Your baby continues to grow at a breathtaking rate: By the end of the 11th week, he’ll be about the size of a lime. His head is still very large, almost half the length of his body. This week, he will begin to straighten out even more as his chin rises from his chest and his neck grows longer and stronger.
The sex organs are becoming more distinctly male or female. The webbing that has connected the toes has disappeared. The eyes are still fairly widely spaced, but the ears are almost fully formed. Your baby also has a new skill: he can suck.
If you could see your baby, you would likely observe him making stretching movements and moving his head, arms and legs. As he enters his second trimester, he will begin to move more and more. At this point he is already exhibiting what is known as the “walking” or “stepping” reflex.
For the next few weeks, there will be plenty of room to move in the amniotic sac — space that will gradually disappear as the baby grows. The baby is still too small for you to feel these flutterings, however. Along with swelling breasts and a gradually increasing girth, you may notice that your body is changing in other interesting ways. Some women experience hair loss and are disconcerted to find that their hair comes out in handfuls in the shower or on their hairbrush. Other women find that their hair is more abundant during pregnancy, or alternately curlier or straighter than usual.
You may also notice changes in your fingernails: Some women find that their nails grow more quickly and are firm and strong, while other women say their nails are thinner than usual and break easily. These changes in your body are perfectly normal. Experts are not entirely sure why they occur. Some blame shifting hormones, others believe they are caused by increased circulation. Most of these things will disappear when your baby is born.
You also may notice disturbing changes in your teeth and gums. The saying “a woman loses a tooth for every child” may be a relic of folklore, but it does point to a truth about pregnancy: It is rough on your teeth. Your gums are likely to bleed easily and to be swollen and tender, and research increasingly shows that gum disease can actually affect your pregnancy. (One study found that women with advanced gum disease are up to seven times more likely to deliver significantly premature babies than women with healthy gums.) You can minimize the damage to your teeth by brushing and flossing every day. If you haven’t visited your dentist or dental hygienist recently, this is a good time to schedule a cleaning.
If you have experienced nausea, food aversions or sensitivity to odors during the early weeks of pregnancy, take heart. These ease up for most women by the end of the first trimester. (A minority of women, however, experience severe morning sickness throughout the duration of their pregnancy and require extra care.) By now, you’ve probably developed your own strategies for dealing with your symptoms, such as eating frequent small meals or nibbling on crackers or bread before you even get out of bed.
You also may be feeling a little less exhausted as the end of your first trimester approaches. Even so, don’t overdo it. Continue to get plenty of sleep and take naps if you are tired during the afternoon. If you have small children, enlist your partner, caregiver, friend, or relative to regularly take them out for an hour or two to give you the chance to rest. This is a time when you should accept favors: If your partner offers to take over dinner duty or a friend wants to drop by some groceries, by all means, accept. Remember, you are engaged in the most important work there is: growing a healthy child.
Nemours Foundation. Your Baby’s Development : Week 11.
Watch Me Grow! by Stuart Campbell, M.D., St. Martin’s Press.
Shanahan, M Kelly. Your Over-35 Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guide, Prima Publishing
Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Glade Curtis, OB/GYN and Judith Schuler, M.S
Da Capo Press.
Pregnancy Calendar, Week 11, from the American Academy of Family Physicians