The scalp hair that began to grow last week now has developed pattern and is beginning to deposit pigment. This means, by week fifteenth week your baby already has the hair color he or she will have when they are born! Your baby is now about the length of an apple at four inches long and two and one half ounce in weight. His or her legs caught up quickly to their arms and now exceed them in length. The three bones within the ear that allow hearing have begun to harden and your baby will soon be able to hear you, though the center in the brain that processes auditory information is not complete so it may be a few more weeks before he or she can understand you. Another big mental jump this week as baby gains the ability to sense light through his or her fused eye lids, in fact if you shine a light to your tummy after this point your baby will move away from it and you may be able to feel it now! That’s right, though some women don’t notice movement till after seventeen weeks some do begin to feel the kicks, jabs, and twists of their new baby as early as this week. Lastly the external genitals are nearly complete.
Your uterus has now reached the height of your hips and your doctor will be able to measure it with more accuracy. This measurement called the fundal height helps give an idea of accuracy of due date and healthy growth of your baby. Normally fundal height will be within an inch or two of your pregnancy in weeks. This week for example it should be between twelve and seventeen inches. If there is a large discrepancy between fundal height and pregnancy in weeks an ultrasound may be done to check on your baby’s health, especially if the due date has already been confirmed by ultrasound in the early weeks. In most cases the measurement was just taken wrong, don’t worry too much.
As blood flow in the body increases to twenty percent you may also notice a brand new aggravating symptom, swollen, sensitive, and/or bleeding gums. It is important to floss and brush everyday while pregnant because the swelling in particular makes it easier for plaque and bacteria to become trapped under the gums which will cause tooth decay and gum disease. Flossing, in particular, will likely cause bleeding, but you have to continue doing so anyway. A little pain now beats rotten teeth later every time. Regular dental checks, every three to six months, are also advised during pregnancy. If you’re not getting enough calcium to support both your baby teeth and your own teeth you may experience weakness, cracking or splitting in your teeth. This can lead to obviously pain, but also infection which can be dangerous.
Test to expect:
This week you’ll be asked to do a blood test commonly referred to as a quad-screen. Also known as AFP testing this optional test checks for neural tube defects and can predict Defects like spina bifida, and anenecephaly. It recently has also been shown to predict downs syndrome. If this test is positive you may end up having Amniocentesis or testing of the amniotic fluid or a more in-depth ultrasound. The test is a wonderful way to catch defects or problems early on and being that it is simply a blood test, is harmless.
Things to watch out for:
Due to the increase in weight that begins in the second trimester you at are at a much higher risk for urinary tract infections. Hormones cause the muscles in the uterus to relax making them more prone to place pressure on the tubes that urine passes through, this coupled with the weight of your baby on the same area and urine passes through your system far slower. (I know hard to believe with you having to pee so much right?) This extra time gives bacteria more time to grow and take hold in your urinary tract resulting in a much higher occurrence of urinary tract infections. Most hospitals or clinics will test your urine every visit for this, but you can keep an eye out for them yourself.
Signs of urinary tract infections include:
Urinary tract infection can spread to the kidneys and cause infections there which are far more dangerous and can cause pre-term labor. In the case of a urinary infection call your doctor, in the case of a kidney infection seek medical attention. It is possible to have both infections at once and symptoms from either list may occur.
Signs or a Kidney Infection:
Both infections are treated with antibiotics though with a kidney infection you will be hospitalized so you can be monitored.
Ways to reduce the risk urinary tract infections:
Drink cranberry juice. Cranberry juice has been proven to reduce the occurrence of urinary tract infections. Do not however attempt to treat a urinary tract infection with cranberry juice.