Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, but it can be a little overwhelming at times. Understanding the stages of pregnancy can help expectant parents know what to expect and how to prepare themselves for the arrival of their little one. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the 3 stages of pregnancy (week by week) and what happens during each one.
3 Stages of Pregnancy (week by week)
The three stages of pregnancy include the first trimester, the second trimester, and the third trimester. Each stage brings its unique set of physical changes and developmental milestones for the foetus.
Stage 1: The First Trimester
The first trimester is from conception until the end of week 12. During this time, the fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tube and implants itself in the lining of the uterus. Here are some of the significant changes that happen during the first trimester:
1.1. Physical Changes
The first trimester can be a challenging time for many women, as they experience a range of physical changes. Some common symptoms include:
- Morning sickness: Many women experience nausea and vomiting during the first trimester, particularly in the mornings.
- Fatigue: Hormonal changes can cause feelings of exhaustion, and many women find that they need more rest than usual.
- Tender breasts: As the body prepares for breastfeeding, the breasts may become sore, swollen, or sensitive.
- Mood swings: Hormonal changes can also cause mood swings, and some women may feel irritable or emotional.
1.2. Development of the Foetus
During the first trimester, the foetus goes through a significant amount of development. By the end of week 12, the foetus will have:
- A beating heart
- The beginnings of organs such as the liver, kidneys, and lungs
- Arm and leg buds
- Eyes, ears, and a nose
- A visible face
- Fingers and toes
Weeks 1-4: During the first few weeks of pregnancy, the fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tube and implants itself in the lining of the uterus. The cells start to divide and form the placenta and the embryo.
Weeks 5-8: By this time, the embryo is about the size of a raspberry, and the heart begins to beat. The brain, spinal cord, and organs start to form.
Weeks 9-12: By the end of the first trimester, the embryo is now called a foetus, and it is about 3 inches long. The foetus has fully formed organs, limbs, and a face. The mother may experience morning sickness, fatigue, and mood swings during this stage.
Stage 2: The Second Trimester
The second trimester is from week 13 until the end of week 26. This is often the most enjoyable stage of pregnancy, as many women start to feel better and have more energy. Here are some of the significant changes that happen during the second trimester:
2.1. Physical Changes
Many of the symptoms from the first trimester start to subside during the second trimester. Here are some of the physical changes that may occur:
- Increased appetite: As the foetus grows, the mother may feel hungrier and need to eat more frequently.
- Weight gain: The mother will start to gain weight as the foetus grows.
- Movement: The mother will start to feel the foetus moving around, which is a significant milestone in pregnancy.
2.2. Development of the Foetus
During the second trimester, the foetus continues to develop rapidly. By the end of week 26, the foetus will have:
- Fully formed organs
- A strong heartbeat
- A layer of fat under the skin
- Eyelashes and eyebrows
- A more defined face
- The ability to hear and respond to sounds
Weeks 13-16: During this stage, the foetus continues to grow rapidly, and the mother may start to feel better. The foetus can now move its arms and legs, and the face is more defined. The mother may experience an increased appetite and weight gain.
Weeks 17-20: By this time, the foetus is about the size of a mango, and the mother may start to feel the foetus moving around. The foetus can now hear and respond to sounds. The mother may experience shortness of breath and swollen feet and ankles.
Weeks 21-26: The foetus continues to grow and gain weight during this stage, and its organs are fully developed. The foetus can now blink, and the mother may start to experience Braxton Hicks contractions. The mother may also have trouble sleeping due to discomfort.
Stage 3: The Third Trimester
The third trimester is from week 27 until the birth of the baby. This is when the mother will start to feel more uncomfortable, and the foetus will prepare for birth. Here are some of the significant changes that happen during the third trimester:
3.1. Physical Changes
The physical changes during the third trimester can be challenging for many women. Here are some of the symptoms that may occur:
- Braxton Hicks contractions: These are practice contractions that prepare the uterus for labour.
- Shortness of breath: As the foetus grows, it can put pressure on the mother’s diaphragm and make it difficult to breathe.
- Swollen feet and ankles: The increased weight and pressure on the circulatory system can cause swelling in the feet and ankles.
- Difficulty sleeping: As the foetus grows, it can be challenging to find a comfortable position
3.2. Development of the Foetus
During the third trimester, the foetus will continue to grow and develop. Here are some of the significant changes that may occur:
- The foetus will start to gain weight rapidly, preparing for birth.
- The lungs will continue to develop, preparing the foetus for breathing air.
- The foetus will start to position itself for birth, usually head down.
- The foetus’s movements may become less frequent but more intense as space becomes limited in the uterus.
Weeks 27-30: By this time, the foetus is about the size of a cauliflower, and its lungs are continuing to develop. The foetus is now able to open and close its eyes, and its brain is becoming more complex. The mother may experience Braxton Hicks contractions, shortness of breath, and difficulty sleeping.
Weeks 31-36: The foetus is now about the size of a honeydew melon, and it is gaining weight rapidly. The foetus is positioning itself for birth, usually head down. The mother may experience more intense Braxton Hicks contractions and swollen feet and ankles.
Weeks 37-40: The foetus is now fully developed and ready for birth. The mother may experience strong contractions, and the foetus may drop lower into the pelvis. The due date is usually around week 40, but the baby can come any time between weeks 37 and 42.
Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, but it can be a little overwhelming, especially for first-time parents. Understanding the stages of pregnancy can help expectant parents know what to expect and prepare themselves for the arrival of their little one.
It’s essential to take care of oneself during each stage, listen to one’s body, and seek medical attention when needed. With proper care and preparation, expectant parents can enjoy a healthy and happy pregnancy journey.