When a woman becomes pregnant, it is an exciting time, but it also comes with many questions. Even before conception, a woman may wonder what changes her body and baby are going to experience. In this article, we will look at the stages of pregnancy, what happens to both mom and baby, and outline what to expect!
A full-term pregnancy lasts approximately 40 weeks. Most women will not even realize they are pregnant until weeks 4-6. While pregnancy begins at conception, and the 40 weeks are counting, the hormones in the body are not strong enough to detect until about 20 days post-conception. Pregnancy is broken down into three time periods called trimesters. Each Trimester lasts roughly 13 weeks. At 36 weeks, a baby is considered full-term and has a 99% survival rate and little to no risk of complications; however, the longer a fetus can remain in utero and closer to the 40-week mark, the more developed and healthy it will be.
The First Trimester is from conception through week 12. During this stage is when most women will discover that they are pregnant. If you are attempting to conceive, you should be able to test for pregnancy the day of your missed period. Some highly sensitive tests on the market can detect HCG, the “pregnancy hormone,” early in the process. However, most recommend that you wait until a few days after you missed your period for more accurate results. By a week after your missed period, there is very little chance of a false result on a home test.
Other early signs that you are pregnant may include:
- Swollen or tender breasts
- Lack of a period
- Food aversions
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Mood Swings
Baby’s Development – 1st Trimester
During the First Trimester, a series of critical developments begin. During this phase, the brain, spinal cord, heart, and nervous system begin to develop; this is why it is especially important to stop drinking or smoking if you wish to become pregnant or think you are pregnant. The baby’s arms, legs, and sex organs also begin to develop, and by week 12, gender will be visible. By the end of the First Trimester, the baby will be about 3 inches long.
The Second Trimester consists of weeks 13 through 27. This is the period many refer to as the “honeymoon” period as it is when most women feel their best. Morning sickness most likely has faded, the fatigue of the first semester has subsided, and you and your body have become more aligned with the changes pregnancy creates.
Possible 2nd Trimester Issues:
- Bleeding Gums
- Breast enlargement
- Leg Cramps/Swollen Ankles and Feet
- Varicose Veins (legs and vaginal)
- Noticeable Weight Gain/Switch to Maternity Clothes
Baby’s Development – 2nd Trimester
During the second semester, your baby will become big enough for you to feel it move! Your uterus will have dropped to 3-4 inches below your navel, and you may feel increased pressure. Your baby’s eyes and ears are developing, and facial features and fingerprints have developed! Critical brain development continues, and your baby begins to taste and swallow.
The Third Trimester is weeks 28-40. At 28 weeks gestation, 90% of babies can survive outside of the womb with proper medical care, but significant and critical development is still occurring. You are not considered overdue until you hit 42 weeks, at which point induction will most likely be recommended.
3rd Trimester Expectations:
- Your belly will almost double in size
- Fatigue Returns
- Braxton Hicks Contractions (practice ones!)
- Lack of Bladder Control
- Back Ache
- Enlarged and Leaking Breasts
Baby’s Development – 3rd Trimester
- Brain development continues
- Five senses are required
- Bones will form from the existing cartilage
- Digestive system
- Around 34 weeks baby will turn and face head down
For optimal development and health for both mom and baby, it is essential to stay active, eat healthily, take the recommended supplements, and attend all recommended prenatal appointments.