Stages of Pregnancy
There are three stages of pregnancy that women will go through in order to have a healthy baby. These stages of pregnancy are known as trimesters. Each trimester brings its own set of challenges and joys. From seeing the first ultrasound to feeling your baby kick, you will be amazed by how fast the months will go by.
Your body will also go through different changes during different stages of pregnancy. You may begin to feel tired more often, more energetic at times, and you may crave certain foods. It is important to understand that these changes are normal and that if you have any concerns, you should feel comfortable talking with your doctor.
Physical and emotional changes at different stages of pregnancy
The First Trimester
The first trimester is one of the stages of pregnancy that officially begins when a fertilized egg enters the uterus and attaches itself to the uterine wall. This will usually happen within the first seven days after the sperm has fertilized the egg. The first trimester lasts about twelve weeks. During this time, you may feel nauseous, tired, and your body may show small signs of change including missed periods and abdominal growth.
As the weeks go by, you will begin to see other emotional and physical changes. It is important to remember that your baby is also going through some changes as well.
Emotional changes at this stage of pregnancy (1st trimester)
Finding out that you are pregnant can cause you to feel a variety of emotions including happiness, fear, anxiety, and joy. Even though you will be feeling very happy, part of you now knows that you will be caring for two, which can be very frightening.
You should be aware of your emotional changes because you will have to deal with them in different ways now that you are pregnant. It is always important to reduce stress as much as possible during pregnancy, but this can be very frustrating when you are facing new challenges which include the safe delivery of a baby.
Take time each day to take a short walk, visit your favorite spot, or window shop. These activities are not only good exercise; they are also ways to reduce fear and anxiety.
You should begin to avoid substances like coffee, alcohol, and second-hand smoke, as these chemicals could have a negative effect on your baby’s growth and development. If you combated stress before with a large latte, you should switch to juice or decaffeinated tea. While it is fine to drop by your neighborhood coffee shop, you will need to stay away from the caffeine.
The same goes for over-the-counter medications such as sleep aids, headache medications, and stomach remedies. Talk with your doctor to find out what you should take instead. Physical changes to your body will cause emotional changes as your hormone levels change.
Physical changes during the first trimester
During your first trimester, you will stop getting your monthly period. You may also experience breast swelling, increased fatigue, and nausea either in the morning or at night. This is typical and may continue throughout your pregnancy.
Nausea affects up to 50% of all pregnant women. If you are feeling nauseous during the day, you can try the following remedies:
- Ginger and other comfort spices may be helpful. You can buy ginger tea, cookies, or buy ginger-scented air fresheners.
- Eat a high-protein snack before bed if you having feelings of nausea in the morning.
- Clear sodas that do not contain caffeine may help reduce nauseous feelings and help settle the stomach.
- Small meals during the day allow the stomach to digest food easily.
- Eat foods that are comforting during the day.
- Take deep breaths.
- Avoid foods and smells that may cause you to become nauseous.
- Take a nap during the day when you feel nauseous. Sometimes allowing the body to relax may help curb the pain.
If you are having frequent nausea that is accompanied by weight loss, retinal hemorrhaging, intense shivering, and a bad taste in your mouth that will not go away, then you may be suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. This is a serious condition that you may need to be hospitalized for because of the chances of damage to the kidneys and liver.
Only about 50,000 women a year will experience hyperemesis gravidarum so the chances that you will suffer from it are slim. But if you are constantly dehydrated from vomiting and you cannot eat regular meals, then you should ask your doctor.
Changes that your baby is experiencing
It is during the first trimester that all of your baby’s organs will be formed. This is a critical time during the pregnancy, which is why you will need to watch what you are eating, how your body is changing physically, and how you are coping with stress.
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The Second Trimester
Your second trimester will last from thirteen to twenty-six weeks. During this stage of pregnancy, you may notice that you are not as nauseous, your stress level is lower, and you will be feeling more confident about the arrival of your baby.
The second trimester is also the time when you will be able to see the ultrasound that will tell you the sex of your baby. Whether you are a traditionalist and want to wait to see if the baby is a boy or a girl after birth or whether you want to know as soon as possible, the ultrasound will provide you with a newfound sense of pride because you are looking at the first pictures of your child.
Emotional changes at this stage of pregnancy (2nd trimester)
At this point, you may be feeling better physically, which will help your emotional well-being. You may still be experiencing mood swings, but you will be better able to function around them. You will also be preparing for your new baby by getting the nursery ready, telling friends and family of the good news, and thinking about the future. It is at this time that you will feel more energetic.
You should still monitor your stress levels and make whatever changes you can in order to keep stress to a minimum.
Physical changes during the second trimester
It is during the second trimester that you will begin to gain more weight, your skin may change, and even though you may feel more energetic, you will still be tired after a long day. Skin changes can affect emotional well-being, so it is important to be aware of these changes and understand that they are normal.
- Stretch Marks
You may notice stretch marks at this time or later in your stages of pregnancy. These marks will appear as little lines or pocket marks on your skin around your buttocks, abdomen, thighs, hips, and arms. If your mother had stretch marks, then chances are you will too. There is little that can be done to diminish the appearance of these marks, but there are lotions on the market that may help.
Since the hormones in your body are changing, you may notice more acne on your face or body. Use normal topical remedies, wash your face, and try to drink more water.
- Palmar Erythema
This condition can cause redness on the palms of the hands during different stages of pregnancy. This is caused by increased levels of estrogen.
- Linea Nigra
A thin dark line may appear on your body near your pubic bone. This line is common in some women, but not in all.
- Other changes
Thicker or thinner nails, additional hair growth, and sweating are other changes that may occur during your pregnancy.
Changes that your baby is experiencing
By this time, your baby’s organs will be fully developed and functioning. At this time, they will gain more weight and you may be able to feel them moving from time to time. You will have an ultrasound around week twenty-eight.
The Third Trimester
This is your final stage of pregnancy. From the twenty-seventh week, until your baby is born, which is around the fortieth week, you will notice the biggest changes to your body and to your emotional state.
During this trimester, you will visit your doctor more frequently and you will begin making preparations to have your baby. This will include where you want to have the baby, getting their room at home ready, and stocking up on those supplies that you will need.
Emotional changes during the third trimester
As your body continues to grow, you may be faced with new physical changes that may affect your emotional health. The changes at this stage of pregnancy include insomnia, exhaustion, and contractions. While these are physical manifestations of being pregnant, you will be moody, tired, and even a little depressed.
Lack of sleep will add to all of these feelings. You should try to do some exercises if you are allowed in order to make yourself tired enough to sleep at night or during the day. You should not engage in stressful activities the closer you are to your due date. If you are working, you may want to begin your leave two or three weeks before the birth.
Bear in mind that these emotional changes are due in part to hormonal changes that are taking place. Staying calm, performing fewer actions during the day, and keeping an open mind will help you through this difficult time.
Physical changes at this stage of pregnancy (3rd trimester)
You will continue to gain weight until you are ready to give birth. You may also have to deal with back pain, pubic bone pain, leg cramps, heartburn, shortness of breath, and trouble keeping your balance.
In order to deal with these physical changes, you will have to rest as much as possible, stretch every day to prevent leg cramps, and trying to eat foods that do not cause heartburn will help. As for keeping your balance, try not to bend the wrong way or try to squeeze into tight places. This will cause you to fall.
Falling during pregnancy will not harm the baby as long as you do not fall that often or too hard. The baby is protected by the amniotic sac, but you should take every measure to stay safe during all stages of pregnancy.
Changes that your baby experiencing
During this stage of pregnancy, your baby will be growing. Their bones, eyes, nose, ears, and other features will begin to develop. It is at this time that your baby will begin to kick more often. This is a good sign, though it can be annoying to the mother at times.
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Questions to ask your doctor at different stages of pregnancy
When you find a doctor that you are comfortable with, you will want to ask questions along the way so that you will know what is going on during all stages of pregnancy. It is important that you are able to trust your doctor. This will make carrying your baby and the birth a much easier process.
Some women use midwives, while others are more comfortable with doctors. Whichever you choose, find someone who listens, who is able to offer sound advice, and who you can share your concerns with.
Some important questions you can ask include:
- How much weight should I gain during my pregnancy?
- Are there remedies for nausea?
- Should I feel this tired every day?
- How do I reduce stress?
- Should I avoid caffeine?
- What foods should I eat?
- What tests should I be prepared for?
- What do I do for anxiety?
- How will my body change over the next few months?
- What do we do if the baby is late?
You will have other questions depending on what you are experiencing during your pregnancy and which stage of pregnancy you are going through, but these questions are common and should be able to be answered by a medical professional.
In the beginning stages of pregnancy, you will be seeing your doctor or midwife every three or four weeks. Your visits will increase as you get closer to your due date. During the last three weeks of your pregnancy, you will be seeing your doctor each week just to make sure that you and your baby are healthy and ready for delivery.
You should by this time know where you are having the baby. There are a few options that you should look into that may help you have a more comfortable delivery.
Stages of Pregnancy: Choosing Where to have your baby
You have a few options as to where you would like to have your baby. These include:
- Birthing centers
- At home
While it is not recommended that you have your baby at home, even with a midwife present, some people want to be in their space that will keep them relaxed so the birth will be as painless as possible. In most cases, people will go to a hospital or birthing center when having their baby.
Delivery at hospitals
Most cities and towns have local hospitals. You should know where it is when the time comes to have your baby. Hospitals have all the medical equipment, medications, and monitoring you will need when in labor and after your baby is born. Most women will stay in the hospital for two or three days after their baby is born in order to make sure that the mother and the baby are healthy.
When you go into labor and enter the hospital, you will be given a few simple tests, such as blood pressure, dilation check, and heart rate. These tests are for your safety. You will also have an ultrasound to make sure that the baby is positioned in the correct way.
Hospitals are safe places with trained medical staff that will be able to help you deliver your baby safely.
Delivery at birthing centers
Even though hospitals are safe places to have babies, some expectant mothers want to be in an environment that is less sterile. Birthing centers offer the same amount of care but in a home-like atmosphere. When looking into a birthing center, you should:
- Make sure they are licensed
- Make sure the staff is trained
- Make sure your health insurance will cover the costs
- Ask for testimonials from other mothers
- Look for safety exits and safety equipment
If you choose a birthing center, you will probably have all of your prenatal care at the center as well. This will give you a chance to see firsthand how the staff interacts with mothers and children. You will also be able to see where the births take place.
Stages of Pregnancy: Giving birth
Finally, the big day has arrived! You have chosen where you want to have your baby, you have created a place for the baby in your home, and you have endured physical and emotional changes at different stages of pregnancy for 9 months.
What else is left? What to pack for your stay in the hospital. This is one of the most important elements of giving birth that many women forget until the last minute.
Packing in advance will make getting to the hospital or birth center much easier when you are in labor. When packing your bag, you should include the following:
- Clothing for three or four days
- Clothing for the baby
- Extra pillows
- Emergency contact numbers
- Extra towel
- Extra socks
- Hand cloths
If your doctor suggests anything else, you should pack it as well. You should keep your bag near the bedside or the front door so that you do not forget it before going to the hospital or birthing center.
If you have to go to the hospital early, you will want to pack extra clothing. Since you will be preoccupied with your baby’s birth, you should pack a few weeks in advance.
Once you arrive at the hospital, you may have to wait a few hours before you will be ready to deliver your baby. This time may be painful or it may not. It depends on many factors including stress. You should try to remain as calm as possible. Bring a book or crossword puzzle so that you can keep your mind occupied. This will make the time go by.
As you get closer to the delivery time, your contractions will be closer together. While this can be very painful, you will be getting closer to meeting your baby for the first time. Having a bag filled with items from home will make this time a little easier. Having supportive people around you will also help.
After giving birth, you will be very tired. You will fall asleep after meeting your child. Having their clothing and yours with you in the hospital room is a great start to your parenting.
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