A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP) to the birth of the baby. It is divided into three stages, called trimesters: first trimester, second trimester, and third trimester, each of these trimesters is marked by specific fetal developments.
A pregnancy is considered full-term at 40 weeks; infants delivered before the end of week 37 are usually considered premature.
First Trimester (0 to 13 Weeks)
The first trimester is the most essential for a baby’s development. In the starting, hormone levels change significantly. Most miscarriages and birth defects occur in this period. Uterus begins to support the growth of the placenta and the fetus, the body adds to its blood supply to carry oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby, and the heart rate increases.
One may not look pregnant during the first trimester but the body is going through many changes as it accommodates a growing baby. These changes cause a lot of symptoms like nausea, fatigue, breast tenderness and frequent urination.
The baby will develop all of its organs by the end of the third month, so this is the most important time. It’s important to maintain a healthy diet, including adding an adequate amount of vitamins in order to prevent neural tube defects. Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol. These habits, and any drug use might result in pregnancy complications and birth abnormalities.
Second Trimester (14 to 26 Weeks)
During the second trimester, your abdomen will start to look pregnant as the uterus will rapidly start growing. In this period, doctors usually test for gestational diabetes. This can be detected between weeks 26 and 28 of pregnancy.
In this trimester, one will have decreased nausea, better sleep patterns and an increased energy level. However, there will be a whole new set of symptoms, such as back pain, abdominal pain, leg cramps, constipation and heartburn.
One will be instructed to drink a high-glucose substance. After drinking it, one has to wait an hour before having blood drawn. This test will ensure that the body reacts properly to sugar during pregnancy.
Somewhere between 16 weeks and 20 weeks, the baby’s movements will be noticeable.
Third Trimester (27 to 40 Weeks)
Now, this is the final stretch of pregnancy. A few physical symptoms during this period include shortness of breath, hemorrhoids, urinary incontinence, varicose veins and insomnia.
The doctor will regularly test urine for protein, check blood pressure, listen to the fetal heart rate, measure fundal and check hands and legs for any swelling. The doctor will also determine the baby’s position and check the cervix in order to monitor how your body is preparing for childbirth.
It’s important to see a healthcare provider regularly to ensure the best outcome. Getting regular prenatal care is important during each trimester. A doctor can help in making sure the growing baby is meeting their developmental milestones, and that the woman is healthy. Babies born to people who receive regular prenatal care have much better outcomes.
By taking your prenatal vitamins, attending every doctor’s appointment, and undergoing all recommended tests, you’re doing everything you can to give the baby a healthy start in life.
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