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The third month of pregnancy marks the end of the first trimester and with this, the chances of miscarriage start falling. The foetus is implanted within the uterine walls and has grown to a significant size. So, far you might not have noticed any prominent physical change in your body. Though mood swings and morning sickness might have already started taking their toll.

The good news is that third month is usually the time for the first ultrasound, which means that you might be able to see your baby!!

How is that for a diversion from all the woes of nausea and fatigue?

In this article, we will explore some of the signs and symptoms associated with the third month of pregnancy along with some diet tips and do’s and don’ts for the best of your baby’s health. It will also tell you about what to expect from your first ultrasound.

So, are you ready?

  1. 3 months pregnant signs and symptoms
  2. 3 months pregnant baby size
  3. 3 months pregnancy foods and diet
  4. 3 months pregnant exercises
  5. 3 months pregnant: Ultrasound, tests and vaccination
  6. Dos and Don'ts during the 3rd month of pregnancy

A lot of hormonal and physical changes keep on happening in the third week of pregnancy. So, if you have been suffering from morning sickness and food aversion, be prepared because the situation is not going to be any better. On the plus side, you might still not show have an apparent bump, so if you are not ready to share this news you still have some time to prepare yourself. Some of the common signs and symptoms that you might notice in the third month of pregnancy are:

Even though most of these symptoms are common, it is best to refer to a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms in excess or if you have had a history of any of these problems.

*Vaginal discharge should not be accompanied by a foul smell or painful urination. If it does, see a doctor.

(Read more: Pregnancy symptoms)

Till the second month, the fertilised egg has turned into an embryo and has a size of about 10mm, but, as you enter into the third month of your pregnancy, the embryo starts to take a more human shape and form.

By 9th and 10th week, the growing foetus is about 2.5 inches in size and it grows to be around 3.5 inches by the end of the third month weighing around 43 gram.

Your baby goes through major physical changes in the third month of your pregnancy.  Let us have a look at some of these changes:

  • One of the major changes is the disappearance of the tail and the formation of a tailbone or coccyx at the end of the spine.
  • Eyes move to the front of the face, instead of being on the sides and some form of pigment develops in the eyeballs. The eyelids, however, remain attached till the 6th month.
  • Mouth develops and the hard palate (front part of the palate) bones are fused. Taste buds start developing by the third month.
  • Ears drum is completely formed and the ears can be distinctly seen on the sides of the face.
  • Nose and nostrils are also clearly visible.
  • Limbs (Arms and legs) start to grow in proportion with the body and nails may be visible. 
  • Crown-rump length (length of the foetus from the top of their crown/head to the bottom of their rump/ buttocks) is around 7.6 cm which grows by half an inch every week.
  • Sexual features are well defined
  • Till now, the placenta was performing some of the gastrointestinal functions, however, by the end of the third month, intestines develop completely and the urethra and anus become well defined. So, the baby has its own digestive and eliminatory system.
  • Other organs like kidneys, liver and gallbladder are also completely formed by the end of the first trimester.
  • The heart gets its protective layer and heartbeat may be recognised in the ultrasound. Though you might not be able to notice any movement yet.
  • Much of the bone development happens during this month.

By the end of the first trimester, most of the essential organs and features have been developed. Through the rest of the months, the foetus grows in size and develops and defines some of the finer features like eyelids, hair and some body functions.

The growing baby receives all of its nutrition from the mother. For the proper growth and development of the baby, it is absolutely important to follow a balanced diet throughout your pregnancy. Including lots of green veggies and fruits would make sure you get the right amounts of nutrients. However, it is important not to go overboard and consume only as much the body demands. Instead of eating huge meals, it is best to take 4-5 small meals throughout the day.

If you are too concerned about your dietary needs, you may like to refer to a nutritionist. Though, following are some of the foods that can help you stay fit and healthy during your third month.

Fibre

A fibre rich diet would make sure that your bowel movements are regular and you don’t suffer from constipation. Fibres also help in keeping excess cholesterol levels under control. Some of the best sources of fibre include whole grains, bread, fruits and vegetables. You must thoroughly wash and clean the fruits before consuming them as they might carry harmful microbes and germs.

Water

You can never miss out on water as it helps maintain most of the body’s functions. Pregnant women need more water to maintain their energy and fluid requirements. The European Food Safety Authority recommends an increase of 300 ml per day in the total water intake for pregnant women as compared to non-pregnant women. Additionally, water helps with the digestion of fibre. Drinking less water with a fibre rich diet might do more harm than good. So, do not skip water.

Folic acid supplement

For the proper brain development of the foetus, it is essential that you take folic acid supplements till the completion of the first trimester. Generally, a 400 mg tablet of folic acid is prescribed for pregnant women but it is strongly recommended that you consult your doctor instead of self-medicating. You can also add folic acid-rich foods like bread, spinach, citrus fruits and brown rice.

Calcium

Calcium is essential for the growth of bones and cartilages of the foetus. According to a study, pregnant women consume 1000 mg of calcium per day. However, a calcium supplement is generally not needed. If you are suffering from calcium deficiency, it is advisable to refer to a doctor to know about your calcium requirements. You can also include pasteurised milk and yoghurt to your diet to cater to the daily calcium requirements.

Iron

Iron is yet another mineral that is important for foetal growth. Studies suggest that lack of iron may not only cause anaemia in pregnant women but it may also lead to early birth and lower weight of the newborn baby. Although the demand for iron is much lower in the first trimester, it keeps rising sharply with foetal growth. According to WHO guidelines, a pregnant woman needs about 30 to 60 mg of elemental iron per day. Some of the easily available food sources of iron include pulses, green vegetables, fortified grains and tofu.

Foods to avoid

In spite of the fact that you need a lot of nutrition to fulfil your own and the baby’s requirements, there are certain foods that may have a detrimental effect on the foetus. Here is a list of foods that you should be careful before consuming.

  • Egg and poultry should be cooked properly before consuming since they might be a source of infection and food poisoning. It is preferable to avoid red and rare meats.
  • Any food that is rich in vitamin A, this includes liver meats and sausages.
  • Always boil the milk before consuming or drink pasteurised milk.
  • Certain types of fish should also be avoided as they might have negative effects on your baby’s brain.
  • It is best not to consume soft cheese like brie and camembert as they might carry listeria infection which can lead to miscarriage and stillbirths.
  • High fat and extra sweet foods should also be avoided as most sugars are empty calories and do not provide for any nutritional requirement.
  • It is also best to cut down your caffeine intake as it might lead to less birth weight in babies. This includes your daily coffee and tea.

(Read more: Pregnancy diet chart)

Most women tend to stop working out during pregnancy. However, following a regular exercise routine may help you cope with most of the pregnancy distresses. Although it is best to keep away from strenuous exercise, there are a number of exercises you can add into your daily routine. This includes walking, pelvic floor exercises and foot exercises.

To get optimal benefits, it is recommended to work out for about 30 minutes per day.

However, if you feel exhaustion, dizziness, vaginal bleeding or calf swelling, it is advisable that stop exercising and refer to a doctor immediately.

A proper exercise routine has numerous benefits for both the mother and the foetus. A regular exercise routine:

  • helps deal with problems like constipation and back pain.
  • reduces the risk of gestational diabetes
  • avoids high blood pressure
  • helps maintain blood circulation
  • maintains the proper growth rate of the foetus
  • helps induce a normal delivery instead of a C-section (Read more: Normal delivery tips)
  • and reduces depression

Studies suggest that obese women can maintain their fitness levels and avoid excessive weight gain by following a supervised work out routine.

The best part about third trimester is that you get your first ultrasound appointment. It is almost a magical experience for first-time mothers. Though it can also bring a bit of anxiety. You are seeing your baby for the first time after all. The first pregnancy scan is known as “dating scan” and there are a number of reasons that this scan is done at this specific time. It helps the physician to:

  • Check that the baby is in the right place in your uterus
  • Determine delivery date
  • See if you are carrying more than one baby
  • Check if the baby has any physical abnormalities
  • Congenital problems like Down's syndrome also become apparent through this scan.

What to expect?

Ultrasound is a simple procedure that hardly takes half an hour. However, the scan may take longer to completely assess the situation in case of an abnormality or if you are obese. It is generally done by spreading a thick gel on your lower belly and moving a probe through it.

The probe is what gives out ultrasonic sound into your belly. The echo of this sound is caught and read by the sonography machine which in turn comes out in the form of ultrasound pictures.

How safe is ultrasound?

Ultrasound is basically sound waves that are passed through to your womb and are read by a computer to make the picture of your baby on the screen.

It is completely safe for you and your foetus and does not have any kind of side effects.

(Read more: Ultrasound during pregnancy)

Physical abnormalities in the scan

In case the physician finds a physical anomaly in your dating scan, he might ask you to go for further screening tests. Three most common problems that can be noticed in the ultrasounds are Down's syndrome, Edward's syndrome and Patau’s syndrome. Screening tests for all these disorders basically include separate or combined blood tests. Screening test for Down's syndrome is known as a nuchal translucency scan which includes scanning for the spinal fluid along with blood tests.

Apart from ultrasound, some blood tests are also done to affirm the absence of infection and monitor hormonal levels.

Vaccination

It is essential that you get vaccinated against whooping cough and flu during pregnancy to keep yourself and your baby safe from these diseases. It also reduces the risk of premature births. The best time to get these vaccinated is from 16th week to 32 weeks but they can be taken earlier or later as advised by the doctor.

Here is a list of things that need to be taken care of during the third month of pregnancy.

Dos

  • Eat healthy foods
  • Follow a balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid stress
  • Get vaccinated and take your medicines on time
  • Get enough sleep

Don’ts

  • Drink alcohol
  • Smoke
  • Do strenuous exercises
  • Lift heavy weights
  • Aim for weight loss
  • Take medicines or supplements without the prescription of a doctor
  • Eat raw and unprocessed meat or dairy
  • Take too much caffeine
  • Miss a doctor’s appointment
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References

  1. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation. Nutrition During Pregnancy: Part I Weight Gain: Part II Nutrient Supplements. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1990. 5, Total Amount and Pattern of Weight Gain: Physiologic and Maternal Determinants
  2. Louisiana Department of Health. Stages of Fetal Development - First Trimester. [Internet]
  3. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; You and your baby at 10 weeks pregnant.
  4. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; You and your baby at 9 weeks pregnant.
  5. Saptawati Bardosono et al. Fluid Intake of Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women in Indonesia: A Cross-Sectional Survey with a Seven-Day Fluid Specific Record . Nutrients. 2016 Nov; 8(11): 651. PMID: 27879652
  6. Beinder E et al. [Calcium-supplementation in pregnancy--is it a must?]. . Ther Umsch. 2007 May;64(5):243-7. PMID: 17685081
  7. World Health Organization [Internet]. Geneva (SUI): World Health Organization; Daily iron and folic acid supplementation during pregnancy.
  8. Sally K. Hinman et al. Exercise in Pregnancy A Clinical Review. Sports Health. 2015 Nov; 7(6): 527–531. PMID: 26502446
  9. Michèle Bisson et al. A 12-Week Exercise Program for Pregnant Women with Obesity to Improve Physical Activity Levels: An Open Randomised Preliminary Study . PLoS One. 2015; 10(9): e0137742. PMID: 26375471
  10. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; 12-week pregnancy dating scan.
  11. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Ultrasound scans in pregnancy.
  12. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Screening for Down's, Edwards' and Patau's syndromes.
  13. Office of Infectious Disease. Vaccines for Pregnant Women. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [Internet]