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Understanding the Stages of Pregnancy

  • Category: Maternity
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Southwest General Hospital
Understanding the Stages of Pregnancy

Understanding Each Trimester

Whether you’re a first-time mother or welcoming an additional child to your family, pregnancy can be an overwhelming experience, to say the least. This is because your body is undergoing continuous physical and hormonal changes over the course of about 40 weeks.

Knowing what to expect throughout your pregnancy can help to give you peace of mind and prepare you for the journey to come. Learn more about how the various stages of pregnancy bring change for both the growing baby and the mother-to-be.

First Trimester (One to 12 Weeks)

While you may not physically appear to be pregnant yet, your body goes through extensive hormonal changes throughout this stage of pregnancy as it prepares for the growth of your baby. According to the Office of Women’s Health (OWH), these hormonal changes affect almost every organ system in the body.

During the first trimester, you can expect to experience any of the following signs and/or symptoms:

  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Tender, swollen breasts
  • Nipples that appear to stick out
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Food cravings and aversions
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Urinating more frequently
  • Constipation

Also, the first trimester is a vital stage for fetal development. During weeks one through 12, the following changes occur:

  • The placenta begins forming
  • The brain and spinal cord begin to form
  • The heart begins to beat
  • Limbs, fingers and toes begin to develop
  • The eyes, ears and nose begin to develop
  • The genitals begin to develop
  • All major organ systems begin to develop
  • Bones and muscles begin growing

Second Trimester (13 to 28 Weeks)

For many expectant mothers, the second trimester is easier than the first. While feelings of morning sickness may be fading, you will begin to notice more physical changes happening to your body. You should notice your belly expanding as your baby continues to grow.

Additionally, you may experience the following symptoms during the second trimester:

  • Body aches and pains, especially in the back and abdomen
  • Stretch marks
  • Darkening of the areolas
  • A dark line running from the belly button the pubic line
  • Patches of darker skin on the cheeks, forehead, nose or upper lip
  • Numb or tingling hands
  • An itchy abdomen, hands or soles of the feet
  • Swelling of the ankles, feet, fingers or face

During weeks 13 to 28, your baby will undergo the following changes:

  • The outer ear starts to form
  • The kidneys are fully developed
  • The brain is developing
  • The baby sleeps and wakes regularly
  • For females, the eggs have formed in the ovaries
  • For males, the testes have begun to descend
  • The eyes can open and close
  • The lungs are fully formed
  • Your baby can kick and stretch
  • The baby is able to respond to sounds
  • You may be able to tell the sex of your baby

Third Trimester (29 to 40 Weeks)

During the third and final trimester, your baby is continuing to grow and put additional pressure on your organs. You may notice the following changes to your body during the final stretch of pregnancy:

  • Urinating even more frequently
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Your belly button may stick out
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Your baby is moving lower in your abdomen
  • Braxton-Hicks contractions

During weeks 29 through 40, your baby goes through these final developmental changes:

  • The baby turns upside down, preparing for delivery
  • The lungs mature
  • More fat accumulates

Maternity Services in Northeast Ohio

At Southwest General Health Center, we are committed to working with you to ensure that you have the most optimal birthing experience possible. Helping patients welcome new members to their families is one of the most joyous services we provide, and our compassionate staff is honored to play a role in this tremendous journey.

To learn more about our services for expectant mothers, find an OB/GYN or schedule an appointment, visit our website.