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Lab Rat has a baby on board!

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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It has been a while since I’ve last posted. Usually I try not to give excuses for lateness, but this time I do have a very good one.

I’m currently 15 and a half weeks pregnant!

In the UK there is a fairly good and well thought-out system to make sure pregnant women get all the necessary checks and scans. The first scan is usually at 12 weeks, once the fetus has developed far enough to actually resemble something human. For me and my husband however, there were a combination of factors (uncertainty about conception date, unfortunate bleeding) that meant we ended up with three scans before the 12-week mark giving us a nice little progression of how the fetus was developing and allowing us to bore people with baby photos before we even had a baby.

So I thought I’d share.

First scan: 7 weeks


As it’s not immediately obvious what’s going on in the scan, I have circled the developing embryo in yellow. At this stage, even the most excited and generous interpretation of the scan can’t make out much more than a fuzzy grey blob. The dark area surrounding the blob is my womb, and the fuzzy little speech-bubble off to the right is the yolk sac, which nourishes the embryo for the first few weeks.

The most exciting thing was that even at this early stage it had a heartbeat! We could just about see one area of the fuzzy grey blob turning from lighter to darker at a pretty rapid pace.

First NHS Scan: Week 9


As the first scan we’d got was private, the NHS still didn’t know how far developed our little embryo was, so our first official scan was a bit early. This scan is a lot easier to read, but once again I’ve circled the important bit in yellow, and the black area surrounding it is the womb.

At this stage, the embryo has something that’s a bit like a head on the left hand side and you can just about make out four little stumpy blobs pushing up from the main body. These were little pod-like proto-arms and legs and it was easier to make them out in the scan because they were moving! The poddy-arms were wriggling around and the embryo as a whole was rolling back and forward.

The official scan: Week 12


Despite the fact that we now knew for certain there was something in there, and that it seemed reasonably happy, the official scan was still a pretty exciting thing. After 12 weeks most of the major organs have developed, the embryo officially becomes a fetus, the likelihood of miscarriage goes right down and, most excitingly, you’re allowed to tell everyone about the pregnancy.

By the third scan, the fetus is looking less like a pod-creature from Mars and recognizably human. The head is on the left and arms and legs can be seen sticking up out of the body. We thought the previous scan had showed a fairly active young thing but in this one the fetus was all over the place; rolling around, waving its arms and legs, and doing cartwheels in my womb. It’s still too early to tell if it’s male or female, that exciting bit of news will be revealed at the next scan.

So how will the baby affect the blog? I do want to keep a bacterial and biochemical focus, but there may be the odd baby post as scans or exciting information come in. Probably the biggest change is that I’ll be dropping down from four posts a month to two/three just to give myself a bit more time and breathing space.

Now the first trimester is over and I am once again capable of basic functions like eating and remaining awake, I do want to get back into regular blogging! So more items of bacterial interest will be coming soon…

S.E. Gould About the Author: A biochemist with a love of microbiology, the Lab Rat enjoys exploring, reading about and writing about bacteria. Having finally managed to tear herself away from university, she now works for a small company in Cambridge where she turns data into manageable words and awesome graphs. Follow on Twitter @labratting.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Melanie Tannenbaum 8:34 pm 04/20/2013

    Congratulations to you and your husband!!

    Link to this
  2. 2. Sacha 2:17 am 04/21/2013

    Congratulations!

    Link to this

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