If you’re planning on having a baby soon, or you’re already pregnant, chances are, you’re quickly realizing that we’re not taught all too much about pregnancy and what to expect during the process. We’re used to movie and TV adaptations that show people quickly switching between pre-pregnancy to a large bump and then a short birth scene. But this isn’t how things actually pan out in real life. Pregnancy entails nine long months of major changes taking place in your body, followed by a complex and – often – painful process that results in a beautiful baby who you will have to adapt your entire life to accommodate. There are ups. There are downs. Here are some pieces of information that should help you to understand what to expect along the way.
There Is No Norm
First and foremost, it’s important to note that while there are common elements of pregnancy that many people will experience at similar stages, there is no norm when it comes to being pregnant. This is a highly individualized experience. You never know what to expect. Some elements can be difficult. Some, such as intrauterine fetal death, can be heartbreaking. (Trust me – I’ve been there!) Some people will have serve morning sickness. Some may have none at all. Some will have stretchmarks, others won’t. Put simply, you can’t really know what to expect and it’s essential to follow your individual doctors’ and midwives’ recommendations, advice and suggestions along the way. Never be afraid to ask too many questions.
The First Trimester
The first trimester is from week 1 to the end of week 12. It is the earliest stage of pregnancy. You will likely discover you are pregnant due to a missed period, or sensing changes in your body that spur you to take a test. In regards to your little one, a cluster of cells will become an embryo and some will form the placenta. The placenta will attach itself to your womb and is linked to your baby by the umbilical cord. During the first few weeks, your baby’s organs and important body parts will begin to form. A heartbeat will be present early on. By twelve weeks, your baby will have lungs beginning to form and the muscles of their eyes, nose and mouth, as well as their fingers and toes will begin to develop.
The Second Trimester
The second trimester is from week 13 to the end of week 26. During this stage, you will feel notably pregnant. You will begin to put on weight and your breasts may grow. You may experience morning sickness, but this usually ends by week 16. Your baby may begin to move between 18 and 20 weeks. Your baby’s bones will have hardened by 20 weeks and you should be able to hear a heartbeat using a stethoscope between 16 and 20 weeks. Your baby’s sex can usually be detected by 14 weeks using an ultrasound. By 24 weeks, your baby will have an increased chance of survival if born prematurely.
The Third Trimester
The third trimester is from week 27 to the end of the pregnancy. You may experience tiredness and difficulty sleeping. Your baby is now finishing their development. Their lungs will become fully formed. Your little one is also more likely to kick and stretch.
Of course, there are much more in depth details to be learned about the different stages, but hopefully, some of the information above will help you get to grips with the basics of what to expect during each trimester!