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Welcome to the 15th week of pregnancy. You’re gently gliding into the second trimester, and are now one week closer to meeting your little bundle of joy in person. You’re likely showing a little baby bump now, which is bound to get you some attention, especially from those who don’t yet know that you’re pregnant. 

With symptoms like morning sickness now a thing of the past, you should gear up for the rest of this trimester and the next one. This means maintaining your pregnancy diet and pregnancy exercise routine. You should make sure that you’re up-to-date with your obstetrician’s appointments and check ups during pregnancy. Ask your doctor if you need to get an ultrasound done as well. 

What you need to be most cautious of at this time of pregnancy are vaginal infections. If you notice any smelly vaginal discharge right now, you should contact your doctor and get a checkup done. Any kind of infection at this point can affect your wellbeing as well as that of your child, so it’s best to take ample care and get medical attention without any delays.

Your baby is developing rapidly inside you, with even some hair growth starting at this point. No, you won’t feel your baby kick yet, but be assured that he or she is indeed moving in the amniotic sac inside you. Here’s everything you need to know about the 15th week of pregnancy.

  1. Baby size and features at 15 weeks of pregnancy
  2. Changes in your body by the 15th week of pregnancy
  3. 15th week of pregnancy symptoms
  4. Complications in the 15th week of pregnancy
  5. Things you should do in the 15th week of pregnancy
  6. Takeaways for the 15th week of pregnancy

Your baby is now about 10.1 cm long from head to tiny toes, which is roughly the size of an apple. Your baby’s skin is quite thin, and if you could see him or her, you’d be able to see all the blood vessels below the skin too. Your baby has also grown a soft layer of hair, known as lanugo, all over the body and his or her eyebrows and eyelashes are also likely to be developing now. 

Your baby’s ears are developing externally now and this means his or her hearing is developing as well. His or her eyes will continue to remain firmly shut, but will be moving from side to side and are likely to be sensitive to light as well. Your baby’s bones are beginning to ossify - ossification is the natural process of bone formation - which suggests that if an X-ray were to be taken right now, your baby’s skeleton would be visible.

As your baby grows, your belly is likely to feel tighter as well as heavier. This is absolutely normal, and will continue to happen as your baby grows through the rest of this and the next trimester. You’re likely to get a jabbing pain around your belly, which is known as round ligament pain. 

This apart, your skin might feel a little itchy. This could be a simple side effect of your skin getting dry or could be because of a condition called obstetric cholestasis which affects the liver. Call your doctor if the itching gets worse or if it occurs at night. This apart, you should be extra-cautious about infections during pregnancy, especially fungal infections and vaginal infections.

Read more: What pregnant women need to know about COVID-19

It’s quite true that you will not be experiencing any morning sickness, but this does not mean that there will be no discomfort or any symptoms during this week. Pregnancy is a nine-month long journey, and there are bound to be a number of symptoms throughout this period at different stages. The following are some of the most common symptoms of the 15th week of pregnancy.

  • Round ligament pain: One of the most common complaints of the second trimester, this type of pain occurs in the lower belly. Round ligament pain is either located on one side or can be experienced all across the belly. 
  • Sore breasts: This is likely to happen due to your breasts getting ready for breastfeeding. You might have some colostrum discharge too.
  • Swollen gums: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your teeth and gums more vulnerable to plaque formation, which in turn can cause inflammation, bleeding gums and swollen gums
  • Stomach issues: Heartburn, indigestion, bloating and constipation are likely to occur in the second trimester, so eat healthy simply cooked meals.
  • Swollen limbs: Your hands and feet might swell up during this trimester, so make sure you drink enough water, get enough rest and exercise too.
  • Melasma: Some women might have melasmas during pregnancy, but it’s likely that the second and third trimesters are periods when you have glowing skin and shiny hair.
  • Headaches: You might experience some headaches due to the volume of blood being pumped in your body and because of the hormonal changes. You might also have nosebleed due to this issue.
  • Mood swings: With your hormone levels high, you’re likely to experience mood swings during the second trimester, especially an increase in sex drive.

Maintaining your health during the entire period of pregnancy is very important, but some complications can arise no matter what you do. The following are some complications that might show up during the 15th week of pregnancy and you should take every precaution you can against them.

  • Infections: Vaginal infections and urinary tract infections are quite likely to happen during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, and you should contact a doctor if you see any symptoms at all. Pregnant women might have a compromised immunity, so they should take precautions against bacterial infections, fungal infections and also viral infections like COVID-19.
  • Obstetric cholestasis: This condition is very rare during pregnancy, but Indian and Asian women are more at risk of obstetric cholestasis than Caucasian women. This condition affects the liver and can cause itching on the skin, especially during the night, due to the build-up of bile. If you see any symptom of this condition, contact your doctor immediately. 
  • Miscarriage: Although getting to the 14th week might indicate that your baby is growing well and the risk of a miscarriage has lowered, there’s still a chance that a miscarriage can happen upto the 20th week. A miscarriage, once started, cannot be stopped - and can be a huge trauma for women. Compulsory counselling of the pregnant woman should be done if she experiences a miscarriage.
  • Subchorionic hemorrhage: Since you aren’t supposed to experience any vaginal bleeding during the pregnancy, bleeding due to a subchorionic hemorrhage can be quite alarming. This type of hemorrhage can happen due to placental abruption, and you should consult your doctor immediately if any signs show up.
  • Hypertensive diseases: High blood pressure is never a good thing to have, but it can pose quite a number of difficulties during pregnancy. The list of hypertensive diseases which might plague you includes preeclampsia, eclampsia, gestational hypertension and chronic hypertension. You should take any and all of these very seriously and follow the treatment protocol recommended by your doctor.

The following are some of the things you must get done during the 15th week of your pregnancy:

  • Follow a healthy diet and maintain a good exercise routine during this week. These will help you stay fit and active and also ensure that your baby gets all the nutrition he or she needs.
  • Maintain contact with your obstetrician and follow the general rules and recommendations given by them. If you see any sign of an infection or any other complication, call your doctor immediately instead of delaying unnecessarily.
  • Your doctor might ask you to come in for more checkups or an ultrasound if you are carrying twins, have any genetic predisposition towards certain pregnancy complications, or are above 35 years of age. You might also have to get an alpha-fetoprotein test, amniocentesis, etc done to detect genetic defects in your baby like spina bifida.
  • Make sure you have your maternity bra and clothes sorted by week 15, because as your baby bump grows, you’ll need more comfortable clothes. 
  • Do not consume raw fish or meat and skip processed foods. These might cause salmonella and listeriosis.
  • Make sure you keep stress at bay, because this can add to your burden and harm your baby too. Meditate, practice yoga and engage in activities you enjoy to stay content.

The 15th week of pregnancy is a time when you should be comfortably settled in your role of mom-to-be. Take things easy while maintaining all the recommendations made by your doctor. If you’re a working woman, discuss maternity leave with your employer and get things at work sorted for the remainder of your gestational period. It’s important to remember the following things as well:

  • Communicate with your partner or spouse about your feelings, emotions and wellbeing and ask them about theirs as well. This is the best way to ensure that you both get the attention you need and are able to keep depression during pregnancy as well as postpartum depression at bay.
  • Don’t take any medications unless prescribed to you by the doctor. Sticking to the doses of recommended medications is also very important. 
  • Staying active is very important, but strenuous activities and hectic travel or work schedules should be avoided as your pregnancy progresses.
  • While it’s natural to get excited about the arrival of your baby and planning ahead is commendable, do not get the baby’s nursery or any part of the house painted during the second trimester. Paint fumes can be toxic, and high levels of exposure to it can also be harmful.
  • Avoid wearing heels and opt for comfortable shoes. As your pregnancy progresses, your belly weight will increase and you need proper support on your feet for it.
  • Get enough rest and sleep and make sure you keep stress and anxiety at bay. Meditate, go for walks, and make sure you stay happy.

References

  1. Start4Life. National Health Service [Internet]. Hertfordshire. UK; Week 15 – your second trimester
  2. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; You and your baby at 15 weeks pregnant
  3. American Pregnancy Association [Internet]. Irving, Texas, USA; Pregnancy Week 15
  4. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists [Internet]. London, United Kingdom; Obstetric cholestasis
  5. Pedroso, Celia. et al. Interstitial pregnancy rupture at 15 weeks of pregnancy. BMJ Case Rep. 2014; 2014: bcr2014203979. PMID: 25155486
  6. Mannini, Luca. et al. Spontaneous Unscarred Uterine Rupture at 15 Weeks of Pregnancy: A Case Report. Ochsner J. 2016 Winter; 16(4): 545–547. PMID: 27999515
  7. Bethune, Michael. et al. A pictorial guide for the second trimester ultrasound. Australas J Ultrasound Med. 2013 Aug; 16(3): 98–113. PMID: 28191183
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