Pregnancy is a life changing experience for women. It starts when a fertilized egg travels through the fallopian tube and implants itself in the uterus. With pregnancy, comes several changes in women- hormonal as well as physical. Pregnancy is generally calculated from the first day of a woman's last period and lasts around 37 to 42 weeks. Stopping of periods is the most common visible sign of being pregnant; however, there might be other signs too which may vary from woman to woman.
Process of being pregnant
Conception means the point you get pregnant. Your ovary releases egg around 14 days before the beginning of your period, and this process is known as ovulation. After you had sex, there is a chance that egg may fertilize by one of the million sperms released by your partner. Fertilized egg then travels to your uterus and implants itself there. The implantation takes 5 to 8 days. Light bleeding might occur during implantation. Usually, the uterus loses its lining each month and hence, the periods occur. As a reason, we can say, missed periods is an unyielding sign of you being pregnant.
Stages of pregnancy
The pregnancy period has three classifications, which is of 3 months period each, known as trimester. A trimester lasts for about 12 to 14 weeks. The trimester has three classifications as follows:
- First trimester (1week to 12 weeks)
- Second trimester ( 13 weeks to 28 weeks)
- Third trimester (29 weeks to 40 weeks)
Several hormonal changes occur in a woman's body during the first trimester. However, physically, you won't find many changes. These hormonal changes have an effect on every part of your body. During this period, we can find HCG or Human chorionic gonadotrophic hormone in a pregnant woman's blood. After a week of missing period, it can also be detected in your urine. Thus, home pregnancy tests can use to detect pregnancy successfully during this period.
Due to pregnancy, a woman can experience various symptoms such as:
- Morning sickness, like nausea and vomiting
- Pressure on your bladder due to growth of uterus and hence, frequent urination
- Tender breasts
- Mood swings
- Enlargement of areolas
There are many changes continue to happen in your body, which you cannot see, as it starts to accommodate itself to a growing fetus. For the first week to the eighth week, the baby will appear like an embryo and will be the size of a pea. After the eighth weeks, it is called a fetus. The first trimester is an important time for you as by the end of the third month, and the fetus develops all of its organs. You should maintain a healthy diet during this period. No smoking and drinking are allowed during this period, and you must avoid as it can harm the baby. An adequate amount of folic acid consumption is essential during this period.
During this period, your abdomen starts growing, and you will develop a baby bump. By the 20th week, most of the women start looking pregnant. The second trimester is a comfortable period as most of the early pregnancy symptoms, like morning sickness, subsides and you can rest peacefully. The fetus is now at least four times bigger in size when compared to its size in the first trimester.
Some of the symptoms that occur during the second trimester are:
- Leg cramps
- Pressure on pelvic area
- Back pain
- Stretch marks
Around 18th to 24th week, you can start feeling your baby as it starts kicking. As the size of fetus increases, so does the frequency and strength of kicking. The kidney of the fetus starts working in the second trimester, and it also starts passing a little amount of urine. The fetus starts kicking and stretching. The fingernails of fetus forms and teeth develop under its gums. By the end of the 20th week, the baby can hear, and through screening, you can find out whether your child is a boy or a girl.
As you near your due date, excitement and anxiety take effect. You get bigger as the baby inside you gains weight. Some of the symptoms that occur during the third trimester are:
- Breathlessness as your enlarged uterus pushes against your diaphragm
- Varicose vein starts appearing on legs
- Itchy skin
- Lack of sleep, as the growth in the abdomen, makes it uncomfortable to do so. You should try sleeping on your side
- Leakage of urine, when you a cough or laugh
- Leakage of colostrums from breasts
- Swelling of face, feet, ankles and hands
Another familiar symptom is the occurrence of false labor, also known as Braxton Hicks Contractions. These happen near your due date and are painless. These occur one to two times every hour.
By the end of 7th month, the fetus starts responding to light and sound. Their lung develops more during this stage, though it will only start to work after your baby's birth. The baby also moves to the head-down position to accommodate the birthing process.
Get prepared for the exciting moment
During this period, you can enroll yourself in a childbirth class. It will help you as well as your partner in preparing for labor and birth of your baby. Also, prepare your hospital bag and labor kit. Visit your doctor for any problem that you are facing. As the estimated date of delivery nears, so does the nervousness, which is quite common. However, estimated date of delivery works fine for only those women who have a regular menstrual cycle.
Being pregnant is a beautiful feeling. As each month passes, you get more attached to your baby. Though it is a difficult phase and can create quite a discomfort, yet no woman would trade it for something less, ever.