Pregnancy might last ten—yes, ten —months, but each month of it comes with its own special symptoms and changes, for both mother and baby. For the baby, there will never be another time in their life that they change and transform so rapidly. The mother-to-be will undergo many, many changes as well. In order to fully enjoy each stage of the journey, you should be well informed about all of the changes to come. Here is what you can expect at every stage of your pregnancy.
The first official month of pregnancy occurs before the mother is actually pregnant. This might sound crazy, but remember when we said that pregnancies last ten months? This is because the doctor starts counting from the first day of your last cycle
So, the first month of "pregnancy" is just like any other month. You get your cycle and probably eat your weight in bon bons. Around the halfway mark is when conception occurs. Eventually, you will miss your period and/or start experiencing pregnancy symptoms.
Between five and eight weeks pregnant is the time that most women will break out the pregnancy test or book a doctor's appointment. If you head to the doctor, they will give you an in office pregnancy test to confirm, and also perform a pelvic exam.
At this stage, your baby is about half an inch long. The medical term for the baby is a blastocyst. The sex of the baby is determined during this time, though the parents won't find out for some time.
Weeks eight to twelve of the pregnancy is when the baby goes from a blastocyst to a zygote. The baby starts to develop the beginning stages of facial features. These include ears, eyelids, and noses. By week twelve, the baby is about two inches long and has finally developed fingers and toes.
Twelve weeks is also the earliest time that the mother can get her first ultrasound, see what her baby looks like at this stage, and also hear the heart beat. Exciting!
The first trimester is almost over. Women usually get relief from morning sickness because their bodies have adjusted to the influx of hormones. From this point on, unless other medical issues are present, the risk of miscarrying decreases drastically. Most moms-to-be share their pregnancy news with close friends and family.
The baby is now a fetus. By the time you reach the last stretch of the first trimester, the baby will have developed fingernails and fully formed organs.
At sixteen weeks, most mothers are definitely showing! Some show earlier than others, but this is definitely the time that hiding a baby bump becomes impossible.
The baby is between five and six inches long. His or her face is fully formed. Their mouths can open, and the natural instinct to suck begins.
The hospital visit during this time will include routine tests to insure the baby's and mother's health. A second ultrasound will be performed to check for the baby's age. Additional birth defect testing will also be offered.
The mother's belly is steadily growing at this point, and extra weight gain is noticeable. The new-found energy that returned after the first trimester may dwindle, as the woman continues to grow in size. This also the time the mother will start to feel the baby move and rustle inside of her stomach.
By twenty weeks, the baby is between six and nine inches long and weighs about nine ounces. Around this time, the baby also gets its fingerprints and set of baby teeth, within its gums. The doctor's appointment will include a weigh-in and blood pressure check for the mother. The baby's sex will also be revealed, if that's what the parents want.
Weeks twenty four to twenty eight weeks present new unpleasant symptoms for the mother. Aside from the expanding belly, which may result in discomfort, other things like constipation, bleeding gums, and heart burn may arise. Most doctors will test for gestational diabetes during this stage.
The baby's weight tops one pound by this point. He or she is around ten inches long, has eyes that open and close, and can also hiccup!
This is the beginning of the third trimester. Women's joints will begin to soften to prepare for birth. The first visual evidence of stretch marks appear. Doctor's visit will bring continued monitoring of of the mom and baby's weights, and other factors such as blood pressure. Monthly visits also become bi-weekly visits, from this point forward to around thirty six weeks.
The baby now weighs between one and a half to two and a half pounds. The baby can also taste, as well as see and hear. This is the point where most babies can survive outside of the womb.
This point of the pregnancy brings rapid weight gain, about a pound a week. As the baby continues to grow, discomfort around the rib cage and back may increase. Doctor's visits during this stage will monitor the rate that your baby is growing and developing as well as your own blood pressure.
The baby weighs about five pounds at this point and might be as long as twelve inches. The baby's brain and lungs are still developing. The baby also starts to turn downward, in preparation for birth.
The last month of pregnancy involves an increase in discomfort, as the baby nears birth, and you become restless. Increase in back pain may also occur, as the baby settles into a new position. Anxiety about the birth may creep up.
As you near the end of your tenth month, the baby is between eighteen and twenty one inches long. He or she weighs about six pounds, has a fully functioning organ system and can easily live outside of the womb.
Congratulations, you've made it to full term. Next up, motherhood.