Expectant Moms’ Guide: What to Expect in Each Pregnancy Trimester

A typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, measured from the first day of your last menstrual cycle. This entire duration is divided into three distinct periods, known as the first, second, and third trimesters.

Initial Trimester

During the first trimester, a woman's body begins to show clear indications of pregnancy.

  • Rising hormone levels may result in morning sickness.
  • Senses may sharpen, and unpleasant odors can induce a feeling of nausea.
  • Severe fatigue may occur because of increasing progesterone levels.
  • The need to urinate may become more frequent.
  • The areolas may darken, and the breasts may grow and become sensitive.
  • Typical symptoms include heartburn, bloating, gas, and constipation.

The first trimester witnesses significant development in the embryo, including the heart, lungs, arms, legs, spinal cord, nerves, and brain. By the second month, the embryo resembles a kidney bean in size and continues to develop features like eyelids, wrists, fingers, and ankles. Upon reaching the eighth week, the embryo is now termed a fetus.

Second Trimester

The second trimester often brings relief from nausea and vomiting for many women while introducing new symptoms.

  • Back pain and pelvic pressure become common as the abdomen grows heavier and creates strain.
  • Sleep may improve compared to the initial trimester.
  • The skin might start to itch.

Around the 18th week of pregnancy, the fetus begins to move, learning to flex their arms and legs. They start to kick, wriggle, and turn within the womb. The fetus's kidneys start functioning, producing urine, and they begin to hear sounds and swallow.

By the fifth month, the fetus becomes more active, establishing a sleep and wake cycle. A protective, waxy coating called vernix forms over the fetus's skin. By the sixth month, the fetus's hair starts growing, and they can open their eyes. This time marks rapid development, with the complete development of lungs, although they aren't functional yet.

Final Trimester

The journey into the third trimester brings new experiences. Shortness of breath is common as the expanding uterus restricts lung expansion.

  • Blood circulation slows, causing swelling in the face, legs, ankles, hands, and feet due to fluid retention.
  • The nipples might leak a yellowish fluid known as colostrum.

During this period, the baby becomes more active, responding to light and sounds, including music. The baby's bones harden, while the brain continues to form. The skull remains soft and flexible, preparing for birth.

The baby can now hiccup and begins to position themselves head-down in preparation for delivery. Their lungs mature, ready to take the first breath.

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