Pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, and if your baby is delivered at 37 weeks or earlier, it is considered preterm. Pregnancy is divided into trimesters, the first, second, and third each lasting around 13 weeks, and today I will ‘run through’ the differences in the trimesters and what to expect from each stage.
The First Trimester of Pregnancy
From the time that the egg is fertilized by the sperm is the gestation period lasting for about two weeks. The pregnancy starts when the fertilized egg or ovum implants in the female uterus. The first trimester is from the last menstrual period to the 13th week.
During the first few weeks, you will probably have sore breasts due to hormonal changes, and during this time the baby develops rapidly. Some people suffer from morning sickness, and you may feel nauseated. There is quite a lot of essential information that you will be bombarded with during this time, so it is important to visit the doctor and get your pregnancy confirmed. That way you can be advised on what to do next and what to expect such as:
- Tests required
- What to eat.
- Expected weight gain
- Keeping your pregnancy healthy
By the time the pregnancy is confirmed, you will probably feel a bit tired and have some nausea, this is nothing to worry about and is caused by hormonal shifts and changes. The breast tenderness will get worse as the breasts get bigger, and weight gain will start. If you are vomiting, try to eat smaller meals more often, but some women have no symptoms at all in the first trimester. (I recently counseled a 20-year-old girl who didn’t even know she was pregnant until week 30).
Meanwhile, the baby is developing rapidly, although you can’t feel it yet, the heart begins to beat and arms and legs begin to form.
Checkups for the Mother are:
- An ultrasound to confirm pregnancy, and the baby’s due date will be determined.
- Blood pressure check
- A test to exclude STD (sexually transmitted disease)
- Screening for risk factors anemia, and thyroid levels
- Nuchal translucency test: an ultrasound screening the baby for a genetic disorder.
- Risk factors for the Mother, no smoking, no alcohol, no drugs, no sushi or raw fish or deli meats.
The Second Trimester of Pregnancy
In the second trimester, you will often feel full of energy and well. You will have booked into Tennova hospital or wherever you can, depending on your preference and budget. The second trimester goes from 13 to about 26 weeks, and your body will be undergoing rapid change. Your uterus will grow, and you may feel mild discomfort as your uterine ligaments stretch. This is when you start to see the ‘baby bump’, and if you are feeling the urge to pass urine frequently this will stop as the uterus shifts away from your bladder. Dental care is important during pregnancy, so visit your dentist and get your teeth and gums checked. It is important to stay active during pregnancy, so keep that daily walk happening.
Meanwhile, the baby is continuing to grow, as he is about 1 lb. in weight at 22 weeks. The baby gets all his oxygen from your blood via the placenta. So, it is extremely important that you are not smoking, as you would be depriving your baby of oxygen.
The Third Trimester of Pregnancy
The third trimester can be physically challenging as you are getting bigger, and your center of gravity changes. The baby will be moving around a lot and may keep you awake at night. Try to cut back on your workload at this time as you will need all your energy to give birth and care for your new baby. Keep having your regular medical checks as you will have a few symptoms like breast leakage, contractions, and heartburn.
By week 32 the baby’s bones are fully formed, and he can now open and close his eyes. By week 36 the head should be engaged (ready for birth)
At the end of week 37 baby is full-term, and probably weighs between six and nine pounds and is around 19-21 inches long.
In the third trimester attend all the prenatal classes, so that you know what to expect, and choose a support person to go through the process and be supportive to you in the labor ward. (Preferably someone who has had a baby, as they will know what to expect).
Once you go into labor start timing your contractions, it won’t be long now!
If you have any questions through out this process our staff at LifeCircle are passionate about making you feel comfortable and prepared for your pregnancy and childbirth!