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Pregnancy Stages

Pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, counting from the first day of your last normal period.

Both the mother and the baby go through many changes during this time. These changes are grouped into three time periods called "trimesters".

Each woman will experience the symptoms of pregnancy differently, but there are predictable changes during each trimester.

First Trimester (week 1 to 12)

A woman's body undergoes many changes during the first trimester. Hormonal changes affect almost every organ. These changes can trigger symptoms even in the very first weeks of pregnancy. Changes include the following:

These bodily changes may require lifestyle changes, such as gettingn to bed earlier or eating frequent, small meals.

Second Trimester (week 13 to 28)

Most women find the second trimester of pregnancy easier than the first. Symptoms, such as nausea and fatigue tend to diminish, but others start to appear.  A woman's abdomen will expand as the baby continues to grow and by the end of the second trimester, woman can feel the baby move ("quickening").

As the body changes during the second trimester, a pregnant woman may experience the following:

A woman should call her health care provider if she experiences sudden or extreme swelling or rapid weight gain as these could be a sign of preeclampsia. 

Third Trimester (week 29 to 40)

Some of the same discomforts experience during the second trimester will continue in the third trimester. As the baby grows in the third trimester, some women may find difficulty breathing. Other changes include the following:

As you near your due date, a woman's cervix becomes thinner and softer (called effacing). This is a normal, natural process that helps the birth canal (vagina) to open during the birthing process. Your doctor will check your progress with a vaginal exam as you near your due date.