Photo courtesy of Meagan via Flickr

Congratulations on your pregnancy!  You’re probably wondering what changes each stage of pregnancy will bring over the next 40 weeks.  Refer to this page if you’d like to know what happens during each trimester of your pregnancy.

Your pregnancy begins on the first day of your last normal period and can be divided into three trimesters.  The first trimester consists of the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy, the second trimester consists of weeks 13 to 25 of your pregnancy, and the third trimester consists of weeks 26 to 40 of your pregnancy.  Each trimester brings with it new growth, developments, and emotions.

First Trimester

The first trimester is a time of joy, but it also brings with it many unpleasant sensations, such as morning sickness.  Fortunately, morning sickness usually goes away after the first few weeks of pregnancy.

The first trimester is a very important stage of pregnancy because your body undergoes many changes.  In fact, fluctuating hormones affect almost all of the organ systems in your body.  The first trimester is also the time when your baby has the biggest risk of developing complications.

In the first trimester, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Tender, swollen breasts
  • Mood swings
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Heart burn
  • Weight gain
  • Food cravings
  • Frequent need to urinate

Your baby will start developing from just a few cells, and by the end of the first trimester, your baby will weigh about one ounce and be about three to four inches long.  Your baby will also develop eyes, ears, fingers, toes, vital organs, genitals, and teeth buds during this important time.

Second Trimester

By the time you make it to the second trimester, the chance of a miscarriage occurring lessens significantly because your baby has passed the most critical stage of his development.  The second trimester is generally the most enjoyable part of pregnancy because morning sickness is gone by then.  But new pregnancy symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, and back pain, start to appear towards the end of the second trimester.  In addition, you’ll start to gain more weight, your breasts will grow in size, and your belly will get rounder.

Some symptoms you may experience during the second trimester of pregnancy include the following:

  • Darkening of the skin surrounding the nipples
  • Body aches
  • Bleeding gums
  • Discharge
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Itching of palms, abdomen, soles of feet
  • Swelling of ankles, fingers, and face
  • Spider veins and varicose veins
  • Numbing and tingling of hands
  • Stretch marks on thighs, abdomen, breasts, and buttocks
  • Line that runs from the belly button to the pubic hairline

During the second trimester of pregnancy, your baby’s bones will begin to get harder, a fine hair called lanugo will cover his body, and his ears will start to look more like ears.  Your baby will also start to develop sleeping patterns during this stage of pregnancy.  And by the end of the third trimester, you’ll begin to feel your baby moving around in your uterus!

Third Trimester

By the time you reach the third trimester of your pregnancy, you will have to start visiting the doctor every two weeks.  The discomforts you started to feel towards the end of the second trimester will continue into the third trimester.  Your baby will continue getting bigger and start to put pressure on your organs, possibly causing shortness of breath.  Some other symptoms you might feel during the third trimester of your pregnancy include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Backaches
  • The baby moving lower into your abdomen
  • Your belly button sticks out
  • Your breasts feel tender and leak colostrums (pre-milk)
  • Mild contractions
  • Heartburn and constipation

During the third trimester, your baby’s vital organs will be ready to function on their own and fat deposits will begin forming under his body.  As your due date comes closer, your baby will start to move into a head-down position to prepare for birth.  Your cervix will become thinner and softer, and your doctor will perform vaginal exams to check your progress from around the 38th week.  By this time, the countdown begins… your baby could show up at any given moment!

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