Weekly Guide to Pregnancy: Week 9
How big is my baby?
At the start of week 9 your baby is approximately 22-30mm (0.9 - 1.2 inches) from crown to rump.
Your baby's neck region is becoming more defined and developed, enabling lifting and turning of the now rounded head. The eyes are still forming, and while tiny, they are now covered by eyelids (they were exposed until this stage). The eyes will then remain closed for a large part of your pregnancy. Tiny external ears are still forming and are visible. The nasal passages are opened this week, and the tongue starts to form (although the mouth is still just a flat line on the surface). Your baby's organs are also forming.
As your baby continues to grow, your uterus increases in size and you will probably find that your waist is beginning to thicken. Before pregnancy your uterus is about the size of your fist. After six weeks it will grow to about the size of a grapefruit.
During pregnancy your blood volume increases by about 40-50% to service the needs of your expanding uterus. The largest increase is during the second trimester.
As the uterus grows, you may experience cramping sensations or pain in the lower abdomen or on your sides. This is common, however if the pain is accompanied by vaginal bleeding, you should see your health care practitioner. The uterus continues to grow and contract during pregnancy and later in pregnancy these tightenings are called "braxton hicks" contractions. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and their effect.
There are several hormones present in your body during pregnancy that play an important role in supporting a healthy pregnancy.
Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) is present during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and can often cause nausea and vomiting.
Oestrogen stimulates growth of the blood vessels, the glands, the muscle cells of the uterus, and the breast tissue.
Progesterone helps the cells of the uterus provide nutrients and stimulates formation of the ducts in your breasts. Progesterone also serves as the feedback hormone and tells the hormone-producing centre in the brain to shut off other hormones related to menstruation when you are pregnant.
Is it OK to have sex during pregnancy and will I feel like it?
There is no physical reason for a couple not to engage in sexual intercourse during pregnancy unless your health practitioner has advised you to the contrary. If at any time in the pregnancy bleeding or threatened premature labour occurs, abstinence is advised during that period.
Pregnancy is a physical and emotional time. You may also be affected by tiredness, nausea or worry, each of which can make sex more difficult or unappealing. Your partner may be concerned about hurting the baby during intercourse, but there is no evidence to support this being a problem.
Experimenting with different positions may make sex more comfortable for you. Some couples can go off sex altogether during pregnancy. This can be normal, but needs to be addressed sooner rather than later so that it doesn't develop into a big or divisive issue. On the other hand, some women may experience an increased sexual desire during pregnancy and this is also normal.
Is it OK to travel during pregnancy?
If you are experiencing a normal pregnancy with no complications, travel is usually acceptable, but you should check with your health care professional before making plans or booking tickets, particularly later in your pregnancy. The biggest risk associated with travel during pregnancy is being away from your health care professional if you experience complications.
In the last trimester you should try to stay closer to home, and after week 32 you should try to avoid air travel if possible. If you do need to travel by air after week 32, you will probably need to supply the airline with a letter from your health care professional stating that you are fit to fly.
If you decide to travel, plan well and leave yourself plenty of time to make the journey (in shorter stages if necessary). Take a drink and some nutritious snacks, and try to rest or sleep as much as possible. You should also stretch your legs every few hours.
Learn more about your pregnancy
Would you like weekly updates on your pregnancy? Sign up here to receive this information in your inbox.
Read more information on Pregnancy and Birth on Essential Baby.
Discuss Pregnancy in the Essential Baby Forums.