Your baby at 15 weeks
Your baby is getting ready for his close-up this week. He's developing cheekbones and if he's going to have dark hair, then the hair follicles will soon start making the pigment responsible for the colour.
Here are a few more ways in which he's getting camera-ready during week 15:
His little ears and firmly shut eyes have almost reached their final positions although his ears are still a bit low
He seems to squint in the light sometimes because, although his eyes are still shut, he can already see light through his eyelids. If you shine a torch onto your tummy he'd probably move away from the beam inside the womb
He's more in proportion: his legs are now longer than his arms, making him look less like a gorilla
All that muscle and bone development has finally paid off and he's grown a little baby fist, perfect for sucking, brandishing and generally waving about
The little bones in the inner ear start to harden so they can vibrate and transmit sounds – this week he starts to hear and will be eavesdropping on the sound of your heart beating and tummy gurgling and the whooshing of blood. Your uterus is a noisy place but sounds are muffled by the amniotic fluid. As his hearing improves, he will be able to hear your voice and other sounds outside the uterus. By the time he is born he will recognise your voice
He has pretty sophisticated taste buds, too, and if he were able to have conscious thought (which he doesn't) he would recognise flavours in the amniotic fluid he gulps down as he practises swallowing. Amniotic fluid can taste of onions, curry, garlic, cumin… almost anything strong-tasting you eat
Your upcoming ultrasound might be able to reveal the sex of your baby, but there's also a chance it won't – it's all about the clarity of the image, and your baby might be positioned in such a way that you just won't be able to tell
What size is your baby at 15 weeks?
At 15 weeks your baby is around 10cm long and weighs about 70g – about the same size as an orange.
Pregnancy symptoms in week 15
The glamour simply never stops. Here are some of the pregnancy-related symptoms you might spot in week 15:
Thrush in pregnancy
Thrush deserves a special mention of its own because it's extremely common in pregnancy. It causes itching and soreness around the vagina and vulva, redness, white discharge that can look like cottage cheese (but doesn't smell), and it may hurt when you have sex or pass urine because the area around your urethra gets inflamed.
Thrush treatment in pregnancy
As you're pregnant, it's important to see a doctor or pharmacist before using thrush treatments.
You will usually be given a cream or tablet, which you insert into the vagina via a pessary, containing clotrimazole or another antifungal drug – but fluconazole, the most common antifungal tablet used to treat the condition, should not be taken if you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding.
Is thrush a sign of pregnancy?
One of the earliest signs and symptoms of pregnancy is the increased vaginal discharge mentioned previously, which is usually milky white or thick white, but can also be clear. This is due to a fluctuation in hormone levels, and unlike thrush there is usually no soreness, irritation or redness.
However, the increased cervical mucus can cause thrush – pregnancy hormones make the vagina less acidic, so this yeast-like fungus, which is already in the vagina in small amounts, can get a foothold.
Can thrush harm my baby during pregnancy?
If you do have thrush when your baby is born, there's a chance your new arrival might catch it – but the condition is easily treatable, so you have nothing to worry about.
Almost 90% of pregnant women get stretch marks so you're in good company if you find yourself afflicted by these vivid red marks running down your abdomen, thighs, bottom and elsewhere.
Stretch marks are caused by the layer of collagen under the skin tearing as your skin stretches over your growing body. It starts early in pregnancy on breasts and then your abdomen, hips and thighs.
The risk of stretch marks is partly genetic and also age-related – as older people may have less elastic skin. If you're an older mum and pregnant, you may be more likely to be struck with the stretch mark stick.
Despite the promises made on the back of many a tube of lotion, they are not treatable – no cream can reverse them, but time will make their redness fade. Gaining weight gradually can help avoid them.
Also known as nasal congestion or a blocked, runny nose, non-allergic rhinitis is inflammation caused by swollen blood vessels and a build-up of fluid in the tissues of the nose, blocking the nasal passages and stimulating the mucus glands in the nose. This is caused by hormone imbalances typical in pregnancy.
The condition isn't harmful, but it can be extremely irritating. Check with your GP or pharmacist before taking any medications – such as a nasal spray containing corticosteroids, which can take a few weeks to work.
Rinsing your nasal passages may also help, either with a homemade solution or one purchased from a pharmacy, as well as avoiding certain irritants.
How is your body changing at 15 weeks pregnant?
If you aren't feeling quite as 'blooming' as you've been promised, try not to feel worried (though you have full permission for feeling pretty peeved). The bloom of pregnancy is more likely to touch you than not, but it can take a while to glow and some women can blink and miss it.
Your burgeoning bump is suddenly becoming much more obvious to you. You'll find yourself unable to squeeze through quite such small gaps and may find you need to move your car seat back slightly from the steering wheel. It's also worth remembering to put the lap part of your seat belt safely under your bump when you're driving, rather than on top. In the event of an accident, your bump will be better protected.
You may have noticed for a few weeks that you are haunted by an annoying discharge that is not smelly but is still white and a bit messy. This comes from the more rapid turnover of cells lining your vagina, mixed with normal vaginal moisture. This mixture is thought to protect your vagina – the point of entry to your foetus – from harmful bacteria. But if this discharge is tinged with blood, becomes watery, turns greenish and starts to smell, see your antenatal team quite quickly. You could have an infection and that needs dealing with swiftly in pregnancy.
Things to think about during week 15 of pregnancy
The excitement of being newly pregnant is over but meeting your baby is still an awfully long way off. Here are some useful ways to keep yourself busy during week 15:
Announcing your pregnancy
If you haven't told people your baby news yet, you might be thinking about doing it soon (or not, which is absolute fine too). Either way, prepare yourself to be on the receiving end of some bloody annoying weird comments:
Meet some new friends with bump-benefits
It's a little early yet to start antenatal classes, though it's worth signing up for them as they can get booked up in many areas. But it's never too early to meet friends locally at the same stage of pregnancy as you.
To your non-pregnant friends, endless bump talk and worry about aches and pains can get just a little tedious after a while, so having a small group you can endlessly compare notes with along the way is a good move
Pelvic floor exercises
When's the best time to start doing pelvic floor exercises? Now! The muscles at the base of your pelvis support your uterus, bladder and bowel, but during pregnancy and labour those muscles are really put through their paces and start to find it hard to do their job. Exercises which strengthen the pelvic floor can help you during childbirth and when recovering after. They can even improve your sex life.
How to do pelvic floor exercises:
Empty your bladder
Tighten and relax the muscles around your urethra first (these are hardest to really feel you're tightening), then the vagina and finally your anus
Hold them tight together for 10 seconds. You should feel you are really lifting these muscles up. Repeat 10 times and get faster as you do them
Do them up to the birth and afterwards (ideally forever)
During your pregnancy, you might be offered amniocentesis, a test to find out if your baby has a genetic or chromosomal condition – Down's, Edwards' or Patau's syndrome. This will only happen if there's a higher chance your baby could have a genetic condition (eg history).
The test usually takes place between the 15th and 20th weeks of pregnancy, and it involves extracting and testing cells from the amniotic fluid – a needle is inserted through your abdominal wall and into the amniotic sac that surrounds the foetus. The entire consultation may take about 30 minutes, and the procedure itself should only last around 10 – and it's more uncomfortable than painful.
You are under no obligation to take the test if you don't want to and are well within your rights to refuse. You will be given the results within three working days , but rarer conditions can take three weeks or longer for the results to come through.
If your test reveals that your baby does have a genetic or chromosomal condition, your health provider will discuss all of the options with you.
What Mumsnetters say
''Cool-washing – it works wonders.''
“Yoghurt puts back the gut flora you need for a healthy system. Slap it on your floojy, too, to address the current crisis, but address the underlying cause and eat (plain) yoghurt every day.”
''Sit on a bag of frozen peas.''
''Cotton undies help.''
''A few drops of tea tree oil in some warm water applied to the affected area should do the trick. It is a very powerful antifungal (as well as having the antibacterial properties everyone knows about), so very effective against thrush. Doing this solved the problem very rapidly indeed.''