Your baby – getting brainier by the minute
As you progress through these early stages of your pregnancy you are hopefully, by now, pretty certain you are indeed pregnant and it is also likely that you will have had a little time for the gravity and excitement to sink in.
Although you may not notice any significant physical changes in your body just yet, rest assured, there is a huge amount going on inside you and the embryo is growing so fast that it could almost be said to be exploding into life.
The tiny being inside you may be just that, tiny, but throughout your pregnancy, measurements will be used to check the gestational age of your baby and its expected date of delivery. At this early stage, the crown rump length is a standard measure taken from the top of your baby’s head to the bottom of its spine (as the growing fetus will be curled up for some time) and this continues to be used as an accurate measurement until week 14.
At around week 7 the crown to rump length of your baby is likely to be between 1 and 1.4 centimetres long. This might seem like not very much. But put it into perspective and it is rather startling: just 7 weeks ago your child was 10,000 times smaller than it is now and if it continued to grow at the same exponential rate, in another seven weeks it would be around 1,400 metres long –
Meaning by the end of your pregnancy you would actually be larger than the earth we inhabit. Don’t worry though although you’re going to get big and at times may feel that you are approaching the planetary scale, you’re not going to reach quite such cosmic proportions.
One reason that your child is not going to grow to such gargantuan size is the sheer amount of detailed growth that is going on right now. For example, blood vessels, tooth buds, tongue and fingers and toes are all forming – although fingers and toes remain webbed at this stage – while red blood cells are being directed towards the production of essential bone marrow.
Also, over the coming two to three months, your baby’s major organs will develop at an astonishing rate. Your baby is literally becoming brainier by the minute, producing more than 100 new brain cells every sixty seconds.
Seek help if…
The good news is that 95% of pregnancies in which a fetal heartbeat is identified at week 7 will continue to full term.
However, there are of course things that you should worry about. For example, vaginal bleeding or spotting is common at this time of pregnancy, but it can also be due to another factor such as miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, particularly if accompanied by high levels of pelvic or abdominal pain. As such, consult your health practitioner in the event you have any concerns about bleeding.
Fortunately, the NHS is generally very good when it comes to promptly investigating vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, with scans and blood tests routinely offered to women experiencing any difficulty. If your bleeding is heavy or you feel acutely unwell – for example, you pass out – you should find your way to Accident and Emergency as a matter of urgency.
Private pregnancy care – is it worth it?
We are incredibly lucky in the UK to have a free, efficient and largely reliable National Health Service. However, and despite this, some parents do choose to “go private” when considering antenatal and labour care. But what is the value in this?
Private maternity care offers many possibilities not available on the NHS, from heavier and more continuous involvement from a private midwife to 3D and 4D scans. There are other reasons parents-to-be might choose private antenatal and maternity care. These include:
- Negative experience or perception of the NHS
- A wish to know more – for example more detailed gender testing
- Gender selection service
- A wish for extra care and reassurance
- Concerns about poor underlying maternal health
- Additional health testing
- Dislike of the NHS hospital environment
- The wish to have a home birth in areas where the NHS cannot help with this
- The wish to have a private postnatal suite rather than a shared postnatal ward
Private maternity care throughout pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period can vary in cost from around £2,000 to as much as £10,000 or even £20,000, depending on the extend of care required.
It is also possible to “mix and match” by combining private with NHS care. However, bear in mind that if you do this, your private midwife is likely to be afforded the status of “birth partner” rather than midwife if you then decide to have your child in an NHS hospital.
What you decide is up to you and your partner. But don’t worry if you feel you’d like the option of private care but lack the means, the NHS is one of the world’s leading health institutions, so you’re in safe hands.