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Stages Of Pregnancy

Stages Of Pregnancy

A full-term pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, beginning from the first day of your last menstrual period. These 40 weeks are divided into three stages called trimesters. Each semester brings on new physical, hormonal, and psychological changes.

Being aware of what changes will occur in your body in these three semesters will help you emotionally and psychologically. Your will be better prepared for these changes and developments.

Being aware of how your baby develops in each stage of pregnancy will trigger feelings and imagination about your baby. This will help you better cope with the pregnancy.

Here is what happens with you and your baby.

First Trimester

First Trimester

The first trimester begins with the first day of your last menstrual period and ends with the last day of the 12th week.

Changes In Your Body

During your last menstrual period, your uterus is preparing for ovulation and your body is gearing up for pregnancy. This is the point in time to start counting.

Your body undergoes many changes during the first trimester. Many hormonal changes occur, which can affect most organs in your body. Sometimes, these hormonal changes can trigger symptoms in the very first weeks of pregnancy. Stopping of your menstrual period is a clear sign that you are pregnant.

The following other changes may occur:

  • Excessive fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • Tender, swollen breasts
  • Your nipples may stick out
  • Upset stomach
  • Morning sickness (nausea with or without vomiting)
  • Cravings for certain foods
  • Distaste for certain foods
  • Mood changes
  • Constipation (difficulty having bowel movements)
  • Urinary frequency (passing urine more often)
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Weight gain or loss

As changes occur in your body, you may have to change your routine activities, such as going to bed earlier or eating frequent, small meals. You need not worry about these changes, as most of these discomforts will disappear as your pregnancy progresses. Some women may not feel any discomfort at all. If this is your second or third pregnancy, you may feel differently this time around.

Your Developing Baby In First Trimester

At weeks 4-5:
  • Your baby’s brain and spinal cord started to form.
  • The heart begins to develop.
  • Arm and leg buds make an appearance.
  • Your baby is still an embryo and one-twenty-fifth inch long.
At week 8:
  • All major organs and external body structures are starting to form.
  • Your baby’s heart beats with a regular rhythm.
  • The arms and legs are now longer, and fingers and toes have started to develop.
  • The sex organs begin to take shape.
  • The eyes are visible and eyelids have developed.
  • The umbilical cord is clearly noticeable.
  • Your baby is almost 1 inch long and weighs less than one-eighth ounce.
  • Your baby will be a fetus at the end of this week and looks more like a human.

At week 12:

  • The nerves and muscles begin to function together.
  • Your baby can make a fist.
  • The external sex organs indicate if your baby is a boy or girl.
  • Eyelids close to protect the developing eyes.
  • Your baby is about 3 inches long and weighs almost an ounce.

A full-term pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, beginning from the first day of your last menstrual period. These 40 weeks are divided into three stages called trimesters. Each semester brings on new physical, hormonal, and psychological changes.

Being aware of what changes will occur in your body in these three semesters will help you emotionally and psychologically. Your will be better prepared for these changes and developments.

Being aware of how your baby develops in each stage of pregnancy will trigger feelings and imagination about your baby. This will help you better cope with the pregnancy.

Here is what happens with you and your baby.

Second Trimester

Second Trimester

Second trimester begins at the beginning of the 13th week and ends with last day of 27th week of pregnancy.

Changes In Your Body

Second trimester of pregnancy is easier than the first for most women. Your initial symptoms like nausea and fatigue may begin to disappear. But you may notice other new changes in your body. Your tummy will expand to accommodate your growing baby. At the end of this trimester, you will feel your baby’s movements.

You may experience the following changes as your body prepares to accommodate your growing baby:

  • Stretch marks on your abdomen, breasts, thighs, or buttocks
  • Patches of brown skin over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip. Patches often match on both sides of the face. This skin pigmentation is called melisma or chloasma.
  • Body aches, such as back, abdomen, groin, or thigh pain
  • Darkening of the skin around your nipples
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (numb or tingling wrists)
  • Itching on the abdomen, palms, and soles of the feet.
  • Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face.
  • A line on the skin starting from belly button to pubic hairline

Your Developing Baby In Second Trimester

At week 16:

  • Muscle and bone tissue continue to develop.
  • Skin begins to take shape. You can nearly see through it.
  • Meconium forms in your baby’s intestinal tract. This will be the baby’s first bowel movement.
  • Your baby starts to make sucking motions with the mouth.
  • Your baby weighs about 3 ounces and is about 4 to 5 inches long.

At week 20:

  • Your baby is more active. You can even feel slight flickering.
  • Fine, downy hair called lanugo and a waxy coating called vernix covers your baby to protect the forming skin underneath.
  • Eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails, and toenails have taken shape. Now, the baby can even scratch itself.
  • Your baby can hear and swallow.
  • Your baby weighs about 9 ounces and is about 6 inches long.

At week 24:

  • Bone marrow starts to produce blood cells.
  • Taste buds develop on your baby’s tongue.
  • Footprints and fingerprints have developed.
  • Real hair starts to grow on your baby’s head.
  • The lungs begin to develop.
  • Your baby begins to sleep and wake at regular intervals.
  • If your baby is a boy, his testicles start moving from the abdomen into the scrotum.
  • If your baby is a girl, her uterus and ovaries are in place, and a lifetime supply of eggs have developed in the ovaries.
  • Your baby has gained more weight by storing fat. The baby now weighs about 1 ½ pounds and is about 12 inches long.

Third Trimester

Third Trimester

The third trimester begins at the beginning of the 29th week and ends with labor.

Changes In Your Body

Some symptoms and discomforts you experienced in your second trimester will continue. As you approach the final stages of your pregnancy, urinary frequency increases forcing you to go to bathroom more frequently. You may also have breathing difficulties. These problems occur, as your baby gets bigger and puts more pressure on your organs. You need not worry, as your baby is fine and these problems will disappear after the childbirth.

The following other body changes may occur in the third trimester:

  • Heartburn
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tender breasts, which may leak a watery pre-milk called colostrum
  • Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Your belly button may stick out
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Contractions (sign of real or false labor)

As you approach your due date, effacing occurs. Effacing means thinning and softening of your cervix. Effacing is a normal, natural process that helps the birth canal (vagina) to open during delivery. Your doctor will check and monitor your progress with a vaginal exam as you near your due date. Despite some discomforts, this is an exciting stage in a woman’s life.

Your Developing Baby In Third Trimester

At week 32:

  • Your baby’s bones are fully developed, but they are still soft.
  • Your baby is more active and movements are more forceful.
  • Your baby can open and close the eyes and can sense changes in light.
  • Your baby’s lungs are not fully developed, but begin practice “breathing” movements.
  • Fine, soft hair (lanugo) that covers your baby begins to fall off.
  • Your baby is gaining about one-half pound of weight a week. Now, your baby weighs about 4 to 4 ½ pounds and is 15 to 17 inches long.

At week 36:

  • Vernix (the protective waxy coating) gets thicker.
  • Your baby is growing fast and getting bigger, and has less space to move around. Movements become less forceful.
  • Your baby now weighs 6 to 6 ½ pounds and is about 16 to 19 inches long.

At weeks 37-40:

  • At 39 weeks, your baby’s organs are ready to function on their own. Now your baby is considered full-term.
  • As you approach your due date, your baby may turn into a head-down position for birth, as most babies do.
  • At birth, your baby may likely weigh between 6 pounds and 9 pounds and be 19 to 21 inches long, as most full-term babies fall within these ranges.