How Your Baby Grows in Pregnancy

Fetal Development

Pregnancy Ultra-Sound.
Photo © Tim Hale/Stone/Getty Images

One of the pastimes of most pregnant women is watching what their baby is doing this week. It really wasn't that long ago that women did not have access to baby images via ultrasound or drawings at their fingertips. But the overwhelming desire to understand what was going on inside was alluring and as information became easier to obtain, it found its way into the mainstream quickly. Now, the biggest question you need to ask yourself is what do you want to know and how do you want to know it.

Do you want info weekly? Monthly? Do you want real images or drawings or even simply graphic representations? No matter what you're looking for - you'll find it here:

Pregnancy Overviews:

The amount of growth both physically and emotionally in pregnancy is vast and rapid. There are many ways to watch a pregnancy proceed. Some prefer to look at pregnancy from the standpoint of the three trimesters, while others enjoy a pregnancy week by week format. For those that want a middle ground, there is also a monthly view of pregnancy. Each has the basics to more in depth coverage of both fetal development and how the changes occur in the mother's body.

Fetal Development:

Pregnancy is amazing to go from being a couple of cells to a total, albeit small, human being in the period of about nine months!

Most people enjoy tracking their baby's developments during pregnancy. There are many ways to peak into the uterus during this time. Sometimes your doctor or midwife will order an ultrasound exam or genetic testing like an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS). You may also enjoy reading about your baby's growth.

Is your baby a girl or a boy?:

One of the burning questions on the mind of parents everywhere is whether or not there baby is a girl or a boy. This can be told using the ultrasound or genetic testing discussed above. Genetic testing can be done as early as the first trimester, but an anatomy ultrasound can done between 15-22 weeks of pregnancy.

It is really important to understand that babies grow at different rates. Earlier in pregnancy, babies tend to all be very similar in size, but after twenty weeks gestation, your genes take over. This is where you may see more difference because mom and dad are tall, etc. This means that there is more variation.

While it is natural to want to compare the size of your baby to someone else's the tools we have to estimate size are not always the best predictors.

Using Leopold's, where your doctor or midwife guesses baby's size and position by palpating your abdomen, can be off. While you might assume this because it is a low tech techniques, ultrasound doesn't always fair well either. Some studies show that it can be off up to a pound difference in either direction, high or low.

A better indicator of your baby's growth may be the measuring of your fundal height, done at every prenatal appointment in the later half of pregnancy. This compares your baby's growth with your previous visits. This may provide more information for you and your practitioner. If there is a question, ultrasound may be used to help look at the baby's growth and monitor it, as well as other things like the placental location, and the amount of amniotic fluid.

If you have any questions, you should not hesitate to call your practitioner and ask for advice.

Source:

Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. Gabbe, S, Niebyl, J, Simpson, JL. Sixth Edition.

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