Stages and common changes you may experience in Pregnancy

changes you may experience in Pregnancy

A woman's body undergoes many transformations during the nine months of pregnancy. Some of these physical changes are visible, such as an expanding belly and weight gain, while others are well known, such as an enlarged uterus, morning sickness and backaches. However, a few bodily changes may be unexpected and catch some women by surprise.

It's remarkable how a woman's body adapts to accommodate a pregnancy.

One change that often takes some pregnant women by surprise is an increase in breast size.

A woman's breast size and her bra size may change several times during pregnancy. Some women see this as a welcome change.

A second unanticipated change is varicose veins in the genitals. Women may expect varicose veins in their legs during pregnancy, but veins near the vagina and vulva can also become swollen and pop out usually in the third trimester.

Although swollen veins in this area can be uncomfortable, they tend to go away after delivery.

Here is a head-to-toe guide of some other physical changes that a woman's body may experience while she is pregnant.

1st-trimester mother

1st-trimester mother

During this stage:

  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs.

  • If your partner smokes, encourage her to stop.

  • Expect and accept mood changes.

  • Share meal preparation, especially if your partner is nauseated.

  • Take over some responsibilities if your partner is feeling tired.

  • Go to prenatal checkups with your partner.

Facts: Nausea and vomiting bother up to 80% of pregnant women to some degree. For many women, this can go on beyond 20 weeks.

What happens at first Trimester: 0 – 14 weeks?

What's happening?Now, what?
your periods will stop and you may have tender or painful breasts• wear a comfortable, supportive bra
unexpected mood changes• This is normal • focus on yourself and the changes you are going through • talk with the people around you • eat regularly and often • be physically active. Check-in: If you are feeling down for longer than seven days and the things that used to give you joy no longer do, you may have perinatal depression. See pages 19 and 85. Talk with your health care provider now about how you are feeling.
feeling excitement, fear, or uncertainty about being a parent• It is normal to have many feelings about a new pregnancy • share your feelings • spend time with other new parents, a pregnancy support group, or new parent group Call your public health office for information on pregnancy/perinatal support groups. You can find the number in the blue pages of your phone book. You can also ask your healthcare provider.
Fatigue (feeling tired and sleepy)• This is normal; rest whenever you can • have periods of activity and then of rest; stop before you become overtired • eat small meals several times a day and drink plenty of water • if you are working, try to rest on your breaks and at lunchtime. Feeling tired - how much is normal? You may not feel tired at all, or you may be falling asleep during the day. Both are normal.
headaches (due to hormonal and postural changes)• headaches are quite common • practice good posture • eat small, nutritious meals several times a day • drink plenty of water daily throughout the day • avoid activities that cause eyestrain • get plenty of sleep at night and rest during the day • have your neck, shoulders, face, and scalp massaged • apply a cool or warm washcloth to your forehead and the back of your neck • drink two cups of water and take some acetaminophen • talk to your health care provider if your headache does not go away
need to pee more often• drink water, milk, and 100 percent juice instead of coffee, tea, or colas • morning sickness (nausea and vomiting) • eat smaller amounts of food every one to two hours during the day • try to Eat Well as much as possible; however, ignoring the guidelines for a short time won't hurt your baby • try taking a liquid form of vitamins • try to keep taking your folic acid supplement even if you can't take prenatal vitamins for a period of time • eat whatever appeals to you during this time • avoid fatty and fried foods • drink fluids such as apple juice, ginger ale, water, and clear black tea • try eating cold meals to avoid food smells, or have someone else cook • have fresh air in the bedroom while resting, and in the kitchen while cooking • try not to get too tired • wear loose clothing around your chest and waist. If you do vomit, rinse your mouth with water. You can also use a fluoride mouth rinse. This will help protect your teeth from the damage of stomach acids.
increased vaginal secretions (thin and milky)• wear small pads, cotton underwear, and looser slacks • shower or bathe often • contact your health care provider if there is itchiness or frothy, smelly, or colored discharge
bigger or painful breasts and darkening of the areola (the colored area of the breast surrounding the nipple) with small lumps becoming visible• wear a supportive bra for comfort, even at night if it helps.
Light-headedness or feeling faint.• stand up slowly • eat regularly and often
Shortness of breath.• This is usually normal but check with your health care provider if there is a history of heart problems in your family.

Points to remember

See your healthcare provider if you: • are sick most of the time and can’t keep fluids or food down • vomit more than 5 times a day • have lost more than 5% of your pre-pregnant weight • pee less than 3 times in 24 hours.

If you can’t manage your nausea and vomiting, talk with your healthcare provider about the medication you can take to help.

2nd-trimester mother

2nd-trimester mother

Facts: Some women feel as if they have a constant cold with nasal congestion. This will go away after birth.

What happens at the second Trimester: 15 – 27 weeks?

What's happening?Now, what?
red, inflamed gums (can be pregnancy gingivitis)• This can be caused by changes in your hormones, throughout your pregnancy, and happens if plaque is left on your teeth • to prevent this, floss and brush your teeth regularly • see your dentist and be sure to tell her that you are pregnant.
little nausea, less bladder pressure, less fatigue• the chances of having a miscarriage are very small at this stage
early milk leaking from your breasts• wear breast pads in your bra if needed
stuffy nose and nose bleeds• do not smoke or be around second-hand smoke • place warm, moist towels on your face for comfort • breathe steam from a hot shower, a pot of boiling water, or a vaporizer • a cool-mist humidifier may be helpful • massage your sinuses by rubbing on the bony ridge above and under your eyebrows, under your eyes, and down the sides of your nose • drink more water • try saltwater nose drops made from ¼ teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1 cup of warm water • do not use antihistamines unless recommended by your health care provider
quickening - the mother feels the baby's movement• know that the feeling (may feel like bubbling, fluttering, knocking) can differ for each pregnancy • note the date, and tell your health care provider on your next visit
an increased sense that the pregnancy is real emotions may be more stable than in the first trimester• pay attention to your body and baby and enjoy your pregnancy • celebrate your pregnancy • connect with your baby, and include your partner • you and your partner can talk to your baby and/or gently massage your belly • keep a diary during your pregnancy • keep a pregnancy photo album
low back pain• maintain good posture while sitting or standing - pull in your stomach muscles, tighten your buttocks, and tuck in your seat to flatten your lower • sit in straight-backed chairs whenever possible • wear low-heeled shoes that give support • sleep on your left side with a pillow under your upper leg for support • avoid lifting heavy items • try heat or cold on your back or have someone give you a massage • talk to your health care provider
pubic pain• walk around objects instead of stepping over them • try not to push objects on the floor, such as boxes, with your feet • avoid opening your knees wide apart • talk to your health care provider
throbbing of legs and appearance of varicose veins• Rest and sleep on either side with a pillow between your legs. Do not lie flat on your back • walk or do other physical activity • wear support hose if recommended • don't sit with your legs crossed • when sitting, do ankle and foot exercises; avoid placing a pillow underneath your knees • try not to wear knee-highs and garters • use a footrest or another chair to lift your legs when sitting
mild swelling of ankles, feet, hands, and face (edema) - may be accompanied by tingling in one or both hands• raise your legs and feet whenever possible • lie on your left side when resting or at night to reduce pressure on major blood vessels • avoid wearing clothes or accessories that feel tight (such as watches, rings, or socks with elastic tops) • be physically active. Tips: Swelling of your feet and ankles is normal in pregnancy. Most of the swelling should be gone when you get up in the morning. If it does not decrease with rest, talk with your healthcare provider.
hard, dry bowel movements (constipation)• drink more water • if you feel your iron supplement is causing constipation, talk to your health care provider • eat high-fiber foods • be physically active • have bowel movements when you feel the urge • do not hold back or force the bowel movement • do not use suppositories, mineral oil, laxatives, or enemas unless recommended by your health care provider
a brownish "tan" on your face or a line running from the belly button to the pubic area• these signs will occur in some women and disappear after the baby is born • the line from the belly button may stay there

You should; 

• Enjoy feeling movements of the baby. • Attend prenatal checkups. • Talk to the baby. • Gently massage the mom. • Exercise together. • Encourage the mother to eat a healthy diet. • Help the mother avoid drugs and alcohol.

3rd-trimester mother

3rd-trimester mother

• Attend prenatal classes with the mother. • Help develop your birth wishes. • Help prepare your home for the baby. • Practice labor positions and relaxation. • Be ready and available for labor support.

What happens at third Trimester: 28 – 40 weeks?

What's happening?Now, what?
purple or red marks (striae or stretch marks) on abdomen, breasts, and thighs• after birth, the stretch marks will gradually change from red or purple to tan or white and will become harder to see • some women never lose their stretch marks
dry, itchy skin• if you choose to use soap, try glycerin soap • avoid long, hot baths • apply oils or lotions to keep your skin moisturized, especially after a bath or shower • calamine lotion may relieve the itching • if you have severe itching, talk with your healthcare provider
increased fatigue (feeling more tired)• rest often and listen to your body • ask someone to help with daily chores • if possible, stop work early if you are overtired
feelings of doubt or fear about labor• develop your birth wishes • talk with your healthcare provider about concerns and plans for labor • learn about labor and birth so you know your options • attend prenatal classes
pre-labor or Braxton Hicks contractions• these contractions are normal • tell your health care provider if the contractions are regular and become uncomfortable
muscle cramps in legs, especially at night• make sure you get enough calcium in your diet or talk to your healthcare provider about a calcium supplement • avoid getting too tired • put your feet up • be physically active • take a warm bath before going to bed • stretch your lower leg area before going to bed
feeling impatient because the pregnancy seems as though it will never end• a full term pregnancy is anywhere from 38 to 42 weeks • call upon your support system when you feel frustrated and talk about your feelings
Hemorrhoids• avoid constipation and straining • do pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises • rest and sleep on either side with a pillow between your legs. Do not lie flat on your back try not to sit or stand for long periods of time - change positions or walk around • for relief, apply ice wrapped in a cloth to the area
heartburn• eat small, frequent meals • avoid fried, fatty, and spicy foods • drink a lot of liquids between meals • elevate your head and shoulders while resting • do not bend or lie down immediately after a meal • do not wear tight waistbands • chewing sugarless, non-peppermint gum (ideally containing xylitol) may also help
sudden groin pain• avoid sudden movement • bend slightly at the hips when you expect to cough or sneeze
shortness of breath• try taking deep, slow breaths through the mouth • wear loose clothing • use good posture • get plenty of rest
difficulty sleeping• have regular sleep habits • be physically active • before going to bed try: » taking a warm, relaxing bath » eating a snack with a warm drink » using extra pillows for support » practicing deep breathing and relaxation exercises » listening to relaxing music
improved breathing• make a note when this happens and tell your healthcare provider at your next visit (this usually means your baby has moved down into your pelvis in preparation for birth)
increased need to pee• pee regularly • avoid caffeine • do pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises
an increase in Braxton Hicks contractions• this is normal • your uterus is contracting to soften and thin your cervix in preparation for labor • pack your hospital labor kit • arrange to have care for your children and your house while you are in the hospital

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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