Trimesters - What to Expect Through the Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an amazing and sometimes very challenging time in a woman's life. From the very beginning, when pregnancy symptoms have the potential to disrupt life, to the moment when the last push produces another human being for the world to meet, there are a multitude of changes.

42 Divided by Three = The Length of One Trimester

The periods of time into which the 40 to 42 weeks of gestation are categorized are called trimesters, roughly 14 weeks in length each. In this article we'll give you a very brief synopsis of what you can expect and what your baby is doing in each period. The best way to be prepared for each trimester is to educate yourself. There are many great books, videos, and internet places to visit where you can learn about pregnancy, the trimesters, growth of the baby and changes you will experience in your body and life.

The Beginning for You and Your Baby

During the first trimester you will experience the signs of pregnancy. Fatigue will be a pretty constant companion until the beginning of the second trimester when you get a burst of energy. As your body adjusts to the new visitor, you may experience nausea, headaches, cramping, and frequent trips to the bathroom. Externally, you won't see much other than the swelling of your breasts, although you may gain a couple of pounds during this time. In these beginning weeks of pregnancy the chance of a spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage, is higher than at other times, so most women like to wait until they have completed their first trimester before they announce their pregnancy.

Your baby will weight about one-half ounce and will be about three inches long at the end of the first trimester. Baby's heartbeat will register on the ultrasound by the sixth week of pregnancy and by the tenth week a Doppler may pick it up so you can hear it. Pretty exciting!

Stage Two - More Energy and Lots of Planning

The second trimester brings more energy and you'll feel better. This is commonly called the honeymoon trimester - so take advantage of the good days. You'll begin to show shortly into this trimester as your uterus expands with the growing baby and you'll begin to gain some weight each month. It is during this trimester that you will begin to feel your baby move - it's called quickening and usually first-time moms don't experience the feeling until the 20th week.

Baby now weighs close to two pounds and will measure just over a foot in length. All of the baby's major organs are now formed, and baby is starting to really look like a baby now. It is during this period of the pregnancy that an opportunity for screening for neural tube defects and Down syndrome is offered to expectant mothers. In some cases the mother opts for the test and if it comes back indicating the baby has neural tube defects or Down syndrome, the mother has an abortion. Unfortunately, these tests are not 100 percent accurate all of the time and sometimes a pregnancy is terminated unnecessarily.

It is during the second trimester that you'll begin making your birth plan and some decisions about the way you want to give birth. Will you have a natural birth or do you plan on having something for pain? Will you give birth at home or in the hospital? Who will be with you? These are things you and your doctor will begin to discuss as you move toward your third trimester.

You Can Almost Hear Baby Say, "Get Me Out of Here"

By the time the third trimester rolls around you will begin to feel uncomfortable and certainly be wishing for the end to be close. The last 14 weeks see huge gains for the baby and sometimes for you, too. It's hard to get a good night's sleep because of your size and the inability to find a comfortable way to lie. Pelvic pressure and perhaps some discharge will become more evident toward the end of the pregnancy as the baby descends into position for birth. Not long now, hang in there.

As baby runs out of room at around 30 weeks, movement slows down. Gaining the last of the weight and resting before the big push, baby is getting ready to make the grand entrance. At birth, your baby will weigh between seven and eight pounds and will be around 20 to 22 inches in length.

It's an amazing time and you can track it with a pregnancy calendar which will give you weekly descriptions of how your baby is growing as well as illustrations, movies and birth stories to encourage and educate you.

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