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You are here : Home»Pregnancy Guide»Life During Pregnancy»Stages Of Pregnancy
 
  Stages of pregnancy
  Pregnancy can be divided into three phases called trimesters. Each trimester has its own significant milestones. The first trimester is the most fragile period, during which all major organs and systems are formed. Most complications occur during the first trimester. During the second and third trimester, the fetus is fully formed and grows and matures rapidly. The trimesters can be as follows:

First Trimester (0 to 12 weeks)
A healthy first trimester is crucial to the normal development of the fetus. The mother may not be showing much on the outside, but inside her body all the major organs and systems of th fetus are forming. It is during the first trimester that the fetus is most susceptible to damage from substances such as alcohol, drugs, medication and illnesses such as rubella (German measles).

Baby Development
The most dramatic changes and development occur during the first twelve weeks of the baby's life. During the first eight weeks after conception, a fetus is called an embryo. The embryo develops rapidly and by the end of the first trimester it becomes a fetus that is fully formed, weighing approximately 1/2 to one ounce and measuring, on average, three to four inches in length. During your first trimester (and throughout your pregnancy) you will be offered various scans and screening tests to ensure your baby is developing correctly.

Changes To The Mother
During pregnancy, many changes are also occurring in the mother-to-be's body. Women experience these changes differently. Some symptoms of pregnancy continue for several weeks/months, while others are only experienced for a short period of time. Some women experience many symptoms, while other women experience only a few or none at all. Some of the changes include:

  • The breasts may swell and become tender in preparation for breastfeeding (a supportive bra should be worn).


  • Partly due to surges in hormones, a pregnant woman may experience mood swings similar to premenstrual syndrome


  • Increased levels of hormones to sustain the pregnancy may cause "morning sickness," which is feelings of nausea and sometimes vomiting.


  • A woman may experience fatigue due to the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy


  • Second Trimester (13 to 28 weeks)
    The second trimester marks a turning point for mother and baby. The mother usually begins to feel better and will start showing the pregnancy more. The baby has now developed all its organs and systems and will now focus on growing in size and weight. During the second trimester, both the mothers body and baby continue to grow. The umbilical cord continues to thicken as it carries nourishment to the fetus. However, harmful substances also pass through the umbilical cord to the fetus, so care should be taken to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other known hazards.

    Baby Development
    Now that all the major organs and systems have formed in the fetus, the following six months will be spent growing. The weight of the fetus will multiply more than seven times over the next few months, as the fetus becomes a baby that can survive outside of the mother. By the end of the second trimester, the fetus will be about 13 to 16 inches long and weighs about 2 to 3 pounds.

    Changes To The Mother
    The second trimester is the most physically enjoyable for most women. Morning sickness usually abates by this time and the extreme fatigue usually subsides. Some of the changes include:

  • Appetite may increase


  • The mother may be able to feel the movement of the fetus for the first time


  • The uterus has grown to the height of the belly button, making the pregnancy visible.


  • The increasing weight gain may cause backaches


  • Third Trimester (29 to 40 weeks)
    The third trimester marks the home stretch, as the mother-to-be prepares for the delivery of her baby. The fetus is continuing to grow only in weight and size now. The mother may feel more uncomfortable now as she continues to gain weight and begins to have false labor contractions (called Braxton Hicks contractions). During the third trimester, it is a good idea to start taking childbirth classes in preparation for the big day -- especially in the case of first pregnancies. If you plan to breastfeed, taking a breastfeeding class may be helpful.

    Baby Development
    During the third trimester, the fetus continues to grow in size and weight. The lungs are still maturing and the fetus begins to position itself head-down. By the end of the third trimester, the fetus is about 19 to 21 inches long and weighs, on average, six to nine pounds.

    Changes To The Mother
    In the third trimester, some women become uncomfortable as their due date nears. As the fetus grows in size and crowds the abdominal cavity, some mothers-to-be have difficulty getting comfortable at night for sleep, while others are free from any discomfort as they anxiously await the arrival of their new son or daughter. Some of the changes include:

  • Braxton Hicks contractions (false labor) may begin to occur at irregular intervals in preparation for childbirth


  • Leg cramps may become more frequent


  • Increased skin temperature as the baby radiates body heat, causing the mother to feel hot.


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