Check out what happened last week with your fetus's development.
Meet the beat. Your little one's heart has been beating furiously for weeks, but it's only just become loud enough for your health care provider to hear with a special listening device called a Doppler. You'll be able to hear it too! A fetus's heart beats twice as fast as yours, anywhere between 120 to 140 beats per minute. (Don't worry if your provider can't pick up the beat yet. Your fetus may be lying in a position that muffles the sound.) If you're like many women, hearing the rapid thump-thump of your little one's heart will be your favorite part of the prenatal visits. In addition to perfecting its beat, the heart has become a proper four-chambered structure over the past month, although some of the dividing walls won't be complete until after birth.
Skin is in. A fine layer of skin has been forming over the fetus's body during the past few weeks. Now, a specialized layer develops into what will become the fingernails and toenails.
Measuring up. Your little one has grown quite a bit since last week—the crown-to-rump length is just over 2 inches. The fetus's head alone is nearly half the length of the body, which shows you how rapidly the brain is growing. Genius in the making!
Gotta have it. Some experts think cravings are your body's way of telling you what it needs. Others disagree. No one really knows why cravings occur during pregnancy, but there's no question that at some point, nearly every expectant woman has a yen for particular foods. You shouldn't slavishly obey your body's demands, but you don't have to ignore them, either, especially if you crave something healthful.
"C" baby grow. While you're pregnant, you need 80 to 100 milligrams of vitamin C every day. Vitamin C helps your fetus build new cells and develop healthy bones and teeth. If you crave oranges, eating them will kill two birds with one stone. Consuming oranges and other citrus fruits is a great way to satisfy your daily requirement of vitamin C. Other good sources include papaya, strawberries, and broccoli. For more information on nutrient-rich foods, click here.
The Rh test. At your first prenatal visit, your health care provider will run several blood tests. One of these tests will determine whether you have a specific protein, the Rh factor, on your red blood cells. The concern arises when you're Rh-negative and the father is Rh-positive—a combination that might make your child Rh-positive. If this is the case, your body may make antibodies against the fetus's Rh-positive blood, a situation that can have serious health consequences for your little one. To prevent this from happening, you'll receive a shot of a substance called Rhogam between your 28th and 29th weeks to neutralize any of the baby's red blood cells that may cross into your circulation; you may also receive a shot after birth to protect future pregnancies. In a few cases, extra testing and treatment may be required, perhaps at an earlier time in the pregnancy. You will need to get Rhogam for any pregnancy loss if you are Rh negative.
From the experts. If you're in the habit of tanning at a salon, think twice about doing so while pregnant. "At least one study has found that prolonged exposure to UV light during pregnancy may cause a folic acid deficiency in the mother," says Elaine Zwelling, R.N., Ph.D. Folic acid is a key nutrient in preventing spinal cord defects in the fetus. There are other possible harmful effects of using a tanning bed during pregnancy. To find out more from Dr. Zwelling, click here.