In your first trimester, you likely experienced some morning sickness and discomfort as well as concern about possibly miscarrying. Finally, at 15 weeks pregnant, you’ve crossed into the second trimester! What does your baby look like now? What changes should you expect and what should you be doing or avoiding?
In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know at 15 weeks!
Fetus Stage of Development
Oh, the fruit analogies. At your doctor visits and/or in your pregnancy reading, you’ve likely been told how your baby is the size of a “prune/raspberry/strawberry/etc.”
A 15-week fetus also has a fruit comparison! It’s the size of a navel orange or softball. It’s about 4.5 inches long and weighs about 2 oz.
At 15 weeks pregnant (almost 4 months pregnant), your baby is starting to look more and more like a tiny human and less like a little alien. The ears will have moved into their proper position on the side of the head from their original position on the neck. Also, their eyes are in the process of moving towards the front of the face from the side of the face.
At this point, your baby is starting to get stronger and test out their mobility; they’re likely wiggling their fingers and toes and even sucking their thumb. You might catch a glimpse of the action at your next ultrasound appointment! Don’t worry if you don’t feel any movement; most mothers don’t at this stage in the pregnancy.
Major Changes to Expect at 15 Weeks Pregnant
With a new trimester come some new experiences — these symptoms are completely normal to experience at 15 weeks/4 months pregnant and should not concern you. You might experience:
- Heartburn, indigestion, flatulence, bloating
- Mild swelling of ankles, feet, hands and/or face
- Varicose veins of legs and/or hemorrhoids
- Increased appetite
- Slight increase of vaginal discharge
- Occasional headaches
- Occasional faintness or dizziness
- Sensitive gums that may bleed when you brush
- Nasal congestion and occasional nosebleeds
- Mood swings, irritability, irrationality, inexplicable weepiness
- Mild breathlessness
Know that these are normal, but if you’re having issues that seem beyond normal (i.e. excessive vaginal discharge or daily headaches), please contact your physician.
Major Changes to Look Forward To
Most women find the second trimester the most enjoyable. One of the major benefits of crossing into the second trimester is that many women see the annoying early pregnancy symptoms (such as queasiness) disappear. Also, your energy level should start to pick up a bit, and hopefully, you’ll see a decrease in the how often you feel the urge to pee.
What to Do (Or Keep Doing)
At 15 weeks pregnant, there are six key tips to keep in mind:
Tip #1: Get a Flu Shot If You’re Pregnant During Flu Season
When you’re pregnant, your immune system is weaker, and therefore, you’re more vulnerable to catching the flu, especially during flu season (October – April). Due to your weakened immune system, the flu can progress to pneumonia and complicate your pregnancy. Also, if you do develop the flu while pregnant, you’ll have a greater chance at going into labor and delivering prematurely.
Bottom line: get a flu shot, so you don’t get the flu. The shot will not harm the baby and will likely not cause you little to no pain. Worst case scenario you’ll develop a mild fever and feel more tired than usual for a few days. Ask to get the thimerosal-free (or reduced) vaccine. Doctors recommend that you don’t get FluMist, the nasal version of the vaccine because it’s made from the live flu virus and could give you a mild bout of the flu.
Tip #2: Keep Gaining Weight!
You should be gaining about a pound per week or 4 pounds per month in order to be at a healthy carrying weight. Gaining weight can be a challenge for some women; if you’re struggling to gain weight even with increased food intake, then you should talk to your doctor.
Note: do not be concerned if you cannot pack on exactly one pound per week. It’s okay to add half a pound one week and 2 pounds the next but aim for an average of 4 pounds per month.
When trying to gain weight, avoid simply filling your plate with empty calories (candies, cookies, simple carbohydrates); you need to have a healthy diet to support your baby’s growth and development. Which leads us to our next tip!
Tip #3: Add Some Healthy Fats to Your Diet
According to doctors, omega-3 fatty acids, most importantly DHA, are essential for brain growth and eye development in your baby! Doctors recommend you consume at least 200 mg of DHA per day. You can meet this goal by eating two 6 oz servings of fish per week. The FDA recommends capping your fish intake at 12 oz per week to avoid mercury poisoning which could harm the fetus.
If you want to avoid eating fish entirely, here are some alternative Omega-3 rich foods to incorporate into your diet:
- Olive oil
- Nuts (not including peanuts)
- Omega-3 eggs
- Chia seeds
If you’re struggling to meet your Omega-3 quota, talk to your doctor about taking a fish oil supplement.
Tip #4: Keep Up Your Iron Intake!
At this stage in the pregnancy, some women develop iron-deficiency anemia. If you do, don’t be concerned; your doctor can provide you with iron supplements to get you back on track. However, it’s best to keep up the amount of iron in your diet to avoid becoming anemic.
Here are some iron-rich foods to help you avoid anemia:
- Beef, buffalo, duck, turkey
- Cooked clams, oysters, mussels, and shrimp (you should not be eating any raw seafood or shellfish while pregnant).
- Pumpkin seeds
- Oat bran
- Dried fruit
If you’re struggling to incorporate the food into your diet, talk to your doctor about taking an iron supplement in addition to your prenatal vitamin.
Tip #5: Get 30 Minutes of Exercise Per Day
Moderate exercise will actually help with your aches, pain, sleep, and constipation. It’s safe to exercise an hour or even a bit more, but listen to your body. Burning more calories means that you’ll need to eat more.
Talk to your doctor before you begin an exercise regimen. They might recommend against exercise if you have a history of miscarriages or premature labor.
Tip #6: Start to Learn to Sleep on Your Side
It’ll pay off later when you get bigger and can’t sleep on your back or stomach. You may want to use a few extra pillows to make the position more comfortable. Try putting a pillow behind your back and one in between your legs or consider buying a “pregnancy” pillow.
What to Avoid Doing
This is true throughout your pregnancy, but especially at 15 weeks, do not judge yourself for gaining weight. You’re likely starting to feel self-conscious as your growing belly is starting to push you out of your normal clothes. Complete strangers may make ignorant comments about your changing body. Ignore the haters. Remember, you’re a badass participating in the miracle of life. By gaining weight, you’re ensuring your child gets the fuel it needs to be born healthy.
It’s easy to get frustrated at feeling in between — your regular clothes don’t fit, but you’re not quite ready for maternity clothes. Don’t spend a ton of money on maternity clothes now because the size you buy now likely won’t fit in a month or two.
At only 15 weeks pregnant, try not to feel nervous about not feeling the baby’s kicks. As I mentioned earlier, your baby is likely moving around, but most mothers don’t feel it this early. Most first time mothers will not feel kicks until the 5th month.
Try not to get overwhelmed about becoming a parent. It’s totally normal to feel scared and to doubt your decision no matter how much you’ve been looking forward to being a mom. However, you’re already being a responsible mom by reading this post and doing your research. You’ll be ready when the baby comes!
Other Non-Medical Things to Consider Doing
15 weeks is about the time when people announce their pregnancy! If you haven’t told your friends and family yet, consider doing so. By 15 weeks, you’ve passed the time when most women miscarry, so you shouldn’t be concerned. You’ve got a baby on the way and should spread the news! Your announcement may even lead to baby gifts from friends and family!
You might like taking photos to chronicle your growing belly. This is a fun thing to do to remember this special time in your life. I’d recommend you take at least one photo per trimester. They don’t need to be fancy — iPhone photos are great!
Realize that as you begin to look more pregnant, strangers may try to give you unwanted parenting advice and/or try to touch your belly. If you feel uncomfortable with touching (as you probably will since who wants a stranger groping you?), you may want to come up with a strategy for avoiding belly rubs. One technique is to say “no touching, the baby is sleeping; let’s not wake the baby.” To avoid getting unwanted parenting advice, just tell a little white lie, “This is my third; I’ve got two healthy kids at home. I know what I’m doing!”
- Your 15-week old fetus is about the size of a navel orange!
- At 15 weeks pregnant, you’ve moved into the second trimester. Many women see the annoying first trimester symptoms (such as nausea) disappear. However, some develop new symptoms (such as occasional headaches). If your symptoms seem extreme (i.e. daily headaches), see a doctor.
- At this stage, you should get a flu shot, gain weight, eat healthy fats, up your iron intake, get 30 minutes of exercise per day, and start learning to sleep on your side.
- Also, avoid judging yourself for gaining weight, and don’t stress about becoming a parent.
- For fun, consider announcing your pregnancy to friends and family. Also, consider taking photos of your growing belly to chronicle this adventure.