Pregnancy is the most beautiful experience one woman could ever be part of. It’s one of the most special types of bonding and love that exists.
Even though pregnancy has its difficult moments, every woman who’s ever carried a baby can agree that it’s the most wonderful experience in life. Sure there are annoying pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, constipation, back pain, sensitive breasts, heartburn – but the beauty of it all outweighs the bad.
Pregnancy normally last nine months and during that time, a woman undergoes many emotional and physical changes. There are three main stages of pregnancy that are divided into trimesters. Understanding the stages of pregnancy month by month can be a fascinating experience.
Learn about the stages of fetal development and the changes your body and baby undergo over the course of your pregnancy.
Pregnancy Stages – Trimesters in Pregnancy
The First Trimester
The first trimester is the most critical time in your pregnancy because both you and your baby will undergo through many dramatic changes. The first three months of pregnancy are crucial for your little one. Your baby’s body structure and vital organ systems develop and most miscarriages occur during this period.
The baby is called an embryo from the moment of conception until the eighth week of pregnancy. During the first month, the heart and the lungs of the baby begin to develop. The arms, legs, brain and spinal cord also begin to form.
In the second month of pregnancy, the ankles, fingers, wrists and eyelids form and the bones appear. The genitals of the baby also begin to develop. After week eight of pregnancy and until birth occurs, the baby is called a fetus.
During the third month, muscles and bones begin to grow. Fingers and toes grow and buds for teeth appear. The skin of the fetus is transparent and the intestines begin to form.
Your body also undergoes major changes thanks to pregnancy hormones which cause a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, morning sickness, frequent urination, food aversions, cravings, constipation, and breast tenderness.
At this stage of pregnancy, it is very important to eat foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals to give your baby enough nutrients for proper growth and development.
The Second Trimester
The second trimester is known as the “golden period” of pregnancy. Many of the unpleasant symptoms like nausea will disappear during the second trimester which is the stage of pregnancy with the least number of complications.
You will feel more energized and relaxed, but you may experience a new set of pregnancy symptoms like leg cramps, back pain, heartburn, and constipation.
Somewhere between week 18 and 22, an ultrasound can help determine the sex of your baby. By the fourth month, eyelashes, eyebrows and fingernail all form. The skin of the baby has a wrinkled appearance, and the kidneys start working and can now produce urine. The baby can hear and swallow, and is more active so somewhere between week 16 and 20, you may feel his/her first fluttering movements. Lanugo, a fine hair, and vernix, a waxy coating will appear on your baby’s skin to protect it.
In the sixth month, baby’s hair begins to grow and eyes begin to open. The brain is rapidly developing and the lungs are completely formed.
Your baby bump is probably showing by now, so if you haven’t bought already, you should buy maternity clothes. Many pregnant women also experience shortness of breath and dizziness, due to the fluctuating blood pressure.
At this stage, you should be eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range. This is also the time when you can find out whether the baby is a boy or girl. Light physical exercise like walking, swimming and yoga are recommended in order to avoid fluid from accumulating in your legs.
The Third Trimester
You have reached the final stretch of your pregnancy and you are probably excited and anxious for the birth of your little one. In the third trimester, you may experience symptoms like varicose veins, shortness of breath, hemorrhoids, and urinary incontinence. These symptoms arise as a result of the pressure of your growing uterus. Your baby is growing bigger day by day and is putting extra pressure on your bladder. All organ systems are almost fully developed and baby gains his/her “chubby, fat” cheeks.
In the seventh month of your pregnancy, the baby kicks, hiccups, and stretches, and can now respond to light and sound.
During the eight month of pregnancy, the fetus gains weight, bones harden and lungs are fully matured. However, the skull will remain soft and flexible in order to make delivery easier. In the ninth month, the baby is getting ready for birth and turns into a head-down position in the pelvis.
At this stage in pregnancy, it is extremely important to take in more vitamins and minerals for the final development of the baby. Many pregnant women experience physical discomfort and emotional changes in the third trimester. Prenatal classes are very important in this stage because they can prepare you for your baby’s birth. They are also good, because you can learn some relaxation techniques and how to ease labor fears.