Pregnancy may seem daunting to first time moms, so knowing what to expect at all three stages is essential for a safe and stress-free pregnancy.
The first trimester of pregnancy lasts from conception until 12 weeks, and is an amazing period of development for your baby.
Starting out as just a few cells (called the embryo), baby develops rapidly, and is referred to as a foetus once it reaches its eighth week. Many physical aspects develop during the first twelve weeks, including the placenta and umbilical cord, the amniotic sac, all baby’s major organs, the neural tube and their fingers, toes, ears, ankles, wrists, and eyelids. If all goes well, the foetus will be approximately 6 to 7.5 cm in length by the end of the first trimester.
Some mothers find the first trimester quite challenging, experiencing various symptoms such as:
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Increased urination
- Food aversions
- Tender or swollen breasts
To alleviate symptoms during the first trimester, try eating small meals regularly, drink plenty of water, avoid spicy food, get plenty of rest and try not to stress too much — most women say that after the first trimester their symptoms decreased drastically, so hang in there!
The second trimester occurs from week 13 to week 28, where women generally look and feel more pregnant and have more energy than in the first trimester. Sickness, fatigue and anxiety tends to decrease during this time and this is when you are able to have your first ultrasound.
The baby’s lungs, heart and blood systems develop during this three-month period, to the point where the foetus can live outside your body after about the 24th week. Other developments include hair, teeth development, early breathing movements and hearing of the mother’s voice. Eyebrows and eyelashes also appear, the eyes may open and the baby’s outline may be felt through the abdomen.
Symptoms that may occur during the second trimester include:
- Tender breasts
- Skin changes such as hormonal pigmentation
- Leg cramps
To alleviate symptoms during the second trimester, try wearing a supportive bra, taking warm baths, doing some light stretching, using a heating pad on the lower back, eating well and resting enough.
During the third trimester (the last three months of pregnancy) your baby continues to develop, gains weight and starts to prepare for the birthing process. At this point your baby can hear and respond to sounds, they develop a sense of taste and their little bodies can now store iron, calcium, and other nutrients.
Some symptoms that may occur during this final trimester include:
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent urination
- Swollen ankles
To alleviate these symptoms, avoid strenuous exercise, stretch frequently, sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs and get adequate rest.
Pregnancy is a complicated and trying experience for mothers, so being equipped with knowledge and tips for the nine-month journey will help reduce stress and prepare you for whatever comes your way!
For more tips on making the most of your pregnancy and preparing for baby’s arrival, follow Vital Baby on social media – @vitalbabysa.