Development Stages of Pregnancy

Published: 10-Apr-2017      Updated: 02-Aug-2018 By Jim Ferry
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The First Trimester

During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy your body undergoes rapid hormonal changes. By the 4th week of the trimester you will start to notice changes (including the absent  period).  Your baby's nervous system, brain and spine are just forming so this is a good time to ensure your intake of folic acid and other essential nutrients is adequate (See:  Pregnancy & Nutrition).  Also from week 4 you may begin to experience morning sickness, which can occur at any time of the day.  In some pregnancies this can be fairly easily settled by snacking on plain dry biscuits.

During the 5th & 6th week of pregnancy the placenta and umbilical cord have developed and the tiny embryo that will become your baby is being nourished within your body. You are likely to experience more frequent urination, your breasts will be increasingly sensitive, and you may feel the need for a quieter pace of living with increased rest.

Pregnancy Trimester 1

In week 7 of pregnancy, the symptoms of morning sickness can intensify. For some women it can become a serious problem, occasionally resulting in dehydration and even requiring a brief stay in hospital.  It is important to maintain adequate fluid intake now and in the weeks ahead. You can include water, fresh juices and smoothies, herb teas, and ginger tea or ginger beer.   Ginger in various forms may help allay the feeling of nausea and papaya can help sooth your digestive system.  Also, if you are finding it difficult to eat normal meals you may try having frequent snacks or mini-meals instead.

From the 8th week, even though it is still very tiny your embryonic baby's heart is beating fairly steadily, organs begin to function and fingers and toes begin to form. By week 9 you will be aware of your 'baby bump' and your breasts will be noticably larger and may be veined.  Your baby now has eyes, nose and ears and can bend his or her arms, and from week 10 also has hair and fingernails.  If your sense of smell has not already become more acute, it will do so around week 10 or 11. Because of this, you may need to remove some items from your environment or move yourself away from them to alleviate a feeling of sickness. Eg gas bottles from which a tiny amount of gas may be escaping,  paint from a recently painted room,  rubbish bins, insect sprays,  bathroom chemicals,  traffic fumes, or certain foods. Even perfumes that you once enjoyed may now be intolerable.

By now you will probably be aware that you are feeling things more acutely than usual, and your emotions and moods can take flight unexpectedly due to hormonal changes.  You may be more impressionable than previously. This is a very good time to have a friend, sister or mentor around - someone who has already been through a pregnancy and who can provide reassurance and a calming and protective influence when you most need it.  In the final two weeks of your first trimester your baby is actively moving around and kicking frequently, though you may not feel it yet.  If you have not already done so you may want to update your wardrobe with more supportive and comfortable bras and other clothes that fit your reshaped body and show off your baby bump. If money is an issue, check out your local op-shop. 

The Second Trimester

Most women find the second trimester much easier than the first. Many of the uncomfortable symptoms, including morning sickness, tend to fade away after week 12, and are replaced by that "glow" that often surrounds pregnant women. You will usually feel more serene and at peace with the world and are likely to wholeheartedly enjoy being pregnant. And somewhere during this trimester you will feel your baby move. This can be quite memorable and fulfilling, as you become acutely aware of the separate, individual life growing within you.  Underscoring that will be your mid-trimester ultrasound, usually completed by week 20. This will show your baby moving and responding and will reveal facial features and expressions and also gender. By now your baby's hearing is developed, and by week 24 he or she is waking and sleeping regularly.

As your baby continues to grow, your own body will continue to adjust to carrying it.  You may experience backache and other body aches, and stretch marks can appear.  If you have particular concerns during this time, don't hesitate to raise them with your medical professional.

Pregnancy Trimester 2 and 3

The Third Trimester

By week 28 you are entering the final stage of pregnancy, leading up to the birth.  Your baby is starting to gain weight quickly, and to kick more sharply. Over the next 6-8 weeks however, this will slow down and your baby's movements will be less forceful as he or she has less space for moving around.  By the end of 37 weeks your baby is considered full term.  As your due date approaches, your baby will probably turn around and be head-down ready for birth. Check in with your doc to verify your baby's position.

Natalia simental
Apr 04 '18


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