A pregnancy lasts 9 months, and is divided into three parts. Each part of three months is called a trimester.
First trimester: from conception until 13 weeks.
Second trimester: ends at around 26 weeks.
Third trimester: between 26 weeks and your due date.
This is a time of rapid growth and development, a time when your body adjusts to pregnancy.
Discovering you’re pregnant is exciting. Anxious thoughts are normal if this is a first time but try not to worry. Learning about pregnancy and a healthy lifestyle will set you and your baby off to a great start.
For general information on pregnancy and great pictures of stages that your developing baby will go through go to: www.pregnancy.org
Changes in your body that you will notice
Pregnancy hormones are responsible for all the changes that your body goes through. Creating a safe place for your baby to grow is complex and energy consuming and the reason why you feel tired in the first three months.
Your uterus changes from the size of a kiwi fruit to that of a grapefruit in the first trimester. The mucus plug that keeps bacteria out of the uterus forms in the cervical canal. The blood supply to the vagina and vulva (external lips of the vagina) increases and skin in these areas may turn purple in colour.
Milk glands in the breasts develop and your breasts feel heavier, fuller and tender. The brown skin around the nipple darkens and small oil glands develop around the nipple to prevent it from drying out.
Your heart works harder because of extra blood needed for the placenta to provide nutrients and oxygen to your baby. The sensation of breathlessness is also a result of hormonal changes.
Menstrual cycles will usually stop in pregnancy. You should report any bleeding during pregnancy to your Birthright specialist.
Changes in your developing baby
At the end of the first trimester, your baby will be about 9 cm (3.5 inches) long and weigh about 48 grams (1.7 ounces). Your baby is fully formed at 13 weeks, and now needs time to grow. You will become aware of your baby’s movements at around 18 – 20 weeks.
At 13 weeks, fingers and toes are developed, but bones are mostly soft cartilage beginning to harden. The head still appears larger in comparison to the rest of the body. The tooth buds (32 of them) are present in the jaw. The heart beats about 150 times per minute.
The lungs are developed and your baby ‘breathes’ amniotic fluid. The air exchange parts of the lung develop later. Your baby will practice sucking and swallowing amniotic fluid which is passed as urine.
Morning sickness Morning sickness’ is common and varies from pregnancy to pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones called human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) are believed to be the cause.
Hydration is paramount. If you are unable to keep any fluids in, you may need intravenous rehydration. Lack of nutrition and hydration can be harmful to your baby.
Helpful hints for surviving morning sickness include:
- Eat frequent small portions of whatever food you want
- Keep something next to your bed to take when you wake up
- Avoid strong smells such as cooking smells or perfumes.
- Avoid warm and stuffy places
- Avoid getting overly tired
- Eat salty potato chips. It can help settle a stomach
- Fresh lemons or ginger: Lemonade, ginger ale, ginger biscuits or ginger capsules have all been shown to help.
Antenatal care visits
Prenatal care is the medical care that you receive before your baby is born. Most pregnancies will progress normally and most babies will be born healthy, but studies show that women who have regular care have better outcomes.
The first visit: 6 to 10 weeks
Our Birthright specialists would like to meet you around 9 weeks from your last menstrual period.
This visit can be more in depth and take longer. We will do a full medical assessment and discuss what tests to expect in your pregnancy, and your options for screening for problems in your baby. We will discuss your pregnancy care plan, minor discomforts in pregnancy, any concerns you may have, your fears and your hopes.
Your visits with a Birthright Midwife
Our midwives will discuss issues such as antenatal classes, caring for a baby, breastfeeding, clothing, exercise, home supports and parenting. You will also have the opportunity to discuss your birthplan.
They will also give you information about antenatal and parenting classes and coffee groups.
What to expect in subsequent antenatal visits
Your careplan may be different from the visits below, but as a rule we will see you every 4 weeks until 28 weeks, then two weekly till 36 weeks then weekly till delivery.
The following are some important visits:
- 11-14 weeks – Nuchal scan. If you have opted for an amniocentesis, this is done at 15 to 17 weeks.
- 18-19 week – Anatomy scan
- 23 weeks – Uterine Doppler scan if you have a high risk pregnancy
- 28 weeks – Routine antenatal visit. Blood test for hemoglobin. Polycose screening test for gestational diabetes. You will receive an injection of Anti D if you are Rhesus negative.
- 34 weeks – Routine antenatal visit. You will receive an injection of Anti D if you are Rhesus negative.
- 36 weeks – Routine antenatal visit. Vaginal swab for Group B streptococcus. Discussion of your Birthplan
- 37 weeks – Routine antenatal visit. Discussion of your Birthplan