Pregnancy is among the most beautiful things a woman can experience in her lifetime. However, not everyone is aware of the stages of pregnancy and how to deal with each of them. Also important to know are the stages of prenatal development. Pregnancies aren’t the same for everyone as our bodies are all different and special in their own way. It can be a difficult, moderate, or easy experience depending on the woman in question. Generally speaking though, the pregnancy stages in every woman are the same – the first trimester, the second trimester, and third trimester. How women deal with each of these stages of pregnancy is critical as it will guarantee the safety and well being of the child as well as the mother.
So, if you’re expecting a bundle of joy to join your family soon, this one is a must-read for you! Once we’re done telling you all about the stages of pregnancy, we can move on to the next amazing thing you should know about – the critical stages of prenatal development. Shall we begin, then?
How Can You Tell If You’re Pregnant And What Are The Symptoms?
Before we begin with the pregnancy stages, you should first know how to tell if you are pregnant. The very first sign that you are pregnant will be a missed period. Besides this, there are a bunch of other things that will let you know that you have conceived successfully. We’ve listed the most common and most important symptoms of pregnancy below for your convenience. So, if you suffer from any of the pregnancy symptoms listed below, rush to your doc for confirmation of the good news!
- Sudden weight gain
- Changes in breasts
- Mild spotting accompanied by cramps
- Increased heart rate
- Inexplicable fatigue
- Incontinence or frequent urination
- A rise in body temperature
Three Stages of Pregnancy
Whether you’re pregnant for the first time or already have a sizeable brood, each of your pregnancies will have the same three stages. Those expecting for the first time will find this a lot more useful as you may not have been told about the pregnancy stages and how to get through each of them. Read them about in detail here and know what to expect in every stage of pregnancy.
1. The First Trimester
This stage will last from the time of conception – which is often regarded as week1 – until about week 12. The very first pregnancy stage, this is when your body will begin to change as you display early symptoms of pregnancy. Like mentioned earlier, a missed period will be the very first indicator that you have conceived. No more eggs will be released as implantation is completed successfully. Here’s what you can expect during the first trimester:
- Hormonal changes will affect your body. This can be a challenging thing to adjust to because some of the side-effects of these changes can be quite uncomfortable for most women. The most common things you will experience due to hormonal changes will be an increased heart rate, fatigue, possible incontinence, nausea, cravings or aversion toward a particular type of food, mood swings, weight gain, and more.
- Your daily routine will change. This is among those early pregnancy stages where you will need to change just about everything about your life because of the way your body is adjusting to the pregnancy. You may need to sleep earlier, rest more, eat certain types of food while cutting down on certain others, and use required supplements among other things. While the stages of prenatal development mint are the same, no two pregnancies are similar. So, don’t expect it to be the same as your previous pregnancy.
- Your baby develops into an embryo at week 4. This is among the pregnancy stages where you will be able to see visible changes in your baby. The heart and nervous system of your unborn child begins to take shape at this stage of pregnancy. Officially an embryo, your baby will also begin to grow leg and arm buds.
- The embryo develops into a fetus at week 8. Another of the most exciting pregnancy stages is when fetal development becomes incredibly apparent. The heart that begins to take shape at week 4 is completely formed and beating now. Also, all the other crucial organs begin to form as well. The limbs begin to grow long, the face of the fetus begins to assume features, fingers and toes begin to take shape, and sex organs develop as well. Even the umbilical cord begins to be seen quite clearly by this time.
- The first trimester ends at about week 12. By this time, your baby is considerably developed and still going strong. The sex organs are developed fully so you can easily see if its a boy or a girl. The muscles and nerves begin to flex and work together beautifully and thereby, your baby is able to make a fist! The eyelids will close over your baby’s delicate eyes and will not open again until week 28.
2. The Second Trimester
The second of the pregnancy stages, this period will typically last from week 13 to around week 28. Once you have crossed the first trimester, things will seem considerably easier in the second one. It’s among the most important stages of prenatal development as well. Here are the things you can expect to encounter during the second trimester:
- Fatigue and nausea may completely be gone. This is not the only good news! You will also experience other changes. For one, that baby bump will grow and be more visible as the abdomen expands. By the end of this trimester, you will also be able to feel your baby move within you!
- You will experience emotional and physical changes. While nausea and fatigue may leave, your body will experience other changes. You can expect to have back, joints, thighs, and abdomen aches among other things. Also, stretch marks will appear on your abdomen, buttocks, breasts, or thighs and the skin around your nipples will turn darker. Some women develop patches of dark skin over their upper lip, forehead, cheeks, or nose. There may also be itching, numbness, swelling, or tingling in various body parts.
- The baby develops in week 16. You will be able to see translucent skin form over your baby as the musculoskeletal development continues. The baby’s very first bowel movement is possible as meconium is formed in the intestinal tract. Also, the baby can now perform sucking movements as well.
- At week 20, the baby’s development is a lot more obvious. This is among the most exciting pregnancy stages as you will feel your baby kick and move inside you. There is fine, feathery hair that covers the baby. Toenails, fingernails, eyelashes, and eyebrows have formed by this time. If it wants to, your baby can even scratch itself now! It can also swallow and hear.
- There will be more changes in the baby at week 24. Also among the most exciting pregnancy stages, this is when your baby will develop hair, taste buds, fingerprints, lungs, and footprints. Even the sexual organs are fully formed by this time. Your little bundle of joy will also enjoy a regular sleep pattern now.
3. The Third Trimester
Lasting from week 29 until the actual delivery (week 40), this is the final of pregnancy stages and also, the most exciting one. The new troubles that begin to plague you during the second trimester will most likely continue to bother during this last stage of pregnancy as well. Once your baby is born, these issues will go away. Here’s what you can expect during the third trimester of pregnancy:
- There will be a lot of physical changes. Your breasts will become tender, the belly button may protrude, there may be shortness of breath, heartburn, and you may develop swelling in the face, ankles, or fingers. Additionally, your baby will “drop” to the lower abdomen. There may also be the chance of hemorrhoids. You will also experience contractions and your cervix will become thinner. These may be a sign of going into labor or, sometimes, a false alarm.
- You will be amazed to see your baby at week-32. All of your baby’s bones are formed, the movements have increased, and it can open as well as close its eyes. The fine hair that previously covered your baby begins to fall away and while the lungs have not formed fully, they begin to practice breathing.
- At week 36, your baby rapidly continues to grow. The protective coating on your child begins to thicken and the body fat increases as well. As the baby is bigger now, movements may get a bit restricted but you will nevertheless be able to feel them.
- The last of the pregnancy stages occur during week 37 to week 40. Your baby is thought to be full-term once you complete 37 weeks. All the organs have developed and function perfectly. Also, the baby may turn head-down which is the birthing position as you near the due date.
Stages of Prenatal Development
These were the pregnancy stages that any expectant mother should know about. Also important to know is what the stages of prenatal development are like so that you can be aware and immediately catch any mishap in the process. A bit different than what it’s like for the mother, this will deal solely with how the egg gets fertilized, develops, and then forms into a baby. Check out the following to know what to expect when it comes to the stages of prenatal development.
1. Germinal Stage
This is the very first stage when the egg and sperm unite in one of the fallopian tubules in a process we call conception. After a couple of hours after the conception process, the fertilized egg (or eggs) makes its way to the uterus. Then, the fertilized egg, or zygote, as it is called, attaches itself to the uterus. This process is called implantation. Although a very exciting stage in pregnancy, this can be a challenging time for expectant mothers to adjust to the changes in their bodies.
2. Embryonic Stage
This is among the most exciting of all stages of prenatal development as the zygote begins to develop and form into an embryo during this period. It begins during the third week after the conception process and is among the most crucial pregnancy stages as it deals with the brain development of the baby. The central nervous system begins to take shape around four weeks after conception. This is also the stage where the baby develops facial features. When the pregnancy reaches its fifth week, you will notice that the embryo has developed buds that will later sprout into arms and legs.
3. Fetal Stage
The final of all the stages of prenatal development, this is when the embryo develops into a fetus. The baby will begin to move a lot during this time and you will also be able to tell its gender as the sex organs are fully formed. Eyelashes, fingernails, hair, and eyelids among several other things are formed during this time. By the end of this stage of pregnancy, the baby will position itself head-down and get ready for the birthing process. All the organs of the baby are fully functioning by this final stage and it is considered to be full term.
Now that you know what the pregnancy stages are like, you can better prepare yourself for this incredible journey. Don’t forget to remember the things that occur during the stages of prenatal development either so you can easily keep a track of your baby’s growth. Although a bit difficult sometimes, pregnancy can be a beautiful journey as well. So, buck up and get ready to enjoy motherhood to its absolute best and fullest! Bring home that little bundle of joy and revel in the most amazing gift that life has to offer women. If you find this article so much informative then leave a comment and you must read to know actual facts about ovulation before getting pregnant.