Pregnancy is nine months of changes, growth, and preparing for motherhood. Three trimesters make up the gestation period, with each one feeling distinct because of what takes place. No trimester is the same, and it sometimes feels like every day is different when mom is expecting. However, it's important to know that the first and last trimester are very different, even though they have things in common.
From the pregnancy body changes. to how her hormones fluctuate, a lot changes between the first and third trimester. Even when these trimesters have something in common, like mom being uncomfortable, it's usually for different reasons and experienced to a different degree. It's amazing to think about how much the baby changes during this time, but mom will also find it's hard to comprehend how much things change for her body, emotions, and comfort as well.
Luckily, being prepared helps mom understand that the morning sickness of the first trimester will usually end, but by the third trimester it may be replaced by swelling. That exhaustion that is so overwhelming during the first three months will subside to be replaced by a different kind of tired, one related to hauling an infant-sized human around in the womb. The trimesters are different, and it's important to know the differences.
20 Comfort Level
There are a variety of ways to be uncomfortable, and pregnancy will introduce mom to most of them. The first trimester and third are very different in the way discomfort presents. The first trimester, when mom's body hasn't changed as much as her hormone levels, nausea is the main issue.
By the third trimester, morning sickness has passed for most women. Discomfort those last three months stems from baby gains, swelling, and back aches. It's a different kind of discomfort, one that feels like a whole-body ache. Both are difficult, but they are unique. The last trimester discomfort helps mom face childbirth because she's just ready to get the baby out of her body.
19 Ability to Sleep
The first trimester offers waves of exhaustion that hit so hard mom will gladly sleep wherever and whenever she gets the chance. In fact, she actually can still sleep because she hasn't gained enough weight to be totally uncomfortable.
It's likely mom will still be tired during the third trimester, but trying to sleep is a bit tricky by that point. Mom will likely have been told that sleeping on her back is off limits, and she obviously can't sleep on her stomach. Even if she does find a comfortable position, the constant kicking and needing to pee will interrupt her rest or make it impossible for her to drift off to dreams.
18 Readiness to Have the Baby
A woman who is trying to conceive may think she will be ready to have a child from the first second she finds out she is pregnant. However, the reality that a positive pregnancy test offers leaves most women feeling unprepared. Mom will likely spend the first trimester wondering if she is ready to be a parent and fearing childbirth.
The third trimester, with all of its aches and pains, has a way of changing mom's feelings about readiness. Sure, she still doesn't know everything there is to know about being a mom, but she's done enough research and been uncomfortable for so long that she's just ready to meet the baby and get started.
17 Specific Worries
The entire nine months of pregnancy can leave mom worried about what is going to happen to both her and the baby. However, these worries change over the course of the pregnancy. The first trimester is full of hoping that the pregnancy takes and the baby continues to thrive while the last is hoping no abnormalities are found on sonograms and that labor goes well.
All of these concerns are valid. They simply change as one milestone is met and another appears on the horizon. This is also true for parenting in general. As a child ages outside of the womb, parents' concerns shift.
16 Relationship with OB or Midwife
Hopefully mom has a great relationship with her doctor or midwife from day one. That relationship will evolve as the pregnancy continues and become one of the most important in mom's life for the duration of her gestation.
The first trimester is still the getting-to-know-the-doctor phase, and mom might even be a bit embarrassed to talk about the things her body is going through. By the third trimester, mom has likely shared everything there is to share with her doctor, who has seen her nude so many times that it doesn't phase either of them. Plus, mom will see her OB or midwife a ton the last trimester, making the relationship even stronger.
15 Frustration Level
A woman can be excited about her pregnancy and still feel frustrated with the experience. She will realize this early on in her pregnancy and likely experience it all the way to the birth. The reasons mom is frustrated tend to change.
The first trimester brings morning sickness and exhaustion for many women, leaving people around them wondering why they feel so awful when they don't look any different. The third trimester offers so many physical changes that mom gets questions from complete strangers about when her due date is and if she's carrying more than one baby. Though different, both trimesters bring tons of frustration.
14 Desire for Food
People love to say mom is eating for two when they find out she is pregnant. What they fail to realize is the first trimester can leave mom feeling like she doesn't even want to eat for one. Food aversions and morning sickness, which can actually strike at any time of the day, leave many pregnant women avoiding meals, even though they want to consume calories for their little ones.
The third trimester is a different story. Mom will likely be very hungry and over the morning sickness. She may find she wants to eat constantly because the baby is putting on weight at a fast rate in those last weeks, and mom is the one who has to help him. The only problem can sometimes be discomfort because mom's uterus has expanded and makes her feel like she can't handle as much food.
13 Opinion of Partner
A woman can both begin and end pregnancy very much in love with her partner, but she may have a slightly different opinion of him during different trimesters.
The first trimester generally offers a compassionate man who is excited about a new baby. He tries to help his partner while she deals with morning sickness and asks questions about the pregnancy. The third trimester usually finds the partner still being able to get a good night's sleep while mom uncomfortably tosses and turns all night. She is petrified of labor, something he won't have to go through, and resentment may start to build. If her partner doesn't try to understand her feelings during that last trimester, things can get complicated.
12 Chest Changes
Changes in the breasts will take place from the earliest days of pregnancy until the breastfeeding days are complete. Some women even report first knowing they were pregnant because of the pain they felt in their chests. The breasts are sensitive and start to swell early in preparation for the baby who will need milk from them.
By the third trimester, some of the pain is gone, but mom may notice her breasts are actually leaking. This is normal but can be alarming when it first happens. The body is getting ready for the baby to consume colostrum, baby's first food, and mom will probably being wearing bras that are sizes larger than she wore in the first trimester.
11 Hormone Levels
Men and women experience hormone fluctuations, so it's not just a female issue. However, the hormone changes that take place during pregnancy are intense. Mom is providing for a second person, and her hormones will change drastically to accommodate.
Mom will feel these changes in the early days, and she may find herself crying or elated over things in the first trimester that wouldn't have affected her before. By the third trimester, the hormone fluctuations will collide with exhaustion, and mom may be irritable due to all the extra strain on her body. Because her hormones are still in flux, it's possible for small things to shake her, though the result may be frustration instead of sadness.
10 Birthing Plans
It's possible to get pregnant without knowing much about childbirth. Most women assume they will give birth however their moms did, and this is especially true during the first trimester. The chance for a miscarriage is higher during the first trimester, so some women don't even dare think about birth that early. They just want the pregnancy to last.
By the third trimester, women are pretty much experts at birthing talk. Mom will know if she wants a medicated birth, a water birth, or if she is going to opt for a birthing center. The birth plan is written, and though everything may not go according to that plan, mom will have much more of an idea of her hopes for birth.
9 Baby Movement
The first trimester is strange because though mom definitely feels different and a pregnancy test is positive, there's no movement from the baby inside. The baby is so small that mom will feel changes in other parts of her body but not in her womb. Movement isn't usually felt until the second trimester.
That all changes by the third trimester. Mom will perform kick counts daily to see how much her child is moving, and she will likely be losing sleep while her little gymnast flips all over the place. It's fun to feel that movement finally, though it can also be a bit uncomfortable.
8 Stretch Marks
Some women actually lose weight during the first trimester because of morning sickness and food aversions. Though this isn't desirable, it happens often. A woman won't notice her body stretching to accommodate a baby the first 90 days because the weight gain isn't significant if she actually has any at all.
The third trimester brings major weight gain, often for mom and the baby. This is the trimester when stretch marks may strike the abdomen, breasts, or thighs. Some women also have stretch marks on their lower backs from where their bodies grew. Stretch marks are a normal part of pregnancy, but they often wait to pop up until the end.
Swelling, also known as edema, isn't an issue for mom during the first trimester. She will probably still be able to wear rings and fit into her shoes without a problem. Pregnancy during the first trimester is easy to hide because mom's body isn't yet showing tons of signs.
By the third trimester, pregnancy weight may not just be from the growth of the baby. Many women experience swelling in the feet and ankles, and some even have swelling in other parts of the body. This is usually normal, but mom needs to let her doctor or OB know if the swelling happens suddenly or feels excessive.
6 Feeling of Contractions
Fortunately, mom won't have to feel contractions throughout the entire pregnancy. The first trimester leaves her free to feel exhaustion and morning sickness, but she gets to skip the pain of contractions for a bit longer.
The third trimester could find mom feeling Braxton Hicks contractions, pains that don't move labor forward and aren't consistent but that hurt nonetheless. Real contractions will eventually occur, and these will lead to labor. This makes the third trimester a time of anticipation sprinkled with contraction pain. While both the first and third trimester can be challenging, mom may feel the challenges of dealing with contractions, real or otherwise, is enough to make the third trimester a bit more stressful.
5 Baby Brain
It starts early, that feeling that mom can't remember what she walked in a room for or that she can't focus for long periods of time. This begins the first trimester of pregnancy, but it's mild compared to what it will turn into. The pregnancy brain or brain fog mom feels in the beginning is often blamed on exhaustion and nausea.
The third trimester will find mom fully feeling the effects of how pregnancy is messing with her brain. It's not bad that she is being wired to focus on the baby, but it is hard to not be able to focus on other things. Mom may feel like her mind is moving in a sluggish manner, and this can be more pronounced as pregnancy draws to a close.
4 Bathroom Issues
Visiting the bathroom often is a standard part of pregnancy. As mom's uterus expands to put pressure on her bladder, she will have to pee much more often. That will be her primary bathroom challenge in the early days of the pregnancy.
The third trimester can bring more rushes to the bathroom for different reasons. While mom will still have to urinate often, she may also face the challenge of dealing with hemorrhoids. Constipation can be a problem during pregnancy, but it tends to be worse towards the end, resulting in hemorrhoids that cause discomfort and other issues. The problem usually gets better after the baby comes.
3 Visits to the Doctor
Mom often won't see her OB or midwife much the first trimester. She will go in for check ups, but these aren't abundant in the first 12 weeks. Unless there is a problem or a particular reason to be concerned, mom will not feel like she is living in the doctor's office.
Some women want to actually bring a cot and sleep at the OB's office during the last three months. Appointments are much more frequent, and they can also be more invasive. Dilation may be checked, and mom will see her doctor to have growth checked and answer questions about kick counts and possible contractions frequently.
2 Planning for the Future
The first trimester is often full of planning, but it's mainly planning for the pregnancy. Mom will find her doctor, buy some maternity clothes, and start reading books about the dos and don'ts of pregnancy living. She'll learn what foods are off limits and what size her baby is as rapid growth occurs.
The third trimester finds a different reality knocking on mom's door. She will start actually planning for the baby to arrive. The crib will be bought and diapers will be stocked. She will start focusing on what kind of parent she wants to be and who will help her in the early days. Having made it through most of the pregnancy, her mind is free to shift to planning the parenting aspect.
1 Knowledge Level About Pregnancy
Mom may go into pregnancy not knowing much about what is taking place in her body. The first trimester can be overwhelming because of how much there is to learn about being pregnant and carrying a child to term. What the body is capable of is nothing short of amazing, and mom will spend the first trimester trying to absorb all of this information.
By the last trimester, many women feel like pregnancy experts. Between what they've been told by their doctors and all they've researched on their own, pregnancy is less of a mystery, and they feel more prepared for the baby to arrive. This helps offer confidence as the pregnancy nears its end.
Sources: Healthline.com, Onhealth.com, Webmd.com