Bodily changes and choices – farting, burping and screening
Week 11: your morning sickness is probably on the wane, your appetite is on the up and you’re beginning to share your news with the world at just the time your pregnancy is beginning to show.
Showing or not showing
Even if you aren’t yet beginning to ‘show’ you can be sure that your tummy is indeed slowly swelling and your trousers are incrementally tightening – if you don’t have them already, you will soon need some maternity clothes.
In fact, even if you are not yet showing fully, there is chance that your tummy is doing a good part-time impression of a pregnancy bump. Yes, bloating is real feature of pregnancy. This happens because progesterone relaxes the muscles of your gastrointestinal tract, slowing your metabolism and increasing your body’s scope for absorbing vital nutrients, which are then passed on to the baby.
This is, of course, a positive, but when you are bloated and gassy with an uncomfortable feeling of trapped wind in your abdomen, it may not always feel that way. Unfortunately, things are not going to get any more comfortable any time soon: as your uterus enlarges your stomach and intestines are going to have to try to accommodate the growing foetus and this will only increase discomfort.
Fortunately though, your baby will be blissfully ignorant of all this squeezing and discomfort. In fact, it is probably enjoying all the warmth and noise involved – there is no cosier place a human can reside.
Finishing school for pregnant women: snoring, burping and passing wind
Of course, all that bloating inevitably comes with a punch-line: farting and burping. Don’t feel any shame though; this is a normal part of pregnancy. If you are experiencing too much worry or discomfort though you could try to limit your intake of wind-producing foods such as sweets, raisins, melons and pasta. You could also try limiting your intake of beans, broccoli and lentils although these are such well-rounded sources of vital nutrients that you need to be careful before making any decisions to cut them out.
Another thing you might have to get used to is snoring – time to get your own back on your partner perhaps? Studies have found that around a quarter of women snore during pregnancy, with the incidence and frequency of snoring increasing at the point of the third trimester.
Although doctors can’t fully explain why snoring increases during pregnancy, it is thought that increased oestrogen levels cause swelling of mucous membranes while increased blood volume can also cause blood vessels in the nasal membranes to expand.
Baby’s health – chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
It is around week 11 (weeks 10 to 13) that you might be offered Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) – a type screening procedure undertaken if there’s a higher than normal chance of you having a baby with a genetic disorder.
CVS is offered only if a previous screening or your family’s medical background indicate that the chances are raised – it is up to you to decide whether you wish to proceed.
CVS can help diagnose all of the following:
- Down’s syndrome
- Edward’s syndrome and Patau’s syndrome – these conditions increase the chance of miscarriage, stillbirth, learning difficulties and physical malformations
- Cystic fibrosis
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy – a condition characterised by muscular degeneration weakness and disability
- Thalassaemia – a condition causing anaemia, inhibited growth and reduced organ function
- Sickle-cell anaemia – a condition affecting the red blood cells’ ability to carry oxygen
- Phenylketonuria – a condition that affects the brain
Parents who are offered CVS will have to assess the risks and benefits involved and should discuss these in detail with their doctor and/or midwife.
Not only can CVS diagnose conditions, but in parents with a history or certain risk-factors, it can also provide valuable reassurance for parents who might otherwise spend the whole pregnancy worrying about the health of their unborn child.
However, it is important to remember that there is a 1-2% chance that the procedure might induce a miscarriage. Also, there are alternative tests available – for example, amniocentesis, which is usually performed between week 16 and week 18 of your pregnancy, but this carries its own set of risks and you should weigh up your options carefully before you proceed.
Only by talking these things through can you arrive at the decision that is right for you.