Ending week 12 the final week of your first trimester and your baby has changed beyond all recognition from week one!
Your tiny baby is now fully formed, this stage of their development is to grow larger and practise sucking and breathing motions. It is likely you will see your baby for the first time with the dating scan.
Your baby is moving around a lot at this stage, but you may still not be able to feel this for a while as they still have a lot of space to bob about in. Their eyelids remain fused shut at week 12 (they will open at around week 27) and have moved to their final position on the front of the head (rather than the side), while their little wrists and elbows bend as they move around.
You may really start to look and feel pregnant. You may also have more energy than you did in the first trimester. This will come as a great relief if you have been struggling with sickness and tiredness.
Your baby’s skeleton is currently made of cartilage (like you’d find in your nose or ear), but over the coming weeks this will harden into bone. When your baby is born their skeleton is made up of over 300 parts of bone and cartilage.
As well as a developing skeleton, your baby’s organs and intestines are changing this week. The kidneys are beginning to excrete urine into your baby’s bladder, while their intestines, which grow so fast at the beginning that they protrude into the umbilical cord, are moving back inside the abdomen. Though you can’t feel your baby moving yet, if you prod your stomach your baby will wriggle.
Your body will be experiencing many changes; your breasts will be getting larger so a maternity/well supportive bra would be a good choice. Your emotions may vary too, you may feel happy one minute and sad the next and not understand why! Don’t worry this will settle down. Remember you’re making lots of new things within you: your baby!
You should have met your midwife by now and you would have been given a lot of information that sometimes does not always go in at the first meeting, its a good idea to write things down to discuss at your next meeting. Remember the relationship between you and your midwife is very important as they will support you through a very special and important time in your life.
There are lots of misunderstandings about maternity rights. Don’t believe everything you are told!
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is never repayable. If that’s all you get, then it doesn’t matter whether or not you return to work. You never have to pay this back.
Maternity leave can last up to 52 weeks; it is only SMP or Maternity allowance that lasts 39 weeks.
If you are an employee, you can take a further 13 weeks unpaid. You don’t have to ask for this; your employer should assume you’re taking the maximum 52 weeks unless you give notice to return earlier.
Always check with your human resources department before making any decisions. Remember any sickness related to your pregnancy should not be taken into account in any records of your sickness absence which could be used to implement a disciplinary or dismissal process. This would be unlawful. Unfortunately though, time off sick because of your pregnancy does use up your sick pay in the same way as other sick leave.
You still have some way to go in your pregnancy and your body has some more challenges to do so next time we will talk about week 13-18! Exciting!
Keep up the good work!