Whether you are expecting for the first time or you have already been down that road before, you might want a roadmap for the journey. It’s one of the most joyous times in your life, and pregnancy can also be one of the most confusing times in your life. Everyone you know will suddenly be talking about their own pregnancy stories, or their friend’s aunt who is two weeks overdue. Along with all the advice and stories, you'll probably hear some technical jargon. It’s enough to make your head spin.
It’s good to know as much as you can about your baby’s development. You will also want to have a good grasp on what is happening to your own body. Pregnancies are separated into trimesters. Basically, trimesters are a simple way of dividing the pregnancy into stages.
- First trimester: 0-12 weeks (1-3 months)
- Second trimester: 13-27 weeks (4-6 months)
- Third trimester: 28-40 weeks (7-9 months)
The First Trimester
For the first couple of weeks, you won’t even know you are pregnant. You may start to see some signs that make you wonder. Signs could include breast tenderness, fatigue, or morning sickness among others. Morning sickness can actually be anytime during the day, so don’t let the name fool you! Some women feel wonderful, and others are miserable.
Once you figure out that you are expecting, call your doctor or make inquiries with maternity care specialists. They are a valuable resource in helping you know how your body is changing and what to expect during this time. Your doctor will also guide you on which foods and medicines are good to avoid during pregnancy.
By the time you find out the good news, your body is already changing on the inside. Your little peanut is growing each day, and by the end of the first trimester all the major organs will be developed! A search online for “Pregnancy timeline” or “Pregnancy week by week” will turn up thousands of results to give you an idea of how big your little one is each week. Some are humorous and some are more technical. Pick one that you like and check in regularly.
The Second Trimester
If you are suffering with morning sickness, this is the milestone you’ve likely been waiting for. Even though the nausea slows down, the baby’s growth is still going full speed ahead. The second trimester is when most women have more energy and feel somewhat normal. Take advantage of this time to start planning for your baby’s arrival.
Between the 18th and 22nd week, you will most likely have an ultrasound to check on the baby. You can also find out the sex of the baby, unless you want it to be a surprise. Another exciting event during this trimester is feeling the first little flutters of movement from your baby! Besides moving around like a soccer player, your baby’s kidneys, eyes, and ears are developing. By the end of the second trimester, your little peanut has grown to the size of a ruler!
Along with all the growth for the baby, your belly will be growing too. If you have been hiding the pregnancy up until this point, that is going to start to become next to impossible. With all the expanding to make room for baby, you may also experience some aches and pains.
The Third Trimester
You are in the home stretch now! Your baby is really gaining weight now, and is beginning to look a lot more like a newborn. All organs will continue to mature, and lungs will start to develop even more. As the baby grows, he is running out of space which can make you very uncomfortable. You may notice that you are very tired, and your skin may be itching from stretching to make room for baby. You’ll also find you are making more frequent trips to the restroom. Since the baby has no where to go, he will likely be sitting right on your bladder! Besides your frequent trips to the restroom, you will be making more frequent trips to your doctor. It’s important to keep in contact, especially if you feel anything is off during this time.
You may experience Braxton Hicks contractions as you near your due date. These are your body’s way of getting ready for the real thing. Unlike real labor, these will not be regular and will not feel stronger over time.
The thought of the big day can bring some anxiety to new moms. It’s especially important to rest and relax during these last few weeks of your pregnancy. Plan a fun outing with your partner, get a massage, or go out with your girlfriends. Do things that are fun and make you feel good about yourself! When baby comes, it’s harder to make time to have these fun outings.
Obviously, the big milestone of the third trimester is the birth! By 37 weeks, your baby is considered full term. His lungs and body are fully developed, and it should be safe to enter the world. Ideally, he should stay put for a couple more weeks. It’s normal for a birth to be anywhere between 37-42 weeks. Don’t expect it to be on your due date because only about 5% of baby’s are actually born on their due date.
Be patient and enjoy the last few weeks of your pregnancy!