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Your 12 Week Fetus

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your-fetus-at-week-12 iStockphoto/Thinkstock

By week 12 of pregnancy, your baby has already completed the embryonic stage and is now a fetus, which is Latin for "offspring".

All of his organs are fully formed (they just need to get a lot bigger!) and he looks recognizably like a human being.

He has a well-formed face with tooth buds in his mouth. These buds are the beginnings of his baby teeth.

His eyelids will fuse shut and not reopen again until about 28 weeks. He has long, well defined limbs and can even make a fist with his little hands.

Between the ages of 11 and 14 weeks, his liver begins producing its own red blood cells.

The baby’s genitals are completely developed. In recent years, with the invention of 3D colour scanning, it has become possible for experienced medical professionals to accurately identify the baby’s gender from as early as 11 weeks, although their accuracy is better after 12 weeks.

Doctors in the field of obstetrics and gynecology would like to be able to identify gender earlier on so they can avoid tests for X-linked disorders in some mothers-to-be.

In a study of 200 pregnant women, transvaginal scanning with 3D imagery was used to see if researchers could correctly identify the sex of first trimester unborn babies. By using 3D imagery, 150 babies were assigned the correct gender, giving the transvaginal scan an 81.5 percent success rate.

Of the babies that could not be assigned a gender, or were thought to be the opposite gender, it was not the scanning technique that caused the error but was because of the position of the baby.

Sometimes the probe was too far away from the genitals to get a picture, sometimes the legs were closed and sometimes the cord was between the legs.

Researchers would need to have a 100 percent accuracy rate before they could use 3D transvaginal scanning as a routine tool for diagnosing X-linked fetal disorders in the first trimester. But even with less accuracy, they believe the technique could be used so that in future, women have the option to defer invasive X-linked fetal testing if they wish.

Your Baby's Behavior

New 3D scanning also gives us an insight into fetal behavior.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.