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  • Writer's pictureGrace Health

What Happens During The Stages Of Pregnancy?

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

It can be exciting to finally find out you are pregnant, especially after months of trying. Even more exciting is the thought of embarking on the journey of hosting new life inside you. Excitement aside, there are several changes to expect all classified under stages of pregnancy. While the experience might not always be pleasant throughout the different stages, knowing what is ahead helps you prepare both physically and psychologically.

If you are looking for a guide on how to conceive, Grace has compiled one just for you.

A “normal,” full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks and can range from 37 to 42 weeks. Be sure to start counting from the first day of the last menstrual period, which is around two weeks before conception occurs. It’s divided into three trimesters. Each trimester lasts between 12 and 14 weeks or about 3 months. During each trimester, changes take place in a pregnant person's body as well as in the developing fetus.

Let's learn more about each stage and what to expect.

First trimester

This is generally the first three months of pregnancy and will span from conception to 12 weeks. It starts with the first day of your last normal menstruation cycle and conception takes place during your fertile window when you ovulate. You may not look pregnant during the first trimester, but your body is going through several changes as it accommodates your growing baby.

Some of these changes are accompanied by many early pregnancy symptoms, such as:

  • morning sickness

  • fatigue

  • headaches

  • constipation

The first trimester is vital for the development of your baby. It’s important to maintain a healthy diet, including adding an adequate amount of folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects. Also, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. These habits, and any drug use (including some prescription drugs), have been linked to serious pregnancy complications and birth abnormalities.

When it comes to testing, your first doctor’s appointment should take place 6 to 8 weeks after your last menstrual period. Here your pregnancy will be confirmed by another urine test or a blood test. You may also be asked to do some blood work to check your immunity, nutritional levels, and indicators of the health of the baby.

One of the biggest risks during this stage is miscarriage. To avoid it. Doctors recommend:

  • Moderating caffeine consumption (to less than 200mg/day)

  • Avoid deli meat and shellfish

Second trimester

For the majority of people, this stage has been described as the most comfortable. It ranges from weeks 13- 27 of your pregnancy. Most of the early pregnancy symptoms will gradually disappear. You are likely to feel a surge in energy levels during the daytime and be able to enjoy a more restful night’s sleep. Let’s not forget this is the stage where your baby bump will start to show.

Meanwhile, other changes that take place include:

  • Stretch marks may appear on the abdomen, thighs, breasts, and buttocks.

  • The areola, the skin around the nipples, becomes darker.

  • The skin on the face may darken in patches.

  • The ankles, fingers, and face may swell.

  • Itching may occur. If it happens with vomiting or yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, known as jaundice, seek medical advice.

Another highlight of this stage is being able to feel the baby’s movements usually by week 20.

As you continue with regular checkups, An anatomy ultrasound might be performed between weeks 18 and 22. At this scan, you may be able to find out the sex of your baby. Let your doctor know if you would like to know or if you wouldn’t. Parts of the baby’s body will also be measured and assessed to make sure that they’re functioning and growing well.

These body parts include the:

  • Heart

  • Lungs

  • Kidney

  • Brain

Third trimester

This trimester begins at the 28th week until when you give birth. Some symptoms to expect during this stage include;

  • Insomnia

  • Mood changes

  • Heartburn

  • Shortness of breath

  • Swelling in the ankles, face, and fingers

  • Leakage of milk from the breasts

  • Other breast and nipple changes

  • Frequent urination

  • Haemorrhoids

  • Braxton hicks -contractions which feel real but are not

  • Real contractions, which indicate labour

This being the last trimester before birth, you are expected to make pre-natal clinic visits a little more often.

The doctor will:

  • Test your urine for protein

  • Check blood pressure

  • Measure the fetal heart rate

  • Measure the approximate length of your uterus

  • Check your hands and legs for any swelling

The doctor will also determine your baby’s position and check your cervix to monitor how your body is preparing for childbirth.

This is also a good time to educate yourself about labour and delivery and prepare for it.

In conclusion

The pregnancy journey is one filled with numerous changes. They are full of new experiences, great uncertainty, upheavals, and many new emotions. It is advisable to remain consistent with your check-ups to ensure that you deliver a healthy baby. All the best

Stay informed, stay in control Are you in any of the stages of pregnancy?

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