In this side view of the embryo the spinal cord is clearly curved as it begins to develop. The pale-yellow ridge-like structures along the back are somites – your baby’s developing musculoskeletal system.
You may be spending a lot of time in front of the mirror trying to spot your bump, but it could be weeks yet before you show.
Like most newly pregnant women, you’re probably on the lookout for a bump, but it’s unlikely to make an appearance just yet. On average, the fourth month marks the greatest period of growth, with your pregnancy most definitely appearing as a rounded abdomen.
If it’s not your first pregnancy, you might show earlier, possibly as early as eight to 10 weeks, as your abdominal muscles will be more relaxed. Conversely, women who have firm abdominal muscles may show later. If you are expecting twins or triplets, you can expect to show even earlier.
Can having sex in pregnancy harm the baby?
Unless you have been told by your doctor to avoid sex because of specific problems, such as a history of miscarriage or unexplained bleeding, then sex is safe at any stage. Enjoying intimacy with your partner is beneficial to your relationship.
Your baby is cushioned in fluid in the amniotic sac inside your uterus and protected by a plug of mucus at the cervix. Even deep penetration isn’t harmful.
It’s safe to do abdominal exercises lying on your back during your first trimester. Towards the end of the first trimester, or when you start “showing”, you should stop doing abdominal exercises on your back.
When you are doing abdominal exercises, it’s important to breathe correctly: remember to inhale to start and exhale on each effort.
The purpose of abdominal exercises is to strengthen core muscles. The deep transverse abdominis muscle that runs horizontally across your body is vital for core stability and strength as your baby develops. The rectus abdominis muscle that runs vertically down your body is the muscle that will stretch during pregnancy and weaken, so it’s vital to keep the transverse muscle strong to help your posture and support your spine.
The sooner you begin to strengthen the transverse abdominis, the better. In the first trimester, one of the exercises you can do to strengthen this muscle is shown below.
Lie on your back, feet flat on the floor and arms at your sides. Inhale to begin and as you slowly exhale, push your lower back flat onto the floor. Hold this position for 3–5 seconds and repeat.
1. Feet flat on the floor
2. Knees bent
3. Feel your abdominal muscles tightening
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