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16 WEEKS, 3 DAYS

165 days to go...

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Your baby today

This 3D scan is taken from a viewpoint above the baby's head and looking over the shoulder, but since the baby is curled up the face cannot be seen. The placenta is to the right of the image, with the umbilical cord over the baby's arm.

While you're pregnant, it's even more important to find ways to relieve stress and keep any worries in perspective.

You may be pregnant and happy, but life goes on: you might still be working full time, as well as running a home, and you're bound to have stressful days and times when you feel you can't cope. And, of course, you're still contending with those challenging pregnancy hormones that can cause some emotional ups and downs.

Like many women, you may become stressed about the big changes that are going to happen, and worry about factors such as finances, whether you'll be a good mother, and how your relationship will change. It's important to keep worries in perspective and maintain an emotional balance because being stressed isn't good for your health or that of your baby.

Find ways to destress, as well as talking to others--your partner, friends, and doctor--about any concerns.

As A Matter Of Fact

A mother's stress can be transmitted to the fetus.

The level of the stress hormone cortisol in the amniotic fluid matches that in the mother's blood. Cortisol is thought to adversely affect fetal development.

Relieving stress

Learn to recognize the signs that you're stressed: you may feel your heart racing or a rise in your body temperature. When you know you're stressed, take action.

  • Identify the cause and try to keep it in perspective. Let go of the stress by breathing deeply and relaxing your muscles. Imagine blowing the stress away as you exhale.
  • Stay busy – sometimes having too much time to think can make you more stressed.
  • Go swimming: it's a great stress reliever and a fantastic way to stay in shape, too.
  • Take time to relax, especially if you have a lot on your mind or are juggling lots of things. Put your feet up, watch TV, read a book, or think about your growing baby.
  • Talk through your problems with your partner or a close friend. If you're worrying about any aspect of your health or how your baby is developing, seek reassurance from your doctor.
  • If work is an issue, be honest with your boss or the human resources department and they may be able to help. Your most important job right now is to nurture your baby.

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