Pregnancy can be an awe-inspiring experience, and the changes your body goes through during this time are nothing short of amazing. Each trimester comes with its own unique signs as your baby grows and your due date gets closer, but you may not always be sure if what you’re experiencing is common or a cause for concern. Knowing what to expect from each stage of pregnancy will help you stay informed and excited about all the milestones you have to look forward to!
What are trimesters?
You hear about them all the time, but what is a trimester? We’ll need to start back at the beginning to explain. On average, a woman will deliver her baby 37-42 weeks after conception. We start the countdown from the first day of the last menstrual period before a woman conceives, with an estimated due date of 40 weeks from that point. Pregnancy trimesters are the three stages in between those two dates and last about three months each.
What to expect from your first trimester
However well-prepared you feel for pregnancy, the first trimester can be a jumble of excitement, stress, and hormones! You may experience nausea, breast tenderness, fatigue, and emotional changes. Many women get the first signs of morning sickness around the sixth week of pregnancy. Some notice light spotting around the time their period would be due. Heartburn and discharge are also common.
During these early weeks, your baby’s organs and skeletal structure will start to develop. Most women schedule their first obstetric appointment at this point. MOGA has more than 35 physicians and nurse practitioners, so you can count on us to provide comprehensive and expert care throughout your pregnancy! As overwhelming as the first trimester can be, it’s also pretty wonderful to watch the way your body changes as your baby begins to grow.
What to expect from your second trimester
Your baby will be growing quickly during the second semester, so you’re likely to notice a number of changes along the way! The morning sickness and fatigue often fade for many women around the 12-week mark, so you may find yourself feeling much more energetic. In fact, this may be the easiest three months of your entire pregnancy!
As your baby gets bigger, you might notice some pains in your back, abdomen, or thighs. Your fingers and ankles may begin to swell, and stretch marks could appear on your belly or breasts. Routine things like getting out of bed and tying your shoes might become a little more difficult, but it will soon be worth it—most women notice fetal movement at about 16 weeks, and it’s one of the most exciting moments in pregnancy. It certainly makes things feel much more real!
By 20 weeks, you’ll be halfway through your pregnancy. If you haven’t already, you should find a provider to regularly monitor your health and that of your baby. You’ll also be able to learn your baby’s gender at this point! Enjoy this special time by taking plenty of pictures of your growing bump and preparing for baby’s arrival by purchasing the essentials like a car seat, crib, and plenty of diapers.
What to expect from your third trimester
The third trimester can come with its fair share of complaints, but the end is near! Before you know it, you’ll be holding your baby in your arms. This stage of pregnancy brings more physical changes—your breasts may increase in size, sometimes significantly, which can exacerbate any back pain you’re already experiencing. If this is something you’re struggling with, belly bands or a flexible back brace can offer some relief!
Many women begin feeling a tightening sensation in their abdomen in the third trimester called Braxton Hicks contractions. These are completely normal and nature’s way of preparing your body for labor! As your baby gets bigger, there will be more pressure on your diaphragm and bladder. This can cause you to feel shortness of breath and the need for frequent urination. The appearance of hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and sleep challenges are also common.
Your baby will be kicking and moving more than ever during the third trimester, and most babies will turn head-down before their due date. You may begin to leak a bit of clear or yellowish liquid from your breasts—this is called colostrum, and if you choose to breastfeed, it will be your baby’s first food. Growth slows down a bit towards the end of this trimester, but your baby will still be gaining about a 1/2 pound every week. Hang in there—you’re almost there!
Mark each pregnancy milestone with care from MOGA
No two pregnancies are the same, but there are many shared milestones that will help you feel excited and connected on your journey to motherhood. Feeling those first kicks and seeing your baby wiggle on an ultrasound screen are moments you’ll never forget!
Memphis Obstetrics & Gynecological Association, P.C. is the largest private women’s health practice in the Mid-South area, giving our patients superior service for over 30 years. Our experienced team will ensure you receive compassionate care throughout your pregnancy and provide you with the most optimal birthing experience possible. Helping our patients bring new babies into the world is one of the happiest services we provide, and we’re always honored to play a role in this very special journey.