The first trimester comes to an end at the 11th week of pregnancy. Your baby is growing and changing every day, therefore, your placenta is located slightly higher than before. At the present time, your doctor may recommend prenatal screening as a part of regular pregnancy screenings. The screening test includes 3D or 4D ultrasounds and blood tests. The blood tests are required analysis that can detect whether your baby has any chromosomal abnormalities. 3D and 4D ultrasounds can show certain birth defects and it can present the appearance of your baby with more details.
The screening test is safe for both the baby and the mother. But the screening data aren’t the last phase of the screening. If the test detects some abnormalities, the mother should consult a geneticist. Besides the possible malformations and exact time of the birth, you can determine whether there is a multiple pregnancy.
The Ultrasound Scan
Ultrasound scanning is very important in a period of the 11th week. It brings you a lot of information on the status of the embryo. If it isn’t your first ultrasound during the pregnancy, you already know which is the procedure. But if it isn’t like that, in that case, you have to know that your doctor may suggest one of two modes, trans-abdominal or trans-vaginal modus of examination. If he suggests you the trans-abdominal modus, you would drink 2-3 glasses of water before the scanning. This allows your doctor to see a clear picture of your pregnancy development since the full bladder pushes the uterus higher which is more appropriate for the scan and gives the clearer picture. During the trans-vaginal ultrasound, it is expedient to have an empty bladder.
3D and 4D Ultrasound
3-D ultrasound is often very impressive to the parents. It can furnish us with a 3-dimensional image of what we are scanning. The transducer takes a series of images, thin slices of the baby, and the computer processes these images and presents them as a 3-dimensional image. The measurements of the baby are more accurate and your doctor can see a certain possible abnormality better as oppose to other scan methods. Smaller defects such as spina bifida, cleft lips/palate, and polydactyly may be more obviously demonstrated. Other features such as low-set ears, facial dysmorphia or clubbing of feet can be better assessed. The ability to obtain a good 3-D picture is dependent on:
- Operator’s skill,
- Amount of amniotic fluid around the fetus,
- Its position,
- The degree of maternal obesity.
3D/4D ultrasound is completely safe for both mother and the baby. The risks arising from the use of 3D/4D ultrasound are the possible diagnosis brought by inadequately trained personnel and due to poor equipment.
Baby develops rapidly, but he/she is still very small and you can see only some of the changes over the ultrasound. You will see everything on the screen of the ultrasound after which, the doctor will give you the printed image of your baby.
Growing. His/her length is about 6-8 cm and weighs about 10 g, but the twins aren’t more than 4 g of weight.
Sensory Organs. The growing skin forms a protective layer over your baby’s body, but it is still quite transparent because the blood vessels are easily visible through the translucent skin. The baby’s nerves develop to a point where it innervates his/her skin and muscles, thus the baby respond to external stimuli.
The nasal passages are growing at the top of the tiny nose. The tongue and palate also continue their growth from the last week while the tooth buds begin to form. The sense of smell is developing. Your baby has their first experiences of taste and smell inside the womb.
Limbs. The toes and fingers are almost fully developed by now while the nail beds are forming. You can see your baby kicking and moving those tiny hands and legs. The movements of the fetus have become more distinct.
Internal organs. The internal organs are growing together with your baby. Nutrient requirements are getting higher each day. The umbilical cord growths and increases in a number of its blood vessels as well as the amniotic fluid in volume to keep the baby safe. The blood supply system provides more nutrients and oxygen; therefore, the placenta will soon take over this role. The baby’s intestines are making vibrating movements to excrete the waste inside the amniotic fluid. The mother’s liver and kidneys work hard to process and throw out the baby’s waste from the mother’s body. Surrounded by amniotic fluid, your baby has learned to swallow.
You can hear your baby’s heartbeat and so you can see the chambers of his/her heart. His heart works the same way as the heart of an adult. It makes the blood circulate around the body. The formation of the baby’s immune system begins to form, as well. At this stage, the baby’s liver is growing faster than the other organs and takes up more space, almost 10% of the body.
Genitals. It will take a few more weeks for your doctor to determine the gender by an ultrasound. Although the genitals didn’t complete their development, they are starting with the production of testosterone (if the fetus is a male).
Head And Neck. The head is still disproportionately large, but the growing body will soon balance the difference. The neck is longer and stronger so that your baby can move around and lift the head. The forehead is broad while the ears are almost in their final position. The hair follicles continue with the growth.
With all the major organs in place, your baby is now set to gain weight and grow in size.
The Screening Test
The Screening Test includes the following measurements:
- PAPP-A (pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A blood test),
- Beta-hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin blood test),
- Nuchal translucency (measuring a collection of fluid under the skin at the back of your baby’s neck, by ultrasound).
These measurements can’t tell you for sure whether your baby has Down syndrome, but they can tell if the risk of your baby having Down syndrome is higher than usual. If your baby has a higher risk than usual of having Down syndrome, your doctor will suggest further testing, such as chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis. Those tests will help you get a definitive diagnosis.