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ultrasound of human fetus at 12 weeks and 2 days

Your baby today

In this ultrasound scan, the baby is seen floating in amniotic fluid, which provides plenty of space for him to move around in. Later in pregnancy, your baby will excrete waste products into the fluid, but his bladder is still tiny and kidney function not yet established.

The bag of amniotic fluid is your baby's home-it will keep him safe and free from infection until he is ready to be born.

Your baby is safely cushioned in the amniotic fluid. This surrounds him, gives him space to move and grow, and helps him maintain a constant temperature.

The volume of fluid is only 1 ml at seven weeks but is 25 ml by this stage of your pregnancy. In about six weeks' time there will be around 60 ml, with plenty of room for your baby to do lots of somersaults.

The amniotic fluid increases steadily until around 32 weeks of pregnancy, then stays constant until 37 weeks. It begins to reduce slightly thereafter by about 8 percent per week.

Further on in the pregnancy, waste products excreted in your baby's urine will be absorbed from the fluid back into your bloodstream. At 37 weeks, your baby will urinate an astonishing one quarter to one third of his body weight every day. Compare this with your own production of 2-3 percent body weight as urine.

Your temperature directly influences your baby's temperature. Temperature control is not an important requirement until later in pregnancy when your baby's high metabolic rate means that he needs to transfer heat to you in order to cool himself down.

Focus On... Nutrition

Iron-rich foods

If you're suffering from pregnancy fatigue, try boosting your intake of foods that are rich in iron. Eat plenty of:

  • Dark leafy green vegetables
  • Red meat
  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Legumes
  • Prune juice.

Vitamin C helps your body absorb more iron from your diet, so try drinking fresh orange juice with meals, and limit your intake of coffee and other caffeinated drinks: caffeine inhibits your body's ability to absorb iron.

iron-rich vegetables for prenatal diet

Ask A... Nutritionist

My appetite has come back, but how many calories should I be eating at this stage of my pregnancy?

Like many women, you're finding that the second trimester has brought relief from the discomforts of early pregnancy. As a result, you may have noticed you're less nauseous and have more of an appetite.

Caloric needs in the second trimester are approximately 2,100-2,500 calories per day, depending upon your level of physical activity. You shouldn't eat unlimited snacks, and when you do snack, opt for foods with nutritional value. For example, one banana has about 100 calories, and a handful (1 oz) of nuts about 170 calories. For a light 200-calorie snack, you can eat two pieces of whole-wheat toast spread with a small amount of butter and jam; a small bowl of cereal with skim milk; or a small can of soup with a slice of bread and butter.

If you're exercising regularly, you can of course increase your calorie intake without gaining excess weight.

excerpted from:

Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
Buy this book now!

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