During pregnancy, there are three major pregnancy stages – the first trimester, the second trimester and the third trimester. Each of these stages are completely different and present a unique set of challenges, but also magical moments too! Here’s a summary of each of these pregnancy stages, broken down into trimester.
Pregnancy Stage 1- The First Trimester
Week 1 – Week 12: During the first two weeks of pregnancy, you’re not even pregnant. The pregnancy begins on the first day of your last menstrual period, although you won’t conceive until ovulation occurs around week 3. This is where it all begins. Around week 4 is when most women discover their pregnancy in relation to their missed period. Tests have confirmed you may not feel pregnant until week 6, when your hormone production amps up, causing changes to occur. Tender, swollen breasts and the need for more sleep than usual (exhaustion) are a result of the rapidly growing fetus.
You may also begin to experience the dreaded nausea associated with the first trimester. As your hormones fluctuate during the first trimester, you may experience mood swings and headaches. Your uterus has already increased in size, and you may be visiting the bathroom more often as a result.
Make sure you are taking 400 mcg of folic acid each day, this can help to prevent your baby developing neural tube defects.
By the end of the first trimester, you are likely to be feeling very pregnant (that’s a nice way of saying completely exhausted, hormonal, emotional and fed up having your head in the toilet), although to your dismay, you might not look much different to the outside world. You probably won’t have a bump yet, but your clothes may be starting to look a little tight. Most women get their first ultrasound towards to the end of the first trimester.
Pregnancy Stage 2- The Second Trimester
Week 13 – Week 28: you may have felt like you’ve come out of a v=war victorious by the end of the first trimester and now you’re likely to start feeling much better. By week 16, for most women the nausea disappears leaving you free to enjoy your favorite foods again. By week 13 the risk of miscarriage reduces, meaning you may feel more relaxed sharing your good news.
Your bump might be making its grand debut during week 14- 16 and it will soon be time to invest in maternity clothes. Make the most of your renewed energy and engage in some light exercise at least three times a week. Swimming, yoga and walking are all great exercises during pregnancy and will help you stay fit for the birth. If you can manage a 30 minute each day, this will be extremely beneficial for the both of you, emotionally and physically.
By week 19, you may have felt you baby’s first movements in the womb. These delicate flutters will only be noticeable to you at first but within a few weeks, your partner will be able to feel them too. Over the course of the trimester, the fluttering will turn into definite kicks as your baby grows bigger and stronger. Encourage your partner to start bonding with the bump by engaging in conversations with the bump each day and by feeling the kicks. Your baby is already able to recognize your voice.
By the end of the second trimester, you may find the odd stretch marks making an appearance on your bump. Stretch marks are hereditary and there’s not much you can do to avoid this from happening. Using natural moisturizers, such as organic extra virgin coconut oil, has the added benefit of being free from chemicals and irritants while keeping your skin hydrated and reducing discomfort.
Pregnancy Stage 3- The Third Trimester
Week 29 – Week 40 (and beyond): This is the home stretch, and for many, the hardest part of pregnancy. While the nausea and fatigue of the first trimester far behind you, you may now be experiencing the aches and pains of late pregnancy. During this final trimester, your baby is piling on the pounds ready for the birth. You may find sleep elusive now, as you battle with your bump, and frequently wake for bathroom breaks. Use extra pillows to support your bump in bed, and try to limit your fluid intake in the hours leading up to bedtime. Light exercise, such as swimming, yoga and walking, can do wonders for pregnancy aches and pains, so try to stay active. Hemorrhoids are a common complaint by this stage, simply increasing your daily fiber intake can make a huge difference.
During the third trimester, you will probably be tying up loose ends. Painting the nursery, buying last minute baby items and making sure you’ve finished all your big projects at work, will be one of the tasks taking priority. As the big day draws near, you should think about the type of birth you want. Of course, there are no guarantees, but it’s also worth writing a birth plan to share with your healthcare provider. Having your hospital bag packed and keep it with you in the weeks leading up to your due date.
Heartburn and indigestion are common complaints of this trimester. Try to avoid eating spicy foods, and be sure to stay upright immediately after eating to reduce symptoms. Your growing uterus will reach up to your rib-cage this trimester, and you may notice little feet sticking into your ribs throughout the day. Your enlarged uterus may be putting pressure on your already-squeezed-in-bladder, and you may spend half of your day walking to and from the toilet. Your weight gain may slow during the last month of pregnancy, as your baby’s weight gain reduces slightly. Sometime around week 36, your baby will ‘drop’ in preparation for the birth, this is known as ‘lightening’, and you should find yourself better able to breathe from now on. You may also notice a reduction in the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion too, although to counter this, you may find yourself making extra trips to the bathroom.
As you crawl towards the finish line, it may feel that the pregnancy will never end. But, eventually, it will, and then all of your pregnancy complaints will be a distant memory as you gaze at the newborn baby in your arms.