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Pregnancy What to Expect During Each Trimester
8/1/2020 1:00:00 PM

Pregnancy Each Trimester


Oh, baby! If you’re expecting or plan to be expecting in the near future, you’re probably filled with questions. No worries!  We’ve compiled a rundown of each trimester so you can anticipate the changes and maybe avoid a few pitfalls.


Feeling that little bundle grow is one of the most exciting aspects of pregnancy. From those cute, tiny flutters to the jabs and major rollovers felt in the last few weeks, it’s a precious, confusing, scary and wonderful time.


Mothers agree: every pregnancy is different. Some have morning sickness around the clock, while the next pregnancy could have little to no sickness at all. Allison Hansen, certified nurse midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner with OBG-1 of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital, confirms this phenomenon. "Mothers who have five children will likely have five very different pregnancies. Every experience is unique, bringing its own health challenges and symptoms.”


While pregnancies differ, there is some advice that remains constant: avoid alcohol and smoking, eat a healthy diet, and check with your doctor about any concerns. "These are keys for every pregnancy. By following them, you enhance the likelihood for a healthy baby,” says Hansen. 


While every pregnancy is different, there are commonalities that generally apply to each trimester. You may or may not experience all the changes, but this guide will help see you through. 


First Trimester: Weeks 1 – 12


Women trying to conceive often use early pregnancy home tests which are capable of detecting pregnancy as early as seven to ten days after conception. However, most test manufacturers recommend waiting until a missed period for accuracy. 


For women not actively trying to conceive, a missed period or two can come as a surprise. Taking a trusted at-home pregnancy test is a good idea because good nutrition, plenty of rest and moderate exercise are good foundations for a healthy baby. 


"Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord and is crucial for proper development of the baby,” explains Hansen. "It’s essential to ensure your diet contains plenty of leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits and dried beans and peas since these are great sources of folic acid. The first few weeks of a baby’s development is critical, so it’s important to eat a healthy diet in the months before pregnancy, and especially once you learn you’re pregnant.”


At the first OB/GYN appointment, prenatal vitamins will likely be prescribed to ensure mom and baby get the recommended vitamins and nutrients. In addition to folic acid, getting enough protein, iron, and vitamin D are important. "Even if you eat a healthy diet, you can miss out on key nutrients. A prenatal vitamin will help fill in any gaps,” Hansen explains.


Around six to eight weeks, women may begin to feel nauseous. Increased hormone levels are usually the culprit. It could be severe in one pregnancy and mild in a subsequent pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting are generally not a concern for the health of the mother or baby, although it is a major inconvenience and certainly not fun. 


Around 12 weeks, the doctor can detect the baby’s heartbeat, one of the highlights in a pregnancy. Hearing the heartbeat and seeing the ultrasound makes it feel real, and helps the woman get through any fatigue or nausea.


Food cravings or food aversions are common during the first trimester, along with a stronger sense of smell.  


Quick Tips for the 1st Trimester:

  • Get regular exercise, with doctor approval.
  • Skip kitty litter duty. Contact with cat feces can cause pregnancy problems. Let someone else change it or wear gloves and wash your hands well after each change.
  • Forget the fallacy of eating for two. You generally need about 300 extra calories a day to meet your baby’s needs. Focus on nutrient-rich foods.
  • One or two short naps during the day, if possible, can help with fatigue.
  • See your dentist. Pregnancy brings a higher risk for gum disease.
  • Try eating several small meals instead of three big meals to help decrease nausea and heartburn. 



Second Trimester: Weeks 13 – 26


The second trimester is often the "glow time”. You’ll likely experience less nausea and fatigue, a visible baby bump (especially in subsequent pregnancies), renewed energy, and the first flutter of movement.


The baby will gain from three ounces to about one pound, or more. Major development is happening as the baby grows, including the formation of the skeleton, skin, muscle tissue, eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails and toenails, fingerprints, footprints and hair. The baby has regular sleeping and waking patterns and can now hear sounds outside the womb. The gender is formed and able to be seen by ultrasound. "These developments are awe-inspiring,” says Hansen. "When we see a second trimester baby during the ultrasounds, parents are usually amazed by their baby. It’s more than that obscure form they saw in the beginning; he or she is growing and taking shape.”


Quick Tips for the 2nd Trimester:

  • Check your shoes. Feet usually begin to swell during the second trimester. You may need to size up for comfort.
  • Choose natural cleaning products. For safer cleaning around the house, consider switching from harsh chemicals to more natural products, like hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and vinegar. 
  • Sleep on your left side. Side sleeping improves blood flow to your baby.
  • Be aware of premature labor. Contractions that occur every 10 minutes or less and increase in intensity could be a sign of premature labor. Call your doctor immediately.
  • Adjust your seatbelt. Wear the lap belt under your belly, not across it. 
  • Take childbirth classes. Many hospitals offer child preparation and breastfeeding classes, including safe sleeping techniques for the baby and infant CPR.
  • Moisturize. You can’t prevent stretch marks but moisturizing regularly may help reduce them. 



Third Trimester: Weeks 27 – 40


Baby continues to grow and gain weight. Mom probably feels cumbersome and tired again. During this trimester, the baby will grow to about 18 – 20 inches long and seven to eight pounds in weight. 


Most of the baby’s organs and body systems are formed and continue to grow and mature. The lungs are the last organ to fully develop, which is right before delivery. 


Baby will practice breathing motions to help prepare for life after birth. Kicks and rolls become stronger. Those cute flutters months ago are a distant memory.


"A woman’s body is preparing for delivery with Braxton Hicks contractions,” explains Hansen. "These are contractions felt during the third trimester. They usually begin after week 20 and increase during week 32 and continue until real labor begins. They’re like a dress rehearsal for labor. The uterine muscles are flexing, preparing for the job they’ll do soon.” Changing positions can often alleviate Braxton Hicks contractions. 


Preparing for labor includes the baby dropping into position. Many moms will feel the baby is lower in their pelvis in the last few weeks of pregnancy. The good news is they have a bit more breathing room, with baby away from the lungs. 


About a month before the due date, your ob/gyn will usually see you weekly. The doctor will check your cervix each time to see if it is thinning or dilating – both signs of pending labor. 


Those Braxton Hicks contractions can become stronger. If you’re in active labor, real contractions get stronger instead of easing, the way Braxton Hicks contractions do. 


The most obvious indicator of labor is when the water breaks. This can occur without warning, a sign that labor is beginning, but this exciting moment is often seen only in movies. In reality, the water usually breaks during active labor.

Anxiety about delivery and parenthood is common, so don’t fret if you have concerns. Talk to your husband, mother, aunt, friends, doctor – they will help you sort through your worries. Simply sharing your thoughts is therapeutic.


Quick Tips for the 3rd Trimester:

  • Go for a swim. It’s a great way to feel weightless and relieve aches and pains.
  • Rest. Your day and night schedule will be interrupted after the baby, so get as much rest as possible.
  • Freeze a few meals. They’ll help you eat well in the days after the baby.
  • Stretch. Loosen up tight muscles by stretching throughout the day.
  • Install your baby’s car seat. Stop by a police station, fire station, or baby seat checks sponsored by community organizations to ensure the proper installation.
  • Pack a bag for you and baby. Include loose-fitting, comfortable clothes and toiletries for you and a special outfit and blanket to bring baby home. 


The unofficial "fourth trimester” poses its own challenges. Post-partum months with your newborn bring new experiences, uncertainty and often unexpected emotions. Mood swings are inevitable as a new mother’s body brims with hormones. Don’t worry if you have uncertainty or anxiety about the new baby; you’ll soon settle into a comfortable routine. 


"Pregnancy and birth are among the most incredible experiences a woman can go through. It’s understandable for her to feel overwhelmed and unsure of all that is happening,” says Hansen.  Most women advise taking it one day, or even one hour, at a time.

Posted by: Christine Fisher | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Parenting

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