Understanding the three trimesters of pregnancy

Daniela DiStefano
Shine from Yahoo! Canada
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Expecting a child is an exciting but also anxious time in a woman’s life.

Learning about the growth and development of your baby over the next nine months will make it easier to understand the stages in your pregnancy and know what to expect as the months progress so you can enjoy every moment.

First Trimester: (Weeks 1-12)

In the first stages of your pregnancy you will most likely feel overly tired and have cramping or PMS symptoms as well as nausea, otherwise known as morning sickness.

A common problem throughout the pregnancy will be frequent urination, which probably will start in the first trimester. Most women can expect to gain about one pound per month during the first trimester. By the sixth week of pregnancy your baby’s heart rate will be visible via ultrasound. Expect to be asked a lot of questions about your medical history from your doctor, and also find out your estimated due date at your monthly appointments.

[See also: How do babies get their faces?]

Second Trimester: (Weeks 13-27)

By now you should be over the morning sickness and regained a bit of energy. Expect to gain about one pound per week during this trimester, and to start showing visible signs of your pregnancy.

Most moms can expect to feel their baby starting to move by about 20 weeks in. By now your baby is quickly taking shape and by the end of the trimester, their major organs will be formed and they will weigh about two pounds.

At about 15 weeks, your doctor may ask if you want to have a blood test done to screen for any birth defects or Down syndrome, and give you an ultrasound at about 20 weeks to check for anatomic abnormalities. By this time you may choose to determine your baby’s gender and continue to visit your doctor every month.

Third Trimester: (Weeks 28-42)

Nearing the end of your pregnancy you will be much more visibly pregnant and you may start feeling uncomfortable as you get closer to your due date.

It may be difficult to get a good night’s sleep, sit for long period of time or do too much walking. You’ll also be making even more frequent trips to the bathroom. Your weight gain will continue, so remember to keep eating healthy and often to keep your energy levels up.

Towards the end of your pregnancy your cervix opens and your baby starts to descend, meaning you may have more pelvic pressure and vaginal discharge. Your baby will probably continue to kick and move, but as they run out of room it will happen less often.

At the 30-week mark your doctor will start seeing you bi-monthly, and then weekly at about 37 weeks to check your cervix to see if you are dilating. Follow your doctor’s protocol on when to proceed to the hospital if you think you are in labour.

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