Your growing baby now measures about 4 inches long, crown to rump, and weighs in at about 2 1/2 ounces (about the size of an apple). She’s busy moving amniotic fluid through her nose and upper respiratory tract, which helps the primitive air sacs in her lungs begin to develop. Her legs are growing longer than her arms now, and she can move all of her joints and limbs. Although her eyelids are still fused shut, she can sense light. If you shine a flashlight at your tummy, for instance, she’s likely to move away from the beam. There’s not much for your baby to taste at this point, but she is forming taste buds. Finally, if you have an ultrasound this week, you may be able to find out whether your baby’s a boy or a girl! (Don’t be too disappointed if it remains a mystery, though. Nailing down your baby’s sex depends on the clarity of the picture and on your baby’s position. He or she may be modestly curled up or turned in such a way as to “hide the goods.”)
At 15 weeks, the bones in your baby’s ear that are responsible for hearing are developing, and her taste buds are sprouting, too. From now on, she’ll get a flavor of whatever you eat via the amniotic fluid. One study shows that unborn babies swallow more amniotic fluid if it tastes sweet, and less if it’s bitter. Pass the cookies!
This week sees a period of rapid growth, with your baby starting to lay down fat under her skin. Her sex organs are maturing, and a highly skilled ultrasound technician might be able to tell the sex at this point. She’s also gaining more control of her movements. Scans at this stage have shown babies playing with the umbilical cord, snuggling up to the wall of the uterus, apparently for comfort, and even fighting with a twin. Your baby will probably get regular bouts of hiccups from now on, which help her lungs prepare for breathing.
What’s happening to you?
Your placenta is now 1 centimeter thick and 7 to 8 centimeters in diameter, and you’re carrying around a paper cup full of amniotic fluid. Your body is producing large amounts of estrogen, which can have weird side effects, such as darkening the pigmentation of your skin. You may notice a dark line running from your belly button down (linea nigra), as well as darker nipples and more prominent moles and freckles. Stretch marks might crop up around now, too. On the positive side, those same hormones tend to make your hair and nails grow longer and look healthier. Yes, you’re blooming at last.
What’s normal, what’s not?
As your bump grows and your center of gravity shifts, you’re likely to develop backache, especially if you stand for long periods. Work on your posture, dropping your shoulders, tucking your bottom in and tightening your abs. And ditch the heels for flats. But severe pain around the lower back and pelvic area can be a sign of pelvic girdle pain, a pregnancy-related condition that occurs when the joints of your pelvis become misaligned. In extreme cases it can leave you virtually immobile, so speak to your doctor. A support belt may help.
Your to-do list:
If you’re planning to have the blood test (serum screening) to screen for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, make sure to tell your doctor. It needs to be done at around 16 weeks.
Wow! Did you know…
Your baby can suck her thumb already, and scientists think that her preferred sucking thumb is an indication of whether she’ll be left- or right-handed later in life.
Baby’s now the size of a naval orange!
Continuing the march toward normal proportions, baby’s legs now out-measure his arms. And, finally, all four limbs have functional joints. Your fetus is squirming and wiggling like crazy down in the womb, though you probably can’t feel the movements just yet.
Your Baby in Week 15 of Pregnancy
One way to deal with the havoc of pregnancy hormones: Focus on how much is happening with your baby. She’s about the size of an orange this week, her ears have migrated to the sides of her head, and her eyes are moving to the front of her face. Plus, your little smarty-pants can now wiggle her fingers and toes and make breathing movements in preparation for life outside the womb.