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Pregnancy Week By Week: 20 Things To Expect When You're Expecting

Finding out that one is expecting can be a crazy mix of emotions; happiness, excitement, and maybe a little trepidation for the journey that is coming. There is a wash of resources out there for women to delve into—but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. There are terms tossed around, tests that have to be administered, and a litany of pregnancy symptoms that many women have never even heard of.

It can start to feel a crushing—the rush of information coming at lightning fast speed. But broken down, regarded on a week by week basis can make the material more digestible.

We have put together a small, concise list of 20 Things To Expect In Your Pregnancy Week By Week, which will provide a good overview of what is to come. When I was pregnant, I read as many lists like this as I could; checking off milestones as I hit them and looking forward to the ones that still lay ahead. The more information that a pregnant woman can arm herself with—the better off she will be.

This list should supply the reader with data but more importantly it is from a personal perspective--of a woman who has been there.

20 Week 4 - The Eyes Won't Stay Opened

You would think that this early on in the pregnancy a woman wouldn’t be exhausted; but you are. You may be closing your eyes during meetings or taking naps on your lunch breaks. This exhaustion does not entail just simply want to sit but a deep, intense, fatigued state will leave you passing out at 8pm on the couch, sitting fully upright will all of your clothes on.

Don’t worry—this is just a phase of pregnancy. Eventually your body evens out and this excessive drowsiness will pass and instead you will just be moderately drained. And then the baby will come and you won’t sleep soundly for another 18 years.

But honestly, once you see your baby’s precious little face, you won’t care.

19 Week 6 - Hours Spent Over The Toilet

Almost 75 percent of pregnant women experience some form of morning sickness. This can simply be nausea or small fits of vomiting. Or, if you are lucky like me, it can be three months of hell in which you puke in parking lots, garbage cans, and out your car window on the freeway.

There are lots of home remedies for morning sickness that you can try, or your physician can also prescribe you an anti-nausea medication. Either way—most cases are gone by your fifth month of pregnancy.

If you are one of the fortunate women who do not get morning sickness, please do not brag about it to your other pregnant friends. It makes us want to kick you.

18 Week 8 - The Urge To Pee Will Begin

This is probably one of the most common and well known symptoms of pregnancy—the urge to pee—all of the time. And it usually starts at about week 8. Hormonal changes in your body up the flood flow, which in turn fills your bladder faster, which makes you urinate more frequently.

Furthermore, your uterus is getting larger by the day, which puts increased pressure on your bladder. Just imagine if someone always had a palm pressed up against your abdomen—how much worse the need to urinate is when there is pressure. As a pregnant woman, you are getting this constantly from the inside out.

Some books claim that a woman will get relief from this condition in the second trimester but I, along with countless researchers, call BS on that.

17 Week 10 - The Girls Will Balloon In Size

Hurray—the moment we have all been waiting for! By week 10, your breasts have probably gotten larger and firmer. Even this early on in the pregnancy, your body is prepping for the birth of your baby. It is preparing itself for breastfeeding, by increasing your hormone levels and blood flow.

Your lovely ladies will continue to grow throughout the rest of your pregnancy and most women can expect grow at least one, if not two, cup sizes.

You may also notice that you can see more veins on your breasts, which is perfectly normal. Your areolas (the skin around your nipple) will darken and grow, as well. Little bumps will start to dot the areola, which are a gland that produces oil that have always been there but get more pronounced as your pregnancy progresses.

16 Week 12 - It's Time For Maternity Pants

You may have been wondering when you would actually start to look pregnant, instead of looking like you ate three carne asada burritos for lunch (which you may have done as well). The time is now!

Take yourself out for a shopping spree and invest in some maternity clothing that will grow with you for the next seven months. Your belly is going to get bigger than you can even imagine, so don’t spend all your clothes money now.

This is the time to get a couple of essential like a good pair of maternity jeans with an elastic waist band. A few loose fitting, stretchy shirts are also great for this stage, as well as a pair of comfortable shoes that are easy to put on.

15 Week 14 -  The Pregnancy Glow (So Take Lots Of Selfies)

There are so many changes that happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy that make her feel worse about herself; weight gain, swollen ankles, fatigue etc. But having that pregnancy is glow is one of the few positive physical changes.

Your skin change is due to an increase in hormones. Experts attribute the glow to the excess oil that your glands produce in response to the hormones, which leave your face more shiny—and looking like it glows. There is also an increase of blood flow during pregnancy, which can lead to better circulation, making your skin look more bright and vibrant.

This is a great time to take lots of selfies before the second (and third) chin sets in.

14 Week 16 - Feel The Baby Moving

Finally—this is the point in your pregnancy where you may be able to feel your baby kick! There is nothing as magical as the first time you think you have gas and then realize it is your baby moving. My husband and I used to sit in awe, both of our hands on my belly, looking at each other in wonderment and trepidation.

If you don’t feel anything yet, don’t worry! Some women don’t experience this sensation until 25 weeks, so rest easy. Experts say that especially for first time mothers, the phenomenon happens later in pregnancy.

A quick tip: it is easier to feel the baby move when you are resting. Try to sit quietly, or lay down on your back.

13 Week 18 - Food Will Always Be On The Mind

Your appetite will surely increase during pregnancy, which is perfectly natural. And at week 18 it is in full swing. It may feel like you are eating for a pride of lions—that is also normal.

To avoid dropping your blood sugar and to keep your energy up, make sure to keep yourself well-fed. Carrying something of substance in your purse like a protein bar or some nuts can help curb you over until your next meal.

It’s ok to indulge yourself in cravings but also remember that your growing baby needs nutrients. So make sure to include some salads with the French fries, milk shakes, and pickle sandwiches. Sprinkle some chia seeds on your ice cream or add some spinach to your smoothie.

12 Week 20 - The Long-Awaited Ultrasound

This is the moment we have all witnessed in the movies—the 20 week ultrasound where parents get a sneak peak at their growing baby. This is when you get to take home that quintessential snapshot of your little peanut swimming in the amniotic fluid. It brings a real sense of reality to the pregnancy. But this ultrasound is also useful for medical professionals to check on the well-being of your child.

Bart Putterman, M.D., explains "The purpose of the 20- to 22-week ultrasound is to look at all of the fetus's anatomy and to determine if all looks normal. Things that can't be seen in earlier scans, such as spinal cord abnormalities, brain defects, heart defects, and diaphragmatic abnormalities, can usually be seen on these scans."

11 Week 22 - The Baby Bump Magnet

Your burgeoning baby belly is super cute right now—it is firm and clearly is not just a beer belly. But unfortunately, this makes you a magnet for strangers who want to touch your abdomen.

This urgent need to touch runs especially strong in elderly women and they may accost you everywhere from the grocery store to the elevator. They will come at you covered in perfume, with beet red lipstick smeared all across their front teeth.

They will have the best intentions, but will be unable to keep their hands to themselves. They will also regale you with stories of their own children, which can lead into awkwardly long conversations.

I recommend that you carry a fly swatter around with you and gently whack their papery palms when they get too touchy.

10 Week 24 - The Glucose Screening Test

This fun pregnancy test usually happens at about 24 weeks. Let me give you the run down:

Most doctors will recommend a glucose test to check for gestational diabetes, which is a condition in which pregnant women’s blood sugar levels become too elevated. This can lead to health problems for the both mama and baby.

You will be asked to drink a syrupy concoction of horror that contains 50 grams of glucose, and a medical professional will watch you drink it. EXACTLY an hour later, a blood sample will be taken from your arm to check your blood sugar.

This test measures how effectively your body is processing sugar, and results are available within a day or two. There are many false positives with this test, so don’t fret if your levels are elevated.

9 Week 26 - The Dreaded Back Pain

Lower back is a perfectly natural symptom of pregnancy, and at 26 weeks you may start to notice its onset. Your growing uterus pushes on your abdominal muscles which can negatively affect your posture. Furthermore, increased hormone levels loosen your joints and can cause pain during movement. This is a common sign of pregnancy and will go away shortly after your baby is born.

The strain of compensating for the extra load on your front side can cause the muscles of your back to ache, and there is not that much you can do to relieve it.

Pay attention to what positions provide relief; whether sitting, laying down or standing. Also try placing a heat pack or hot water bottle on the affected area.

8 Week 28 - More And More Visits With The Doctor

You are officially in your third trimester! Congrats! This means that the frequency of your prenatal visits is going to increase dramatically. You will no longer waddle in to the doctor’s office once a month, but now every two weeks. Your doctor will check in and make sure both mama and baby are progressing safely.

If your blood type is Rh negative than this is when your healthcare provider will administer a hot of Rhogam which prevents Rh negative women from producing antibodies that could attack any Rh blood. This injection is to protect the baby from developing erythroblastosis fetali. (I had one of these shots with every one of my pregnancies. They are quick and easy-- nothing to worry about.)

7 Week 30 - Two Words: Mommy Brain

You are officially starting to get really pregnant and your body is showing all of the signs. You may notice that you are clumsier than normal—pregnancy brain will do that to a person. This could be due to the fact that you can barely sleep, your belly sticks out significantly further than you are used to, and your fingers have become fat as sausages.

Your center of gravity has also drastically shifted—the way that you have balanced your entire life has changed in a matter of months. Don’t feel bad if you knock over store displays or hit little children with your belly. We’ve all done it. Just apologize and go buy yourself a donut. It helps.

6 Week 32 - Difficulty Catching Breaths

Woman coughing.

Shortness of breath sounds scary but it happens to most pregnant women around this time. During the last trimester, your baby pushes against your diaphragm which makes it feel as if you cannot catch your breath. Rest assured that is just a sure sign that your baby is growing healthy and strong.

This also does not mean that you are not getting as much air—it just means you have to take more breaths to do so. Picture this as an introduction to the breathing that they will teach you in your childbirth class. (It is a lot of short breaths in which a woman sounds like she’s imitating at orangutan.)

Good posture and exercise are two ways to help curb this annoying pregnancy symptom.

5 Week 34 - Nesting Will Peak

Nesting occurs for every woman at a different point in her pregnancy but most will agree that it really peaks at 34 weeks. This is the time when reality hits you and you realize that your baby is actually coming. And soon. Some women rewash all of the baby clothes, repaint the nursery, and buy items off of the internet like it is 5:30AM on Black Friday.

If you experience this sensation know that you are not alone. There are millions of crazy women all over the world who doing the exact same thing. Their partners are standing quietly by watching them with intrigue and worry. Sure, you are a certified lunatic right now, but this phase too will pass.

4 Week 36 — Lightening

No, this is not an electrical discharge between a cloud and the ground having to do with weather. It is a term we use to describe when the baby drops, between 36-38 weeks. This does not mean that your labor will start soon, it just is a signal that baby is headed in the proper direction.

One sign of lightening is the change in the shape of your abdomen, whose center will go from being high and point to low and round. Another is that you may notice that your breathing has eased; the baby is no longer squished up against your lungs. The final indication of lightening is that you will feel the need to urinate even more frequently than before. (I know. I’m sorry. You didn’t think that was possible did you?)

3 Week 38 - The Body Will Swell From Hands To Feet

Don’t be too alarmed if you manage to get a glance at your feet and they look like they have been attacked by an entire swarm of bees. Because your body is producing so much more blood and fluid, it can make your body swell, especially in extremities like your feet. You may notice that your shoes no longer fit and although this can make a woman feel like a giant, it is perfectly normal.

Heat, lots of activity, hours of standing, and diet can increase this nasty pregnancy symptom. Normal swelling will come on slowly and dissipate slowly, as well. But preeclampsia, a dangerous condition in pregnancy, causes sudden, intense swelling in the hands and the face. If you have any concerns, contact your health care practitioner immediately.

2 Week 39 - False Contractions

YOU HAVE MADE IT. YOU ARE OFFICIALLY FULL TERM. But wait—at 39 weeks? I know it is really confusing. Let that go for now and give yourself a big ol’ pat on the back for making this far. You are truly amazing.

This week, you may start to feel Braxton Hicks contractions. These contractions are referred to as “false contractions” and it just your body prepping itself for the big day. The easiest way to tell if it is a Braxton Hicks or a real contraction is to change your body position and wait.

Braxton Hicks contractions will slowly fade and not come back with any consistency. A real contraction will worsen over time and the frequency will increase. It won’t matter what position you are in, you will find little relief.

1 Week 40 - The Waiting Game

Oh girl, you kind of thought it would be over by this point, didn’t you? Sorry. If it makes you feel any better, all three of my kids were at least a week late.

Your doctor may want to perform a nonstress test to check on your baby’s heart rate. They may also want a biophysical profile which looks closely at your baby through an ultrasound to check for movements, muscle tone, and to make sure that there is enough amniotic fluid.

Your doctor may start preparing you for induction, though many will let you go another week as long as the baby is doing well. At this point is just a waiting game. You are so, so close to meeting your baby. Sit tight, labor IS coming.

Sources: Baby Center, Ovuline, The Bump, American Pregnancy, Parents, Mayo Clinic, WebMD

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