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15 WEEKS, 4 DAYS

171 days to go...

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Your baby's skin is still transparent and there is little fat lying beneath it at this stage of the pregnancy.

Your baby's skin is made from three layers. The outer layer is the epidermis, and beneath this lie the dermis layer, and the subcutaneous layer. The epidermis started as a single layer of cells but is now three or four cells thick. The most superficial layer of epidermal cells flatten but do not harden until much later.

The dermis is made from connective tissue comprising collagen (90 percent) and elastin fibers that allow for stretch and resistance. Within the dermis are blood vessels and nerves that support the epidermis and provide sensory feedback. At first, the junction between the dermis and epidermis is smooth, but increasingly dermal ridges form and it becomes irregular.

At the same time your baby starts to develop hair follicles. There is no significant subcutaneous fat present at this stage and the skin is almost transparent. Fat plays a part in temperature control and acts as a barrier to the passage of water. These barriers are not yet in place so the skin is still very permeable.

As A Matter Of Fact

Low-dose aspirin may reduce the risk of preeclampsia in women at the highest-risk.

Some research has shown that mothers who previously had severe early preeclampsia who take low-dose aspirin (81 mg daily) can lower their risk of getting it again. But don't use aspirin unless directed by your doctor, since it can cause serious side effects.

Focus On... Dads

The "goddess" within

Your partner may have mixed feelings about her changing shape. She may at times appear to be a "pregnant goddess" who enjoys the fact that she's carrying a child. After all, there is nothing more female than being able to conceive and give birth. When she feels positive about this, she may seem strong and content.

However, at other times, rather than loving her belly she may feel down about gaining weight and losing her body shape. When some fashion magazines show extremely thin women as a symbol of "beauty," it is little wonder that the arrival of the belly can trigger a number of conflicting feelings in a pregnant woman, making her sometimes doubt her looks and knocking her self-esteem.

You can help your partner by steering her toward her more positive "goddess" side and reassuring her about her looks. It helps to remind her that what she's doing is amazing and that you think she's absolutely gorgeous.

Boost her self-esteem: as her body changes shape, make her feel beautiful and wanted.
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Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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