As Winnie the Pooh once said “A grand adventure is about to begin.” Perhaps no quote better sums up the prospect of pregnancy. It is indeed a grand adventure and one that comes with the incredible outcome of a new life on this planet. Wow!
Typically, a pregnancy is divided into three trimesters. Each trimester marks a different period in your own symptoms and your baby’s development. In addition, recognizing the changes to your symptoms on a weekly/bi-weekly level can provide excellent insight as to how far along you are.
The best way to tell where you are along your pregnancy is to be tuned in to your body and aware of the symptoms that accompany the various stages.
Weeks 1 and 2: The beginning – Pregnancy begins as the body prepares itself for ovulation and gears up for fertilization. There are no symptoms at this stage but hang tight. Just like your baby, they are on their way.
Weeks 3 and 4: The meeting – Fertilization occurs and the tiny group of cells that will someday be your baby splits to form the placenta and the embryo. The embryo begins to develop specialized parts. Beyond the ever popular cravings for strange combinations of food, you are likely experiencing very few symptoms of your pregnancy at this stage.
Weeks 5 and 6: The formation – The heart and circulatory system in your baby begin to develop, at this stage you are able to see evidence of your pregnancy on a home pregnancy test. Your baby’s face is finally taking shape. Regardless of how much water you drink, you are probably spending a lot time running to the bathroom.
Weeks 7 and 8: The movement – At this stage, your baby is growing rapidly, and will be moving by the end of week 8. Meanwhile, you are likely experiencing achy and tingly breasts and learning about the wonderful world of morning sickness. Like your baby, you’ll be moving as well…quickly…to the bathroom.
Weeks 9 and 10: The stop – While your baby is hard at work developing muscle, bone and cartilage, you are not feeling as active. At this stage, you are likely experiencing tiredness, fatigue and best of all – constipation.
Week 11 through 13: The lull – As this first trimester comes to a close, your baby has grown to be about the size of a peach and is beginning to look more and more like a little human. The symptoms you have been experiencing over the last few weeks are, hopefully, beginning to slow down a little bit. Because the uterus begins to expand beyond the pubic bone around this time, you may find yourself carrying a little bit of a bump these days.
Weeks 14 and 15: The covering – Though the sickness and tiredness from the first trimester have eased up, you may be experiencing strange dental feelings. Your baby, meanwhile, has grown hair on his/her head and body. Your baby is also beginning to explore more complex movements and, though you can’t yet feel it, is probably kicking his or her legs and flexing his or her arms.
Weeks 16 and 17: The vision – You are continuing to grow and while your pregnancy is becoming visible to others, your baby is developing eyesight and eyelashes at this stage. As your pregnancy is probably quite noticeable at this point, you are likely finding yourself on the receiving end of some unwanted belly touching.
Weeks 18 and 19: The kicks – At this part of your pregnancy, you may be beginning to feel your baby moving around and kicking. Due to the growth of your baby, your back is probably regularly sore and you are experiencing some painful muscle cramping in your legs.
Weeks 20 and 21: The answer – Boy or girl? At this stage you will be able to tell, if you’d like, with a routine ultrasound test. Your baby is now enjoying the same food as you are. You are also probably beginning to experience more even more aching as your baby is getting bigger every day.
Weeks 22 and 23: The line – As their five senses continue to grow, your baby is getting better at experiencing the world around them. Your own sense of sight may alert you to a change in your own body as a dark line running from your pubis up to your belly button or higher (called the linea nigra) may appear around this time.
Weeks 24 and 25: The pop – As your baby’s facial features become more distinct, your belly button may really be enjoying it’s own “popping” distinction as well. Your baby is beginning to breathe at this time and you could be experiencing hemorrhoids.
Weeks 26 and 27: The awakening – As the second trimester winds down, you and your baby will both be experiencing open eyes. Your baby will open his or her eyes for the first time. Your eyes, however, will be open for different reasons as the insomnia that appears at this stage may leave you wishing for the sleep you got in your first trimester.
Weeks 28 and 29: The dreams – Your baby continues to grow rapidly and is now able to blink and dream. Meanwhile, you may be experiencing pain in your lower back and the appearance of varicose veins.
Weeks 30 and 31: The burn – By this stage, your baby is growing mentally and more and more brain activity is occurring every day. As the room inside you becomes more occupied with your baby, there is less room for your lungs to expand. You may find yourself short of breath and be experiencing heartburn as well.
Weeks 32 and 33: The practice – Your baby is now practicing breathing and other skills he or she will need in the world. The baby’s immune system is building up, also, which will protect him or her when he or she is introduced to the world. Practice is no stranger to your uterus, either, which is likely beginning to demo contractions for your and your baby’s big day.
Weeks 34 and 35: The emptying – Your baby’s head is growing at an incredible rate and that is going to put some pressure on your bladder. You may also notice your vision becoming less sharp at this time. Hang in there, you’re almost there!
Weeks 36 and 37: The turning – Your baby’s bones are fully developed at this stage and you can feel him or her moving around, turning and breathing. Unfortunately your bones will be pretty sore. At this stage, your fertility specialist may want to check for signs of labor.
Weeks 38 and 39: The preparation – Your body is producing colostrum, the precursor to breast milk and you will, more than likely, be experiencing some definite signs of labor. Your baby is going through rapid brain development and is producing surfactant which will allow him or her to take the first breath. Get the nursery ready!
Weeks 40 through 42: The end – Time to get the camera and diaper bag ready. This is the final stage of pregnancy. During these couple of weeks, you will experience real labor pains. While this is the end of the line, your baby might not get the memo for a week or two. It is quite rare for a baby to be more than a few weeks overdue. If he or she is, however, the good news is that once he or she is born, your baby will be wide-eyed and ready to go. Well done, mom! On to the next adventure!