People usually say pregnancy is 9 months long, but in reality, it’s a little longer. Pregnancy is divided into 3 trimesters or 40-42 weeks in total. It’s actually measured from the first day of the last period because it’s so challenging to determine with certainty the exact date of falling pregnant.
From the moment you utter the words “I’m pregnant!” your life changes and your body will too. If you find yourself worried about what’s ahead, learn about the development of your baby and how you can help this process along. If you inform yourself and listen to the week by week pregnancy advice from others about the changes your body will go through, you can adjust and prepare accordingly.
Continue reading to learn more about what you can expect each week your pregnancy progresses.
1st Trimester, Weeks 1-4
Even though a fertilised egg may have implanted in your uterus 2 weeks ago, you are actually 4 weeks pregnant if the first day of your last period was four weeks ago. During the first couple of weeks,weeks 1-3 to be precise, your body is preparing for conception, you are menstruating and ovulating.
During ovulation in week 3, a mature egg is released from the ovary, starts going down the fallopian tube and becomes ready to be fertilized.
Week 4 is when the first symptoms of pregnancy occur. You may experience headaches, nausea, and breast tenderness. This is probably the best time to buy an early detection pregnancy test.
1st Trimester, Weeks 5-8
Week 5 is the best time to schedule a first prenatal check-up. Your baby is, at this point, a tiny tadpole with a heart, bones, ears, and eyes in the process of development.
At week 6, you may experience those less comfortable symptoms such as heartburn, light bleeding,cramps and gaining a few extra pounds. Time to get some comfy walking shoes and go jogging.
At week 7 your baby is developing eyelids, a tongue, elbows, and toes. It weighs less than a cherry seed. Now would be the right time to choose a doctor or a midwife, if you haven’t already.
In the 8th week your baby is no bigger than a raspberry, but with bones and muscles developing, a teeny tiny nose popping up, and minuscule fingers and toes growing.
1st Trimester, Weeks 9-12
In week 9 your baby’s knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, and wrists are nowmobile, allowing your baby to move around and become familiar with his/her surroundings. In this period, you will start to feel more fatigued than usual and may find it difficult to fall asleep. Time to create a more relaxed atmosphere with scented candles, dimmed lights, and comfy cushions.
At week 10, your baby’s toenails and fingernails will start to become visible, and the majority of organs develop. Book your ultrasound and put the picture on the fridge!
At week 11 your baby is now as big as a strawberry. Now is a great time to get a book on pregnancy and read it with your partner.
Week 12 brings some great news – morning sickness should reduce. Your intake of healthy nutrients should increase though. Exercise, take vitamins and maybe use this time to travel somewhere as you will not be able once you enter the 3rd trimester.
2nd Trimester, Weeks 13-16
At the beginning of the 2nd trimester (week 13), you’ll notice more physical changes on your body, especially stretch marks. You might want to start massaging lotion into your bump daily to help reduce the visibility of stretch marks.
At 14 weeks your baby’s arms and legs are becoming more proportional. Considering the phase of development, the chances of miscarriage are now greatly reduced. Time to start telling loved ones your good news!
At week 15 the baby has developed facial muscles to the point that frowning is recognizable.At this time your baby is as big as an orange.
Week 16 is the perfect time to start doing any developmental tests like the Alpha-Feta Protein (AFP) test, the Triple test, or have an amniocentesis if you choose to. It’s also an ideal time to start prenatal and parenting classes.
2nd Trimester, Weeks 17-21
When you reach week 17, your bump is easily noticeable and borrowing your partner’s clothes no longer does the trick. Time to go shopping for some maternity clothes!
Don’t be surprised if during weeks 18 and 19 you experience exhaustion and afternoon naps become mandatory. Ligament pains and dizziness are not uncommon, too. Remember to consult your doctor before using medications for any pain you feel.
Week 20 and you are halfway there to meeting your little one! Don’t forget to take between 25-30 mg of iron daily, to compensate for the expanded blood volume you are sharing with your baby.
Week 21 is probably one of the easiest weeks as the most challenging pregnancy symptoms have passed and you are so used to the remaining ones that they’re no longer an inconvenience. Your baby is now as big as a coconut.
2nd Trimester, Weeks 22-26
At weeks 22 and 23 your baby looks like a newborn with some more growing to do. Fat is starting to accumulate, and the baby’s digestive system is now fully dissolving amniotic fluid. You can feel the movement more and more as the baby becomes stronger.
At weeks 24 and 25, your baby’s lungs and brain are developing. Now you’ll be able to find out your baby’s sex through ultrasound or prenatal testing if you’d like. Is it a boy or a girl?
At week 26 your baby’s eyes are most likely blue. The baby still has room in your uterus so youcan feel it moving around a lot.
3rd Trimester, Weeks 27-31
In the weeks 27 and 28, you can even tell periods of movement and resting apart. This can be a good time to start shopping for things for the baby, especially if you know the gender.
You can experience heartburn at weeks 29 because your baby has grown to the point of pushing into your stomach. Try to eat often and little.
Weeks 30-31 are known for increased tiredness and painful joints. Time for that oily massage from your partner. You might also start experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions and unexpected colostrum leaking.
3rd Trimester, Weeks 32-35
At weeks 32-34 your baby’s toenails and fingernails have completely formed, and the lungs will be almost fully developed. Your baby is now the size of a pineapple.
In order to determine if there is an abnormality to the movements of your baby, you need to establish the criteria for normal movement pattern. Week 35 is the right time to focus on tracking your baby’s kicks.
3rd Trimester, Weeks 36-40
At week 36 your baby’s lungs are fully developed, but your baby still receives oxygen through the placenta. You might experience more Braxton Hicks contractions and it helps if you know how to differentiate them from labour contractions.
At week 37 your baby will move further into the pelvis and you might even notice your bump moves lightly. If you notice an urge to clean and organise, don’t be surprised. This nesting phase is something most mothers report happening right before birth.
During weeks 38-39, you may notice more colostrum leaking. At the same time, your baby is gaining more fat that will provide the much-needed energy during the first days after birth. This is also the time when your baby’s first poo, called meconium, is formed.
Since most babies are born between weeks 38 and 42, don’t be surprised if you are past your due date. You might start to fell a little uncomfortable in terms of size now.
At week 40 your baby weighs between 3 and 4 kg. Your feet are probably swollen so we suggest popping them up so they are higher than your heart. Prepare a bag for the hospital and have someone on standby to take you there. It’s just a matter of time now!
Enjoy The Journey
On this beautiful journey towards parenthood, you will find many beautiful new experiences such as your baby’s first movement in the second trimester. There will be some challenging experiences too like heartburn, mood swings, joint pain, and the birth itself, but keep in mind all of those bad experiences will melt away as soon as you hold your newborn daughter or son in your arms.