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Week #13 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 13

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

Your Baby
           With each passing day, your baby is continuing to develop more and more into the little heart melter that you imagine meeting on "D" (delivery) day and less and less like the little ball of cells that began growing deep within you several weeks ago.  Your little one's chin is now more prominent as is her nose.  Her eyelids, have now met and fused together and will stay this way for the next four months.  Her body is also busy laying down the tissue that will soon become her bones.  Even at this early stage of life, your sweet one may be "sucking" her thumb, as her arms are now long enough to reach her mouth.  Since she is technically unable to "suck," she may just be pretending by placing her thumb in her mouth.  Who knows, your little one may already have an imagination and is busy playing her first round of "pretend" deep within your womb.


Your Body
           Now that you have reached the thirteenth week of pregnancy and your body has begun adjusting to the mass of hormones surging through it, you may be noticing some new (and good!) changes in your body.  Hopefully you are beginning to feel less irritable, less tired, and less anxious.  With any luck, your morning (or all day) sickness is also starting to subside.  The return of your appetite should make it easier to begin eating for "two," which is important as you end your first trimester and head into your second.  Contrary to popular belief, eating for two does not mean that you get to eat twice as much of all of your favorite foods--one serving for you and one serving for baby!  Rather than doubling up on all of your favorite goodies, do your best to eat a well balanced diet full of fiber, fruits, vegetables, dairy and lean protein selections while adding approximately 300 calories to your normal daily intake.  While 300 calories may seem like a lot, it is in reality only the addition of one small snack to your regular meal plan.  The following are some 300 calorie suggestions of healthy pregnancy snacks for you to munch on:
  • One large piece of fruit and a glass of low-fat milk
  • A low-fat "wrap" or slice of wheat bread with 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter
  • One small bag of low-fat microwave popcorn (the manufacturers now make individual bags that only have 100 calories) with an apple and one ounce of cheese
  • One serving of string cheese, and a small bowl of fruit salad
  • Carrots with some low-fat ranch dip (or hummus) and a glass of juice
  • A small bag of homemade trail mix containing 1 ounce of almonds (about 13), some raisins, a few mini-chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup of high-fiber breakfast cereal.

       You may also be noticing that your breasts are beginning to change.  From the very beginning of pregnancy, your breasts begin the process of preparing to feed your little one once he or she is born.  Your milk sinuses begin forming so that they are ready to hold the milk that you will soon produce.  You may also be noticing that your nipples are larger and more sensitive and your areolas are larger and darker.  These darkened areolas may help to serve as a visual guide for your hungry little one.  Think of it as nature's way of telling your baby that "X marks the spot."  If you are noticing that your breasts are suddenly more lumpy or nodular, do not be alarmed.  This is part of the normal development of glands and ducts within your breasts.  If you are particularly concerned about a spot on your breast or a lump that does not feel normal, be sure to mention this to your health care provider at your next visit.  He or she will be able to perform a breast exam and detect any abnormality that may be present.


  You're Wondering. . .
           I am really worried about gaining too much weight during my pregnancy.  Is it still safe to use artificial sweeteners to help me save calories?

       Many women fear the inevitable weight gain of pregnancy and while the lure of using artificial sweeteners to tickle your taste buds while shaving off a few calories may seem tempting, it might not be the best idea.  Research has indicated that while moderate use of Asparatame, found in NutraSweet and Equal, and Sucralose also known as Splenda, is probably safe, if you can avoid using them, you should.  Remember, everything that you eat and drink makes its way to your developing baby, so the healthier your food and beverage choices are, the better.  The truth of the matter is that these sweeteners are artificial chemicals.  There is nothing "artificial" about the sweet baby growing in your belly.  So rather than over-indulge in a treat full of chemicals, but less calories, treat yourself to the real goodie, calories and all, only do so in moderation.  Remember, every woman who has ever been pregnant before you has gained weight and every woman who will become pregnant after you, will gain weight.  The numbers on the scale are something to be aware of, not afraid of.  Embrace your new shape, show it off with great pride, and remember that a few extra pounds, even after giving birth, are a small price to pay for the profound privilege of becoming a mom!


  Your "To-Do" List
           As a diligent mom-to-be you are probably continuously looking for ways to provide your little one with the best possible nutrition, and protect him or her during your pregnancy.  Topping your to-do list with this simple task this week will not only protect your sweet baby, but you as well.  This week be sure to wash your hands.  The simple act of frequent hand washing, not just after using the restroom or preparing food, but at several times throughout the day can protect you from communicable infections such as Group B streptococcus, chicken pox, and Fifth's disease.  These infections are all known to cause birth defects or other complications for your little one.  If frequent hand washing is not always possible or is too inconvenient, purchase a travel-sized container of an alcohol based hand sanitizer to use throughout the day.  These sanitizers are a great option when a sink and soap just can't be found and will help to rid your hands of potentially dangerous germs.  Don't pitch it after pregnancy though; the hand sanitizer will come in handy later when you can't get to a sink after changing your little one's diaper at the park!


Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           In this incredible age of technology, it seems that no one is too young to master using the DVR, texting, or developing a MySpace page.  While your little one and her tiny fingers can not yet control the remote, she may not be too young for her very own email address.  Take a moment this week and set up an e-mail account for your baby. Then use this account as an online journal of sorts for you and your partner.  This email account can be a wonderful way for the two of you to connect to your baby throughout your entire pregnancy.  While sitting at work, either one of you can fire off a quick message to your baby and fill him or her in on the events of the day, a cute mommy moment, or anything else that is on your mind.  These email messages to your little one may also become great conversation starters for you and your partner.  As you send off a message about things that you are thinking and feeling, you may inadvertently create an opportunity to talk about the many aspects of parenthood that you are both anticipating.

       When preparing for parenthood, it is important to develop a network of support from both family members and friends.  The experience of becoming parents is one of the most rewarding, amazing, joyful and yet also scary and confusing seasons of life.  Often, you are faced with situations that you have never before experienced and are unsure how to handle these new changes in your life.  It is during these times that the expertise and moral support of those around you can really come in handy.  As you continue to strengthen this support system of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other family members and friends, why not share baby's email address with them as well?  Invite them to email your sweet one, and then read their messages to your belly.  Hearing their words of love, encouragement and excitement over your baby's birth will not only warm your heart, but remind you that you have a whole community of well-wishers in your corner cheering you and your partner on as you continue to prepare for parenthood.


  My Experience
           When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I began emailing her on a regular basis.  I would tell Kilee about different things that I saw or thought about and how those things made me feel.  I remember seeing a mother and her daughter walk into school one morning and firing off an email to my growing little one "telling" her about how excited I was to someday pack her lunch with a little note written on her napkin and then walk her to kindergarten, hand-in-hand.  My husband would often send her sweet and funny notes, or goofy jokes that would make me smile as I read them to her.  I loved using this address as a way to help Grant stay connected to our baby throughout the day, as well as an avenue for my parents who lived across the country, to send their grandbaby thoughts and "hugs" even before she was born.  The messages from loved ones reminded me that while I was the one growing this little miracle, I was not alone in this pregnancy and would not be in my parenting either.


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