Month by Month

Changes to expect in the fourth month of pregnancy

Baby’s Growth

Week 14

Her thyroid gland has matured and is now able to produce hormones. The digestive system is mature enough to produce and eliminate urine into the amniotic fluid. Not only does she drink the amniotic fluid, but practices breathing it too.

Week 15

His eyes and ears are almost in position now. If he will have dark hair, hair follicles may begin to make the pigment. As his hair comes in, a scalp hair pattern is developing. His bones and muscles continue to mature, and he is developing new skills. By now he can make a fist.

Week 16

Your baby is beginning to gain control of her muscle movements. She can even make facial expressions in response to changes in the uterine environment. An experienced mother may be able to begin recognizing the feelings of movement as she exercises her muscles. First time mothers may need to wait a few more weeks before they are certain they are feeling movement. Baby is now big enough that his heartbeat can be heard with a regular stethoscope.

Week 17

The placenta will continue to grow throughout the pregnancy to meet your baby’s increasing demands for oxygen, nutrients and elimination of waste. At this point, the placenta is about 1 (25 mm) inch thick. To help your baby maintain proper body temperature, he is developing a special type of fat called brown fat. It will make up about 2.5% of his weight at birth, and will slowly go away after he is born.

Mom’s Changes

Around this time you may notice some changes in your skin. Your nipples may darken, and the veins will be more prominent. You may also begin to see blotchy skin on your face. Some experts say this is normal, others say it may signal a deficiency in your diet.

Your uterus and skin need twice as much blood as usual, and your kidneys need 25% more blood than usual. This means your heart is working twice as hard just to meet your bodies regular demand. Your uterus has outgrown your pelvis and will be forced into the abdomen, which will decrease your lung capacity. If you engage in regular activity, you may find that you are breathless easier and fatigue easier than you did before you were pregnant. It is important that you begin using this as an indicator of when to slow down or end an activity.

Some mothers are able to recognize the baby’s movements during the fourth month, although it is normal not to recognize it until the fifth month. It may feel like bubbles or butterflies fluttering in your belly.

Common Concerns

The following concerns are commonly experienced during this month. Please click an item to learn why it happens and what you can do about it.

To Do List

  1. You should continue to eat well and exercise to stay as healthy as possible. Although your baby has all his “parts,” these parts are growing and many are maturing so he can live on his own. Eating a good quality diet is important to your health and his.
  2. You will begin needing maternity clothing soon. There are many options in styles, so you should be able to find things you like. Many women avoid buying a whole wardrobe by borrowing clothing (remember, your next pregnancy may be during a different season). You may find good basic pieces at consignment shops, thrift stores or garage sales help you keep within your budget. This is a good time to start looking.
  3. You may want to begin looking at your finances so you know how to plan for postpartum. Do you have the ability or desire to stay home? Do you have the means to pay for day care and return to work? It may take time to find the right plan for your family, so start looking at options early.
Jennifer (Author)