Women's Medical Care, PC


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:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Tender, swollen breasts. Your nipples might also stick out.
  • Upset stomach with or without throwing up (morning sickness)
  • Cravings or distaste for certain foods
  • Mood swings
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Weight gain or loss

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:

  • Body aches, such as back, abdomen, groin, or thigh pain
  • Stretch marks on the abdomen, breasts, thighs, or buttocks
  • Darkening of the skin around the nipples
  • A line on the skin running from belly button to pubic hairline
  • Patches of darker skin, usually over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip called melasma.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome causing numb or tingling hands
  • Itching on the abdomen, palms, and soles of the feet. 
  • Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face.

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:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heartburn
  • Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face.
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Tender breasts, which may leak a watery pre-milk called colostrum
  • A belly button that sticks out
  • Trouble sleeping
  • The baby "dropping", or moving lower in your abdomen
  • Contractions, which can be a sign of real or false labor

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.