During week 11 of your pregnancy, your baby is starting to look more like a baby - an actual human baby!
As with other earlier weeks, week 11 is no exception when it comes to rapid growth and huge developmental strides.
Your baby is not only busy growing but also moving around like a tiny acrobat. He or she is busy stretching and rolling around within your uterus.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a series of articles on pregnancy. It provides a summary of each stage of pregnancy, what to expect, and insights into how your baby is developing. Take a look at the other articles in the series:
You will also see introductions at the end of some sections to any recent developments that have been covered by MNT's news stories. Also look out for links to information about related conditions.
Symptoms at 11 weeks pregnant
At this stage of your pregnancy, you may continue to experience physical pregnancy symptoms such as:1,2
As your appetite begins to increase, you may find that you are craving particular foods or have an aversion to others.
- Increasing appetite with or without food cravings or food aversions
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue, although you may begin to feel more energetic
- Bloating, gas, constipation or heartburn
- Breast tenderness and changes
- Excessive saliva
- Faintness or dizziness
- You may begin showing a small baby bump.
While some women begin to notice their morning sickness is slowly starting to improve, some are not so lucky. If you are one of the lucky ones, you may notice that you are craving certain foods or experiencing certain food aversions. Either way, be sure you try to eat a balanced and healthy diet.
If you have begun to tell people that you are pregnant, you might be getting lots of hugs which may not feel so great. Your breasts may be feeling quite large and tender, so do not be caught off guard if your family and friends' best of intentions cause you some mild discomfort. Even though you may not have much of a pregnant belly, you may want to ask for a belly rub instead!
Be aware that pregnancy increases the risk of urinary tract infections from week 6 to week 24, so if your symptoms are not simply from the pregnancy and you suspect an infection, speak with a health care provider about treatment.3
Your hormones at 11 weeks pregnant
Throughout your pregnancy, you will experience variations in certain hormones that contribute to many of the pregnancy symptoms you experience. Following implantation of the fertilized egg, your body begins to secrete a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) - the hormone used to detect pregnancy.4 This hormone is also responsible for regulating estrogen and progesterone and contributes to frequent urination.4
Initially produced by the corpus luteum, progesterone rises throughout your pregnancy and continues to do so until the birth of your baby.4 In early pregnancy, progesterone is responsible for increasing uterine blood flow, establishing the placenta and stimulating the growth and nutrient production of the endometrium (lining of the uterus).4
Progesterone also plays a vital role fetal development, preventing premature labor and lactation, as well as strengthening the pelvic wall muscles to prepare your body for labor.4
Alongside progesterone, the placenta is vital in secreting vital hormones during your pregnancy such as:4
- Human placental lactogen: this hormone is believed to be responsible for mammary gland growth that will be important for lactation following the birth of your baby. Additionally, it plays a role in increasing nutrient levels in your blood, vital to the growth and development of your baby.
- Corticotrophin-releasing hormone: this hormone is not only responsible for determining how long you will be pregnant, but also for your baby's growth and development. Later in pregnancy, the rise in both corticotrophin-releasing hormone and cortisol both completes fetal organ development and provides the mother with a surge of cortisol that has been linked with maternal attentiveness, increasing the mother-baby bond.
Another vital hormone in pregnancy is estrogen, which is responsible for fetal organ development, placental growth and function and mammary gland growth.4 Additionally, estrogen is needed for regulation of other hormones produced during pregnancy.4
Because of the rise in progesterone and estrogen, you may experience some unpleasant pregnancy symptoms such as mood swings and morning sickness.4 Another hormone, relaxin, can cause physical symptoms such as pelvic pain, balance difficulties and constipation due of its role in relaxing maternal muscles, ligaments and joints.4
Genetic testing at 11 weeks pregnant
It is important to speak with your health care provider to determine if genetic testing and certain prenatal screening is right for you. Some prenatal screening tests can begin around 10 weeks gestation.5
From weeks 11-14, an ultrasound may be obtained to evaluate your baby's nuchal translucency - the amount of fluid behind the baby's neck.5 This is important in testing for some medical conditions that may affect your baby such as Down syndrome.5
There are three blood tests offered to women during their pregnancy to screen for a variety of genetic abnormalities including Down syndrome, Trisomy 18, and spina bifida.5
These tests include:5
- Sequential integrated screen: between weeks 10-13 and again during weeks 15-20, this screening test may be recommended to test the maternal blood for the six fetal proteins found in maternal blood circulation. This test is capable of identifying 92% of Down syndrome pregnancies. The first portion of the test is completed in combination with a nuchal translucency ultrasound (as mentioned above).
- Serum integrated screen: as in the sequential integrated screen, maternal blood is tested during weeks 10-13 and again during weeks 15-20 for the six fetal proteins found in maternal blood circulation. This test is capable of identifying 88% of Down syndrome pregnancies. The test is typically carried out in cases when the nuchal translucency ultrasound is unavailable.
- Quad marker screen: obtained during weeks 15-20, the quad marker screen tests maternal blood for four circulating fetal proteins. This test is capable of identifying 79% of Down syndrome pregnancies. Women who did not get the first portion of the serum and sequential tests (as above) are eligible to undergo this testing. This test is also the second test obtained during the sequential and serum screening tests.
Another test offered to women during this time of pregnancy, weeks 10-12, is chorionic villus sampling (CVS).5 CVS is typically offered to women who have other abnormal screening results, are aged 35 years or older, have a prior history of a chromosomal abnormality found in pregnancy or have a family history of certain genetic abnormalities.5
CVS is used to evaluate for genetic abnormalities such as Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis and certain chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome.5 This is not a blood test or an ultrasound screening method as discussed above. Instead, during this test, a sample of placental chorionic villi are removed and tested.5
Baby's development at 11 weeks pregnant
By the time you are 11 weeks pregnant, your baby's nasal passage is open and hair follicles have formed.
At 11 weeks pregnant, some of the rapid fetal developments underway include:1,2
- Head and neck: hair follicles form, head is the same length as his or her body
- Chest: nipples are visible
- Ears: shape is almost completely developed
- Mouth and nose: nasal passages are open, tongue present, tooth buds continue forming
- Limbs: hands and feet are now placed in front of his or her body with individual fingers and toes. Nail beds are developing. Bones start to become hard.
Lifestyle changes at 11 weeks pregnant
As with earlier weeks, you will soon find out there are many lifestyle modifications that need to be made during pregnancy and after delivery.
During pregnancy, you will need to take care of yourself and your developing baby. Be sure not to drink alcohol or smoke during pregnancy, and avoid all other toxic substances such as drugs during this time.6 Be sure to discuss all medications you are taking with your health care provider to ensure that you should continue use during your pregnancy.6
To nourish yourself and your baby, make sure you eat a healthy diet and take a good prenatal vitamin.6 Another way to maintain your health during pregnancy is to get regular exercise. Speak with your health care provider about your current or desired exercise regimen to make sure it is safe.
Everyone wants to look their best but using permanent hair color is not recommended during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Instead, consider using semi-permanent dye.3
While it is safe to eat fish during pregnancy, it is recommended that you limit your intake to 8-12 oz. of fish and shellfish per week.2,3,7 Some examples of fish that are safe to consume during pregnancy include shrimp, salmon, canned light tuna (note: mercury varies can to can), pollock, cod, catfish and anchovies.3,7 If you plan on eating albacore tuna and tuna steak, it is recommended that you limit consuming this fish to 6 oz. per week.2,7
Most importantly is to avoid eating shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel while pregnant, as they have high levels of mercury which can be harmful to your baby's brain and nervous system.2 If eating fish from a non-commercial source - a fish you or your family caught, for example - be sure to check with the local health authorities that the waters in which it was caught are safe.2
Always make sure your food is fully cooked and not raw or undercooked. Also avoid uncooked smoked or pickled fish.2 Additionally, it is important to avoid unpasteurized soft cheese, refrigerated pâté, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, cold cut deli meat, foods containing raw eggs (Caesar dressing, etc) and unpasteurized juice, milk and eggnog.2
Need a boost? Caffeine is OK during pregnancy but should be consumed in moderation. Try to keep your caffeine consumption from all sources at or below 300 milligrams daily.2
Baby's size at 11 weeks pregnant
At 11 weeks pregnant, your baby is the size of a fig.
Your baby is the size of a fig, measuring 1.5-2 inches in length.1,2
He or she will now weigh about a third of an ounce.
During this week, the baby's torso will be lengthening and its body will be straightening in posture. It will be able to stretch, roll and somersault inside the uterus.
If you have questions regarding your pregnancy, be sure to contact your health care provider.
Call your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage such as vaginal bleeding or passage of tissue, leaking vaginal fluid, feeling faint or dizzy, low blood pressure, rectal pressure, shoulder pain and severe pelvic pain or cramping.8