Pregnancy Stages and How to Care

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If you are trying to get pregnant or just thinking about it, it is not too soon to start preparing. Health and medical care before pregnancy focus on things you can do before and between pregnancies to increase your chances of having a healthy baby. Some women take a few months to prepare their bodies for pregnancy, but others may take longer. Whether it’s your first or second baby, the following stages are very important to know so that you prepare for the healthiest pregnancy possible.

Stages of Pregnancy:

What happens in the first month of pregnancy?

The pregnancy is divided into 3 trimesters. Each quarter lasts just over 13 weeks. The first month marks the beginning of the first quarter.

What is the gestational age?

The time of pregnancy is measured using “gestational age”. Gestational age begins on the first day of your last menstrual period (UPM).

Gestational age can be confusing. Most people think that pregnancy lasts 9 months. And it is true that the state of pregnancy lasts about 9 months. But since pregnancy is measured from the first day of your last menstrual period, about 3 to 4 weeks before the actual pregnancy state, a full-term pregnancy usually spans about 40 weeks from the last menstrual period, it is say, almost 10 months.

Many people don’t remember exactly when the last menstrual period started, but there is nothing to worry about. The surest way to determine gestational age early in pregnancy is with an ultrasound.

What happens during weeks 1 and 2?

These are the first 2 weeks of the menstrual cycle. You have the menstrual period. About 2 weeks later, the most mature egg is released from the ovary. This is called ovulation. Ovulation can occur sooner or later, depending on the length of the menstrual cycle.

The average menstrual cycle is 28 days. Once released, the egg travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus. If the egg meets a sperm, they combine. This is called fertilization. Fertilization is more likely to occur if you have unprotected vaginal sex during the 6 days before ovulation, including the day of ovulation.

What happens during weeks 3 and 4?

The fertilized egg goes down the fallopian tube and divides into more and more cells. It reaches the uterus about 3 or 4 days after fertilization. The divided cells form a ball that floats in the uterus for about 2 to 3 days.

Pregnancy begins when the ball of cells attaches to the wall of the uterus. This is called implantation. It usually begins 6 days after fertilization and takes 3-4 days to complete.

Pregnancy does not always occur, even if a sperm fertilizes an egg. Up to half of all fertilized eggs are lost during the menstrual period, before implantation is complete.

What are the signs of pregnancy?

In many cases, the first sign of pregnancy is a missed menstrual period. Most pregnancy tests give a positive result when the menstrual period is missed. Other early pregnancy symptoms include tiredness, bloating, more frequent urination, changes in mood, nausea, and swelling and tenderness in the breasts. These symptoms do not all appear together in all cases, but it is common to have at least 1 of them.

What happens in the second month of pregnancy?

The ball of cells becomes an embryo at the beginning of the 6th week. The embryonic stage of pregnancy lasts approximately 5 weeks. At this time, the main internal organs begin to develop.

What happens during weeks 5 and 6?

  • The embryo is less than 1/5 inch (4 to 5 mm) long.
  • A circulatory system and a beating heart develop, both very basic.
  • Sprouts appear that will later become the arms and legs.
  • The neural tube begins to form. The neural tube will later form the brain, spinal cord, and major nerves.
  • A tail bud appears.
  • The umbilical cord begins to form.

What happens during weeks 7 and 8?

  • The embryo is 1/4 to 1/2 inch (7 to 14 mm) long.
  • The heart is already formed.
  • Membrane-connected fingers and toes begin to appear.
  • The arms are bent at the elbow.
  • The upper lip, liver, eyelids, eyes, and outer ears begin to form.
  • The sexual organs are the same, neither female nor male, in all embryos until the 7th or 8th week. If a gene initiates the development of the testes, the embryo will develop as biologically male. If this does not happen, the embryo develops ovaries and becomes biologically female.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy in the second month?

Often the symptoms become very noticeable when you are 2 months pregnant. Common complaints, such as breast tenderness, tiredness, more frequent urination, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting, often worsen. The body produces more blood during pregnancy, and the heart beats faster and stronger than normal to transport the extra blood.

What happens in the third month of pregnancy?

The embryo becomes a fetus when you are 3 months pregnant. The umbilical cord connects the fetus to the placenta and the uterine wall. The external sexual organs also begin to develop.

What happens during weeks 9 and 10?

The embryo becomes a fetus after 10 weeks. It is 1 to 1.5 inches (21 to 40 mm) long. The tail disappears. The fingers and toes are lengthened. The umbilical cord connects the abdomen of the fetus to the placenta. The placenta is attached to the wall of the uterus and absorbs nutrients from the bloodstream.

The cord carries nutrients and oxygen to the fetus and carries the waste away from the fetus.

What happens during weeks 11 and 12?

The fetus is now measured from the top of the head to the buttocks. This is called the cranio-caudal length (LCC).

  • The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of 2 to 3 inches (6 to 7.5 cm).
  • Fingers and toes are no longer connected by membranes.
  • The bones begin to harden.
  • Skin and nails begin to grow.
  • The changes caused by hormones cause the external sexual organs, female or male, to begin to appear. The fetus begins to make spontaneous movements.
  • The kidneys begin to make urine.
  • The first sweat glands appear.
  • The eyelids are glued together.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy in the third month?

Many of the symptoms of pregnancy continue for the first 2 months and sometimes worsen during the third month. Especially nausea. The breasts continue to grow and change. The area around the nipple, the areola, can enlarge and darken. If you are prone to acne, you may have breakouts.

You probably won’t gain much weight in the first 3 months of pregnancy, usually about 2 pounds. If you are overweight or underweight, your rate of weight gain may be different. Talk to your nurse or doctor about maintaining a healthy weight throughout your pregnancy.

Spontaneous abortion

Most cases of pregnancy loss, called “miscarriage,” occur in the first trimester. About 15% of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage during the first trimester.

What happens in the fourth month of pregnancy?

The 2nd quarter begins during the 4th month of pregnancy from week 14.

What happens during weeks 13 and 14?

  • The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of about 3 inches (8 cm).
  • Sometimes the biological sex of the fetus can already be seen by looking at the external organs on an ultrasound.
  • Hair begins to grow.
  • In male biological sex fetuses, the prostate begins to develop.
  • In female biological sex fetuses, the ovaries begin to descend from the abdomen to the pelvic area.
  • The palate is already formed.

What happens during weeks 15 and 16?

  • The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of about 4.5 inches (12 cm).
  • In female biological sex fetuses, hundreds of thousands of eggs form in the ovaries.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy in the fourth month?

Some of the first signs and symptoms of pregnancy disappear when you are 4 months pregnant. Nausea is usually relieved. But other digestive problems, like heartburn and constipation, can cause discomfort. Changes in the breasts, such as growth, tenderness, and darkening of the areola, usually continue. It is common for you to have difficulty breathing or to breathe faster. Increased blood flow can cause other unpleasant symptoms, such as bleeding from the gums and nose or nasal congestion. You may also feel dizzy or weak due to changes in the blood and blood vessels.

What happens in the fifth month of pregnancy?

When you have 5th months pregnant, smooth hair covers the body of the fetus and a fatty layer that helps protect the skin is generated.

What happens during weeks 17 and 18?

The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of 5.5 to 6 inches (14 to 15 cm).

What happens during weeks 19 and 20?

The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of about 6.5 inches (16 cm). The lanugo, a fine fluff-like hair, covers his body. The skin is also covered with caseous vernix, a fatty substance that protects it. In the female biological sex fetus, the uterus is formed.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy in the fifth month?

The fetus’ movements are usually felt for the first time during the fifth month. It can feel like fluttering or butterflies in the stomach. This is sometimes called “waking up” or “the first sign.”

The symptoms of the fourth month’s pregnancy continue this month. Heartburn, constipation, sinus changes, dizziness, shortness of breath, bleeding from the nose and gums are common. The breasts can be up to 2 sizes larger at this stage.

What happens in the sixth month of pregnancy?

During 6th month, they begin to form blood cells, taste buds, eyebrows and eyelashes of the fetus.

What happens during weeks 21 and 22?

The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of about 7 inches (18-19 cm).

The bone marrow begins to make blood cells.

Taste buds begin to form.

What happens during weeks 23 and 24?

  • The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of about 8 inches (20 cm).
  • The eyebrows and eyelashes usually appear between weeks 23 and 26.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy in the sixth month?

Symptoms of pregnancy in the fourth and fifth months usually continue. It can improve shortness of breath. The breasts may start to produce colostrum (small drops of the first milk). This can continue for the rest of the pregnancy.

Some women have Braxton-Hicks contractions when they are 6 months pregnant. They feel like painless pressure from the uterus or abdomen. This is how the uterus prepares for labor and delivery itself. Braxton-Hicks contractions are normal and are not a sign of preterm labor. But see your doctor if you experience frequent or painful contractions, or if you have concerns.

What happens in the seventh month of pregnancy?

The 3rd trimester begins during the 7th month of pregnancy, at week 28.

What happens during weeks 25 and 26?

  • The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of about 9 inches (23 cm).
  • The fetus begins to accumulate more fat from this moment until the end of the pregnancy.

What happens during weeks 27 and 28?

  • The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of about 10 inches (25 cm).
  • The eyelids are usually glued until about week 28.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy in the seventh month?

The uterus continues to expand when you are 7 months pregnant. Back pain is common. The symptoms of pregnancy from the previous months continue. Dizziness may decrease.

What happens in the eighth month of pregnancy?

During the 8th month of pregnancy, the fetus is about 11 inches (28 cm) long, and the lanugo (the soft, fine hair that covers the body) begins to fall out.

What happens during weeks 29 and 30?

  • The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of about 10.5 inches (27 cm).
  • In the male biological sex fetus, the testes generally begin to descend into the scrotum from the abdomen between weeks 30 and 34. This is usually completed by week 40.

What happens during weeks 31 and 32?

  • The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of about 11 inches (28 cm).
  • The lanugo begins to fall.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy in the eighth month?

You may feel tired and have trouble breathing as the uterus grows upward. You may have varicose veins, swollen reddish or bluish veins usually in the legs, or hemorrhoids, varicose veins in the rectum. Hemorrhoids can be painful, itchy, and bleed. You may also have stretch marks where the skin is stretched. Braxton-Hicks contractions, heartburn, and constipation may continue. A little urine may leak when you sneeze or laugh, as the uterus presses on the bladder. Hormones can make hair thicker and healthier.

What happens in the ninth month of pregnancy?

When you are 9 months pregnant, the fetus’ eyes and pupils are more developed, and it has more body fat.

What happens during weeks 33 and 34?

  • The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of about 12 inches (30 cm).
  • The eyes have developed enough that the pupils constrict and dilate when exposed to light.
  • Lanugo has practically disappeared.

What happens during weeks 35 and 36?

  • The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of about 12.5 inches (32 cm).
  • The fetus is considerably fatter, and the skin is no longer wrinkled.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy in the ninth month?

When you are 9 months pregnant, the growing fetus puts more and more pressure on the body. Common pregnancy symptoms can continue to the end. These symptoms include fatigue, trouble sleeping and holding your urine, trouble breathing, varicose veins, and stretch marks. Some fetuses descend to the lowest part of the uterus during this month. This can relieve heartburn and constipation, which are more common symptoms early in pregnancy. But some fetuses do not descend until the end of the pregnancy.

What happens in the tenth month of pregnancy?

When you are 10 months pregnant, the fetus reaches the final stage of development and you are in labor.

What happens during weeks 37 and 38?

  • The fetus has a cranio-caudal length of 13 to 14 inches (34 to 36 cm).
  • The fetus has a firm grip.

What happens during weeks 39 and 40?

You will probably give birth in this period.

  • The average newborn weighs 7 to 8 pounds and is 18 to 22 inches (46 to 56 cm) long with legs extended.
  • At this time, almost all of the vernix and lanugo are gone.
  • It is common for newborns to have a little lanugo that disappears during the first months of life.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy in the tenth month?

Towards the end of pregnancy, the uterus expanded from the pelvis to the bottom of the rib cage. Symptoms of pregnancy in the tenth month depend largely on when the fetus descends to the lowest part of the uterus.

Difficulty breathing, heartburn, and constipation generally improve when the fetus descends. But the lower position of the fetus in the pelvis causes frequent urination and problems with holding urine.

The cervix will begin to open (dilate) in preparation for delivery. This can happen a few weeks before delivery or it could start when you go into labor. You may feel shooting pains in your vagina as the cervix dilates.

After giving birth to the newborn, the placenta and other tissues also leave the body. This is called “delivery.”

Prenatal Care and Testing

Checkups and diagnostic tests help keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. This is called prenatal care, and it includes training and counseling on how to manage different aspects of pregnancy. During medical visits, your doctor may discuss different topics, such as healthy eating and physical activity, screenings you may need, and what to expect during labor and delivery.

Choosing a prenatal care provider

You will visit your prenatal care provider several times before your baby is born. So you probably want to make sure that the person you choose has a good reputation and listens and respects you. You will want to find the doctor or midwife who can receive your baby in the place where you want to give birth , such as a specific hospital or birthing center. Your provider should also be willing and able to provide you with the information and support you need to make informed decisions when choosing whether to breastfeed or bottle-feed.
Health care providers who care for women during pregnancy include:

  • Obstetricians : These are doctors who specialize in the care of pregnant and delivery women. Obstetricians also have special training in surgery, so they can do caesarean sections . It is recommended that women who have health problems or are at risk of complications during pregnancy visit an obstetrician. Women carrying the highest-risk pregnancies probably need special care from a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine .
  • General practitioners: they are the doctors who take care of the health of the whole family at all stages of life. These stages include care during pregnancy, labor, and after birth. Most GPs cannot perform C-sections.
  • Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) and Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) – are trained to provide care during pregnancy and after delivery. Midwives can be a good choice for healthy women who are not prone to problems during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. CNMs are trained in nursing and midwifery. Most CNMs practice in hospitals and maternity centers. CPMs are required to have experience in home births because most CPMs practice in homes and maternity centers. All midwives must have a backup plan that involves an obstetrician in the event of an emergency or problem.

Ask for recommendations from providers to your primary care doctor, friends and family. When making your choice, consider:

  • Your reputation
  • His personality and treatment of patients
  • The gender and age of the provider
  • The office address and hours
  • If you will always be attended by the same provider, both in controls and delivery
  • Who covers your healthcare provider when it’s not available
  • The place where you want to give birth
  • How your provider handles concerns over the phone and calls outside office hours

What is a doula?

A doula is a professional birth attendant, who provides physical and emotional support to women during labor and delivery. They provide advice on breathing, relaxation, movements and positions. Doulas also provide emotional support and reassurance to women as well as their partners during labor and delivery. Doulas and midwives usually work as a team during labor. A recent study showed that constant doula support during labor was directly related to shorter births and less use of:

  • Analgesics
  • Oxytocin (medicine to stimulate labor)
  • Cesarean sections

Check with your health insurance company to find out if they cover the costs of a doula. When choosing a doula, find out if it is certified by Doulas of North America (DONA) or another group of professionals.

Places where to give birth

Many women have a very strong stance on where and how they would like to give birth. In general, women can choose to give birth in a hospital, a birthing center, or at home. Ideally, you should contact your health insurance provider to find out what options are available. Also, find out if the doctor or midwife you plan to choose can assist the delivery in the place where you want to give birth.

  • The hospitals are a good choice for women who suffer from health problems and complications during pregnancy as well as for women at risk of having problems during labor and delivery. Hospitals offer the most advanced equipment and highly trained doctors to care for pregnant women and their babies. In a hospital, doctors can perform a C-section if the mother or baby is at risk during delivery. Women may have epidurals or other pain relievers within their reach . In addition, more and more hospitals are offering on-site birthing centers with the goal of providing a style of care similar to that offered by independent birthing centers.What questions to ask when choosing a hospital:
    • Is it near to your house?
    • Does the hospital have staff who can supply pain relievers (such as an epidural) 24 hours a day?
    • Do you like labor and delivery rooms?
    • Are private rooms available?
    • How many companions can you receive in the room?
    • Do you have a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in case a serious problem arises with the baby?
    • Can the baby stay in the room with you?
    • Does the hospital provide the staff and environment conducive to successful breastfeeding?
    • Do you have an on-site birthing center?
  • The maternity centers They offer women a comfortable, homey environment in which to carry out labor and give birth. In these places, attempts are made to make labor and delivery a natural and personal process without practically any advanced equipment and routine procedures. Therefore, you will not necessarily be given an IV. Similarly, you won’t have a permanently connected electronic fetal monitor. Instead, the midwife or nurse will monitor your baby periodically with a portable device. Once the baby is born, all exams and care will take place in your room. In birthing centers, it is usually the certified nurse-midwives who are present at the deliveries, not the obstetricians.
    In maternity centers, epidurals are not administered, but some pain relievers are. If a cesarean section is required, women are transferred to a hospital for the procedure. After delivery, babies with complications can receive basic emergency care on the way to the hospital.
    Many birthing centers have showers or tubs in the wards to offer women in labor. They also have amenities similar to those present in a home, such as large beds and rocking chairs. In general, maternity centers admit more people into the delivery room than hospitals.
    Maternity centers can be located within hospitals, as part of the hospital, or as a completely separate facility. If you want to give birth in a birthing center, make sure it meets the standards set by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), The Joint Commission, or American Association of Birth Centers . Accredited birthing centers must have doctors who can work at a nearby hospital in the event of a problem with the mother or baby. Also, make sure the birthing center is staffed and nurtured for successful breastfeeding.
  • Home births are an option for healthy women with no risk factors that can lead to complications during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. It is also important that these women have an efficient containment and care system in their home after giving birth. Some certified nurse midwives and some doctors attend home births. Many health insurance companies do not cover the costs of home births. Find out what your plan covers if you plan to give birth at home.
    Home births are common in many countries in Europe. But in the United States, planned home births are not endorsed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). ACOG states that hospitals are the safest place to give birth. According to ACOG, in an emergency, hospital equipment and a highly trained medical staff can provide the best care for the woman and her baby.
    If you are thinking of giving birth at home, you should analyze the advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage of giving birth in your home is that you can go through labor and birth from the privacy and comfort of your own home. Since it will not involve routine medical procedures, you will have control of your experience.
    The main disadvantage of a home birth is that if any problem arises, neither you nor the baby will have immediate medical attention. You will have to wait until you are transferred to the hospital. Also, women who give birth at home don’t have too many pain reliever options.
    To ensure your safety and that of the baby, you should hire a highly trained and experienced midwife with a plan B that is safe. You will need fast and reliable transportation to take you to the hospital. If you live far from the hospital, giving birth in your home is not a recommended option. Your midwife must be experienced and have the preparation and supplies required to start emergency care in case you or your baby needs it. Your midwife should also be able to contact a doctor 24 hours a day.

Prenatal checkups

During pregnancy, frequent check-ups are very important. This constant care can help keep you and your baby healthy, spot problems, if any, and avoid problems during labor. Normally, routine checks are performed:

  • Once a month from the fourth week to number 28
  • Twice a month from week 28 to week 36
  • Weekly from week 36 until birth

Women with high-risk pregnancies should see their doctor more often.

At your first visit, the doctor will perform a complete physical exam, order blood tests, and calculate your estimated due date. You will probably also have a breast exam, a pelvic exam to check the uterus, and a cervical exam, which includes a Pap test. In addition, it will also ask you many questions about your lifestyle, relationships and healthy habits. It is important that you speak completely honest with your doctor.

After the first consultation, most prenatal visits will include:

  • Blood pressure and weight control
  • Checking baby’s heart rate
  • Measurements of the abdomen to control the growth of the baby

She will also do some routine tests during pregnancy, such as tests to detect anemia , tests to measure the risk of gestational diabetes, and tests for dangerous infections.

Team up with your doctor to track your condition together. Keep a record of all your medical consultations, everything is important. Ask questions and read to educate yourself on this exciting time.

Monitor baby’s activity

After 28 weeks, monitor your baby’s movements. This will help you realize if your baby is moving less than normal, which may indicate a problem and will require medical attention. An easy way to do this is through the “count to 10” method. Count the baby’s movements at night, which is the time when the fetus tends to be most active. Lie down if it is difficult for you to feel the baby’s movements. In most cases, women count 10 movements in approximately 20 minutes. But it is rare for a woman to record fewer than 10 movements in two hours when the baby is active. Count the baby’s movements daily to know if it is normal in your case. Call your doctor if you register less than 10 movements in two hours or if you notice that your baby moves less than normal. If your baby doesn’t move at all, call your doctor immediately.

Prenatal tests

The tests carried out during pregnancy are intended to monitor your health and that of the baby. At the first consultation, your doctor will carry out tests to detect:

  • Your blood type and Rh factor
  • Anemia
  • Infections, such as toxoplasmosis and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including hepatitis B , syphilis , chlamydia, and HIV
  • Signs confirming that you are immune to rubella (German measles) and chicken pox

During pregnancy, the doctor or midwife may also suggest other tests. Some of these tests are recommended for all women, such as diagnostic tests for gestational diabetes, Down syndrome, and HIV. Other tests can be offered according to your:

  • Age
  • Family and personal medical history
  • Ethnic origins
  • Routine test results

Some of these tests are diagnostic. They are used to detect risks or signs of possible health problems for yourself or the baby. Depending on the results of the diagnostic tests, the doctor may recommend diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests confirm or rule out health problems that you or your baby may suffer.

Understand prenatal testing and its results

If the doctor recommends certain prenatal tests, do not hesitate to remove all the doubts. Getting acquainted with the test, with the reasons why the doctor recommends doing it and with what the results may mean will help you deal with any concerns or fears you may have. Please note that screening tests are not used to diagnose problems. They serve to assess risks. Therefore, if the results of the screening tests are atypical, it does not necessarily mean that the baby has a problem. For this, more information will be needed. Your doctor can explain the results and inform you of the possible steps to follow.

Avoid unnecessary ultrasounds

You may consider a memory ultrasound to be central to the baby’s album. However, doctors advise that ultrasounds only be performed when ordered by your doctor. Some companies sell videos and images of the “keepsake” ultrasound. Although ultrasound is considered safe for medical purposes, exposure to the energy of ultrasound simply for the sake of memory can put the mother and fetus in danger. Don’t risk it.

High-risk pregnancies

Pregnancies that are most prone to problems are called “high risk.” But this does not imply that there is necessarily a problem. The following factors may increase the risk of problems during pregnancy:

  • Being very young or over 35
  • Being overweight or underweight
  • Having had problems in previous pregnancies
  • Suffering from certain health conditions from before you got pregnant, such as hypertension , diabetes , autoimmune diseases , cancer and HIV
  • Being pregnant with twins or other multiples

There are some health problems that can manifest during pregnancy and make it high risk, such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia. Read Complications During Pregnancy for more details.

Women with high-risk pregnancies need to receive prenatal care more regularly than usual and in certain cases with a specially trained doctor. A maternal fetal medicine specialist is a doctor who deals with high-risk pregnancies.

If your pregnancy is considered high risk, you are probably concerned about the health of the fetus and find it difficult to enjoy the pregnancy. Share your concerns with the doctor. It can explain the risks and the chances that there is a real problem. Also, be sure to follow the doctor’s advice. For example, if he tells you to take it easy, ask your partner, family and friends to help you in the months that lie ahead. You will feel better knowing that you are doing everything possible to care for the baby.

Pay for prenatal care

Pregnancy can be stressful if you are concerned that you cannot afford health care for yourself and the baby. For many women, the added costs of prenatal care and everything involved in preparing for the baby’s arrival are overwhelming.

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