Basic Pregnancy Info
Normal pregnancy is between 38 and 40 weeks long, this is taken from the first day of your last period. Although it is very common for pregnancies to go a week or so over this, and only 4% of babies are actually born on their due date!
Pregnancy is measured in trimesters, and although there is no officially agreed definition of when each starts, but they are generally defined around 3 months each.
THE FIRST TRIMESTER - this is from day 1 through to around week 12.
Although you may not look pregnant during the first trimester, your body is going through huge changes, as it accommodates a growing baby, who at this stage is called an embryo.
His heart is beating, eyelids, nose, lips and ears are starting to take shape. The baby will develop all of its organs by the end of this trimester, so this is a vital time to ensure you have a healthy diet, including adding an adequate amount of folic acid, in order to help prevent neural tube defects, and stopping smoking (click this link, if you would like some help quitting) and drinking alcohol, if you haven't already managed to stop, before you became pregnant.
In the first few weeks following conception, your hormone levels change significantly. Your uterus/womb, begins to support the growth of the placenta and the baby. Your body increases its blood supply to carry oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby, and your heart rate increases. Many of your pregnancy symptoms, such as fatigue, morning sickness, headaches, and constipation, start during this phase.
The first trimester is also a vital time for the development of your baby.
THE SECOND TRIMESTER - this is from about week 13 to week 27
Most women find this the most comfortable and enjoyable part of their pregnancy. Most of the early pregnancy symptoms have disappeared or at least starting to. You should start to enjoy a better night's sleep and your energy levels improve during the day.
Your tummy starts to look pregnant, as the baby starts to grow rapidly.
Although discomforts of early pregnancy should ease off, there are a few new symptoms that are common, like varicose veins, heartburn, constipation, anaemia, leg cramps.
THE THIRD TRIMESTER - lasts from about the 28th week through the birth of your baby, around 38 - 42 weeks.
Probably the most uncomfortable part of pregnancy. Difficulty in sleeping is very common and can increase the fatigue already being felt at this stage. Backache is also very common due to the heaviness of your growing baby and the fact that the ligaments in your pelvis begin to soften and stretch in readiness for labour. The baby's head may also move down lower into the pelvis "engage", which also increases the discomfort.
Breasts can increase in size by up to a kilo, so a well supporting bra is vital.
Braxton Hicks contractions, or some people refer to them as 'practice contractions' are also very common, although not all women experience them, which is completely normal. They are not part of true labour and have no effect on the neck of the womb (cervix) opening.
The 'Show', which is the pink thick sticky jelly that is in the neck of the womb, starts to come away as the neck of the womb starts to soften and open slightly. The show can happen weeks before labour starts, or can be just prior to labour, so it should be seen as a positive sign but certainly not a definite sign of labour about to begin.