Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful times in the life of a woman and she must enjoy it to the fullest. The pregnancy timing is calculated in weeks from the day one of last menstrual cycle (LMP). Whenever your pregnancy is confirmed, your first task should be to go and meet the doctor. This visit will enlighten you about various issues and problems you may come across as the pregnancy progresses. During your first prenatal visit to your doctor, a physical examination is carried out in which your weight is recorded, blood pressure and urine is checked and the size of the abdomen is recorded.
Pregnancy period is divided into three parts or trimesters.-
First Trimester – This trimester is roughly for 3 months and starts from day 1 of your last menstrual cycle up to 12 weeks. In the “embryonic stage” from the third week onwards to the eighth week of pregnancy, the embryo develops most of its body organs and is at risk of harm from alcohol, infections and radiation. The embryo is called fetus and by the ninth week of your pregnancy, it grows up to a length of 1 inch. The uterus during this time also grows to about the size a grapefruit from that of a fist.
Other changes that you come across during the first trimester are –
- Vaginal discharge – thin milk white discharge throughout the pregnancy.
- Mood swings – due to hormonal changes
- Vaginal infections
- Increased urination
- Tenderness of breast
During the first trimester, you have to get an ultrasound of the fetal growth and placenta done. If there are some genetic problems then a genetic testing of placenta (chorioin villus sampling) is done. An HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection test in the first trimester will check the passing on of the infection to the new born baby.
Second Trimester – During this time, which starts from week 13 and lasts up to week 27 of your pregnancy, you start looking pregnant and go in for maternity clothes or dresses. The upper part of the uterus ‘fundus’ goes halfway up to the pubic bone and the naval. Then as the pregnancy progresses the ‘fundus’ goes further up, upto 2 inches above naval. This happens by the 27th week. The discomforts of the first timester like nausea, tenderness and fatigue die out and at this time the physical discomforts related to third trimester have still not developed, so you are quite at ease.
Now, the fetus is about 10 inch long and 1.5 lb in weight. From week 18 to week 22, you may feel the movements of the fetus. The starting movements of the fetus are so gentle and soft that at times you may not even be sure of them happening.
The normal changes related to second trimester are –
- stretch marks
- breast changes
- leg cramps and back ache
- hemorrhoids and constipation
In the second trimester one needs to get electronic fetal hearing monitoring, fetal ultrasound and glucose tolerance test done to keep a check on the growth of the fetus and health of the mother to be. If there is any genetic disorder problem, then a test of the fluid around the baby called the amniocentesis is done. Certain other tests called triple or quadruple screen, which test levels of Alpha-fetoprotein, estrogen, and human chorionic gonadotropin are also done at this stage.
Third Trimester – From week 28 till the birth of the baby is the period of third trimester. A pregnancy becomes full term between the 38th week to 42nd week and you can deliver anytime but ideal time for delivery is the 40th week. In the final stages, the fetus grows in size and the body organs also grow and there is a lot of movement especially between weeks 27 to week 32. Then the fetus becomes too big to move inside the uterus and by the end of the third trimester, its head is settled in the uterus, causing a great discomfort to you.
Third trimester brings these changes in your body and health –
- A strong pain and ache in the back, hip and pelvic bones. Heartburn
- Breathing problems
- Swelled ankles and feet.
- Frequent urination
- Insomnia and difficulty in finding a convenient posture to sleep.
A fetal ultrasound is done in third trimester along with hepatitis B and group B strep screening test. By the end of the third trimester you are full term pregnant and will feel that labor is not too far when –
- The fetal head goes and sets down in the pelvis.
- Contractions become quite frequent and painful, accompanied by cramps in the groin and low back ache.
- The water bag may break and the membrane is ruptured. This can happen even before the labor has started and you need to consult your doctor.
- The cervix begins to dilate and thin.