10th – 10th week of pregnancy

10 week of pregnancy

You have been pregnant for 2 months and a week. Starting from the 10th week, the future baby (which from now until birth takes the name of fetus) will not undergo particular modifications of the organs, but rather these will develop structurally and functionally. In the three weeks that followed, its size would double.

From the end of this week onwards, the risk of the unborn child developing diseases and congenital malformations will be significantly reduced as the most active part of fetal development ends precisely with the 10th week of pregnancy. 

This obviously does not mean that you and your baby are completely safe from any complications over the next few months, so continue to follow the advice and recommendations of your gynecologist and contact him if you have any doubts or questions.

The development of the embryo during the 10th week

the development of the sensory organs of the fetus


During this week the eyes of the fetus continue to develop, with the main optical structure already in place. The development of the eye occurs mainly between the third week and the tenth week of pregnancy and involves the ectoderm , neural crest cells and mesenchyme

  • the neural tube ectoderm gives rise to the retina, iris and ciliary body epithelium, optic nerve, smooth muscle of the iris, and some of the vitreous humor.
  • the superficial ectoderm gives rise to the lens, the conjunctival and corneal epithelium, the eyelids and the lacrimal apparatus.
  • the remaining eye structures are formed from the mesenchyme.


At about this time (9-10 weeks) small indentations appear in the baby’s neck which will then begin to move upwards, before developing into what will become his or her ears. The structures of the inner ear have also already begun to form.

facial development

In this phase the forehead of the unborn child begins to protrude (i.e. protrude).

Later, with the gradual flattening of its forehead, the head of the fetus will soon appear in its normal shape . At this stage, the volume of the head alone is equal to 50% of the body. 

Hair follicles also begin to grow.

the development of the limbs

During the tenth week of pregnancy, the slender hands and legs of the fetus continue to lengthen.

Fingernails and fingerprints begin to form on the fingers.

Already at this stage, his fingerprints are unique. 

The bone tissue begins to take the place of the cartilage. 

the development of the nervous system

There is electrical activity in the brain.

the development of internal organs

The vital organs of the fetus, the brain, liver and kidneys, continue to grow, and – at the same time – also begin to function on their own.

Her thyroid gland – the master switch to control her unique body chemistry – is now operational. Your pancreas is producing digestive enzymes and your gallbladder is secreting bile; these functions will be essential for eating and digesting one’s food after birth.

This is also the week in which, as the chest and abdomen gradually separate, the diaphragm begins to develop.

Sex organs also grow rapidly. In males, the prostate begins to form during this week. 

Soon you will know if you should paint the baby’s room blue or pink.

size of the embryo during the 10th week of pregnancy

The embryo is already the size of an olive and measures approximately 3.2 – 4 centimeters. 

He has also started to gain weight which, at this stage, is around 35 grams. 

The changes in the woman’s body

Your growing uterus and increasing blood volume will surely still continue to make itself felt in the form of various symptoms and pains.

The high levels of pregnancy hormones ( hCG and progesterone) make your face smooth and give it a glowing complexion. Also, increasing the number of facial sebaceous glands increases the production of oil in the facial glands.

The connection of all these factors, make the skin of your face appear more radiant. Your face is bathed in what’s called the “pregnancy glow.”

The mammary glands produce milk, which could lead to more fuller breasts. 

Although your belly is expanding day by day, it is likely that others do not notice it: do not worry, it is perfectly normal, especially if you are pregnant for the first time.

The ultrasound at the tenth week

During this week, the skin of the fetus, translucent or even transparent, allows you to see the functioning of its internal organs using a 4D ultrasound.

This is usually the week when parents first hear their baby’s heartbeat, which is often described as sounding like “galloping horses”.

The prenatal diagnosis

Prenatal diagnosis includes a series of tests (ultrasound scans, invasive tests and non-invasive tests such as: amniocentesis, villocentesis, cordocentesis, duo-test, nuchal translucency, fetal DNA tests) which allow to identify some diseases and anomalies affecting the chromosomes , DNA, congenital diseases or other diseases that the child may have.

These tests are recommended to parents only in some cases:

  • if the age of the expectant mother exceeds 35 years;
  • if the serological tests performed on maternal blood (Bitest/Tritest) are positive;
  • if the mother has contracted an infection dangerous to the fetus such as rubella, toxoplasmosis or cytomegalovirus;
  • if abnormalities in the development of the fetus have appeared from the ultrasound scans;
  • if there are pathologies attributable to hereditary genetic diseases in the family.

The purpose of prenatal diagnosis is to:

  • inform future parents if there is a high risk that the future baby will suffer from congenital diseases;
  • in the event of a high risk of congenital diseases, informing them of the existence of targeted tests to ascertain the presence of these specific anomalies;
  • identify some diseases affecting the fetus and, if possible, start a pharmacological (or surgical) treatment before birth;
  • in the event of ascertained anomalies, it allows you to better plan the delivery and pre-delivery assistance;

As mentioned above, prenatal investigations include both invasive tests, such as:

that non-invasive tests, such as:

  • the combined test
  • fetal echocardiography
  • the ultrasound

The former make it possible to verify the presence of anomalies linked to the DNA and chromosomes and involve a risk of miscarriage. Non-invasive tests, on the other hand, are risk-free and provide “only” an estimate of the risk of the presence of some chromosomal abnormalities. 

The combined test in pregnancy (biochemical analysis of maternal blood)

The combined test is usually done between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy.

The 10th week could be the moment in which your doctor could advise you to have the combined test, a non-invasive test, which allows you to estimate (therefore offer a probability, not a certainty, that the fetus may be affected by some prenatal diseases:

  • Down syndrome ( trisomy 21)
  • Edwards syndrome (  trisomy 18)
  • Patau syndrome (  trisomy 13)

The combined test, on the other hand, is unable to assess the risk of neural tube closure defects (such as spina bifida ).

The combined test consists of:

  • a collection of some blood samples to then be able to examine your child’s DNA
  • an ultrasound test to measure the space between the back of the neck and the spine of the fetus ( nuchal translucency )

Both services provided do not require any preparation on the part of the expectant mother.

Since 2017, the Ministry of Health has included the combined test among the services offered free of charge and fee-free. 

Symptoms at week 10

In many women with the tenth week, the “classic” symptoms of pregnancy begin to decrease , such as morning sickness, dizziness and headache.

However, there is nothing to worry about if these symptoms still persist.

In addition to heartburn , swelling and meteorism, the most common symptoms during the tenth week consist of:

  • mild abdominal pain;
  • pain in the lower back and pelvic area;
  • a pain in the round ligament of the uterus;
  • tiredness and fatigue;
  • sleep disturbances (insomnia);
  • “absurd” dreams;
  • rapid mood swings with moments of slight “depression”;
  • bluish veins that protrude mainly around the breasts and navel (phenomenon due to increased blood flow);
  • changes in the breast;
  • a soreness in the abdomen and breasts;
  • weight gain (not excessive);
  • episodes of acne;
  • excessive hunger or thirst;
  • shortness of breath;
  • constipation – could be caused by pregnancy hormones and an expanding uterus;
  • of joint pains.

Signs to watch out for

As mentioned, after the tenth week of pregnancy the risk of miscarriage drops considerably. However, to avoid any possible serious complications, it is advisable to pay attention to some symptoms, such as,

  • excessive and sudden weight gain. If the gain is more than a pound per week you should tell your doctor, who may arrange for additional tests and examinations. In some cases, a very rapid and dramatic weight gain (like 1 kg per week) could be a symptom of health problems such as preeclampsia, for example
  • severe nausea or vomiting blood: not treating these symptoms could harm the child, causing dehydration and weight loss;
  • intense abdominal cramps and/or severe vaginal bleeding: these could be an indication of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage;
  • severe pain in the pelvic area or groin;
  • pain or burning when urinating: they could indicate the existence of urinary tract infections and cystitis;
  • brown secretions;
  • transparent, yellowish or greenish cervical mucus with a particular smell: it could indicate the existence of some infections such as, for example, candidiasis;
  • fever (over 38°C) and chills: this could increase the risk of miscarriage;
  • severe headache, with or without dizziness, and fainting .

Some useful tips for a peaceful pregnancy

  • Try to incorporate plenty of protein-rich foods into your daily diet. Some safe, healthy sources of protein are fresh vegetables such as beans and lentils, nuts, soy products, fish, and meat.
  • according to some studies, ginger is an excellent ally in counteracting the frequent nausea you may have during this period. However, it is good to keep in mind that the effects can be very different depending on the amount taken and that, in any case, there does not yet seem to be an absolute consensus on its effectiveness and the absence of side effects. We advise you to consult a gynecologist or a trusted healthcare professional for indications on how to combat nausea
  • Drink plenty of liquids to always stay well hydrated: even fruits with a high liquid content – such as melons – prevent dehydration.
  • Calcium is an essential nutrient for the fetus: in addition to forming and strengthening the rigid structures of the body, this mineral has various functions, including that of supporting the formation of muscles and nerves, allowing blood to clot and aiding digestion . According to one study, adequate calcium intake in pregnancy may also help reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia and preterm birth . By the time he is an adult, calcium will make up about 2% of a child’s body weight. It is during pregnancy, however, that the fetus’s bones need more calcium than at any other stage in its life – the third trimester in particular.  The human body cannot produce calcium, so it is important that you get enough calcium through your diet. But, in addition to helping your baby grow and develop normally, a healthy calcium intake during pregnancy is also important for your bone health.
  • The dietary reference intake (NRI) for calcium during pregnancy is 700 mg per day, which should be achievable from a well-balanced diet: Due to our moderate consumption of dairy products (dairy products are a rich source of calcium with a good bioavailability Other sources of calcium include grains, green leafy vegetables and fish) most people get enough calcium from their diet. However, if you are vegan or otherwise don’t consume dairy products, you may need to increase your calcium intake with dietary supplements. Your midwife or other healthcare professional will be able to advise you on how much calcium, if any, you should supplement with.
  • To avoid an empty stomach, eat small snacks during the day: this helps to better manage nausea.
  • Avoid taking fatty foods in order to prevent excessive weight gain: in fact, in addition to the normal requirement, you only need 300 extra calories, or 600 extra calories if you are pregnant with twins.
  • Continue to refer to your doctor’s guidance on whether or not you need to supplement your diet with folic acid supplements .
  • Have a dental check-up: this is because the change in blood volume could cause bleeding or swelling of the gums.
  • Continue to do some light exercise (like walking), or sign up for a prenatal yoga class.
  • Ask your partner to accompany you to the medical check-up, so that he too can better understand what you will be getting into from this stage: this will also help him start to bond with the baby.
  • Consider buying some  maternity clothing — you’ll need it soon.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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