How To Understand the Stages of Pregnancy

Just found out you're pregnant? You may have already guessed from some early pregnancy signs, but now it's time to understand the different stages of pregnancy, the effects each will have on your body and how your baby will develop over the next nine months. There are three pregnancy trimesters.

First Trimester (0-12 weeks).

During this initial phase, your body is undergoing rapid changes while it focuses on the new life inside you. This whirlwind experience can be emotional so it is important to have support and understanding. You may experience one or even all of the following symptoms:

  1. Fatigue. Body and hormone changes may cause extreme fatigue. Get some extra sleep and try to take it easy during this time by letting others help you.
  2. Nausea. Eat frequent, nutritious small meals. Carbonated drinks, saltines and dry cereals have been known to help pregnancy nausea. Keep some in your purse, car and by your bed for a quick fix!
  3. Mood changes. Pregnancy can bring on a sense of anxiety. Try to relax.
  4. Food cravings/aversions. You might experience increased cravings or in some cases food aversions.
  5. Skin changes . You may start to experience splotchy skin, may break out or in some cases your blemishes may clear up. Hang tight, this can affect you throughout your nine months and even post-partum as your skin tries to return to normal.
  6. Sensitive gums. Be gentle on your gums but keep them clean. Increased circulation can cause your gums to swell and even bleed. Don't let that stop you from keeping up with dental health.

         What is happening with the baby?

    • The heartbeat begins on the 25th day
    • Arms and legs are developed
    • Digestive system begins to develop
    • Face begins to form
    • Internal organs are formed

Second Trimester (13-27 weeks).

This is the easiest and often most uneventful stage for most women as morning sickness and fatigue generally subside. Take advantage of this phase as when the third trimester hits you can fall back into being very tired with the extra weight you will be carrying around. The second trimester may bring about these symptoms:

  1. Increased appetite . Your baby is growing and taking in more nutrients. You will likely eat more and gain more weight.

  2. Braxton hicks/uterus contractions. These can start during the second trimester (around 20 weeks) and do not bring much pain. They will typically be more apparent in the third trimester.
  3. Increasing belly size. Stretch marks may become visible and your belly may itch as your abdomen stretches. A mild symptom that will likely last throughout pregnancy.
  4. Swelling ankles, feet and face. This is normally caused from fluid retention (edema). Drink water, rest and keep feet elevated when possible. Avoid standing for long periods.
  5. Hair changes. Your hair may grow faster and become coarser. This should adjust post-partum as it will start to fall out for a few months.
  6. Fetal movement/quickening. You should feel the baby kick between 18-22 weeks.

            What is happening with the baby?

    • Languo (body hair) develops
    • Heart beats stronger
    • Begins to move more vigorously
    • Responds to noise
    • Eyes can open
    • Organs are fully developed

Third Trimester (28-40 weeks).

During this stage your baby is fully developed and is now primarily working to put on weight. This will affect your body and your mind will be filled with anticipation of meeting your new baby.

  1. Increased bladder pressure. As baby grows, so will the pressure on your bladder, causing you to make more frequent bathroom trips.
  2. Breast tenderness and leaking. Colostrum may begin to leak from your breasts as they prepare for nursing.
  3. Fatigue. Welcome back to feeling tired! Your body is making more oxygen for the baby and the increased pressure on your lungs may cause shortness of breath. Take this as a sign that it's time to slow down. If you still feel tired after resting, you may be anemic (iron deficiency).
  4. Constipation and heartburn. Remember to eat small meals to reduce these symptoms.
  5. Skin changes . Splotchy skin may become more apparent, especially in your face. The darker the complexion, the more likely you are to see these changes.
  6. Backaches. A bigger baby means more pressure on your back.
  7. Linea nigra . A dark line may appear from the naval.

         What is happening with the baby?

    • Gains weight
    • Responds to light
    • Changes positions preparing for birth


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