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7 WEEKS, 2 DAYS

229 days to go...

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Your baby today

Your baby won't look recognizably human yet, but the lower lip and jaw are formed; the upper lip is not yet complete, and the mouth appears very wide. The external ears are developing low down at the jaw line and the eyes are wide apart.

Although your baby's brain is still very simply formed, it's undergoing some remarkable changes.

This is a really important stage of development for your baby. At this time, her brain is a hollow structure, which is joined to the spinal cord, but it's now starting to fold and form five distinct areas.

The lowest part, or hindbrain, is the first part to grow rapidly and will become structures known as the pons, medulla, and cerebellum. These structures are the most primitive areas of the brain and determine many basic actions that we do without conscious effort, such as breathing and keeping our balance.

Above this is the midbrain that conveys signals from the hindbrain, peripheral nerves, and spinal cord to the forebrain. This part of the brain consists of the thalamus-involved with emotions and sensory perception-and the two cerebral hemispheres, both quite smooth at this point. Each hemisphere contains a fluid-filled chamber and within that the cerebrospinal fluid is produced.

At the 11-14 week scan (see You are 11 Weeks and 2 Days), brain development checkups will be done to confirm that the baby has normal early cerebral development.

Ask A... Doctor

I'm eight weeks pregnant and have had some bleeding. Should I be concerned?

Bleeding in early pregnancy is common. If the bleeding is light, and not accompanied by abdominal cramping or pain, then it's unlikely that there is anything wrong. However, always consult your doctor if you have bleeding at any stage of pregnancy to rule out any complications.

Bleeding in early pregnancy can sometimes be due to a cervical ectropian, which is when the surface of the cervix becomes "raw." This results from hormonal changes and is not harmful to the baby. Sexual intercourse can aggravate a cervical ectropian, causing bleeding.

Bleeding in late pregnancy may be more serious since it can be due to the placenta partially, or totally, detaching from the wall of the uterus, known as placental abruption, or to a low-lying placenta. If you have a mucus discharge tinged with blood in late pregnancy, this may be a "bloody show" (see ... Doctor).

The dots that will form the eyes are clearly visible now. At the side of the head, the deep cleft can be seen between the front and back of the brain; this is normal at this stage.

As A Matter Of Fact

Fish really is brain food!

Research found that six-month-olds whose mothers had consumed high amounts of fish during pregnancy scored better in mental development tests. But only varieties low in mercury should be eaten (see Know your fish).

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Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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