You're pregnant...now what?
In our pregnancy week by week milestones, we give you the lowdown on what happens during pregnancy and what you can expect.
During pregnancy your body will undergo some amazing changes. These are your pregnancy milestones. Increased hormones cause your breasts to swell, your uterus to expand, and your skin to break out.
You hair may fall and you may suffer from some unimaginable food cravings – think pickles and ice cream. And of course your belly will expand, as your baby develops.
Don’t stress or be over anxious at the changes you experience. 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.
Below is 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 of Pregnancy (WEEK 0-12)
The first trimester, is very important to both you and the baby which is growing inside you. It will require many adjustments to your life style.
In this phase your body is preparing itself for the next nine months. Lots of hormonal changes are taking place inside you and you can experience a wide variety of symptoms and emotions. This is an important part of your pregnancy milestones.
You may feel extremely tired the first two 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 mum(35 years an above) your risk of a miscarriage is higher due to the higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities. You may want to consider having a nuchak translucency ultrasound. This looks at the back of the baby’s neck and determines the chance of Down Syndrome.
Second Trimester of pregnancy (WEEK 13-25)
This is usually the best stage at which you feel overall healthier, experience a heightened sex-drive and look good, with definite change in body shape.
By this time, you should no longer suffer from morning sickness and overwhelming fatigue brought on by the hormonal changes. If you are still feeling queasy, talk to your doctor about increasing your intake of vitamin B6. Very normal part of the pregnancy milestones.
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 trimesters, and may be caused by either fatigue or the uterus exerting pressure on the nerves in your legs.Your palms and the soles of your feet are also likely to become red and itchy because of an increase in oestrogen.
And while 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.
Third Trimester of Pregnancy (WEEK 26-40)
During this period, you will continue to put on one to two 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. Another important part of your pregnancy milestones.
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 full-term. Adequate rest, comfortable clothes and shoes and simple exercises should be an important part of your pregnancy.
As your overall level of discomfort peaks, you may not have the good night’s sleep that you so 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 minimise getting out of bed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
By week 36, start getting organised and prepared for labour Be sure to have all your essential items for your baby’s needs ready as well as your birth plan Also clean all bottles and sterilise them During this final stretch, you will also notice an increase in the number of contractions. Your breast also make their final preparations for breastfeeding and may start to leak.
Healthy Pregnancy Lifestyle Choices
- Take prenatal vitamins
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Consume healthy food
- Manage 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 or unpasteurised eggs
Also read: Recipes for morning sickness