By printing and/or reading this article, you agree that you accept all terms and conditions of use, as specified online.
Get ready for the biggest roller coaster ride of you life. Pregnancy will take you and your body on some twists, turns, ups and downs, you never thought possible. It's not just physical either. Sure, we all know that over the next several months your body will change, but so will your emotions.
The entire 40 weeks of pregnancy is broken down into three stages, better known as trimesters. With each trimester comes new growth for your baby and a unique blend of symptoms for you. You can watch our ANIMATION to get an idea about what is happening inside your body and how your baby is growing during each trimester.
Luckily, according to the National Women's Health Information Center, (NWHIC) there are many ways you can cope with the discomforts of pregnancy while finding joy in the new life taking shape within you.
Read below to learn about what happens in each trimester to you and your baby. You'll also find some suggestions on healthy choices you can make to help you have a healthy pregnancy. (Read about "Healthy Pregnancy") Remember however, that each pregnancy is different and these are just general mileposts you can expect.
Baby on board; it's not just a popular car sign. You've got an extra passenger tagging along. Only there aren't four wheels under this one. Your baby needs your body for a safe ride. It all starts in the first month. According to the March of Dimes (MOD), your body is working overtime in the hormone department. The stopping of your period is the first clear sign that something out of the ordinary is going on. Here are some of the other changes MOD says you may feel early on in your pregnancy:
Your baby has a lot of growing to do. In the first 12 weeks, the baby will experience vast development from head to toe. NWHIC and MOD list some of the following growth factors in the first trimester:
4 - 5 weeks
- brain, spinal cord and heart start to form (Read about "The Brain" "The Spine" "The Heart & Cardiovascular System")
- arm and leg buds appear
- fingers and toes develop
- all major organs begin to form
- heart beats with regular rhythm
- fingers and toes form
- sex organs form
- umbilical cord is visible
- fetus is between a half inch and 1 inch long
- soft nails on fingers and toes
- fine hairs form on skin
- sex organs start to show
- eyelids close
- baby is almost 3 inches long
If you haven't done so yet, it's not too late to start making healthier choices. For example, MOD recommends visiting your healthcare provider as soon as you think you are pregnant. (Read about "Prenatal Care") Better yet, visit your healthcare provider before you get pregnant, to make sure you are healthy. Here are some other suggestions from MOD:
Check with your healthcare provider early if you are diabetic. You may also want to talk with your healthcare provider about testing options such as CVS and blood test such as the "triple" or "quad." (Read about "Pregnancy Testing")
You might be finding a little relief during the next 15 weeks. According to NWHIC, the second trimester is often easier than the first. You could see some of those uncomfortable symptoms disappear, but other changes are taking place - some more noticeable than those in the first trimester. For example, your baby is still growing and so are you. Your abdomen should be more pronounced right about now, according to NWHIC. As you move from week 13 to 28, NWHIC reports that you may be experiencing some of the following symptoms:
NWHIC urges you to contact your healthcare provider should you experience nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice (Read about "Jaundice") or fatigue combined with itching. Also, if you notice a quick and large weight gain, you should also call your healthcare provider.
You are not alone in your growth. Your baby will end this trimester as long as twelve inches. This is the time you may start to feel some movement from within. NWHIC lists the following as some major milestones for baby in the second trimester:
- skin is forming
- meconium (what will be the baby's first bowel movement) develops in the intestinal tract
- the sucking reflex develops
- eyebrows, eyelashes, finger and toe nails have formed
- baby can hear and swallow
- baby is more active
- fine downy hair develops as does a waxy coating, protecting the skin underneath
- lungs are formed but do not work
- sex organs are in place
- baby sleeps and wakes regularly
- foot and fingerprints are formed
- hair growth on head
You are halfway through with your pregnancy, so this is no time to stop taking care of yourself. MOD recommends you continue seeing your healthcare provider for prenatal check-ups. Your healthcare provider may make several suggestions during the second trimester. According to MOD, they may include:
MOD suggests you speak with your healthcare provider before taking any laxatives or antacids to cope with some of the above listed symptoms.
You're almost there. During the third trimester, you may experience some of the same discomforts as you did in the second trimester. There also could be a few more to add onto the list. Your growing baby is putting pressure on your organs, according to NWHIC. The good news is, once the baby is born, these issues should disappear. Here are just some of the other new body changes that could take place, according to NWHIC:
It's still important that you contact your healthcare provider should any of these symptoms become troublesome.
Your baby's bones are fully formed in the third trimester, but they are still soft, according to NWHIC. He or she also starts to kick and jab, and it could feel forceful. NWHIC says some of the other activities your baby may be partaking in include:
- closing and opening of eyes in reaction to the light
- practicing breathing even though lungs are not fully formed
- loss of fine hair
- weight gain
- increased body fat
- protective waxy coating thickens
37 - 40 weeks
- baby is full term by 37 weeks and organs are ready to function on own
- baby may turn to head down position for birth
- weight could be anywhere from 6 - 9 pounds, but healthy babies come in all sizes
The March of Dimes suggests you see your healthcare provider every two weeks starting at the 28th week. As you move toward your due date (Read about "Due Date"), you may be asked to come in on a weekly basis. There are other guidelines MOD suggests you might want to follow:
Call your healthcare provider if you have rapid weight gain, especially if it is associated with a swelling of the ankles. MOD says a 1-2 pound weight loss is common after the 36th week. Your healthcare provider should let you know when to call ahead for your hospital room (Read about "At The Hospital: For Patients") based on your contractions and other changes prior to labor.
If you thought these 40 weeks involved some major changes, just wait, you're just getting started. But whatever you do, enjoy the journey.
All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
© Concept Communications Media Group LLC