Keeping a healthy iron intake is important during pregnancy – some pregnant women develop anaemia, and iron helps to move oxygen around the blood of both the mother and the baby.
Eat lots of green, leafy veg, lean red meat and dried fruits to keep the iron up, but if you are showing signs of anaemia, your GP may prescribe supplements. Speak to your GP if you have any concerns, or if you have a history of anaemia or blood problems.
Between 15 and 19 weeks your midwife should offer you a blood test to look for a substance called maternal serum alphafetoprotein. If it is present in your blood, it is a sign that your baby may have spina bifida, although this test can give false positive results. Spina bifida is a defect in the neural tube of your baby, which develops into the brain and spinal cord. If you have taken folic acid supplements before conception and in early pregnancy, you will have reduced the risk of having a baby with this condition.
The baby’s need for oxygen has increased and so your heart has to work harder. It will have enlarged to pump about 20% more blood than before you were pregnant. It will go up further yet as the baby grows.
If you haven’t already done so, start looking at maternity clothes, which will feel more comfortable as your body changes shape and your abdomen grows.
Still only 70 grams, your baby’s skin is so thin that it’s almost transparent and the veins carrying blood around its body can be seen through it. A fine covering of downy hair called lanugo is beginning to grow all over the body. This soft hair is usually lost just before or after birth, although premature babies often have more when they are born.
Your baby may have developed the habit of sucking his or her thumb and the scalp hair pattern is developing.