During week 13 of your pregnancy, your baby's organ systems continue to mature and develop. As with other earlier weeks, week 13 sees rapid growth and huge developmental strides.
In addition to fetal growth and development, your placenta is growing and now weighs approximately 1 ounce. You can expect to have a 1-2 pound placenta when the baby is born.
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Symptoms at 13 weeks pregnant
During this time, you may begin to experience physical symptoms such as heartburn.
At this stage of your pregnancy, you may continue to experience physical pregnancy symptoms such as:
- Breast changes and tenderness
- Heartburn or gas
- Food cravings and/or aversions
- Heartburn, indigestion, or constipation
- Visible veins
- Needing to pee more often
- Pain or discomfort when going
- Sudden urge to pee
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Cloudy, foul-smelling, or bloody urine
- Feeling unwell, achy, and tired
- High temperature
- Shivering or chills
If you experience these symptoms, speak with a doctor about treatment.
Your hormones at 13 weeks pregnant
Throughout your pregnancy, you will experience variations in certain hormones that contribute to many of pregnancy's symptoms. Following implantation of the fertilized egg, your body begins to secrete a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) - the hormone used to detect pregnancy. This hormone is also responsible for regulating estrogen and progesterone and contributes to frequent urination.
By the time you are 13 weeks pregnant, your baby's salivary glands have started functioning.
Initially produced by the corpus luteum (the remainder of the follicle left after ovulation), progesterone rises throughout your pregnancy and continues to do so until the birth of the baby.
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).
Progesterone also plays a crucial role in fetal development, preventing premature labor and lactation, as well as strengthening the pelvic wall muscles to prepare your body for labor.
In addition to progesterone, the placenta secretes other vital hormones such as:
- 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 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. Additionally, estrogen is needed for the regulation of other hormones produced during pregnancy.
Because of the rise in progesterone and estrogen, you may experience some unpleasant pregnancy symptoms such as mood swings. Another hormone, relaxin, can cause physical symptoms such as pelvic pain, balance difficulties, and constipation due to its role in relaxing maternal muscles, ligaments, and joints.
Genetic testing at 13 weeks pregnant
It is important to speak with your doctor to determine if genetic testing and certain forms of prenatal screening are right for you. Some prenatal screening tests can begin around 10 weeks gestation.
From weeks 11-14, an ultrasound may be obtained to evaluate your baby's nuchal translucency - the amount of fluid under the skin behind the baby's neck; this is important in testing for some medical conditions that may affect your baby such as Down syndrome.
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.
These tests include:
- 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. This test is capable of identifying 92 percent of Down syndrome pregnancies.
- Serum integrated screen - as in the sequential integrated screen, maternal blood is tested during weeks 10-13 and again during weeks 15-20 for six fetal proteins. This test is capable of identifying 88 percent of Down syndrome pregnancies. This test is typically carried out in cases where a 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 percent 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.
Baby's development at 13 weeks pregnant
At 13 weeks pregnant, your baby is the size of a peach.
At 13 weeks pregnant developments that are underway include:
- Head and neck - salivary glands start functioning, and vocal cords continue to develop
- Heartbeat - the heartbeat can now be heard with an external Doppler
- Chest - lungs continue to mature, amniotic fluid is inhaled and exhaled
- Abdomen - spleen and liver remove old red blood cells and produce antibodies, intestines continue to migrate from umbilical cord to the abdomen
- Pelvis - sex organs fully visible
- Limbs - arms proportional with increasingly functional hands, though legs remain short
- Skin - sweat glands are present, body hair is growing, muscles and nervous system are maturing
- Other - bone marrow is producing white blood cells; the pituitary gland is manufacturing hormones
Baby's size at 13 weeks pregnant
Around 2.5 inches, your baby is now about the size of a peach.
His or her head is becoming more in balance with the rest of the body, with its size making up about one-third of its overall frame.
Your baby can move their arms and may now be able to put their thumb in their mouth.
Lifestyle changes at 13 weeks pregnant
As with earlier weeks, 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. Be sure to discuss all medications you are taking with your doctor to check that you should continue use during pregnancy.
To nourish yourself and your baby, make sure you eat a healthy diet and take a good prenatal vitamin. Another way to maintain your health during pregnancy is to get regular exercise. Speak with your doctor about your current or desired exercise regimen to make sure it is safe.
While it is safe to eat fish during pregnancy, it is recommended that you limit your intake to 8-12 ounces of fish and shellfish per week.
Some 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.
If you plan on eating albacore tuna and tuna steak, it is recommended that you limit consuming this fish to 6 ounces per week.
Avoid eating shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel while pregnant, as they contain high levels of mercury, which can be harmful to your baby's brain and nervous system. 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.
Always make sure your food is fully cooked and not raw or undercooked. Also, avoid uncooked smoked or pickled fish. 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.
Caffeine is OK during pregnancy but should be consumed in moderation. Try to keep caffeine consumption from all sources at or below 200 milligrams daily.
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, or severe pelvic pain or cramping.
This Medical News Today Knowledge Center feature is part of a series of articles on pregnancy. Take a look at the other articles in the series: