Pregnancy Milestones: What to expect when expecting
Pregnancy milestones: many women are taken by surprise at the physical changes that crop up. We give you the lowdown on the "joys of pregnancy".
Pregnancy Milestones: What to expect when expecting
During pregnancy your body will undergo some amazing changes. Increased hormones cause your breasts to swell, your uterus to expand, and your skin to break out. Your hair may fall and you may deal with some unimaginable food cravings – think bagoong and manggang hilaw. Or pickles and ice cream. Of course it goes without saying that your belly will expand as your baby develops — so shelve those thoughts of having the ‘perfect’ body for now.
Whatever changes you experience, don’t stress or be overanxious about them — they are all part and parcel of pregnancy. So try to go with the flow and just look after yourself as best as you can. The average pregnancy lasts for 283 days. That time is divided into three periods called trimesters during which different things happen to your body.
To help you deal better with the changes, we’ve come up with a list of some of the normal things you may experience during each trimester. The changes described here may happen earlier or later than they appear on this list, and some may continue throughout your pregnancy journey.
First Trimester (WEEK 0-12)
The first trimester is very important for both you and the baby growing inside you. It will require many adjustments to your lifestyle.
In this phase, your body is preparing itself for the next 9 months. Lots of hormonal changes are taking place inside you and you can experience a wide variety of symptoms and emotions.
You may feel extremely tired during the first 2 months of pregnancy. Don’t be shy about it; your body is working extremely hard and your system is trying to get used to the increased level of progesterone, so try to take every opportunity to rest.
You may also suffer from morning sickness (the worst is usually between 8 to 12 weeks), excessive saliva production, frequent urination, mood swings, irritability, acne, bloating and food cravings.
Your breasts may be more sensitive and tender, or they might feel fuller and heavier. Your nipples start to enlarge and your areolas become larger and darker.
Many women also experience headaches in the first trimester, which can be blamed on low blood sugar or reduced blood flow to the brain when you stand or sit up quickly.
You can also expect to put on a little weight. During the first trimester a total gain of 1 to 3 kg is expected.
If you are an older mom (35 years and above) your risk of a miscarriage is higher due to the higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities.
You may want to consider having a nuchal translucency ultrasound. This looks at the back of the baby’s neck and predicts the chances of your baby having Down Syndrome.
Second Trimester (WEEK 13-25)
This is usually the ‘best stage of pregnancy’ for most women — you feel healthier overall, experience a heightened sex drive and look good, with definite changes in your body shape.
By this time, you should no longer be suffering from morning sickness and the overwhelming fatigue brought on by hormonal changes (though some women have morning sickness all throughout their pregnancy). If you are still feeling queasy, consult your doctor, who may ask you to increase your intake of vitamin B6.
Around this time, you will start to experience other discomforts, namely dry skin around your stomach, abdominal aches, increase in gas, shortness of breath, heartburn, stretch marks and swelling of the hands, feet, ankles and face.
Cramps in your feet and calves are also normal in the second trimester, and may be caused by either fatigue or the uterus exerting pressure on the nerves in your legs.
You will also most likely experience redness and itchiness on your palms and the soles of your feet due an increase in estrogen levels.
Although your hormones are still in overdrive, your body’s had three months to adjust to them, so you might actually make it through one of those tear-jerker movies without bawling.
As part of your body’s preparation for labor, you may start experiencing Braxton Hick’s contractions as early as the second trimester. These are “practice contractions” and are irregular in intensity, infrequent and cause discomfort rather than pain, which is usually associated with contractions brought about by labor.
Third Trimester (WEEK 26-40)
During this period, you will continue to put on 1 to 2 pounds per week until the 36th or 37th week.
Your baby will put on three quarters of its weight during this period. Your overall weight gain should be between 10-12 kg.
Your belly may affect your balance, and lead you to have backaches. Swelling, varicose veins, groin pains, shortness of breath and fatigue are the common complaints as the pregnancy progresses fullterm.
Adequate rest, comfortable clothes and shoes, and simple exercises should be an important part of your pregnancy.
Also, as your overall level of discomfort peaks, you may not have the good night’s sleep that you deserve. Try to make up for it by squeezing in some catnaps during the day. Try to also avoid drinking water at night, so as to minimize getting out of bed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
By week 36, start getting organized and prepared for labor. Be sure to have all the essential items for your baby’s needs ready, as well as your birth plan.
If you’re planning to breastfeed, attend breastfeeding classes so that you’ll know what to expect.
If you plan on bottle-feeding, clean and sterilize all your bottles, but do know that breastfeeding is highly recommended for your baby, especially during the first 6 months of life.
During this final stretch, you will also notice an increase in the number of Braxton Hicks contractions. Your breasts also make their final preparations for breastfeeding and may start to leak.
Your baby is considered fullterm by week 38, so be prepared to give birth anytime from then.
Healthier lifestyle choices for you and your baby
To ensure optimum health for you and your little one, try to abide by these Do’s and Don’ts.
- Take prenatal vitamins.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Consume healthy food.
- Manage your stress.
- See your doctor for regular prenatal check ups.
- Talk to your doctor about any medicines that you are taking.
- Drink alcohol
- Consume drugs
- Consume raw food, uncooked eggs or unpasteurized dairy products
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