Hurray – you’re expecting a baby!
In the early days of your pregnancy, the changes you’ll see and feel will be about your body. Exhausted? That’s normal. Bleeding gums? Normal too. The dreaded morning sickness – also generally normal. Unless you’re due to have a scan, you can find yourself wondering what’s going on inside your body that is causing such dramatic changes to your body.
There’s a baby growing. It sounds obvious, but that’s astounding. In less than a year, you’ll be a parent and life will never be the same again. In a good and wonderful (OK, and maybe a little bit tiring!!) way. It’s the most challenging – and most wonderful – thing you’ll ever do.
But what is your baby like?
You can’t see it; you can’t feel it – what’s going on?
When you’re four weeks pregnant, your baby is about the size of a tiny kiwi seed – up to about a millimetre. This is the time when the cells divide to form organs. You baby has truly begun.
When you get to two months, you might still not have had a scan. Imagine your baby as the size of a cherry tomato, about one and a half centimetres. Their tiny hands and feet have started to develop, although it feels like a long time to wait until they’ll be gripping your finger.
At around 12 weeks, you can usually expect your first scan. This tiny life is about the size of a plum. You’ll marvel at how something so little can have a heartbeat and you can see him or her moving. This is when the magic starts to feel real. Your baby’s reproductive organs will have developed, their eyes and eyelids are formed and they will have started to grow hair and fingernails.
At four months, you can imagine them like the size of a pear; at 20 weeks, a mango. It’s around now you might start to feel a fluttering – like tiny butterfly wings. Our grandmothers called it ‘the quickening’, the first tiny movements that make you catch your breath and ask, “Did that really just happen?” Treasure them. If you haven’t already, you might also need to start loosening your waistbands and thinking about some maternity clothes. Although it’s still important to look good, comfort is everything from here on in.
When you’re 24 weeks pregnant and your baby is the size of a large grapefruit. People will be starting to give you that, ‘Is she expecting?’ look. If you haven’t already, think about where your baby will sleep and what pram or travel system will suit you and your new family best. You might even, if it’s possible, want to think about one last holiday as a couple before you get bigger.
At 28 weeks, imagine your little one as roughly the size of an iceberg lettuce. Now would be a good time to start planning all those extra bits you will need. You are getting close to your third trimester, so enjoy the blooming period!
At 32 weeks, they’ll be the size of an average pineapple – only much less spiky! This is a good time to start shopping and placing orders for important items – especially your car seat.
At 36 weeks, you’re nearly there and your little one will be about the length of a cucumber. You might be thinking about stopping work soon as some mums experience the aches and pains of later pregnancy. If you do, treasure that time on your own. Take a bath in the afternoon, have a snooze, read a book. You will be able to do all these things again one day, it just might be a little while away.
I carried a watermelon!
And finally, you’ll make it to 40 weeks. No-one can predict what your birth will be like, so avoid those women who want to tell you their birthing stories. Your baby will come in his or her own way, when he or she is ready and (with the support of your family and our wonderful NHS) you’ll be fine. Life will quickly settle into a new kind of normal.
Remember, you’re amazing and you’ll soon be able to tell the world, “I had a baby! I carried a watermelon!”.
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