What To Expect During Your Pregnancy
It’s the news you’ve been waiting for – your doctor has finally confirmed your pregnancy. Whether it’s something you’ve been planning for a while or a welcome surprise, a first pregnancy is daunting for any mother.
We’ll take you through every step of your pregnancy and give you tips on what you should be doing next.
First trimester – 1 to 12 weeks
For some, the hard part is over. 93% of conceptions happen within 18 months of trying, and almost half within the first three months. While this is all very exciting, it’s best advised not to tell anybody until you are 12 weeks pregnant, when the miscarriage risk is greatly reduced.
Your baby in the first trimesterThis is a key developmental stage for baby. From a clump of cells, after 12 weeks your baby will have developed fingers and toes, a spinal cord, brain and other essential organs. It will be 8cm long and weigh around 28 grams.
Your body in the first trimesterExpect many changes at this stage – in particular, your hormones! You may experience discomfort in the form of tiredness, sore breasts, and of course, sickness, which can happen at any point in the day. You’ll start to gain weight and may have cravings for certain foods, while you may be put off others. Every woman is different however, and you may not experience any of these!
What to do in the first trimester
Your doctor will be very familiar here! Your antenatal care will include a first ultrasound scan at eight to 14 weeks. You’ll also have a full check-up including weight and due date checks, plus blood screening for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia.
Antenatal screening tests start from 11 weeks to check for conditions such as Edward’s, Patau’s or Down’s Syndrome. To stay healthy, start taking vitamins such as folic acid if you’re not already. Take regular but gentle exercise, eat fruit and vegetables, and refrain from caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.
As this stage, you might like to start thinking about financing your baby. Ask friends for a list of everything you’ll need from baby clothing to bottles, and consider your healthcare options.
Second trimester – 13 to 28 weeks
You’re almost out of the woods! At this stage, many expectant mothers start to tell family and friends. There are also more hospital appointments to consider.
Your baby in the second trimesterBy now, baby’s organs are developing, as well as tiny hairs. At this point, he or she can also hear and swallow, and later on, you may be able to feel movement! Expect some disruption to your sleep cycle as baby grows, this time up to 36cm and 900g.
Your body in the second trimesterYour pregnancy will start to “show” now and you may experience stretchmarks. Your womb is expanding, and you may notice darker nipples or swelling in your hands and ankles. You might be hungrier, too, and may feel a little lightheaded due to low blood pressure. The good news is, any sickness should start to subside.
What to do in the second trimester
Again, there will be more appointments to check yours and baby’s health. You’ll have a second ultrasound, plus blood pressure and diabetes/amniocentesis checks. At 24 weeks, your doctor will measure the baby and check its size.
Crucially, in the second trimester, you can find out the baby’s sex! From 16 to 20 weeks, doctors may be able to pick up gender on an ultrasound. Here you can start planning for baby clothes or anything else gender-specific, for example looking at single sex schools.
You can also try prenatal classes here, helping you to learn about the birth and baby first aid. Consider visiting the hospital and start planning your nursery.
Third trimester – 29 to 40 weeks
At this point, you should expect a lot of doctor visits. As the baby makes its way into the final phase of growth, you may need to adjust your sleeping routine and could experience other unpleasant symptoms. It will all be worth it!
Your baby in the third trimesterBy now, baby’s bones are fully formed. Your baby can even open its eyes and sense light! At 36 weeks, the baby should be getting ready to turn for the birth, otherwise you may need a C-section. From week 37 onwards, your pregnancy is considered full-term, and baby will weigh the regular birth weight.
Your body in the third trimester
Thank goodness this is the final phase. You may have trouble going to the toilet, more frequent urination, tender breasts or discomfort while sleeping. With pressure on your abdomen, there may also be heartburn.
As you come to the end of the pregnancy, you may experience Braxton Hicks contractions. These are less painful than real contractions, and do not occur at regular intervals. They’re just your body’s way of preparing!
What to do in the third trimester
You’ll have anything up to 11 doctor visits during your pregnancy. Now is no exception! Your doctor will check your readiness for birth with an intimate exam. You may also have tests for other infections such as strep.
At this stage, you should do all you can do stay relaxed. The nursery should be ready, with all the essentials from 0-3 months purchased. You may feel a little swollen all over, so don’t overdo it! Focus on getting as much rest as you can, and finalise your birth plan with music, transport and pain relief methods. Stay away from germs by avoiding cat litter, and washing hands regularly.
This is a hugely exciting time for any new mum. To help you prepare for your new baby, check out our clothing for premature babies and newborns.