Women's  Healthcare Topics is a website about pregnancy and your newborn baby.

Pregnancy: Week 11

Mom's Pregnancy Changes and Symptoms

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.
Learn about your symptoms and changes during the 11th week of pregnancy.

Are you feeling better? In the last weeks of the first trimester, many pregnant women get some much needed relief from their morning sickness and fatigue. If you're still feeling nauseous, don't worry. It won't be too long before you start to feel better. Hormonal levels tend to level off in the second trimester of pregnancy, so look forward to that!

Your Growing Belly is Showing
By now you probably look a little pregnant. While you may not be showing a lot, especially if this is your first baby, the people around you might start to notice your growing belly. If you've been pregnant before, you will start showing much earlier due to your relaxed abdominal muscles. You will also show earlier if you are carrying twins or multiples.

As you continue your pregnancy, your uterus is expanding every day. At 11 weeks pregnant it is probably peeking out just above the midpoint of your pelvis. When your uterus grows past the middle part of your public bone, you will finally "pop" out to the point where you may need to start considering maternity clothing.

If you're tall, you may not look pregnant for quite some time. Many tall women find that it takes a bit longer before they start showing. While this can be frustrating to some, other women see it as a blessing, especially those who prefer to keep their pregnancy hidden until they have passed the first trimester.

Hair and Nails
Faster growing hair and nails are common experiences in pregnancy. Many pregnant women won't notice the growth of their hair and nails until closer to the third trimester, but you may notice this as early as now. When you're pregnant, the higher levels of hormones in your body prolong the growth phase of your hair – so you shed fewer hairs, giving your hair a fuller look. You may also notice that your hair is shiner, while others find that their hair is more unruly than normal.

Gas and Constipation
Gas and constipation are two other normal pregnancy symptoms to expect now. The increase in the hormone progesterone slows down your digestion, so you'll want to pay careful attention to your diet. To avoid gas and constipation, you should eat smaller meals throughout the day, exercise regularly, and eat a high fiber diet.

Headaches and Migraines
Tension headaches and migraines may plague you early in pregnancy. If you have a history of headaches or migraines, being pregnant can make this issue worse.

Researchers don't understand why headaches are so common in pregnancy, but all those raging hormones, caffeine withdrawal, stress, and fatigue can all play a role. Fortunately, many women get relief from headaches once the second trimester starts – in a few weeks!

Emotions
You might continue to have mixed emotions about your pregnancy. Many women find themselves tuning into parenting and health channels that talk about pregnancy. Keep your spirits up as much as possible and remember that shedding an occasional tear is perfectly normal and healthy.

Pregnancy Weight Gain

Your pregnancy weight gain at 11 weeks pregnant may be around three or four pounds for a normal-sized woman, though some women will gain more and others less. On average, you will most likely gain at least one pound a week as your pregnancy continues.

Some women gain more weight around their face and breasts, while others pack on the pounds in their butt and thighs.

For the average-sized woman, the recommended weight gain during pregnancy is between 25 and 35 pounds. If you are overweight, you should only gain between 15 and 25 pounds. Underweight women should aim to gain 28-40 pounds during pregnancy.

Maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight gain is essential to the health of your baby. Try to eat a balanced diet with a variety of food choices - whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Keep in mind that size is not a predictor of your baby's birth weight. Some women look small during pregnancy, but then they give birth to 8-pound babies!


Baby Section

Video: 11 Weeks
Video: Your Pregnancy Week 11

Growth and Development of Baby

At 11 weeks pregnant, your baby is big enough to hold in the palm of your hand! He or she is about 1.6 inches long from crown to rump – approximately the length of a beetroot. Your baby weighs almost 0.25 of an ounce.

Up until this week, you could see right through your baby's skin, which remains paper-thin.

So if you were to peer inside your uterus, you would be able to see through your baby's outer skin and see his or her tiny blood vessels and the formation of cartilage and organs. Later in your pregnancy your little one's skin will soon become a multi-layered membrane, losing much of its transparency.

Your baby's fingers and toes are now separated instead of being webbed. Your little one may be able to open and close his or her fists at this point, as well. Your little baby's ears are moving into their final position also this week.

In the next three weeks, your baby will go through a tremendous growth spurt, almost doubling in size! At no other time in your baby's life will he or she undergo as many rapid changes as are occurring during pregnancy.

Now, your baby's head makes up about half of your little one's total size! Don't worry - his or her body will slowly catch up throughout your pregnancy.

Did you know that your baby's heart has beat over 9,000,000 times by 11 weeks of pregnancy? His or her heart is beating around 168 beats per minute - that's pretty fast!

Your baby's diaphragm is now developed, so it won't be long before he or she starts hiccupping. Experts believe that hiccupping prepares the baby for breathing after birth. However, even if your little one is hiccupping, you won't be able to feel it now. But in the second trimester, you may start to feel your baby's movements and hiccups.

You might not feel any movement in utero, but your baby is becoming quite an active acrobat. He or she is already practicing kicking and squirming inside the amniotic sac. Plus, now that the neck is lengthened, he or she can shake and nod his or her head.

Pregnancy Health Section

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins plague many women during pregnancy. Some women who have varicose veins prior to pregnancy find that it gets worse during pregnancy, while some women will develop varicose veins for the first time during their pregnancy.

Varicose veins are generally the result of increasing levels of blood volume in the body, combined with the pressure your uterus places on veins in the lower half of your body. Pressure from your uterus can actually increase the blood pressure specifically in your legs, leading to swelling in the blood vessels and varicose or bulging veins.

Can you do anything to stop varicose veins from forming? While there are no guarantees, there are several things you can do to minimize the effects of varicose veins and minimize your discomfort. One thing you should consider is investing in a pair of maternity pantyhose support stockings. Medical grade support stockings are a superb method for maintaining adequate circulation in the legs and helping to prevent varicose veins. You may find they also minimize pain associated with pre-existing varicosities, and prevent your condition from worsening. Support hose should be put on first thing in the morning, before you get up out of bed. This will also help prevent excessive edema or swelling in your legs during the day.

Exercise is also critical during pregnancy to help prevent varicose veins. The longer you stand still for periods of time, the more likely blood is to pool in your legs causing problems. If you have a job that requires you to sit or stand a lot, be sure to go for short walks during your breaks to help promote circulation. Try to get some form of exercise each and every day, even if you are sitting at your desk doing stretches. Pumping your toes and calf muscles can help improve your circulation and minimize blood pooling in the legs.

Another thing you can do to help minimize varicosities is elevate your legs whenever you are sitting or lying. If you are home, prop your feet up. You should also avoid crossing your legs, which can help blood pool in the legs. When sitting at your desk, be sure to find something to prop your legs up on. Don't forget to get up and walk around periodically to keep the blood circulating.

Most women will realize an improvement in their symptoms a short time after they deliver. There are a number of factors that will influence your susceptibility to varicose veins, including your family history and the amount of weight you gain during pregnancy.

If you find that the varicose veins in your legs do not fade after pregnancy, fortunately there are a number of new varicose vein treatments available to treat them. Some of them are more invasive than others. Less invasive procedures include scleropathy, which may help improve the appearance of small varicosities and spider veins in the leg. The scleropathy procedure involves the injection of a chemical solution into the unwanted blood vessel which causes irritation and sticking together of the vessels walls. This leads to fibrosis of the vessel, making it unable to carry blood and no longer visible in the skin. For larger veins your healthcare provider might recommend a mini-stripping or some form of laser therapy. Be sure you consult with a physician if you have varicose veins that continue to be painful or uncomfortable several weeks after giving birth.

Varicose Vein Complication: Blood Clot
Most of the time varicose veins during pregnancy are nothing to worry about. Most women simply don't like the appearance of them. However, there are a small number of people who are at risk for developing blood clots in the veins.

Signs of a clot may include a hard, painful or red lump near the surface of your skin, or a swollen leg or calf. If the blood clot is superficial, meaning it is close to the surface of the leg, it is not dangerous. Your physician may just ask you to use support stockings, warm compresses and rest with your feet elevated. If there is suspicion of a blood clot in the large deep veins of the leg your physician will order an ultrasound Doppler study of the leg. If a blood clot is found in the deep veins of your leg, it is called a DVT or deep venous thrombosis.

A blood clot in the deep veins of the leg can become a very serious and life threatening condition. If it breaks away from the vein and travels to the lungs, it is a condition referred to as a pulmonary embolism. This condition is very rare, so don't be overly concerned about this, but talk with your doctor to discuss whether or not you may have any risk factors for this condition. Chances are they will be able to put your mind at ease and offer you practical suggestions to overcome any fear or discomfort you are experiencing.

Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy

Some pregnant women may also develop varicose veins in places other than their legs. The increased blood volume during pregnancy and the weight of the growing uterus can increase the pressure in the tiny veins in the vulva and around the rectum. When the blood vessels in the vulva dilate, they are called vulvar varicosities, and when the blood vessels around the rectum dilate, they are called hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are usually associated with pain, itching and bleeding. The dilated blood vessels associated with hemorrhoids can even stick out of the rectum causing significant discomfort. Fortunately, most over-the-counter creams and suppositories will make the discomfort from hemorrhoids more bearable. Tronolane Anesthetic Hemorrhoid Cream relieves pain and itching.

There is actually a new anti-inflammatory anesthetic available via prescription that may help alleviate much of the hemorrhoid pain you experience during pregnancy. It is from Kenwood therapeutics and is called AnaMantle HC. Many women have found that it provides immediate relief of their pain.

One of the reasons for this is it contains Lidocaine which numbs the hemorrhoids on contact. Because this medication is prescription only, you should consult with your physician to see if it might be indicated in your particular situation. Your physician might recommend this or a similar product to provide you with relief from the pain and swelling associated with hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids during pregnancy usually will become more bothersome as your pregnancy progresses. With straining during delivery, the hemorrhoids may enlarge and cause significant discomfort. After delivery, sitz baths, tucks pads, Anusol suppositories, and Lidocaine topical anesthetic may offer great relief. The good news is that most hemorrhoids will regress and go away shortly after your baby is born. Some pregnant women may also develop varicose veins in places other than their legs. The increased blood volume during pregnancy and the weight of the growing uterus can increase the pressure in the tiny veins in the vagina or vulva and around the rectum. When the blood vessels in the vulva dilate, they are called vulvar varicosities, and when the blood vessels around the rectum dilate, they are called hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are usually associated with pain, itching and bleeding. The dilated blood vessels associated with hemorrhoids can even stick out of the rectum causing significant discomfort. Fortunately, most over-the-counter creams and suppositories will make the discomfort from hemorrhoids more bearable. Tronolane Anesthetic Hemorrhoid Cream relieves pain and itching.

There is actually a new anti-inflammatory anesthetic available via prescription that may help alleviate much of the hemorrhoid pain you experience during pregnancy. It is from Kenwood therapeutics and is called AnaMantle HC. Many women have found that it provides immediate relief of their pain. One of the reasons for this is it contains Lidocaine which numbs the hemorrhoids on contact. Because this medication is prescription only, you should consult with your physician to see if it might be indicated in your particular situation. Your physician might recommend this or a similar product to provide you with relief from the pain and swelling associated with hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids during pregnancy usually will become more bothersome as your pregnancy progresses. With straining during delivery, the hemorrhoids may enlarge and cause significant discomfort. After delivery, sitz baths, tucks pads, Anusol suppositories, and Lidocaine topical anesthetic may offer great relief. The good news is that most hemorrhoids will regress and go away shortly after your baby is born.

Vulvar Varicosities

Vulvar varicosities can be quite painful as the labial lips become swollen and stretched from the engorged blood vessels. The labial tissue may actually swell to the size of a softball. Don't fret, after delivery with the reduced pressure in the pelvis, a good old fashion ice pack will help the swelling and the pain to subside.

Lower Abdominal Pain and Cramping in Pregnancy

Now that you've reached pregnancy week 11, your risk of miscarriage is lower than it was earlier in the first trimester. However, you may be concerned if you start to experience cramps or abdominal pain. Try not to be too worried, because cramping and lower abdominal pain during pregnancy can have many causes.

Round Ligament Pain
If you're experiencing mild, intermittent sharp pain along the lower part of your abdomen, this may be a sign of your growing uterus stretching its support ligaments. As your uterus gets bigger to make room for your growing baby, the round ligaments that support the uterus stretch, hitting certain nerves as it does, and this can give you mild to sharp stabbing pains. This discomfort called "round ligament pain," is a common pregnancy symptom that often occurs in the second and third trimester, though some women do experience it early in pregnancy, even at 11 weeks.

To relieve round ligament pain, try bending toward it to relieve the pain. You can prevent these pains by changing position s more slowly. Slower movements let your round ligaments stretch slower, minimizing your discomfort.

Cramping - A Sign of Gas and Constipation
Cramping can be a sign of constipation or gas pains. Constipation and gas are very common pregnancy symptoms, and they can cause uncomfortable cramps. To relieve constipation, you may want to take a stool softener. Laxatives are not recommended during pregnancy, because they can cause contractions and make you dehydrated. Prevention of gas and constipation is very important.

To prevent gas and constipation, you should eat a high fiber diet, drink lots of water and fluids, and exercise regularly. You can also talk to your doctor about reducing your doses of iron, which can make constipation worse.

When to Call the Doctor with Cramping
If you are experiencing severe cramping that is accompanied with bleeding or spotting, call your doctor immediately. This may be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage, or threatened miscarriage. Your doctor can examine you to see what's causing your cramps.

Because cramps during pregnancy can be normal and be a sign of something more serious, you may want to discuss any concerns of cramping with your doctor. It's always better to be safe than sorry!

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