Stages of Pregnancy Month by Month

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Pregnancy is a wondrous time of changes. Your body goes through so much in the nine months it takes for your baby to grow and prepare for life on the outside.

If it is your first pregnancy, you probably want to know all of the ins and outs of pregnancy so you can know what to prepare for. And this guide is here to help.

Month 1 – Weeks 1-4

Chances are, you may not even know you are pregnant until after your first month. It may not be until 6 weeks in when you realize that your period is late and you start experiencing some symptoms. However, changes are still happening and some women may know their bodies well enough to determine that something is different.

Bodily Changes

The biggest changes that will happen in the first month will involve your hormones. The pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (or hCG) will start to increase, which may cause slight nausea, frequent urination, or breast tenderness. It is likely you won’t experience these symptoms at this early stage, though.

You may actually think that you are still about to start your period as you experience slight cramping. This is actually from implantation when the fertilized egg moves from the fallopian tubes to your uterus.

What You Should Be Doing

If you believe you may be pregnant, even at this early stage, you should take a home pregnancy test and make an appointment with an obstetrician.

They will do various blood tests, take an extensive record of your family’s medical history, do an overall health assessment, and will probably prescribe or recommend a prenatal vitamin.

Baby Development

By the end of your first month, your little one will only be the size of a sesame seed. The sex is already determined from this early stage and the major organs (including the heart and brain), as well as the central nervous and circulatory systems, start forming.

Month 2 – Weeks 5-8

Usually, around 6 weeks (at the earliest) is when most women begin to question the possibility of pregnancy. It’s right about the middle of the first trimester when you are likely feeling queasy and tired on a regular basis.

Bodily Changes

Increased hormone levels start contributing to queasiness and occasional vomiting. You may experience food aversions more than cravings at this stage, with certain smells or flavors turning your stomach.

What You Should Be Doing

It is important to listen to your body’s needs, resting when you need it and keeping your diet healthy and light to prevent nausea.

If you haven’t already, book your first appointment with your OB. You will start with just one appointment each month where they will check your blood pressure and weight, and test your urine for excess protein. Be sure to stay hydrated, especially before your appointments.

Baby Development

By the end of the second month, your baby will be the size of a raspberry. Their brain cells are rapidly developing and all their vital organs are in place. If you have a scan at this stage, they will look slightly like a tadpole and their heartbeat will be visible.

Month 3 – Weeks 9-13

This is the end of the first trimester! If you haven’t already, you should start to feel a bit more normal. Nausea will start to subside and you will start to get your energy back.

Bodily Changes

Morning sickness will start to subside and make way for increased hunger as your baby begins to grow more rapidly.

What You Should Be Doing

Most first scans occur around 12 weeks, which is when women will decide to share the news with family and friends. Decide how and when you want to celebrate with those you love.

This is also a good time to establish a gentle exercise routine. Include exercises like swimming, yoga, walking, and dance as long as your doctor doesn’t have any objections

Baby Development

By the end of your third month, your baby will be the size of a lime. They have defined human features, their torso begins to straighten, and they have their fingernails and toenails. Their kidneys and lungs are also fully functional and they can burp, swallow, and yawn.

Month 4 – Weeks 14-17

After the first trimester, you will start to notice more physical changes as you put on a little weight and start to see your belly pop out.

Bodily Changes

There is a lot of extra blood flow in your body to support both you and your baby. You may notice nose blockage as well as gum inflammation and bleeding as a result.

What You Should Be Doing

Now would be the best time to start shopping for your pregnancy wardrobe. If you don’t have a bump yet, you will soon. So, it’s best to be prepared for when your pants don’t want to button anymore.

It would also be a good idea to sign up for prenatal classes. These do more than just teach you how to breathe for labor; they prepare you for everything that comes with birth and help you create a birth plan for your doctor.

Baby Development

At 4 months, your little one is roughly the size of an avocado. Their sexual organs are in place – boys have sperm and girls have ovaries and eggs. Their eyes are also starting to work, their limbs and joints are developed, and they are practicing sucking and swallowing.

Month 5 – Weeks 18-21

This is probably the most exciting month for most expectant mothers since it is usually when they find out the sex of their baby and start to feel the first movements.

Bodily Changes

At this point, you may have gained about 5-15 pounds and your abdomen is starting to stretch a bit more. You may also experience forgetfulness or muddled thinking, a common symptom that is often referred to as pregnancy brain.

What You Should Be Doing

At this month’s appointment, you will get to see your baby again. This time, you will likely find out their sex so you can start planning names, wardrobe, baby shower, and nursery theme.

Baby Development

By this stage, your baby is about the size of a pomegranate. They are very active and gaining weight rapidly. Babies born at this age now have about a 50% survival rate due to their current development stage.

Month 6 – Weeks 22-26

This is the end of the second trimester. You are starting to look undeniably pregnant and can show that baby belly with pride.

Bodily Changes

You are going to have a nice little baby bump by this point, which also means that your skin is stretching quite a bit. Stretch marks may be visible and your skin may be a bit itchy.

This is also the stage where pregnancy-induced hypertension may appear (if you are at risk for developing hypertension).

What You Should Be Doing

This month’s doctor appointment will involve a blood glucose test which will let you and your doctor know if you have gestational diabetes. Your doctor will give you a special drink before taking a blood sample to test. Your results will take a few days to weeks to come back.

Baby Development

Your baby is about the size of coconut at this stage. They are opening their eyes, practicing breathing, and they can recognize voices and sense light.

Month 7 – Weeks 27-30

The start of the third trimester doesn’t feel that much different from the second, but you will soon start experiencing more aches and tiredness as your due date draws near.

Bodily Changes

The amount of amniotic fluid in your uterus begins to reduce at this stage to prepare for your baby’s growth and birth. You may find that your hunger has increased and your joints are a bit looser – a necessity for birth.

What You Should be Doing

Your appointments will change from monthly to biweekly at this point. Your doctor may talk to you about counting your baby’s kicks to help monitor their activity. This will also alert you if anything is out of the ordinary so you can call your doctor right away.

If you are blood type Rh-negative, you will also need to receive a shot of Rhogam to prevent any issues that may arise from your blood mixing with your baby’s.

Baby Development

Babies at 7 months gestation age are about the size of a head of cauliflower. They have a very strong, rapid heartbeat and are gaining weight rapidly to prepare for birth. You may also start to your baby’s hiccups as they are swallowing and sucking a lot more.

Month 8 – Weeks 31-34

This is the stage that you may start to become increasingly uncomfortable as the baby starts to drop lower in the pelvis and Braxton Hicks contractions start.

Bodily Changes

Your body will start “practice contractions” call Braxton Hicks, which will not be painful like real labor contractions but rather just a tightening of your belly for a few seconds.

You may experience more pressure in your pelvis as the baby drops and discomfort in your ribcage and/or organs as your baby starts running out of room to move. Heartburn and indigestions are also very common at this point.

What You Should Be Doing

Your doctor will continue seeing you every other week to monitor your blood pressure, weight, and protein levels. As long as your doctor hasn’t said otherwise, you can continue light exercise, which is actually good when preparing for birth.

Baby Development

Your little one is about the size of a pineapple at this stage. They are starting to develop their own immune system from your antibodies. Their bones are also hardening and their skin is now opaque.

They have likely moved into a head-down position and dropped a bit in your pelvis to get ready for their exit.

Month 9 – Weeks 35-40

This is the end; you’ve made it. It’s probably very uncomfortable at this point and you are likely counting down the days until your baby’s arrival. Just a few more weeks. You can do it!

Bodily Changes

Your baby dropping in your pelvis has good and bad side effects. You can breathe easier as they move away from your lungs, but you are going to have to urinate much more frequently as they push on your bladder.

What You Should Be Doing

Now is the time to confirm your birth plans with your doctor. If you haven’t already, decide on the level of intervention you want – pain medication, epidural, C-section, Pitocin, etc. – and have a backup plan in the event that something changes.

You will start seeing your doctor weekly from now until your baby is born. They will start checking your cervix at each appointment, which should be dilating and opening up to prepare for your baby’s birth. A group B strep swab is also done at this point to ensure there won’t be any issues as your baby exits the birth canal.

Baby Development

Your baby is roughly the size of a small pumpkin or watermelon by the time they are born. They are considered full term at 37 weeks, but it is better to wait until at least 40 weeks so they can continue to grow and become stronger before they enter the world.

Final Words

It is highly likely that your baby will be born after 40 weeks, especially if it is your first pregnancy. Be patient and rest as much as you can. Relaxing is key to helping things move forward as you get closer to labor and prep.

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