A normal, full-term
pregnancy can range from 37-42 weeks and is divided into three trimesters. Each
trimester lasts between 12 and 14 weeks.
The first trimester lasts from the first
through the 13th week of pregnancy. Although you may not look pregnant during
the first trimester, your body is going through enormous changes as it
accommodates a growing fetus.
In the first few weeks following conception,
your hormone levels change significantly. Your uterus begins to support the
growth of the placenta and the fetus, your body adds to its blood supply to
carry oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby, and your heart rate
increases. These changes accompany many of the pregnancy symptoms, such as fatigue, morning sickness, headaches, and constipation.
The first trimester is vital for the
development of your baby. The fetus will develop all of its organs by the end
of the third month, so this is a crucial time. It's important to maintain a
healthy diet, including adding an adequate amount of folic acid in order to help prevent neural tube
defects. Cut out any bad habits, such as smoking and alcohol. Both have been
related to serious complications in pregnancy and birth defects.
The second trimester (weeks
13-27) is often the most comfortable period of time for the majority of
pregnant women. Most of the early pregnancy symptoms will gradually disappear,
and you should enjoy a more restful night's sleep and a surge in energy levels
during the daytime.
Your abdomen will start
to look pregnant, as the uterus will grow rapidly
in size. At the end of the second trimester, your baby will be almost four
times as big as it was at the end of the first trimester. It's a good time to
invest in maternity wear, and spread the good news of your pregnancy with your
friends and family.
While the discomforts of
early pregnancy should ease off, there are a few new symptoms to get used to.
Common complaints include leg cramps and heartburn.
Screening tests are also
performed in the second trimester, and this is when a diagnostic test would be
performed. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your medical history and any
issues that could put you or your baby at risk.
The third trimester lasts
from the 28th week through the birth of your baby. During the third trimester
you will start seeing your health care provider more frequently. Your doctor
- test your urine for protein
- check your blood pressure
- listen to the fetal heart rate
- measure your fundal height (the approximate
length of your uterus)
- check your hands and legs for any swelling
Your doctor will also
determine the baby's position and check your cervix in order to monitor how
your body is preparing for childbirth.
The third trimester is a
good time to educate yourself about labor and delivery. Take time out to enroll
in a childbirth class. Childbirth classes are designed to prepare you and your
partner for labor and delivery. It's a great way to learn about the different
stages of labor and delivery options, and gives you the opportunity to ask any
questions or voice any concerns to a trained childbirth instructor.
A normal, full-term pregnancy can last
anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks. Your due date is really an estimated date of
delivery (EDD). It’s dated from the first day of your last period, even though
you actually conceive two weeks or so after this date. The dating system works
well for women who have fairly regular menstrual cycles. However, for women who
have irregular periods, the dating system may not work and other methods may be
needed to determine the EDD. The most accurate method of determining the due
date is an ultrasound in the first trimester, because early fetal
development is fairly regular across all pregnancies.