There are three stages of pregnancy a woman goes through before finally giving birth. The total time a woman is pregnant is about 40 weeks. Obviously the exact number of days will vary from one woman to the next because of all the variables.
The first trimester. (Weeks 1-12).
In this time, her body undergoes lots of changes. The changes to her hormones affect almost every organ. She may experience symptoms early on, or they may come later and this varies from person to person.
Symptoms that may occur include: mood swings, nausea and vomiting (also known as morning sickness), cravings for some foods and dislikes for other foods, constipation, urinating more frequently, fatigue, swollen, tender breasts, heartburn, headaches and a gain in weight.
Her routine will certainly change. She will most likely go to bed earlier and even take naps during the day. She will want to eat smaller meals more often. Symptoms won’t all hit at once and they can come and go. No two pregnancies are alike, even if we are talking about the same mother.
The second trimester. (Weeks 13-28).
Most mothers discover that the second trimester is easier to handle than the first one. There is usually less fatigue and nausea. However, her body will change more radically. Her abdomen will start swelling, to enable the baby to grow. The baby will move a little during this time.
The mother will have pain and aches in her back, legs, feet, abdomen, thigh and groin at times. Stretch marks may start to appear as the abdomen expands. Parts of her skin can go darker; this is usually on the cheeks, nose, upper lip or forehead. Both sides of the face may match in shade. Doctors often refer to this as the “mask of pregnancy.”
She may have tingling or numbness in her hands. She may get itchy in the soles of her feet, palms and abdomen. If she has nausea, vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin), fatigue and loss of appetite as well as the itchiness, she should ring her doctor, as this could indicate problems with her liver.
She will likely get swelling in her fingers, ankles and face. If there’s a lot of swelling or weight gain, she must contact her doctor urgently, as this can be an indicator of preeclampsia.
The third trimester. (Weeks 29-40).
Many of the issues she faced during the second trimester will carry on. She may find it hard to breathe and will probably go to the toilet more often, because the baby is putting more and more pressure on her organs.
Additional symptoms can include: shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, tender breasts, contractions (which may be false or real labor), her belly button will stick out and the baby will drop lower in her abdomen.
The doctor will do regular checks as the due date approaches and she feels the excitement getting more intense. It’s important for the mother to do everything in her power to maintain her health, as well as the health of the baby.
This is just a basic rundown of what a woman can expect when going through pregnancy. There is much more to learn about pregnancy, but your doctor will definitely help you get through this time period.