7 weeks

Now about half an inch / 1.25 centimetres long, the size of a grape, the embryo has distinct, slightly webbed fingers and toes. It’s a jumping bean, moving in fits and starts. The liver is churning out large amounts of red blood cells until the bone marrow forms and takes over this role.

fetal development at 7 weeksThe eighth week marks the beginning of a very busy developmental stage. Between now and 20 weeks, your baby will be growing rapidly, and body parts that formed in the first few weeks of life (such as the heart and brain) will become more specialised and complicated. Right now, the teeth and palate are forming, while the ears continue to develop. The fetus’ skin is paper thin, and veins are clearly visible.

You’re in the throes of the first trimester, when many women complain of common pregnancy aches and pains. Keeping food down may be next to impossible, thanks to morning sickness, caused in part by the pregnancy hormones in your body. You may also need to urinate a lot more often than usual — your growing uterus is pressing on your bladder, and hormones are affecting the balance of fluid in your body. All will diminish as your pregnancy continues.

Exercise is good for you. Check out our fitness section to find out what forms of exercise are safe during pregnancy.

8 weeks

Congratulations — your embryo is now called a fetus, which means “little one.” Your uterus expands to accommodate its new resident, which now measures approximately 0.6 inch / 1.6 centimetres. Many changes take place this week — the embryonic tail is gone, and all organs, muscles, and nerves are beginning to function. The hands now bend at the wrist, and the feet begin to lose their webbed appearance. Eyelids are beginning to cover the eyes.

fetal development at 8 weeksYour pregnancy is changing your figure as well. Your breasts may have grown large enough that you’ll need bigger bras with better support than your old ones. You may notice your waistline expanding as well, forcing you to pack away your favourite jeans until next year. If you drink plenty of fluoridated water — eight glasses or more a day — you should be getting enough fluoride so calcium and phosphorus will bond well in your baby’s developing teeth and bones.

Now’s a good time to check out your maternity rights so you can plan ahead.

9 weeks

By the tenth week of pregnancy, you may find yourself riding pregnancy’s emotional roller coaster, feeling moody one day and joyful the next. Disturbing as this is to some women who pride themselves on being in control, what you’re going through is normal and will probably continue throughout your pregnancy. Up-and-down emotions are partly caused by raging hormones.

fetal development at 9 weeksAt week’s end, your fetus measures approximately 0.9 inches / 2.3 centimetres long. In both shape and size, it resembles a peapod and weighs less than a tenth of an ounce / 2 grams. The eyelids are fused and won’t open until week 27. The wrists are more developed, ankles have formed, and the fingers and toes are clearly visible. Arms are growing longer and bend at the elbows. By week’s end, the inner workings of the ears are complete. Though you can’t yet identify the sex of the fetus by ultrasound, its genitals have begun to form. By now the placenta has developed enough to support most of the critical job of producing hormones.

You will soon need to make decisions about antenatal screening, and we have a complete guide to antenatal tests. If you’re over 35 or have a family history of genetic illness, you may want to consider a chorionic villus sampling (CVS), an antenatal test usually carried out between ten and 12 weeks that screens for birth defects and abnormalities.

10 weeks

The fetus is only about 1.2 inches / 3 centimetres long from crown to rump and weighs less than a sixth of an ounce / 4 grams. Even so, it’s busily swallowing and kicking. Each day more minute details start to appear, such as fingernails and peach-fuzzy hair.

fetal development at 10 weeksThe vital organs — the liver, kidneys, intestines, brain, and lungs — are fully formed and functional, while the head is almost half the length of the entire body. The forehead temporarily bulges and sits high on the head, but later will change into a more human-like feature.

If you could take a look at your baby this week, you’d be able to see the clear outline of his spine. Spinal nerves stretch out from the spinal cord.

Your uterus is now the size of a grapefruit. With the help of a Doppler, a hand-held soundwave stethoscope, you can hear the fetus’s rapid heartbeat — one expectant mother likened it to the sound of tiny horses galloping.

You will soon have your booking-in appointment where your blood will be taken for routine tests. Find out what they are testing for .

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