahead of you. It’s a place where you can ask any questions about pregnancy and issues related to pregnancy, consult with professionals and share experiences with other mums to be.

Exercise classes

Go to a pregnancy yoga class or other exercise classes dedicated for pregnant women. Besides the health benefits you get out of exercising, you will be offered support and information related to pregnancy and get the chance to socialize with other mums to be.

Meetups

Meetups are a great opportunity to get in touch with people you have something in common with and make new friends. What do you do at a meetup? You share thoughts and experiences with others, participate in workshops and join fun activities and classes. A popular online platform in the UK is Netmums Meetups. This can help you meet expecting parents and new parents living in your area. If you’re expecting, check out the Due Date Clubs, where you can meet mothers to be who have the same due date as you. Can’t find a meetup in your area? You can easily set up a new group through the platform.

Support groups

Somewhat similar to meetups, support groups are a little less casual and a little more organised, focusing on activities designed to stimulate interaction and information exchange among participants. London Mums is a fruitful peer support group, organizing both online and offline activities for mums (or dads) based in London. Signup to the newsletter to get all the updates and enjoy activities where you can meet other like you face to face: meetups, conferences, workshops, movie nights, parties and more.

Swap and sales events

Events where you can swap or sell clothes and items are now trending among mums to be and parents of toddlers. NCT Nearly New Sales are local events everywhere in UK organized through the NCT platform. Babies grow fast, so it becomes costly to keep buying new clothes and accessories. You can also find or sell pregnancy essentials, so be on the lookout for these local events that are closest to you. You’ll be helping the environment and the fundraising organized by NCT to support other parents in the UK.

Exercise Safely during Pregnancy

Workouts during pregnancy will keep you and your baby healthy, help you sleep better and prepare your body for labour. If you’re a beginner to exercising, start with 15 minutes workout sessions two or three times a week. Gradually increase the length and frequency of your sessions to 30 minutes sessions daily. You will feel healthier and more prepared for giving birth. To make sure that you exercise as safely as possible, consult the checklist below and follow our guidelines.

Safe pregnancy exercise checklist:

□  Always check with your doctor before beginning your exercise plan. Certain medical conditions rule out some types of physical activity.

□  If you used to work out intensely before pregnancy, train at equal or lower intensity while pregnant.

□  Tell your training instructor you’re pregnant, so that he can offer advice on which exercises are safe for you.

□  Keep a correct posture while you’re exercising, in order to protect your back.

□  Wear a supportive bra and comfortable clothes and appropiate footwear during your workout.

□  Make sure to drink at least 2 litres of water or fluids every day.

□  Choose exercises that are comfortable for you. If you don’t feel comfortable anymore during an exercise, you should stop.

□  Avoid exercising on your back during the 2nd and 3rd trimester.

□  Do not end jogging or aerobic exercises abruptly. If you have unusual symptoms and need to stop, try to walk around slowly for a couple of minutes.

□  Aim for workouts of moderate intensity. You should not feel exhausted or too tired at the end of a training session.

Stop exercising if you have unusual symptoms

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) has provided a list of unusual symptoms that you should consider as warning signs when you exercise. If you have any of these symptoms while exercising, stop your workout immediately and call your doctor or midwife to consult you.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Chest pains or palpitations
  • Backaches
  • Pain in your abdomen or pubic area
  • Pain in the pelvic girdle
  • Painful uterine contractions
  • Feeling fewer movement from the baby
  • Leakage of amniotic fluids
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Feeling of weakness in muscles
  • Pain in your legs or swelling of legs

For more information provided by the RCOG on suitable exercises for pregnant women and safety precautions for exercising during pregnancy, check out their guide on Recreational Exercise and Pregnancy.

 

The 10th Week of Pregnancy

Your baby is now just over an inch long and continues to grow fast. The foetal period begins, during which vital organs and systems will mature and develop complex functions. Fingernails and toenails begin to appear during the 10th or 11th week, and elbows and knees will soon start to form, although you won’t feel any kicking for another month or two. At the next scan you might be able to see your baby bending hands and kicking his or her legs. Look out for your little one’s hands on the monitor and maybe you’ll even spot the no longer webbed fingers.

Your baby’s spine, bones and cartilage are forming continuously, shaping a more and more human-like aspect. Teeth begin to form under your baby’s gums at this stage already, though they won’t come out until he or she will be six months old.

How your body changes

Your uterus has grown to about the size of a grapefruit during the 10th week, and your bump should also be visible by now. It’s time to shop for more comfortable, stretchy clothes or maternity wear. Save up money by adding elastic waist bands to your pants and skirts, an efficient method preferred by most expecting mums. You might be experiencing fatigue, dizziness and headaches. Make sure that you get plenty of rest while sticking to an exercise routine. Swimming, walking, and light stretching exercises are suitable for most pregnant women. Fresh air is a daily must. To reduce symptoms of dizziness, carry water and fruits or light snacks around you to keep hydrated and boost your blood-sugar when needed.

Pay special attention to what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens in your meals. During the 10th week you should be eating with about 300 calories more per day than before pregnancy. If your symptoms include constipation, fix it with fibre and fluids. Get your fibre from whole grain products and fresh and dried fruits. Choose raw vegetables over heavily cooked meals.

Pregnancy symptoms can be strong and influence your daily mood, while causing diverse symptoms. Focus on what you can do to relieve some of the symptoms, but you might have to just wait for others to go away. You’ll find many of these symptoms will reduce or disappear during the second trimester, which is getting closer.

One Delicious Pregnancy Smoothie for Every Trimester

Blend all the essential vitamins and minerals for your current trimester in a tasty and healthy power combo smoothie.

First Trimester: The Mango Avocado Power Up Smoothie

Start your day with this fresh and thick green smoothie. Avocado and mango are rich in folate, which plays an important role in cell growth during your first trimester. Pumpkin seeds and spinach contain iron, while yoghurt contains calcium, both essential during the first months of pregnancy.

You need:

  • 1 avocado
  • A spoonful of pumpkin seeds (raw)
  • 1 mango
  • 1 small yoghurt
  • Optional: 50g (2 oz) spinach (for extra leafy points)

Peel the avocado, remove the seed and split it in 4 or 6 cuts. Blend it all together with the sliced mango, the pumpkin seeds and the yoghurt. Add fresh spinach leaves to increase iron intake. If the mango is not very ripe and sweet, add one tablespoon of honey and squeeze a lemon half. That’s it! You’ve got one large, energizing smoothie for you and your baby.

Second Trimester: Almonds and Pineapple Smoothie

This is mouth-watering and healthy smoothie, perfect for your nutrition plan during the second trimester of pregnancy. Raw almonds are the key ingredient, as they are rich in Vitamin E and Calcium, essential for these months of pregnancy. Pineapple completes the vitamin intake with its rich amounts of Vitamin C (though you can also replace it with orange juice). Bananas are energizing and make a delicious thick base for your smoothie. Use non-sweetened coconut milk instead of milk: it contains plenty of saturated fats and adds an exotic taste to your smoothie.

You need:

  • ½ cup of raw almonds
  • ½ pineapple
  • ½ banana
  • 1 cup of non-sweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

Grind the almonds into fine bits and blend it in with the coconut milk and fruits. Add honey. Set aside a pineapple slice for decoration. Enjoy this smoothie in the morning or as a brunch snack.

Third Trimester: Energizing Banana Smoothie

Bananas are rich in Vitamin K, which needs to be in sufficient values when you’ll go into labour. To top this with Vitamin E, Calcium and Iron, add apricots, spinach leaves and almond milk.

You need:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 small apricots
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 10 to 20 fresh spinach leaves

Cut the fresh spinach leaves in fine bits. Peel the banana and the apricots and slice them. Blend it all together with the almond milk. This smoothie will keep your energy levels up during the day, while providing essential nutrients for you and your baby during the third trimester of pregnancy. As a bonus, the Vitamin E contained in almond milk helps prevent stretch marks.