The fetus weighs around 4 ounces (oz) and its facial features will be starting to take shape.
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 may find that symptoms are improving from the first trimester.
Symptoms may be calming a little from the first trimester. However, there may be some nausea left from the early weeks of pregnancy.
It is likely, however, that your appetite and energy are returning. If you are continuing to have nausea or vomiting, talk with your doctor about treatment options.
Week 15 of pregnancy can cause body aches and tingling sensations in the feet and hands. You will continue to gain weight and may notice that the skin around the nipples becomes darker.
Hormonal changes may be causing you to experience sensitive teeth and gums as well as nosebleeds. Bloating and growing pains are also common at week 15. Headaches can be common, and may be related to hormone changes in pregnancy.
If you have headaches which are not relieved with Tylenol, fluids and rest, you should see your doctor. You should especially seek medical care if you are experiencing any visual changes.
This is also the time during pregnancy where many women will start to experience weight gain.
Your baby now measures over 5 inches. They are the roughly the size of an orange. They are gaining weight and now weigh around 3 ounces.
The fetus is starting to experience light and sound for the first time.
The bones in its ears will be developing for the first time, and the fetus will be able to hear the sounds of your heart, digestive system, and voice. Even though the eyes of the fetus will remain closed, it will be able to sense and respond to light.
Week 15 will also see the fetus begin use of their arms and legs. Over the coming weeks, you may notice kicking and fidgeting.
A fetus will also be developing its grip at this stage and will be able to suck its thumb along with squinting and grimacing.
Things to do
Between weeks 15 and 18, certain tests can be done to rule out congenital abnormalities. These include non-invasive blood tests as well as amniocentesis. While this is the usual period during which amniocentesis occurs, it can be carried out at any time after your first trimester.
This is a test that involves drawing out in an injection some of the amniotic fluid that surrounds a fetus. This can help make sure that a fetus has the correct number of chromosomes and is not affected by chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down's syndrome and trisomy 13 and 18. Amniocentesis
Around three teaspoons (tbsp) of amniotic fluid is removed and tested. While amniocentesis does carry a risk of miscarriage, this is between 1 in every 500 and 1000 cases.
Genetic screening is often recommended in high-risk pregnancies, such as those in women over the age of 35 years. Your doctor will review with you the different blood tests available versus amniocentesis, and help you choose the option you are most comfortable with.
Lifestyle changes: Partner support
As with earlier weeks, you will soon find out that there are many lifestyle modifications that need to be made during pregnancy and even after delivery.
Avoiding alcohol, smoking, and all other toxic or illicit substances is vital. Make sure that your doctor is aware of any medications or supplements you may be taking. They may consider reducing the dosage or changing the type of medication you take if it is likely to interfere with the pregnancy.
It is also important to follow a balanced, nutritious diet during any stage of pregnancy, as well as placing a focus on staying active.
A supportive partner can be the difference between a stressful pregnancy and a healthful one.
The support of a partner can help ease the pregnancy process a great deal.
Bringing a child into the world can be a daunting challenge for both parties, but the mother carrying the fetus is also experiencing hormonal changes and a body whose shape and sensations change weekly.
While it is possible to have a perfectly safe pregnancy without a partner's input and support, the advantages for both mother and child of having the support of an involved, engaged partner are well-documented.
Women who are pregnant are more likely to give up dangerous behaviors, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, when their partner is involved. An infant also faces improved chances of being born at peak health, with lower rates of preterm birth and growth issues faced by infants whose mother's partners were more active in the pregnancy.
It is important to listen to your partner and offer support while they experience the mood swings that commonly accompany the first trimester.
While a woman will generally feel better during the second trimester, a partner can still get involved by attending antenatal classes with the mother and getting to grips with the rigors of delivery and early parenthood. Offering massages and warm baths can also help to relax an expectant mother.
Partners should also avoid smoking or drinking alcohol to support women during pregnancy.
It is also likely that partners are facing their own set of challenges. Perhaps they are having to work harder to supplement income in light of the new addition to the family, or are generally feeling nervous or anxious ahead of parenthood.
It can help to voice these concerns to either a close friend, midwife, or mental health professional if they become overwhelming, and this can, in turn, provide a clearer headspace for providing support to a woman who is pregnant.
At week 15 or a similar stage of pregnancy, a partner can take the following steps to remove some worry from the mother's experience, including:
- visiting the hospital to iron out practicalities, such as parking on the day of delivery, being in the room during labor, and whether you are allowed to document the birth
- installing a rear-facing car seat, which is a legal necessity for bringing an infant home from hospital
- receiving seasonal vaccinations to reduce the risk of transferring an infection to the baby
During labor, a partner should:
- provide distractions, such as playing games or putting on her favorite movie or TV show
- go on short walks with her, unless bed rest has been advised
- time the contractions
- give back and shoulder massages between contractions
- provide emotional support and encouragement as labor becomes more intense
A supportive partner should step in during any bouts of postpartum depression. These can be very common amongst new parents. Showing understanding and making the arrangements for any professional help she may need can help a great deal, as can listening when needed.
The partner may also experience postpartum depression, and it is important to be open about such feelings. In some cases, the partner may also need professional intervention for help remaining in a positive emotional state and supporting the new mother and infant.
Contact your healthcare provider with any urgent queries about your pregnancy, or if any surprising symptoms occur, such as:
- vaginal bleeding or passage of tissue
- leaking vaginal fluid
- faintness or dizziness
- low blood pressure
- rectal pressure
- shoulder pain
- severe pelvic pain or cramping
Follow this series for the most up-to-date and relevant advice on your journey through pregnancy.