Pregnancy Week by Week

Get a window on what’s happening in your pregnancy, week by week. From week four to week 42, your baby is experiencing a miraculous transformation from a clump of cells to a fully formed (and totally cute) newborn. Just imagine, as early as five weeks, your baby is already starting to form major organs (heart, stomach, liver, and kidneys) and systems (digestive, circulatory, nervous). By eight weeks, your raspberry-sized womb-mate is moving her arms and legs. At the beginning of your second trimester (week 14), your wee one is sucking his thumb. By week 28, the first week of the third trimester, baby (now as big as an eggplant) is prepping for breathing, developing his eyesight and packing on pounds in anticipation of life outside the womb. Each week is a new miracle. Less miraculous is how a mom-to-be may feel. Pregnancy Week-by-Week charts your baby’s development but also lets mom know what she might be feeling during each week of her pregnancy. Pregnancy week by Week includes everything mom needs to know to feel a sense of control over her pregnancy. Each week offers a complete guide to what you might feel, your must-do’s, your nice-to do’s, and answers and advice on everything pregnancy-related. Plus each week’s guide offers tips on maintaining a healthy and comfortable pregnancy from strategies on coping with pregnancy symptoms (morning sickness anyone?) to ideas for healthy eating, and pointers on talking to your OB. Let us guide you along your pregnancy, week by week.

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Q&A: What to expect during an amnio?

I think I'm going to go through with the amniocentesis. What exactly happens during the procedure? Will it hurt?

Re: I think I'm going to go through with the amniocentesis. What exactly happens during the procedure? Will it hurt?

The Bump Expert

Whether or not to amnio is a tough decision, and while it's hard to know the"right" thing to do, getting as much info as possible will at least help make your choice an educated one. In other words… good question.

You'll go in for the amnio somewhere between weeks 15 and 20. First, your doc will do an ultrasound to locate a pocket of amniotic fluid a safe distance away from both baby and the placenta, which can take up to 20 minutes. Your belly will be cleaned with iodine or alcohol, and your doc will then guide along, thin hollow needle into your stomach, through the abdominal wall and into the fluid sac. About an ounce of amniotic fluid (roughly two tablespoons) will be drawn into the needle, which can take from 30 seconds to a few minutes.(Don't worry, baby will produce more to make up for what's taken.) It may seem scary to have a needle so close to baby, but with ultrasound guiding the entire procedure direct injury is very rare. (On the off chance baby does brush against the needle, he'll simply move away quickly -- same thing you'd do after hitting something sharp.) Once enough fluid is obtained, the needle will be removed, and you're all done! Your doc might check baby's heart rate with an external fetal monitor to make sure he's doing okay. If your blood is Rh negative, you'll receive a shot of immunoglobulin after (unless baby's father is also negative), in case your blood mixed with baby's potentially non-compatible blood during the test.

The extracted amniotic fluid will be sent to a lab, where baby's cells are taken from the fluid, grown in a culture for about ten days, and then studied for chromosomal abnormalities. The cells can also be tested for any genetic disorders you may be at risk for. And, the alpha-feto protein levels in the amniotic fluid will be measured, which is helpful in detecting neural tube defects. Structural defects like a cleft palate can't be detected with this procedure, but if you're interested, baby's gender can. You should get the results back in about two weeks.

For you, the procedure might be somewhat uncomfortable, though some women don't feel a thing – pain levels vary greatly between women, and even between pregnancies. It'll probably feel like cramping, pinching or pressure. You may be offered a local anesthetic first to numb the site, but the anesthesia injection might actually be worse than the amnio itself! Make sure someone is available to drive you home afterwards, because you'll need to take it easy for the rest of the day, and avoid sex, heavy lifting and flying for the next three days. You might experience minor cramping, but if they become severe, notice leaking amniotic fluid or spotting, or develop a fever (possible sign of an infection), call your doctor right away -- these are all signs of potential miscarriage.

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. Your pregnancy and birth. 4th ed. Washington, DC: ACOG; 2005.

Paula Kashtan

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