Your baby grows a little every day and your body is designed to keep them safe. During each stage of pregnancy, your body goes through many changes. These changes not only affect you but they have a huge impact on your baby. With each trimester comes new experiences and excitement.
Pregnancy is broken down into three trimesters or stages: First, second and third. Typically, each trimester runs for approximately three months, and the foetal stages and maternal changes will happen accordingly throughout.
The first trimester runs from week 0 through to the end of week 13 (month 0 to 3). Week 1 starts on the first day of your last period and you may not look pregnant but the chances are you may be feeling it. Remember the symptoms from chapter 1, these are when they may occur.
The first trimester is when you officially find out you are pregnant. However, taking care of your body before you conceive is equally important and you should already be taking folic acid. Remember you are not technically pregnant the first two weeks of your pregnancy. The first two weeks consist of your period and ovulation, and your body is preparing itself for the pregnancy process.
It is important to keep a close eye out for any unusual/unexpected symptoms that may occur during this trimester. For example, if you notice significant bleeding, severe dizziness, rapid weight gain/loss, severe abdominal pains please call your midwife/doctor, or visit a nearby hospital immediately!
This starts at week 14 and runs through to week 27 (month 4 to 6)
This trimester may be the easiest of the three trimesters, as morning sickness will have hopefully have calmed, but is before your baby bump is large enough to cause discomfort.
You may begin to show; you will feel more energetic and the weight gain in this trimester is slow and steady. You may start to experience heartburn and even though you may have cravings you may not be able to indulge them.
If you have not already told family and friends you are pregnant, this may be the time to do so. Your immune system may be a little compromised, so beware of others who are unwell or have infectious illnesses. Due to the increase in the volume of blood in your body, you may experience nosebleeds, gum bleeding, or a stuffy nose.
The last trimester is week 28 onwards (month 7 to 9). At the end of this trimester you will meet your new baby, however it also comes with its own special set of circumstances.
Your hands, feet, and legs may be swollen due to extra blood volume. But please be aware swelling can sometimes be a sign of preeclampsia, so if you think there is something wrong, contact your health professional immediately.
Your breasts will be larger than normal, this is due to hormonal changes and the production of colostrum. Your breasts may leak, when you least expect it, so it can be handy to have breast pads on hand.
You may experience a ‘show’ towards the end of pregnancy. This is the mucus plug, that seals the entrance of your uterus, slipping away. It is usually a clear, thick jelly-like substance but can be slightly tinged with blood (or old brown blood). However, if you notice any fresh bleeding with this discharge, contact your midwife/doctor.
Backache caused by your ever-expanding baby bump may be uncomfortable and annoying, and you may feel achy. Sleeping on your side, with a pillow between your knees, can help ease the backache and pains in your body.
Braxton Hicks contractions can be alarming if you don’t know what they are. Some women describe Braxton Hicks contractions as a tightening in the abdomen that comes and goes, and that these “false” contractions feel like mild menstrual cramps. Braxton Hicks contractions may be uncomfortable, but they do not cause labour or open the cervix. If you are unsure about your contractions and think they may be real, call you midwife or doctor for advice.
Other symptoms during this trimester include, fatigue, heartburn, constipation, hemorrhoids, shortness of breath, spider and varicose veins, and swelling.
You are probably feeling like you are ready to explode but you are almost there. Your body is preparing for labor and if your baby has yet to turn they may do so now. At week 36, your baby’s head has ‘engaged’ (dropped) and is preparing for its arrival into the world. You could give birth at any moment, so start to prepare things you are going to need for when the baby arrives and decorate the nursery.