Different pregnancy stages have their ups and downs and everybody has a different experience while being pregnant. There are many wonderful moments such as finding out you are pregnant and holding your baby for the first time. There are also moments where you may be so uncomfortable and moody you can’t even stand being yourself. Being pregnant can be somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster at times, though in the end you’ll find that it’s very much worth the pain and effort.
Strange food cravings will follow you through every stage of pregnancy. You’re eating for two, so your appetite will definitely increase, although the things you crave may be a little strange at times. Pregnant women are notorious for craving odd food combinations like pickles and ice cream or French fries with sour cream on them. These cravings can start from day one of your pregnancy and will last through the third trimester. Scientists believe these strange cravings are the body’s way of getting all the nutrients it needs to help keep baby growing strong.
Hormones will also affect your skin during all pregnancy stages. Hormone imbalances and excess amounts of hormones can lead to acne, rashes and skin tags in pregnant women. You may also notice your nipples becoming darker due to the hormones responsible for boosting melanin production in the skin. The excess amounts of melanin can actually darken the skin on your face as well and cause a line that stretches from your pubic bone to your belly button. After birth, your hormones will go back to normal and so will your skin, so don’t worry.
Weight gain is something that every mother-to-be has to face, especially in later pregnancy stages. You will probably gain the most weight in the second trimester, as growth tends to slow down quite a bit in the third trimester. Most pregnant women only gain about 25-35 pounds, with almost half of that weight being the baby and placenta. Gaining less than that can actually lead to some serious side effects like diabetes and high blood pressure. The toughest spot to get back in shape after pregnancy is your lower belly that’s been stretched out like a balloon. Working out and eating healthy are the best ways to get back in shape and drop a few pounds after having a baby.
Believe it or not, being pregnant doesn’t have to put a damper on your sex life. Many women actually feel a stronger sex drive while pregnant due to the increased levels of blood flow in the pelvic region. If you and your baby are both happy and healthy you can have sex up until the day you give birth. Sex is actually a good way to relieve some of the stress you feel while pregnant.
A cesarean section is an operation that’s becoming increasingly common. Over one quarter of all pregnant women will have to have a c section performed to deliver their new baby. A cesarean section is more than a minor procedure, and most physicians will only schedule one if absolutely necessary. Reasons for needing a c section include having a baby that’s too large to fit through the birthing canal, having a baby that’s in breach position (legs first), or having multiple babies. Only your doctor can determine if a c section is right for your pregnancy.
Miscarriages, although sad, are mostly out of a women’s control. Smoking has been known to cause an increase in miscarriages, however, things like diet, exercise, sex and taking a minor fall will not typically cause a miscarriage. Over 80% of all miscarriages are caused by chromosome abnormalities that happen at conception, which can’t be avoided in the later pregnancy stages.
Weeks 0 to 12
At the beginning of your first trimester, the first month of pregnancy, a water-tight sac, known as the amniotic sac, begins to develop around the fertilized egg in your uterus. The placenta then begins to develop to help provide nutrients to your growing embryo. The placenta is also instrumental in removing wasted from your baby.
Even in the first month your baby will begin to develop a tiny little face, with dark black circles for eyes. Cells begin to take shape developing body parts such as the mouth, throat and lower jaw. Circulatory systems become active, powering massive cell growth. At the end of the first month your baby will still be tiny, only about the size of a piece of rice or about a quarter inch.
During the second month your baby’s facial features will continue to develop. Small folds on the sides of the head will soon become tiny little ears. Small bulbs will begin to develop on the side of the embryo which will become future arms and legs. Fingers and toes will also begin to develop at the ends of those arms and legs.
The neural tube will begin to develop which eventually becomes your baby’s brain and spinal cord. The digestive system and other sense organs also begin development. Cartilage starts to become bone and your little embryo may even start moving, although it’s impossible to feel at this point. By the end of the second month your embryo will have grown to about 1 inch long, with 1/3 of that being the head alone.
In the last month of the first trimester, your baby will already be fully formed complete with tiny arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers and toes. Your baby will even be able to open and close its hands and mouth by this point. External ears will begin to spring out and things like fingernails, toenails and teeth are all well on their way. Although sexual organs will have developed by the end of the first trimester, it’ll be almost impossible to detect on an ultrasound.
Weeks 13 to 28
By the first week of your second trimester your baby’s features have become well defined. Things like eyelids, eyelashes and hair begin to form. Bones become stronger during the second trimester including teeth. Your baby will be able to do things like suck their thumb, stretch or even yawn.
The nervous system becomes fully active during the second trimester. The reproductive organs and genitals have become full formed, allowing you to determine the sex of your baby for the first time using an ultrasound. Your baby’s heart will be pumping strong and can even be listened to using a device known as a fetal Doppler. By the end of your fourth month of pregnancy your baby will have grown to be about 6 inches long and will weigh about a quarter pound.
By the fifth month of pregnancy, in the middle of your second trimester, your baby will develop soft peach fuzz hair that usually covers the back and shoulders and can even cover parts of the face. This can make your little one look a little like Sasquatch when they first come out, but don’t worry. This hair is typically shed in the first week or two of your baby’s life. Your baby’s skin will also become covered in a white coating known as vernix caseosa that’s thought to protect your baby from the amniotic fluid in the womb. Fortunately, this cheesy substance is shed before birth. By the end of the fifth month your baby will be about 10 inches long and could weigh up to a pound.
By the end of the second trimester, in the sixth month, your baby will be about 12 inches long and could weigh up to 2 pounds. Their skin will be kind of wrinkled and reddish with visible veins appearing through a translucent layer of skin. Fingers and toes are visible and you can even start to see little fingerprints. The best part about the end of the second trimester is that you will finally be able to feel your baby move. Your may even feel a slight jerking sensation that’s caused by baby hiccups.
Weeks 29 to 40
Your third trimester begins during your seventh month of pregnancy. During this month fat begins to form in your baby’s body. Your baby may be up to 14 inches or longer at this point and could weight anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds. At this stage your baby’s hearing is fully developed, so it’s important to be sensitive to this fact. Your baby will begin to respond to things such as sound, pain and even light at this stage of pregnancy.
The eighth month of pregnancy is very similar to the seventh. Your baby will continue to build fat reserves which will allow them to function free of mommy’s womb. Your baby will be up to 18 inches or longer at this point and will weigh up to five pounds. Multiples will weigh slightly less at this point but will be at the same point of development as other babies. While most internal systems have been fully developed by this point, the lungs may still not be fully mature.
The end of the third trimester marks your final month of pregnancy. During this month your baby will continue to grow and develop, although there should be significantly less weight gain this month. At this stage your baby will be able to blink, turn their head and grasp using a tiny fist. This month you may notice an increased sensitivity in your baby to outside stimulation like light, sound and touch.
At the end of the third trimester your baby will begin to position herself to prepare to delivery. Your baby will drop down into your pelvis with her head facing towards the birth canal. If her head isn’t facing the birth canal, a Caesarian section (c section) may be necessary. By the end of the third trimester your baby will be 15 to 20 inches long and could weight from 6 to 8 pounds or more.