A woman’s pregnancy is an utmost important part of her and her child’s life. A modern mother is a wholesome human being whose life is turned into a different direction as she reaps a fetus inside her body. In this article, there is an elaborated knowledge about the developmental periods of pregnancy. The stages of pregnancy week by week are summarised in this article.
The pregnancy typically lasts for 40 weeks maximum from the first day of the last menstrual period till the date of baby’s birth. The process has been divided into three stages called trimesters. There are various changes that take place in the fetus throughout the maturing period. Before getting pregnant you can determine your fertility using an at-home AMH fertility test.
Missing periods are the first sign of pregnancy. A pregnancy test is a method that helps women get ensured and aware of their pregnancy status. These tests fall accurate if taken after a week of missing menstrual cycle. The medical test at a clinic is better than the home test because it gives the results much sooner.
The gain in a women’s weight after pregnancy is reflected and dependant on her Body Mass Index prior to pregnancy. The women who are obese gain lesser but the women are underweight gain more. The women who are of normal weight gain between 25 to 30 pounds. There are recommendations to take a particular caloric intake for the women who exercise very less or minimal in each trimester.
Distribution of gained weight
Weight becomes befriended with almost every organ of a pregnant woman’s body and makes her a bit more fleshy from every corner. 71/2 pounds is the fetal weight as determined by the end of pregnancy. The baby fertilizer which nourishes it is called a placenta accounts for 11/2 pounds of weight. Uterus turns two pounds. There is a fluid surrounding the baby called Amniotic fluid and that is two pounds in weight. The tender breasts of women become two more pounds in weight during pregnancy. The women gain with an increased blood volume up to four pounds and also the fluids increment account for the same amount of increase in weight. The excessive fat, protein and nutrients storage leads to seven more pounds of weight increment. The culmination of all these individual sources is 30 pounds in weight.
A woman goes through various sorts of challenges with the growth of the fetus. Urinary tract Infection, severe morning sickness leads to persistent vomiting and nausea during the first twelve weeks. The symptoms can be weight loss, lack of hydration requiring fluids and medical treatment. Anemia, high blood pressure may also occur. High BP increases the risk of preterm pregnancy and potential dangers related to it. The excessive gain in weight or obesity puts the mother and baby’s health at risk. A doctor should be consulted about the amount of weight gain that is permissible for health. Developing diabetes that results in excessive hunger and thirst, fatigue and frequent urination are the possibilities and symptoms that women should be aware of.
The Trimester’s stages of Pregnancy
The First Trimester
1st trimester lasts from the day of conception (first week) until 13th week. Early changes signifying pregnancy are present in this trimester. Ovulation stops with the advent of fertilization and implantation marked by the missed period. There are some other changes too that might take place. Hormonal changes taking place in a woman’s body affects almost every organ of her body. These include swollen tender breasts, protruding nipples, extreme fatigue, cravings for foods, constipation, indigestion in the chest called heartburn, headache, mood swings. Some women have a change in their daily life cycle whereas some do not need to face a lot of trouble. Going to bed early, eating food frequently in smaller portions are such changes.
Another important point is that a woman who has faced pregnancy in her past can feel completely different with each subsequent one.
The first 4 weeks
The end of four months and your baby will develop the major systems and organs start forming, eyes, ears begin taking shape and while the heart starts beating, the baby also develops ting limbs which are equivalent to buds.
During the first 4 weeks, the baby develops like:
- Its nervous starts forming
- Its Heart begins to form
- Arms and leg buds start developing
- The baby is now an embryo
End of 8th weeks
As the body systems have already started taking shape, in this phase the development takes place further i.e. your baby will grow nervous, digestive, urinary and circulatory system. During this period the human shape begins developing and the features of your baby will be defined and this is when you would take an ultrasound test and you can clearly see the baby fingers and toes.
At the eight weeks, the embryo turns or one should say it graduates to become a fetus. The development is apparent as one witness:
- The Umbilical cord to which the fetus is attached turns completely visible
- Its heart starts beating
- The main body organs have begun forming
- Arms and legs grow longer
- The facial features start developing
- Sex organs, toes and fingers start forming
- The baby now turns an inch long
9 to 13 weeks
In this period, arm and legs are completely developed. That is the external organs as well are developed as the baby now has nails in fingers and toes. The movement of the fetus is also excess in this period as compared to the previous phases. During this period, your baby will also grow eyelids and so will the voice box develop in the baby’s trachea.
This twelfth week is basically marked as the end of trimester one the baby shows some more interesting developing features which are as follows:-
- The external sexual organs that help to determine whether the baby is a girl or a boy start appearing (This nowhere promotes gender determination)
- The baby is able to make hand activities like drawing a fist because the nerves and muscles begin working now on
- The head growth slows down
- The baby turns three inches long
- It almost weighs an ounce
- The eyelids get closed in order to protect the developmental process of eyes
- They open only by the twenty-eighth week then
Time for trimester second to begin
This is the time period between 14th to 26th weeks. By the mid of Third month, the women start getting the actual real pregnancy vibes. It is that time when most of them like revealing it or sharing it with the outside world about their pregnancy. Roughly the fourth, fifth and sixth month of pregnancy is included in trimester two. The baby can be felt moving inside by the end of trimester two.
These months are relatively less harsh with respect to discomfort like nausea, fatigue, morning sickness. You start feeling more energetic as a comparison to the first trimester. It is thus an easier part of pregnancy than the beginning one which is trimester one. The abdomen expands as the baby grows and the baby bump starts showing. There are various physical as well as emotional changes too.
Some of the changes include:
- Darkening of the skin around the breast nipples
- Carpal tunnel syndrome which includes trickling and numb hands
- Darkening skin or patches over the forehead, nose, upper lips and cheeks which is also known as the mask of pregnancy.
- Linea nigra which is a line running from stomach to pubic hairline
- Pain in, groin, abdomen and back or thigh aches
- Stretch marks appear on the buttocks, breasts, abdomen, and thighs
- Ankles, face, and fingers swell. But a sudden gain a lot of weight or swelling is a serious condition and an immediate consultation with a doctor is required.
- Abdomen, palm and feet soles itching
Decision-Making time for every pregnant woman
Now before getting an insight about each week that constitutes the second trimester there is an insight on the decisions and choices that come in the way of women during their second trimester period.
- Second ultrasound scan and blood tests are offered around 20 weeks of pregnancy. The scan checks if there is any concern related to the baby’s growth. It is your choice to go or restrict for these tests but it is good to through these tests and the ultrasound scan.
- The time to decide on the place of delivery arrives at this point. Whether it has to be home delivery or at the hospital, the place needs to be finalized by now.
- Smoking is injurious for your health and for the baby’s health ultimately. Hence, if you are a smoker, smoking should be stopped with the help of methods that provide control over this habit. There might be many possible harmful effects of smoking on your baby.
- The labor challenges can become a bit manageable for the active mom. Thus exercising for women becomes a helpful tool in facing labor and becoming healthier.
Baby’s growth during the second trimester
By the 14th week, the baby grows to the size of kiwi fruit from head to bottom.
In the 15th week, it takes the size of a small pear. The baby by the 16th week weighs almost three ounces which is four to five inches long. The nearly translucent skin begins to form. The baby becomes more active by the 20th weeks and the kicking movements can be felt.
The baby is covered by the protective hairy and waxy coating. It can swallow and hear as well. It turns six inches longer by now. The taste buds form with completion of twenty-four weeks. The hair starts growing on the baby’s head. The baby has a sleep cycle which is regular. The bone marrow of the baby starts forming blood cells. By now it starts storing fat and turns one and a half pounds in weight.
Time For The Third Trimester
(Between 27th to 40th weeks)
The final stage of pregnancy is stage three by which the baby starts putting pressure on the mother’s internal organs. The discomforts of the second trimester along with the added ones of trimester third. Frequent urination and difficulty in breathing problems are faced by the mother and this ends after pregnancy.
There are more physical changes faced during the third trimester like:
- Protruding belly button
- Watery pre-milk called colostrum leaks from tender breasts
- Difficulty sleeping, heartburn
- Contractions can be a real sign of labor or sometimes false
- Baby moves towards lower in the abdomen and its dropping can felt
As the women’s due date approaches the changes, the cervix turns thinner and softer. The process is called effacement that helps the cervix to open during childbirth. Examination by the doctor as the due date approaches is a must.
Growth of baby from thirty-second and thirty-sixth week
Between the thirty-second and thirty-sixth week, the development continues:-
- The Baby grows fifteen to seventeen inches long by thirty-second week
- The bones grow completely and are soft.
- Baby gains half a pound every week and weighs four to four and a half pounds
- Its eyes open and close
- Increase in movements and kicks
- Fine hair formed around the baby begins to fall
- Breathing movements that practicing ones occur but lungs are not yet fully formed
- The waxy protective coating gets thickened by thirty-sixth week
- Apparently, body fat increases
- Baby’s movements decrease
- It weighs six to six and a half pounds by now and grows sixteen to nineteen inches tall
- With a bigger size baby gets less space to move
Finally, between 37th to 40th weeks time period in pregnancy, the baby is considered a full-term baby. As the due date approaches the baby might change its position with its head-down for birth. The women’s body organs are capable to work on their own. Healthy babies fall in various sizes and weight. At an average, the weight falls between six to nine pounds.
Which stage is the most crucial of all stages?
It is the first trimester which is the most crucial of all the other stages. This is the stage, i.e. from the first month to the third month, which is the most crucial as it determines the heart health of the baby in the later life period. Research states that babies who were small at that stage have an increased risk of developing heart-related issues after they become an adult. In the first trimester, the fetus foregoes a lot of changes, that is it begins developing the heart and other important sense organs which is why the stage is so crucial.
Sources also state that smaller children have a lot of fat around the abdomen and the difference in fat is more than the normal rate. This is not limited to the first trimester, as babies who are born smaller at the time of birth also experience major issues as they are expected to have higher blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol.
Changes are the most in the first trimester and so is the fetus prone to issues from various circumstances including medication and drugs. Hence, all the bad of the habits are to be avoided, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, and lastly cut on certain medications in order to ensure the development of the baby. Growth of your baby would be the most in the first trimester as your baby will grow all the parts within the stipulated time and become 4 inches long. This is by the end of the 12 weeks duration and hence, it is very crucial that you stick onto a healthy diet which would be healthy for your baby and avoid may harmful things.
Pregnancy Tips For Women
Now as we reached the end of this guide, below are some normal tips related to pregnancy.
- The food intake should be very healthy, sufficient and correct for the welfare of both baby and mother.
- The mothers that are working can continue working till the time their doctor allows them to work. It is an intriguing method to stay busy and worry less about pregnancy fears.
- A pregnant woman should read books that can help her during her delivery and even after the birth of her child.
- There are cases when a woman spends her whole pregnancy period without the surveillance of any family member due to some personal issues. In such cases, the woman should always keep in touch with some close friends who can take her to the hospital during emergencies.
- Buying the right clothes for pregnancy is also essential to reduce unwanted discomfort for women. There are clothes that stretch simultaneously with the increasing abdomen size.
- The check to the food cravings is important in order to avoid any mistakes with the women’s diet.
- Soft cheese made with unpasteurized milk can harbor bacteria that can be life-threatening for both the woman and child.
- While dining out, you must ask the doctor before you eat. Get more knowledge about the positives like which food is best for your pregnancy.
- If you are a non-vegetarian, then remember that no undercooked meat is allowed.
There are many such measures that you need to take to become a responsible mother. All the best!