Women's Healthcare Topics
James Brann, MD. Ob/Gyn

15 Weeks Pregnant

Pregnant Belly Changes

At 15 weeks pregnant you may already look quite pregnant. It's not uncommon for pregnant women to have a weight gain between five to ten pounds by the second trimester. (If you're carrying twins, you may have gain twenty pounds by now). If you're not showing, your abdomen may feel more bloated. Remember that every woman is different, and every pregnancy is different. Don't worry if you don't look too pregnant yet.

Later in pregnancy, your caregiver will start taking measurements of your uterus to check your baby's growth at each prenatal visit. These measurements are called "fundal height measurements". Fundal height measurements are performed by measuring from the top of your pubic bone to the top of your uterus. The measurement corresponds to the number of weeks that you're pregnant.

Now is a wonderful time to start talking to your baby. Your little bundle of joy's ears have developed to the point that he or she can hear some sounds from the outside world, such as their mama's voice. Consider reading a book, or simply have a conversation with your baby about what you're doing.

Your emotions are still going crazy now. It's common to feel a little anxious or stressed about this change in your life. You may worry about your baby's health and well-being, or you may be concerned that you won't be a good mother. Don't stress out, just take some time to relax and enjoy this middle trimester.

At 15 weeks pregnant, you are starting to feel and look more pregnant. It's common for you to start experiencing some unpleasant and even strange side effects of pregnancy.

Gas is a common pregnancy symptom. You tend to be gassy when you're expecting, due to the higher levels of progesterone relaxing the muscles in your gastrointestinal tract. This hormonal change can slow down your digestive processes and lead to gas and bloating. Although it can be unpleasant to have flatulence and burp unexpectedly, gas is a common symptom to expect throughout your pregnancy.

Insomnia and difficulty sleeping is another common experience now. More than 70 percent of all mothers-to-be experience insomnia. It may be getting harder to fall asleep (or sleep through the night) due to other pregnancy annoyances, such as leg cramps, frequent urination interrupting your sleep, and restless leg syndrome. As your belly grows larger, you may also find that finding a comfortable sleeping position is tough.

To help you sleep better, try investing in a body pregnancy pillow, since these unique pillows offer support in all the right areas. Getting a massage before bed or trying out other relaxation techniques may also help with your insomnia.

Heartburn may start to plague you for the first time now. The burning sensation that you feel in your chest is a common symptom in the second and third trimesters. It's another unpleasant pregnancy experience due to higher levels of progesterone, which relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (the valve between the lower end of the esophagus and your stomach). When this valve doesn't close tightly enough, gastric acid can flow back up into your esophagus. This can lead to that burning sensation right behind your breastbone.

While heartburn is normal, it's unpleasant. To minimize your discomfort, try to avoid any food triggers, such as spicy or fattening foods, acidic foods, and carbonated sodas and drinks.

Pregnancy Symptoms at 15 Weeks Pregnant.

Stuffy nose and nasal congestion is also common. This pregnancy symptom is due to swelling in the mucous membranes of the nose, largely the result of increased hormonal production. Feeling stuffed up can exist without any signs of illness or due to a cold. This symptom will come and go.

Excessive salivation can accompany heartburn. You may find that you're producing more spit than normal, and you might even have to constantly spit into a handkerchief. Although excessive salivation is a very strange side effect, it's nothing to worry about. Hormonal changes may play a role, and it's also possible that you're producing more saliva to combat heartburn. Salvia neutralizes gastric acid.

Your weight gain at 15 weeks pregnant might be between six to seven pounds. However, it's perfectly fine if you have gained more than this, too. Some women gain more pregnancy weight and others tend to gain weight more slowly. If you are pregnant with twins or multiples, you may have far surpassed this average weight gain.

The normal weight you should aim to gain is a total of 25 to 35 pounds by the time your baby is born. If you are carrying twins and you're average sized, you will want to aim for a weight gain of 37 to 54 pounds.

Baby Section

Growth and Development of Baby

At 15 weeks pregnant, your baby is 4 inches long from crown to rump - approximately the length of a large pear. He or she weighs more than 2.4 ounces now!

If you were to peek inside your uterus this week, you would still be able to see your baby's blood vessels through his or her paper-thin skin. In fact, the blood vessels forming in your baby's body may closely resemble a road map!

Your baby will start producing lanugo hair, which is fine hair that will cover your baby's body up until a few weeks before birth. Lanugo covers every part of your baby in utero, except for the palms, soles of the feet, lips, penis, nails, and inner fingers and toes. Typically babies will shed this hair by the eighth month of pregnancy, but it can persist in some newborns for a short period of time. Pre-term babies are more likely to be born with lanugo hair than full term babies.

The bones in your baby's body are also starting to get harder, and they will continue to do so throughout your pregnancy. This is called "ossification."

Your baby's arms are long enough that he or she can stretch them in front of his or her face. The hands are well developed now, with distinct fingers and fingertips.

Your baby is passing the time with practicing breathing, by inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid. Believe it or not, the very act of doing so will help your baby's air sacs develop during pregnancy. Your little one may even be sucking his or her thumb, while the tongue is continuing to form taste buds.

Now, you may start noticing tiny movement (flutters) inside your belly. Though many women can't feel their babies until 18 to 20 weeks pregnant or later, some women do feel their baby's movements earlier.

Your baby might be sucking his or her thumb or swimming joyfully around your uterus, and you may feel a slight fluttering or movement.

Sometimes you may mistake your baby's movements for gas, especially if it's early in your second trimester.

Pregnancy week 15 is also a great time for you to start talking to your baby. Your little one's ears are now developed enough that they can pick up sounds, including your voice. Get your partner involved too. The two of you may want to sing or hum to your baby too.

Pregnancy Health Section

Urinary Tract Infections

As your uterus expands in the second trimester, it's important for you to keep an eye out for urinary tract infections (UTIs). Also called bladder infections, UTIs are a common pregnancy complication that affects between 2 and 7 percent of all pregnant women.

Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection
At 15 weeks of pregnancy, you may have a urinary tract infection and not even know. The symptoms vary from pregnant woman to pregnant woman. Common signs of a UTI include:

  • A frequent or uncontrollable urge to pass urine

  • Pelvic pressure or lower abdominal pain

  • Pain, discomfort, and a burning sensation when you urinate

  • Urine that is foul smelling, or urine that looks cloudy

  • Blood in your urine

Because the frequent urge to urinate is often a regular pregnancy symptom, you may not even know that you have a urinary tract infection until your urine is tested at a regular prenatal visit. Not all women with urinary tract infections experience pain or stinging when they urinate, and not all women notice blood in their urine.

What Causes Urinary Tract Infections in Pregnancy?
Pregnant women are at higher risk of urinary tract infections due to the changes in their pregnancy body. First, the higher levels of the hormone progesterone in your body can relax the muscle tone of your ureters (the muscular tubes that attach to lower end of your bladder and the upper end of your kidneys), and this can cause your ureters to dilate and slow down the flow of urine.

Secondly, the increased weight of your expanding uterus can compress your ureters and make it harder for urine to flow through them. Pregnancy can also relax your bladder, which makes it more prone to reflux (the bladder wall doesn't close all the way when the bladder contracts, so urine can flow back into your ureters).

All these changes give bacteria a chance to multiply and infect your bladder and ureters. This infection can sometimes also lead to a kidney infection. In pregnant women, you will want to be treated for a UTI as soon as possible to avoid any possible pregnant complications.

Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections During Pregnancy
Fortunately, your urine is tested at every prenatal visit, so if you do have a urinary tract infection, your doctor will be able to treat you to avoid any harm to your baby. You will probably be given antibiotics to fight the UTI.

If untreated, urinary tract infections during pregnancy is linked with an increased risk of preterm labor and low birth weight infant.

How to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections in Pregnancy
To help prevent this annoying pregnancy complication at pregnancy week 15:

  • Be sure to empty your bladder fully. Avoiding holding your bladder. If you have to go, then go! Urination can push the UTI bacteria out of your bladder before it can spread.

  • Drink at least eight glasses of water every day. Unsweetened cranberry juice may also help fight infection.

  • Don't use douches, feminine deodorant sprays, or strong soaps. These products can irritate your urethra and genitals, making them easy targets for bacteria.

  • Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting clothes.

  • After using the bathroom, wipe from front to back. This will prevent bacteria from your rectum from getting near your urethra.

When to Call Your Doctor About a Urinary Tract Infection
Always call your doc tor if you think you may have a urinary tract infection. If you start to experience any fevers, chills, nausea, or vomiting, contact your healthcare provider immediately. These symptoms can be a sign of a possible kidney infection. At 15 weeks pregnant, you may need to be hospitalized to treat a kidney infection.

Medication in Pregnancy

Medication in Pregnancy.

In general, taking any form of medication during pregnancy is not recommended until it is absolutely necessary. Some women, however, will need to take a course of antibiotics during pregnancy. There are times when the benefits of taking a medication outweigh the risks associated with it.

Generally medications are assigned to certain categories that describe how safe or unsafe they are to use during pregnancy.

Category A medications are generally considered safe, and thus far have not proven harmful to the developing fetus during pregnancy. Only a few medications fall into this category, among them Mycostatin, a cream used for yeast infections.

Category B medications are medications that have no known association with birth defects or pregnancy related complications. They are considered safe. These include many antibiotics that can be used to treat infection in pregnancy, such as amoxicillin, ampicillin, zovirax, zithromax and clotrimazole-vaginal to name a few.

Category C medications are those that may or may not be safe. There simply isn't enough information about them to form definitive conclusions; however there are also no confirmed reports of links to birth defects in humans. Included among these are: cipro, monistat, terazol, isonizid and certain vaccines.

Category D medications are contraindicated in pregnancy and associated with very distinct problems including birth defects. Among these drugs include the following: tetracycline, minocin and sulfa drugs.

Be sure that you discuss any condition you have with your doctor. You should understand the benefits and risks of any medication you take during your pregnancy. (next week)


Doctor's Corner

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