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11 Weeks Pregnant


Image: Fetal Development At 11 Weeks

Rapid growth is afoot in your uterus. By now, the umbilical cord is fully formed, nourishing and sustaining your baby. Your precious one looks more and more like a little person and is now about the size of a lime. The head is still very big at almost half the baby’s length. Internally and externally, the eyes and ears are fully formed and she could fit in the palm of your hand. Amazing.

Now is a good time to start thinking about booking antenatal classes because popular classes like NCT’s tend to get filled up pretty quickly.

Surprisingly, even though you’ve gained a little weight, you are actually burning up calories much faster than before you were pregnant! You are likely to feel a bit warm too, because the amount of blood being pumped around your system is increasing. Tempting though it can be to snack on chocolate bars, keep eating healthily and resist that temptation when you can!
Should I, be exercising while I’m pregnant?
In pregnancy it’s common to feel so exhausted, up until 14 weeks, you don’t feel like doing much apart from reaching for the remote control! But it’s worth making the effort to get even a little of the right sort of exercise, particularly after 14 weeks. Believe it or not, it can actually leave you with a lot more energy and get-up-and-go. The key is to find activities you like, so that hopefully it won’t be too much of a drag.

The right exercise in pregnancy will:

  • Help you carry your extra pregnancy weight
  • Maximise the strength reserves necessary to get through labour
  • Make it easier to shift any unwanted baby weight after the birth
  • Raise your seretonin levels, helping to overcome changes in emotions.

What sorts of exercise can I do while I’m pregnant?
Gentle exercise in pregnancy helps keep your weight and fitness levels healthy for you, the birth and the baby. Always tell your instructor you’re pregnant and ask your midwife or doctor about safety if you aren’t sure.

  • Walking is a great way to get your heart rate up and is quite gentle on your joints, unlike running. It’s also quite convenient – you can usually fit it into your day without too much hassle.
  • Swimming works your heart and lungs and strengthens your muscles. You’ll also find that as your pregnancy progresses you’ll feel more and more relieved to feel weightless in the water! Later on in your pregnancy when you might experience swelling in your legs and feet, being in the water might help to ease it. You might also want to try an aquanatal class. It can be great fun and an opportunity to meet other mums-to-be. Exercising in water is also easier on the joints.
  • Yoga increases both flexibility and muscle tone. It’s gentler on the joints than a lot of other forms of exercise – for example aerobics. But you should probably supplement it with something that works your heart and lungs – for example a good walk several times each week. And remember not to overdo it. If at all possible, find a special pregnancy yoga class. If there are none near you, then take care to find an instructor who is properly trained and experienced in working with pregnant women. Always tell them you are expecting. There are some postures that will be unsuitable for you.
  • Jogging is definitely a quick way to get your heart and lungs going, and it’s easily fit into your schedule. Having said that, you need to exercise caution because jogging can be jarring for joints at the best of times – extra pregnancy weight adds to that hazard. If you’re not usually a jogger then pregnancy is not the best time to try. Opt for something gentler, like swimming or walking.
  • Pilates is a discipline that works to strengthen your belly and pelvic floor muscles, broadly the area in your body known as ‘the core’. You’ll be guided on posture to increase strength and you’ll find that you become a lot more aware of how you hold yourself. You’ll also work on controlling your breathing (which can come in handy for the big day!) Pilates focuses on a number of muscles that are often strained during pregnancy. Again, make sure you find an instructor properly trained and experienced in working with mums-to-be.
  • A gentle aerobics class can be a great weekly discipline. Choose wisely – many aerobics classes may be high-impact and unsuitable for you – if possible find a special pregnancy class.
  • Light weight training can be okay for some mums-to-be but only really for women who already practice it as part of an exercise regime. If you’re inexperienced, don’t start now. Even if you use weights regularly, you’ll need to lay off heavy weights – keep it light and be careful. Don’t push yourself and overheat – remember overheating may be dangerous for your baby. And gently whittle your routine down as your pregnancy draws to a close.
  • Dancing can be a great way to get your heart rate going and you can do it at home if you feel self-conscious. Or some places offer dance classes for pregnant women and it’s a great way to meet other mums. Whether you do it at home or with others, remember to take it easy. Avoid jumping, twirling or turning suddenly.

How can I avoid overheating while I’m exercising?
Animal studies have indicated that big increases in body temperature (such as those induced by a hot bath) could cause offspring birth defects, so general advice for pregnant women is to avoid overheating.

Avoid exercising for long stretches and if it’s hot or clammy then put your feet up instead. Drink plenty of water and take in about a pint about two hours before you start a session. Always take water with you when you exercise and keep swigging as you go along. Wear thin layers that you can take off as you heat up. Take it easy and listen to your body. The golden rule is if it feels too much, stop. Different rules apply in pregnancy – you should be able to carry on a conversation while you’re exercising.

Exercise in pregnancy: can it ever be a bad thing?
There are some instances where you might need to be particularly careful about exercise in pregnancy. Always consult your health professional if you are unsure, especially if you:

  • Are carrying more than one baby
  • Have pre-eclampsia or have developed high blood pressure since you’ve become pregnant
  • Have been told an early birth is likely
  • Have placenta praevia (a low-lying placenta) after 20 weeks of pregnancy
  • Have intermittent vaginal bleeding, or had vaginal bleeding in the early stages of pregnancy
  • Have been told your baby is growing more slowly than normal
  • Have cervical weakness
  • Are very overweight or underweight
  • Have had a premature baby previously
  • Had high blood pressure before you were pregnant
  • Have low levels of iron in your blood
  • Have a history of any muscle or joint problems
  • Have any problems with your lungs or heart
  • Have diabetes.

Your health professional can advise you on the best course of action. For example you may be unable to do yoga, but given the all-clear to go on gentle walks. It really all depends. Talk to your doctor or midwife.

Possible Scan at week 11
An Early Pregnancy Viability Scan can be helpful if you feel a bit worried or just want to make sure that all is well with your baby.

This scan is advised for women over 35, and strongly recommended for women over 40. It’s especially important to have this scan if you’ve had vaginal bleeding or suspect an ectopic pregnancy.

Early Pregnancy Scan

Early Pregnancy Scan Picture (Click image to enlarge)

Viability scans are easily performed trans-abdominally (through the tummy) at 7-11 weeks of pregnancy as long as you are not overweight or have a womb that is tilted backwards.

If you’re having the scan because of a concern about a possible ectopic pregnancy, this scan can be conducted at 6-7 weeks, though at this time it would need to be performed trans-vaginally.

Possible Scan at Week 11
You’ll most likely be offered a Nuchal Translucency Scan between 11 and 14 weeks. However, it gives a better view of the baby at 13 weeks, particularly if mum is overweight at all.

With a Nuchal Translucency Scan (also sometimes called the First Trimester Scan), the baby can be seen in more detail. This scan confirms that there is a heartbeat, and the number of foetuses.

Nuchal Translucency Scan or 12 Week Scan

Nuchal Translucency Scan or 12 Week Scan Picture
(Click image to enlarge)

The baby’s head, trunk, arms, legs, hands and feet can be seen and your medical professional will also look at the placenta, amniotic fluid and umbilical cord. Your sonographer will confirm the date of the pregnancy and possibly inspect the nuchal pad of skin for any signs of Down’s syndrome. At this stage, detection of the sex of the baby is difficult and not very reliable.