In this article, we will learn more about what changes you can expect during the progressing pregnancy stages week by week.
A woman’s pregnancy stages are divided into three trimesters, each lasting about 12 or 13 weeks, beginning a couple of weeks before the actual conception.
- Pregnancy Stages: The 1st Trimester
- Pregnancy Stages: 2nd Trimester
- Pregnancy Stages: 3rd Trimester
In this article, we will learn more about what changes you can expect during the progressing pregnancy stages week by week, and the exciting milestones and developments that happen as you and your baby move forward to the stages of pregnancy month by month.
Pregnancy Stages: The 1st Trimester
Each trimester brings new challenges and development in the mother-to-be’s body as well as in the fetus. Certain discomforts such as morning sickness may arise but it does not necessarily affect all women.
A woman experiences a lot of symptoms and changes during this pregnancy stage as her body needs to adjust to the hormonal shifts that occur during pregnancy. Such transformations have yet to be visible physically, but on the inside, many changes are already taking place.
Aside from an increase in the woman’s estrogen and hormonal level which causes episodes of nausea and vomiting, here’s a list of some of those 1st-trimester changes:
- The rising level of progesterone, which prompts sleepiness, makes a woman feel more tired than usual during this pregnancy stage. It may be the same hormone responsible for us dozing off 15 minutes into a movie night.
- Mom-to-be may need to urinate more frequently as her uterus rests on her bladder due to its sudden growth, adding more strain into an already tumultuous movie night.
- Another side effect of a rising pregnancy hormone level is that a woman’s breasts take an awful beating. Her areola, the skin around the nipples, turn darker and larger and her breasts feel swollen and tender.
- A pregnant woman’s digestive system automatically slows down as it absorbs more nutrients for both mommy and baby. This, unfortunately, triggers heartburn, bloating, gastronomic issues, and constipation.
- A woman’s heart rate increases during pregnancy as it attempts to pump more blood into her uterus. This upsurge in blood circulation gives her a rosier glow and a somewhat “pinkish” complexion.
Also, studies show that the baby develops his heart, lungs, arms, legs, brain, and spinal cord during the pregnancy stages the first month, though the embryo will only be about the size of a pea.
By the end of the second month, it is highly prohibited for a woman to take harmful medications as it may affect the development of the baby’s other essential features such as the ankles, wrists, fingers, and eyelids.
The woman must be extremely careful during the pregnancy stages 1st trimester because it is during this period when most miscarriages and birth defects occur.
Here are a few of most asked questions about a pregnancy stages week by week, particularly in the first trimester:
- What should I avoid eating during my first trimester? A woman has to eat healthy as this is the most critical of all the pregnancy stages. Caffeine and raw or undercooked food are not allowed, making frappes and sushi a no-no.
- Can you harm the baby in the first trimester? The fetus is in its most vulnerable in the first 12 weeks. It is important for the mother to stay healthy during this period and to avoid harmful chemicals, tobacco, and radiation.
- When should I tell people that I’m pregnant? Most parents-to-be wait until the end of the first trimester to make the big announcement but it all depends on how excited you are.
Pregnancy Stages: 2nd Trimester
Some of the more strenuous side effects of early pregnancy may lessen on the pregnancy stages 2nd trimester, as the woman’s body may have already adjusted to the shift in her hormones.
The notable increase in her energy level and the absence of nausea and vomiting is most welcome, but so are these changes:
- A more visible baby bump appears, stretching the skin on her belly, causing it to itch.
- The future mom gains more pregnancy weight in the front of her body, setting off a period of backaches.
- Experts who track the pregnancy stages week by week may notice an increase in the baby’s activity between the 16th and 18th week as the fetus performs more kicks, squirms, and turns.
If everything is well, doctors would typically advise the mother to go on a mini-vacation at the 28th week since it is during this pregnancy stage that an expecting woman is generally at her best health, the risk of miscarriage and premature labour is low, and aeroplane travel is discouraged a few weeks later.
The fetus, on the other hand, goes through a stage of rapid growth in the second trimester. The baby’s gender will be more certain between the 18th and 22nd weeks, as well as some other features such as eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails, and neck by the fourth month.
Overseeing the stages of pregnancy month by month, here are some of the most interesting advancements that transpire on the fetus midway through its development:
– Due to the development of more of its features by the fifth month, the fetus becomes more active as felt by the mother.
– Brain development, hair growth, and eyes beginning to open are a few of the milestones of the fetus by the sixth month.
Although all pregnancy stages are equal in importance, this period is not as tedious as the first three months. Here are a few things that moms-to-be ask about her pregnancy’s second trimester:
1. What should I avoid in my second trimester?
This stage may not be as pivotal as the previous one but it is still important for the mother to stay healthy by eating healthy food. The mom should avoid the same things that she did during the pregnancy stages first trimester as well as processed food.
2. How can I stay healthy during the second trimester?
A woman must eat more than usual during this stage as she is now eating for two. Regular exercise, prenatal vitamins, and lots of water can be helpful too.
3. What happens in the second trimester of pregnancy?
At this stage, the woman should experience physical changes such as growing breasts and belly.
Pregnancy Stages: 3rd Trimester
Being the final stage of pregnancy, this is the most exciting among all the trimesters as the baby is expected to come very shortly.
Shortness of breath may be experienced by the dad due to excitement, while the mom goes through this as a result of a larger than normal uterus pushing against her diaphragm.
Aside from her swelling ankles, hands, feet, and face due to excessive fluid retention, here are a few notable changes in a pregnancy’s third trimester:
- Dark patches may appear on her face as well as stretch marks on her belly, breasts, and thighs.
- Drops of yellow liquid may at times leak from her breasts as they prepare themselves for breastfeeding.
- Bouts of false labor may begin to occur as the due date gets closer, making this anxious ridden period the most thrilling among all the pregnancy stages.
- Finding a comfortable sleeping position might become a bit more difficult, which may require women to utilize tools such as pregnancy pillows for comfort.
As parents become overly excited for the baby’s arrival, the little bundle of joy can perform kicks and stretches that intensifies the anticipation even more. Here are a few of the changes and development that a fetus experiences at this stage:
– By the seventh month, the fetus responds to light and sound and its eyes can now close and open.
– Bones become more defined in the eighth month, prompting weight gain on the fetus as several regions of the brain are formed.
– At the home stretch, the fetus’s instinct is to turn head-down as it prepares for delivery. It is also in the ninth month when the lungs mature fully as it gets ready to function on its own.
A full-term pregnancy lasts about 39 to 40 weeks. The fetus gains weight rapidly towards the end of the third trimester as it braces itself for its life outside the womb. Here are some of the questions that full-term mothers usually ask:
1. Is the third term the hardest?
It is in this pregnancy stage when the mother gains an average of 1-2 pounds per week, making even the easiest task such as getting in and out of the bed or walking up the stairs laborious.
2. What should I avoid during the third trimester?
An expectant mother should avoid most of the things that she’s been avoiding since the pregnancy began.
But it is important that, if possible, long car trips and aeroplane flights should first be thrown into the back seat.
3. What should I do in the third trimester?
As difficult as it may be, long walks can help deliver the baby easily. This mild exercise at the latter part of the pregnancy stages guides the baby down from the uterus to the vagina which can help make a natural delivery a breeze.
The feeling of new life unfolding inside her body is an experience that a soon-to-be-mom will always cherish.
Sure, there may be periods when she does not feel her best, but each of these pregnancy stages is an amazing adventure that she will always treasure.