Congratulations! You’re pregnant! Regardless of who you are or if this is the first pregnancy or not, there are probably a lot of things going through your head right now. “You” may be the expectant mother, the father, or even a close relative or friend, but you somehow feel as if you are connected to the pregnancy and that it will affect your life. You are probably correct, since a baby does tend to change the lives of the adults around it.
So, what do you do now? That obviously depends on who you are. That also will depend on the stages of pregnancy status of the expectant mother. The expectant mother generally will visit her primary care physician who may, or may not, refer her to a specialist. There are a variety of tests she will take, and things she will do and her physician should keep her informed of the stages of pregnancy and what to expect.
Many people believe all good things happen in stages. Life itself is a series of milestones and stages, the life cycle of insects comes in stages. It only makes sense that one of the most meaningful events in a woman’s life happens in stages as well. The stages of pregnancy bring a lot of change to the mother-to-be’s body, life, and relationships. Embarking on this journey takes fortitude, as anyone who has ever dealt with morning sickness can tell you, and understanding of the natural changes occurring in your body.
If you have been pregnant, or known other pregnant women, you probably have an idea what will happen during the next several months. In the very first few weeks, there may be no obvious changes in the mother. If you haven’t really paid attention in the past, you probably want a short summary of what to expect during the stages of pregnancy.
There are three major stages of pregnancy. These are called “trimesters” and generally last about thirteen weeks. The stages of pregnancy each have different characteristics.
The first of the stages of pregnancy, commonly referred to as the first trimester, is the easiest to miss. Many women may not know they are even pregnant until the end of the first trimester. In some women, morning sickness develops. This morning sickness may have bothered her enough that she went to the doctor and then discovered she was pregnant. This may be surprising information. The mother may react in many different ways. She may have many different moods during the next few weeks, and that will most likely be connected with the changes in her body. This is because the woman’s body is getting itself acclimated to its new condition. A woman’s body needs to change to enable it to nourish both the baby and the mother. These shifts in a woman’s condition also seem to cause a variety of natural functions to move as well.
Once the new mom is aware of the growing life, several symptoms are common in the first trimester. Strange food and drink cravings are common, as are vivid dreams that may last the entire pregnancy. For those who experience morning sickness, it is a comfort to know that it usually fades in the second trimester. A new mom-to-be may find relief from morning sickness by drinking ginger tea, sucking on peppermint, or using the tried and true method of lemon lime soda and saltine crackers.
Although not necessarily visible on the outside many exciting things are happening inside the uterus. The uterus will cause increased pressure on near-by organs such as the bladder. Later, as the uterus gains rapidly in size, the fetus will put pressure on the back and can cause the woman back pain. The growing uterus may also cause a woman’s posture to change, which can also cause back problems.
Even before mom knows she is pregnant, amazing things are taking place. The fetal cells are divided at a tremendous rate and the mother’s hormone levels are in a constant state of surge. Some lucky ones bypass this symptom, but this is the time when morning sickness may occur and breast tenderness is common. Before the end of the trimester the baby has a heartbeat and can move his or her tiny arms and legs.
During the first few weeks, the mother’s hormones are adjusting to the fetus within her. Her emotions will react to those changes. Her moods will shift, and she may not even be aware that they have. After about the first two months or so, her moods will stabilize. She will start gaining weight, and start thinking about what to do when the baby comes. She may start cleaning house and throwing away things she has kept for years. Again, this is normal. She is planning for the arrival of the newborn baby.
Many pregnant women call the second trimester among their favorites of the stages of pregnancy. The discomforts of the first trimester fade away and the uterus isn’t so large yet as to make every activity uncomfortable or difficult. However some new discomforts may take their place. Practice contractions called Braxton Hicks, may start during this stage and finding a comfortable sleeping position may be more difficult. The mom to be is able to feel the baby’s movements and in some cases, other people may be able to feel or see the movements as well.
In the second stage of pregnancy, the woman can experience an ebb and flow of emotions as well as cravings. These changes are frequently caused by changes in the woman’s hormone patterns. Some of these changes may be aggravated by lack of sleep and a less than healthy diet. Women who don’t consume a healthy diet under normal conditions should do want they can to eat a healthy diet while they are pregnant. The appropriate nutrients will help the woman feel better, her physical system will work more appropriately, and she will give her baby a better diet than if the pregnant woman eats a poor diet. Women should check with their doctors if they are on calorie reduction diets when they become pregnant. Diets that might be appropriate for a healthy non-pregnant woman may not be appropriate for a pregnant woman.
The second trimester is for many women, the easiest to deal with. Normally the morning sickness and breast tenderness of the first trimester has faded and many experience a sense of health and wellbeing. During this time, the baby continues to fine tune organ and brain development. Many expectant moms cite this trimester as being the time when they experienced more energy and find it easier to take part in their favorite activities. This is often the best time during pregnancy to prepare the baby’s room and take care of any projects that involve a moderate level of activity before the rigors of the last trimester.
For the middle stages of pregnancy, she will talk about the pregnancy and do the things she might have done before she learned she was pregnant. In the last two months or so, she will get increasingly tired and eager for the pregnancy to end. The fetus is getting larger and shifting its position. Since the fetus will press against her bladder, the mother will need to go to the bathroom frequently. Her weight is in her front, so her back will hurt. She may again engage in a burst of housecleaning, in preparation for the baby.
Many women are torn between feeling like their child is never going to arrive and feeling like the baby is due tomorrow. Excitement becomes more intense in this phase of pregnancy. Mom-to-be will feel a need for more sleep and some of the common aches and pains of her new shape will affect everything from resting to how often mom needs the bathroom. It is usually considered to be the most physically challenging phase, but bearable because of the excitement and joy the upcoming birth brings.
In the final stages of pregnancy, a lot of changes occur. The baby is packing on weight at an enormous rate of speed. Mom’s abdomen appears to be taking on a life of its own in how large and distended it becomes. The third trimester is a good time to take any childbirth and breastfeeding classes that the mother feels are important. Fetal movement may slow some as the due date approaches. It usually isn’t a cause for alarm, space is at a premium at this time. The important things to remember at this stage is to get plenty of rest, eat well, and enjoy the final days before the birth of your baby.
Many women experience back pain and difficulty sleeping. If a woman has eaten a healthy diet and monitored her weight gain, she can minimize much of the discomfort she might feel in the weeks before the baby’s birth. The closer a woman gets to the end of her stages of pregnancy, the more rest she needs. Her body is functioning for two and the stresses, even though she may want the baby very much, are difficult on the relatively cramped internal conditions of the woman’s body. If a woman follows her doctor’s advice, eats a healthy diet, drinks a lot of water, and gets plenty of rest, the stages of pregnancy should be less stressful and help her to deliver a healthy child.
Pregnancy is a natural, awe inspiring time for a new mother. Each day is an adventure in learning more about herself and the little person she is carrying. However, the expectant mother may become more focused on her discomfort since she has been living with it constantly. She will be eager for the delivery. She may not pay as much attention to others as she once did, but that is normal and to be expected. The baby will be in her charge for several years and she is beginning to make plans for that new life.
The stages of pregnancy are full of new and unique experiences for the first time mom as well as veterans. Each and every pregnancy is different just like every child is unique.