How the Body Changes by Trimester
Pregnancy is made up of three trimesters and each comes with its symptoms, including physical and physiological changes. Knowing your bodily changes will help you understand and prepare yourself for what you may experience each trimester as well as how best to deal with it.
Generally, a pregnancy lasts between 37-42 weeks with 40 weeks standing as the normal full-term pregnancy. Pregnancy is made up of three trimesters and each comes with its symptoms, including physical and physiological changes.
A trimester lasts for 12 to 14 weeks or three months. Knowing your bodily changes will help you understand and prepare yourself for what you may experience each trimester as well as how best to deal with it.
Most times, people feel anxious when they're not aware of what to expect. Educating yourself will reduce your anxiousness and help you feel better. Below are the three pregnancy phases and the bodily changes you should expect (but note not everything happens to each person).
Your first trimester begins from the first day of your last menstrual cycle and lasts for twelve weeks. You may not look pregnant at this stage because your body is still trying to adjust to the changes going on in your body.
Due to your growing baby, you'll experience some changes in hormone levels during the first few weeks. Your uterus will also begin to prepare itself for the growth of your baby and the placenta. Your body increases its blood supply to help it supply essential nutrients to your developing baby. There's also an increase in your heart rate at this point, and you may experience other symptoms like constipation, fatigue, headaches, and morning sickness.
By the end of your first trimester, your baby would have developed all organs. So, this is an important time to include enough folic acid in your meal and consume a healthy diet. You should also avoid consuming alcoholic drinks, drugs, and smoking. With this, you'll be preventing many birth abnormalities and serious complications that come with pregnancy.
Your risk of miscarriage also becomes high at this period, so be sure to take your prenatal vitamins and avoid substances or drugs that could be harmful to your baby.
You may discuss with your doctor to know what to eat and what not to eat. Some doctors suggest that pregnant women avoid caffeine, shellfish, and deli meat during the first trimester. If you must consume caffeine, it should be less than 200 mg daily to help you stay healthy and reduce your chances of miscarriage.
The first trimester is the best time to prepare for your baby by attending parenting classes in your community or online and learning about breastfeeding.
For most pregnant people, the second trimester is the most comfortable period. It spans between 13 to 27 weeks.
At this point, you will find out that the pregnancy symptoms you've been experiencing before will gradually disappear. You'll also feel more energized and be able to enjoy your night's rest.
As the uterus grows, your abdomen will begin to show signs of pregnancy. The second semester is the best time to start preparing for your baby's arrival and shop for you and your baby's needs. You should also get enough maternity wear and avoid tight clothes.
Even though it's usually the easiest time of pregnancy, you should prepare for common symptoms like heartburn and leg cramps. You're also likely to gain more weight due to an increase in appetite. Remember, as your baby grows, so does your appetite. However, do not overdo things and follow the recommended weight gain by your doctor.
You may also experience backaches, varicose veins, and nasal congestion.
Many pregnant people also feel their baby's first movement at this stage, by 20 weeks most of the time. A baby can also hear and recognize the mother's voice at this stage.
You will undergo some screening tests, including an anatomy ultrasound, between 18-22 weeks. This ensures that your baby is in good condition and its brain, kidney, lungs, and heart are working fine. You may also find out your baby's sex at this point if you choose to. But, the ultrasound may not show the sex of your baby due to its position.
Between 26-28 weeks, your doctor may test you for gestational diabetes, but they may test you earlier if you have risk factors that could lead to diabetes or have a family history of it. You will be asked to drink a substance with high glucose content, and your blood will be drawn after one hour. This test will help your doctor find out if your body will react appropriately to sugar.
The 28 to 42 weeks or until you birth your baby marks the last trimester of your pregnancy. You will see your healthcare provider more frequently at this point. This is to ensure that everything is OK before delivery.
During these visits, your doctor will:
- Check your blood pressure
- Measure your uterus length
- Test if your urine contains protein
- Listen to your baby's heart rate
- Check your cervix and your baby's position to determine your body's preparedness for the coming baby.
- Check for swelling hands and legs.
You will also be screened for GBS or Group B streptococcus, a bacteria that can be deadly to newborns when passed unto them at the point of delivery. So, if it comes out positive, your doctor will give you antibiotics during labor to prevent your baby from being affected by the bacteria.
You will also be restricted from traveling during the third trimester as you will need to stay close to your doctor should you go into early labor. If you're going to be traveling, you need to get permission from your doctor.
Most importantly, the third trimester is the best time to read and learn about labor and delivery from people with first-hand experience or online. You can also learn about the different labor stages and delivery options and ask any questions on anything you do not understand from a trained labor instructor.
Pregnancy is a very crucial time, and following your doctor's advice is very vital at this point. You should also see your doctor and discuss your bodily changes and how you feel from time to time to ensure safe delivery.
Note that people who receive regular prenatal care have healthier babies than those who do not.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Nadia Rumbolt
Nadia Rumbolt is a mom of many trades, including creative writing, blogging, van life, minimalism, veganism, the beach, nature, and the occult.