Pregnancy: A week by week guide for pregnant women

Topics covered:

  • Week by week guide
  • Symptoms during pregnancy
  • Complications during pregnancy
  • Nutrition/supplements required during pregnancy

Pregnancy: Stages of pregnancy

Congrats on your pregnancy. You might feel some discomfort during pregnancy. But as they say…”The feeling of being fat might last for nine months, but the feeling of being a mom will last for a lifetime”.


 

First thing first:

  • Take an appointment from your doctor to confirm pregnancy.
  • Once confirmed, you need to check that any prescription medications you’re taking are safe during pregnancy.

Pregnancy due date

It is measured from the first day of your last period. So, even though your conception was only two weeks ago you’re technically four weeks pregnant. And a typical length of pregnancy is 39 weeks (40 weeks earlier). A full-term pregnancy is divided into three trimesters:

 

  • First trimester – Week 1 to week 12.
  • Second trimester – Week 13 to week 26.
  • Third trimester – Week 27 to the day of birth.

Early pregnancy symptoms

Week Symptoms
4th Missed period
3rd or 4th Mild cramping, Light spotting, Swollen breast
4th or 5th                  Fatigue, Nausea, Bloating
4th to 6h Temperature changes, frequent urination
5th or 6th Motion sickness, Mood swings
8th or 9th High blood pressure, Heartburn
8th to 10th        Faster heartbeat, Extreme fatigue
11th Breast changes, Weight gain
12th Pregnancy glow

Nutritional needs of a pregnant woman:

 

Nutrition

Aids in Average Daily Dosage
Folic Acid Prevent birth defects 600 mcg
Iron Oxygen/Blood supply to the baby 27 mg
Calcium Develop baby’s bone and teeth 1000 mg
Protein Develop baby’s vital organs 80 gm
Iodine

Develop the brain and body

250 mcg
Fiber Digestion, relieve constipation 30 gm

Given above are the key nutritional needs of a pregnant woman. Some other nutrition that experts recommend are:

  • Omega 6 fatty acid
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Sodium
  • Copper
  • Molybdenum

First four weeks of Pregnancy:

Your baby is about the size of a tiny seed. You may not be feeling quite like yourself because of the flood of pregnancy hormones. You may be nauseous, bloated, have sore boobs feel exhausted and moody. For pregnancy signs and symptoms, you can read our previous post.

 

Let’s start working with – What to do first:

  • A well-balanced diet to get all the nutrition you and your baby needs
  • Start taking prenatal vitamins.
  • The flu vaccine is also recommended by experts for pregnant women.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Continue with your routine exercise. Don’t overdo it.
  • Find a birth club of your choice to join.

 

 

What not to do –

  • Stop taking alcohol.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Avoid changing cat litter.
  • Limit the amount of caffeine to two mugs a day.
  • Avoid hot bathtubs, instead, you can go for a warm bath.
  • Do not stand for too long. Also, don’t sit in the same position for too long.

Week five of pregnancy:

The size of your baby should be now around the size of an apple seed. While it may be tiny your baby’s brain spinal cord and heart are already growing rapidly. Major organs like the stomach liver and kidneys as well as the digestive and nervous system are developing too. You can also feel changes in you as well. You may be peeing more than usual. This happens due to the pregnancy hormone HCG. So, it’s important to stay hydrated during pregnancy.

You may start to have strong food cravings or aversions. You may also find yourself having a great sense of smell. For some women morning sickness doesn’t just happen in the morning. It can also happen at noon or evening. Some women find that eating small frequent meals can help prevent indigestion. For nausea and fatigue, make sure to eat lots of protein and foods with vitamin C like oranges tomatoes Kiwi and bell peppers.

Week six of pregnancy

Your baby has doubled in size from last week. She’s now the size of a sweet pea. And she’s taking on a slight C shape and her arms and legs are starting to sprout. Her digestive and nervous systems are also busy developing.

Your pants might be feeling a little tight. But it’s not a baby bump yet that’s just progesterone, causing bloating and gas.

To avoid constipation, eat a lot of fiber and drink plenty of water. The bad news is that you can’t drink alcohol. If it’s in the mother’s blood, it would be passed to the baby. And regular consumption can affect the baby’s development causing lifelong physical behavioral and intellectual disabilities. You can consume caffeine up to 200 milligrams a day, that’s 2 small coffees or 3 teas. But don’t forget that caffeine can also be found in chocolate and energy drinks.

High caffeine intake has been linked to low birth weight. This can lead to health problems for newborns. This is also the time (between 6 and 11 weeks pregnant) when your doctor and Midwife will likely schedule an ultrasound. It’s important to get a better idea of your actual due date.

Week seven of pregnancy

The size of your baby is half an inch long now and is as big as a blueberry. And now your baby is developing more of a mouth and tongue. The arm and leg joints and is starting to develop, more defined fingers and toes. Her genitals will begin to form.

50 to 80% of women suffer from nausea during the first trimester. Here are some tips, if you fall in the same category.

Keep dry cereal or crackers on your bedside table and eat them immediately upon waking-up. This will allow you to start moving slowly and avoid dizziness which can lead to more nausea. Ginger helps reduce nausea so you can try ginger tea. Or fresh ginger into your food.

 

During this time, your sense of smell has highly improved. You might want to switch to fragrance-free products. One all-natural trick is to take vitamin b6. Anti-nausea medications and vitamin b12. You can also boost your vitamin b6 levels with certain foods like chicken avocado and bananas.

For some women, a more serious form of pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). HG can make it very difficult to get an adequate intake of food and fluids. HG can lead to weight loss and dehydration. And in severe cases result in the hospital stay to rehydrate and receive nutrients through an intravenous drip. If you suspect that you may have HG, mention it to your health care provider right away.

Week eight of pregnancy

Your baby is about the size of a Swedish berry now and is being shaped during the past six weeks. Your little Berry has grown from a single cell to nearly 1 billion cells right now. Your baby’s ears are developing. And her teeny tiny heart and liver, as well as other major organs, are already in place too. Now is the time to start thinking about the health care provider you want to see you through your pregnancy.

It’s common during the early weeks of pregnancy to be worried about the possibility of miscarriage. As well as, misunderstandings about what causes miscarriage:

  • Doing moderate exercise
  • having sex
  • dancing
  • eating junk food

will not cause miscarriage. Keep in mind that some worrisome symptoms don’t necessarily mean your pregnancy is ending. While light spotting isn’t uncommon during the first trimester. But if you experience any heavier bleeding call your doctor. Your nausea might be reaching peak puke right about now. And sometimes that prenatal vitamin can feel like it’s making things worse. Do not to take it on an empty stomach in the morning.

 

Now is a good time to take a closer look at which cleaning products you’re using around the house. Make sure you read warning labels for pregnant women in all products. Everything labeled natural is actually better and safer if you can afford it switching to eco-friendly and organic options. This may also help you get rid of the chemical smell, which would bother you, during pregnancy.

Changes to your skin can be a big part of pregnancy – with the new flood of hormones. Many expectant moms find themselves dealing with acne for the first time in years. A mild daily cleanser might help. You should also always double-check with your doctor before trying any over-the-counter or prescription products. Some acne treatments aren’t safe during pregnancy. On the plus side, you might find that your hair becomes extra thick and glossy. This is because you’re shedding less hair, thanks to those higher estrogen levels.

Week nine of pregnancy

Now your baby is the size of a piece of macaroni. If you could take a peek inside, you might be able to start guessing whose nose he has. It’s because your baby’s facial features are becoming much more distinct. And even though it’s too soon to tell by ultrasound, your baby’s genitals are becoming more visible. Your baby’s heartbeat is also strong enough to hear with a fetal Doppler.

As for you thanks to pesky levels of HCG, you may be feeling extra nauseous moody and exhausted. Sleep whenever you can. And keep eating small snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable. You might notice that your pants don’t feel as comfortable as usual. Your growing uterus which is already doubled in size you can put off buying maternity pants a little longer.

By using a belly band many women notice that their waistlines thickened. Before their bump begins to show loose, flowing tops over leggings are another great way to keep your secret under wraps a little longer. You may also find you’re gaining weight. This is a good thing, after all, you’re growing a human. A woman with an average body mass index or BMI should gain about 25 to 30 pounds over the course of her pregnancy.

Week ten of pregnancy

The size of the baby is now equal to the size of a strawberry. Her bones and cartilage are now forming. She’s able to kick her tiny legs though you won’t be able to feel it yet. Her organs are fully formed and beginning to function. She’s practicing her swallowing. And her fingernails and hair starting to grow. At your next prenatal visit, you’ll probably be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat with the use of a Doppler device. However, if your doctor or midwife can’t find a heartbeat, don’t freak out. Sometimes the baby is uncooperative or hanging out in a hard to locate or position. An ultrasound is a much more reliable method for hearing the rapid heartbeat sound.

You may also find that you’re starting to have especially vivid dreams. It’s a common experience during pregnancy. Dreams typically occur during REM sleep and because you’re more likely to be waking up throughout the night. The heartburn, restless leg syndrome, and not pesky bladder you’re more likely to experience REM sleep. And remember, in your dreams, you may experience some mild stomach cramps.

Around this time in your pregnancy, they usually feel less intense than period cramps. And they’re often described as a slight tugging sensation in your abdomen. That’s your uterus beginning to stretch. As it grows at an exponential rate if you feel worse than your period cramps, contact your healthcare provider. A warm beanbag or bath can also help alleviate these aches. It’s best to avoid most medications during your first 12 weeks of pregnancy. So talk to your healthcare provider before taking any medication.

Week eleven of pregnancy

Your baby is now about the size of a large Brussels sprout. She has lost the webbing on his hands and feet. And now she has ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes. Her head is oversized it’s about 1/3 to 1/2 of his length. The bones in his little face have formed and she has earbuds nasal passages hair follicles and a tongue. Thanks to his brand new diaphragm she’s breathing small amounts of amniotic fluid in and out. And she maybe even getting the hiccups. Though you probably won’t be able to feel any of this just yet. She’s starting to stretch out, do somersaults. And kick practicing those moves that will have you groaning closer to the end of your pregnancy.

If you’ve decided to do genetic testing, the process begins, as you near the end of your first trimester. Some women will do a blood test now and get the results later. Others will have a combination of blood tests and an ultrasound scan often referred to as the nuchal translucency scan, which measures the fluid and tissue at the back of the baby’s neck. And it checks for chromosomal abnormalities, such as down syndrome. Doctors can also sometimes spot congenital heart problems. Your doctor or Midwife will combine the results of the blood tests and NT scan. It will identify your risk of having a baby with a chromosomal abnormality. You’ll get a number back with your chances of having a baby with a genetic difference. A high-risk number will be one in a hundred and fifty or less. A low-risk number will be more like one in 1500 or more. Together with your doctor and Midwife, you can decide whether you’d like to pursue further testing.

With all nausea and fatigue you’re feeling, exercise may be the last thing you want to do. But there are a lot of benefits to staying inactive during pregnancy. And also prepare your body for all the changes that are coming. It won’t hurt or jostle the baby. Think of it as training for the ultramarathon. Otherwise, known as childbirth if you’re already exercising regularly, be sure to let any instructors or trainers know you’re expecting. Low-impact exercises like water aerobics, free weights, and prenatal yoga with a certified instructor are good options. Avoid exercises that require doing deep twists line on your tummy or staying on your back for long periods.

Week twelve of pregnancy

Your baby is now the size of a large mushroom. Your baby now has all her organs muscles limbs and bones. She’s looking more like a person. Her eyes can move in from the sides of her head to the front of her face. Her skeleton which is made of rubbery cartilage is now starting to harden into bone. She’s also making sucking movements and opening and closing her little hands.

With the end of the first trimester, your risk of miscarriage drops significantly only an estimated 2 to 3% of pregnancies that make it to the second trimester. And in miscarriage after 20 weeks that drops to less than 0.5%. That’s why a lot of women come out of the closet around week 13.

Now is the time you need some actual maternity clothes. Start with some new bras, maternity pants or jeans are also worth the investment. You’ll wear them a lot and you’ll want some stretchy tops.

Now that you’re moving past the fatigue and nausea of the first trimester, you might feel more like exercising but don’t push yourself too hard. Be sure to listen to your body. Ask your instructor if you need to make any more modifications to your routine.

Week thirteen of pregnancy

It’s the start of your second trimester your baby is now the size of a cookie. Your baby has developed a lot by now. His arms are about the right length for his body but his legs are a little stubby. He’s even creating and peeing out his own urine into the amniotic fluid. He’s also starting to grow his own fingerprints.

You’re growing too while many women gain 5 pounds in the first trimester. Most start gaining as much as one pound a week. Most women gain about 15 pounds during the second trimester. You don’t need to eat for two(you and your baby). Technically you only need about 300 extra calories a day when you’re pregnant. 300 calories are about one extra piece of fruit and a cup of yogurt.

Now that you’ve gotten over the hurdle of the first trimester you’re probably less nauseous and finally have more energy. You may however find you have more nasal congestion. About 40% of pregnant women experience what’s known as rhinitis of pregnancy (Nasal congestion). Higher levels of estrogen make the mucous membranes swell and produce more mucus. Some cold medications aren’t safe during pregnancy. You need to contact your health care provider for medications. You can also treat nasal congestion safely by rinsing your nasal passages with saline water. Or take a warm shower in a steamy bathroom. Use over-the-counter saline nose drops or a vaporizer. Or by adding an extra pillow to keep you propped up at night.

Some doctors recommend that you don’t sleep on your back during the second and third trimesters. Sleeping on your back puts the weight of your uterus on a large vein called the inferior vena cava. This can interfere with digestion and circulation caused backaches and affect the baby. The best sleeping position is on your left side (recommended by experts) when you are pregnant, for better blood flow. Many women find that they feel better when they sleep on their sides with a thick pillow propped between their knees. If you wake up on your back don’t panic, it’s your body’s way of telling you to roll over. Just switch positions.

But here’s a surprising pregnancy perk surging hormones can make you feel extra horny. Also, increased blood flow can make your orgasms even better. Sexual intercourse is perfectly safe during pregnancy. Women (with low-risk pregnancies) can have sex right up until their water breaks.

Week fourteen of pregnancy

Your baby is now the size of a pickle. She’s growing a layer of fine hairs called lanugo. It helps protect her skin and keep her warm. As your baby fattens up in the last weeks of your pregnancy, she’ll slowly lose that hair. That’s why some babies who born early are a little furry.

As for you, your boobs may not be as tender as they were in the first trimester. Also, you are going through other changes. You might also notice that your areolas are getting bigger and darker. Because of your growing uterus and the progesterone in your body, your pelvic bones are slowly stretching apart. As the abdomen expands (round ligament pain) it might feel some ache around the hips. Or sharp pains when you change positions. If it seems more intense or the sharp pain lasts longer than a couple of seconds, call your doctor.

Your growing uterus is putting pressure on your bladder making it harder to empty it completely. It’s more likely for you to develop a urinary tract infection (UTI). You can help prevent UTIs by drinking plenty of water and peeing before and after sex. If you think you have a UTI it’ll feel like it’s burning when you pee. It’s important to get treated with pregnancy-safe antibiotics prescribed by your doctor, as UTIs may lead to kidney infections.

The increased estrogen in your body also makes you more susceptible to yeast infections. To lower your risk wear cotton crotch, sleep commando, and take showers instead of Bath’s.

Here’s another surprising pregnancy symptom, bleeding gums. Hormonal changes can make your gums more sensitive. It makes it harder for the bacteria in your mouth to fight off the plaque. This causes pregnancy gingivitis. That’s why many pregnant women have soft or bleeding gums. You may notice you’re having a harder time sleeping between heartburn to worrying about your baby. Also, having to pee all the time makes it tough getting a good night’s rest. Doing exercise early in the day, restricting screen time and smartphone use near bedtime, and sleeping in a dark cool room can help you sleep better. And if all that fails, at least your new night owl habits are good training for when the baby comes.

Don’t forget your immune system to suppress during pregnancy. So if you haven’t gotten the flu shot yet, you should do it now. It’s safe during pregnancy and as a bonus, your baby even keeps some of the flu antibodies from it after birth.

Week fifteen of pregnancy

Your baby is now the size of a tomato. During this week your baby would practice his facial expressions. That’s browning, grimacing, squinting and wincing. His hands are also making little fists and he can even grasp them together. Your baby can also hear now between your heartbeat and the blood coursing through the umbilical cord. It’s actually pretty noisy in your uterus. Your baby can hear your voice too. And it’s important to him by the time he’s born he’ll remember it. Studies have shown that newborns prefer their mom’s voices to those of others.

As for you, you’re probably feeling pretty good. And if you’re lucky you may even have that pregnancy glow which is caused by a combination of increased blood flow. You’ll also probably find that your nails are growing faster and stronger. Your hair is thicker as well. If you’re not feeling the glow though, you’re not alone. Pregnancy doesn’t agree with everyone a surprising symptom.

You may be experiencing depression which most people are familiar with postpartum depression. It’s after the first few months of caring for your baby. But it’s also fairly common for depression to develop during pregnancy. Up to 23% of women struggle with prenatal depression symptoms. It includes difficulty concentrating and sadness or anxiety. It also impacts your ability to work, socialize, or parent your older children.

If you’re worried talk to your doctor about possible treatments. It might include support groups, cognitive behavioral therapy, and certain antidepressants.

Between now and week 20 of your pregnancy you’ll have the option of doing more tests to screen for neural tube defects. You’ll either have a quad screen or integrated biochemistry. The results will tell you the likelihood of your baby having neural tube defects, such as spina bifida where a part of the neural tube doesn’t develop properly. And anencephaly, where a defect in the neural tube can cause an underdeveloped brain and skull. It’s also important to determine your baby’s risk of chromosomal differences, like Down syndrome.

But chances are high, that you might be surprised to learn that you don’t need a gyne or your baby doesn’t necessarily need a pediatrician. You can also see a family doctor if you have a primary care provider. Consider asking her to take your baby on as a patient.

Week sixteen of pregnancy

Your baby is now the size of the donut. Your baby’s moving around and making her first voluntary movements. She might even be sucking her thumb in their remarkably. If it’s a girl, her tiny ovaries would now start to develop thousands of her own eggs. You might look really pregnant by now. It’s the 2nd trimester when your belly will start popping out. Even though your baby has been moving around for a while, she’s big enough now that you might feel her kick. Your baby sleeps almost all the time. So it’s okay if you don’t feel her for a while. The location of the placenta can also insulate her kicks and movements. Back pain is super common during pregnancy. Your ligaments are relaxing and you have extra weight on your belly and boobs.

Meanwhile, the muscles in your abdomen are separating to accommodate your growing uterus. Which means that they’re no longer knitting together to support the lower back. All of this translates to soreness and pain. To counter it focus on having good posture. Wearing low heeled shoes sleeping on your side and staying active if the pain persists. Acupuncture and massage can help.

It’s not in your head you’re growing belly is shifting your center of gravity. It’s making you more apt to lose your footing. You’re also tired from all those nighttime wake-up calls. And not being able to see your feet doesn’t help either.

Pregnant women are likely to take a tumble as 70-year-olds. So it’s time you started acting like one wears flat shoes with good grips. Use the handrail when going downstairs. And tread carefully if you’re starting to feel like pregnancy is taking its toll. You might want to give prenatal yoga a try. The exercises can help combat back pain headaches anxiety and sleeplessness. And the breathing exercises can help you handle the shortness of breath. It comes later in pregnancy. Be sure to look for a teacher who has experience with pregnant women.

Week seventeen of pregnancy

Your baby is now the size of a taco. She’s starting to pack on fat turning into a cute squishable baby. She’s also starting to grow eyelashes and eyebrows.

As for you, you’re probably hungry all the time lately. Your belly and boobs are getting more impressive every day. But with all that stretching your skin can feel itchy. So be sure to moisturize frequently. You might also be suffering from heartburn and indigestion. Also, an increase in vaginal discharge and more sweating. It’s because of the increased blood flow. Some people call it a pregnancy glow. Your placenta will grow about 50 km of blood vessels during pregnancy. If you’re already feeling your baby kick, you might start to notice that she moves in response to sounds. Or maybe when you eat something she likes.

Pregnancy headaches are common and annoying, because of the hormones. You can help prevent them by trying to get as much sleep as possible. Staying hydrated and eating regular snacks to reduce their severity. Try taking a nap, drink lots of water. Tylenol acetaminophen is safe to take during pregnancy in lower doses. If you have a partner, this is a good time to start talking about what life’s gonna look like after the baby arrives. Who will do the housework and who will cook. How will night feedings work be? what about sleep training? talking through it all now will help make sure you have realistic expectations when the baby comes.

If you’re thinking of taking a baby and toddler CPR first aid class. You might want to do it now before your belly gets too big and bending over the crash. Learn what to do with your baby chokes. Also learn, how to perform CPR and how to deal with more serious cuts and scrapes.

Week eighteen of pregnancy

Your baby is now the size of a large cupcake. His taste buds are developing. And he can actually taste some of what you eat through the amniotic fluid. Once he’s born he’ll prefer those familiar tastes. So eat a variety of flavors and cuisines. You’re now officially four months pregnant your uterus is about as big as a cantaloupe. This might be causing backaches and shifting your center of gravity. Some pregnant women report feeling faint or dizzy at times. Extra progesterone relaxes your blood vessels. And all the increased blood flow going to your baby can cause your blood pressure to draw.

Rest when you need to and make sure you’re getting enough iron. Good sources including meat, fish, poultry, beans, and lentils.

Between now and week 20 you should have an ultrasound called an Anatomy scan. You’ll be asked to come to your appointment with the full-bladder. You have to pee every few minutes, this might sound like no fun at all. But it’s worth it, having a chance seeing your baby. Ultrasound Tech’s need your bladder to be full. So that it pushes the uterus up into your pelvis. Once your tech has all the pictures she needs, you need to show it to your doctor. She should be able to give you a mid scan key break this is the scan that can find out the sex of the baby. But, more importantly, this is also when developmental or anatomical issues will typically be spotted for the first time.

Many problems that are found in utero can be treated during your pregnancy. Or soon after delivery. They’ll also check that your baby’s growth is on track. You’ll need to spend a lot of time at this hour-long appointment. So, be patient during this ultrasound.

Week nineteen of pregnancy

The size of the baby would be equal to a mango. A white waxy substance called vernix caceosa which looks like a slathering of yogurt has started to coat your whole baby. Some of the vernix will be gone by the time she’s born. But for now, it’s helping to regulate her body temperature and protect her skin from the amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid can be quite acidic. Drying out your baby’s skin and making it pruning. Your baby’s movements are slowly increasing. Some women described it as the feeling of a butterfly. Or a goldfish wriggling around. If this is your first baby you might not be feeling anything yet. Don’t worry as your baby gets bigger in the coming weeks, there’ll be no mistaking the acrobatics. As your body’s shape stretches to make room for your growing baby.

You’ll experience what’s called round ligament pain in your lower belly. You’ll also likely have ache at the lower back and get some sharp pains in your hips and groin. Prenatal yoga stretching and meditation can be helpful. But go easy on yourself. Dizziness and lightheadedness can become common. As your baby presses on your blood vessels and crowds your lungs making it tougher to breathe. With your growing belly, you might also be having a hard time getting comfortable in bed. Try to sleep on your side with your knees bent. You may have to get creative with pillows to make this work. If your regular pillows aren’t doing the trick, there are lots of made for pregnancy options to try.

If you started to notice brownish confetti-like patches of skin on your face, you may have chloasma. Rising estrogen causes an increase in melatonin production darkening certain areas of your skin. This is more common in women with darker skin. Don’t panic it’s temporary and usually fades after pregnancy. Minimize your chances of permanent damage by using sunscreen.

One of the most important things is, you need to choose a guardian the person who will take care of your kids if you die. And an executor will manage the money until your kids are a certain age.

Okay back to the fun stuff. Start thinking about what you’re going to need for the baby. Create a registry if you’re doing one to check some items off your list. Ask friends and family if they have anything they’re happy to loan you. And of course, some generous relatives may have a larger gift in mind.

Week twenty of pregnancy

Your baby is now the size of a slice of bread. She’s sleeping and waking up at regular intervals. Now your baby continues to body build. She’s busy creating muscle and learning coordination like flexing kicking and even flipping. You’ve officially hit the halfway point of your pregnancy. You definitely look pregnant now. And your belly has probably popped. If you aren’t already feeling more energetic, expect a change in gears as soon as you enter what many people call the honeymoon phase of pregnancy.

Your vaginal discharge might also be increasing. Expect it to keep increasing as your pregnancy progresses it’s your body’s way of keeping the area clean and bacteria-free. Yeast infections also become more common so talk to your care provider if you notice an odor or a yellow or greenish tinge to the fluid. This is the time your milk machine would start working. If you notice any nipple discharge don’t be worried it’s totally normal.

Your breasts are just beginning to make colostrum, the yellow nutrient-rich substance that precedes breast milk. Around week 20 a lot of women begin to worry about weight gain. If you’re going by the book, the aim is to gain just over one pound a week. From here on out, a nutritious diet is important but go easy on yourself.

Week twenty-one of pregnancy

Your baby is now the size of the popsicle. His brain and muscles are now connected. This gives him more control over his movements. That explains all the late-night dance parties that seem to be going on when you’re trying to sleep. Your baby is now practicing swallowing and digesting. He’s taking tiny sips of amniotic fluid and tasting the flavors of the foods you’re eating. So, munch on those healthy pregnancy meals. Babies who are exposed to a wider variety of flavors in utero often turn out to be better eaters. So if you want your little one to turn into a toddler who gobbles up his kale and carrots, you better eat your fair share now.

Your bump is growing and so is the rest of you. This may be leaving some stretch marks. Those pink-red or purple streaks can appear on your breasts, stomach, bum, thighs. And they’re more likely and more visible if you’re fair-skinned. For the most part, they’re beyond your control. But stretch marks can be worse if you gain a lot of weight quickly. Although there’s no surefire way to prevent them. Using a heavy moisturizer can help relieve the dryness and the itchiness.

The good news is that once the baby arrives the marks usually fade. Prenatal classes can be super helpful for new parents. Prenatal classes cover pain management techniques to use during labor. They also teach newborn care and the basics of swaddling bottles and breastfeeding. Participating with your spouse or delivery room partner can help. Make sure you’re both feeling more confident and on the same page about delivery.

Week twenty-two of pregnancy

Your baby is now the size of a hot dog. He’s big enough to be putting some serious strain on your body. Be sure to take care of yourself. Rest take soothing baths to help relieve 18 muscles and joints. And put your feet up especially if you’re dealing with swelling which is also known as pregnancy edema. Pregnancy edema caused by an increased amount of fluid in your body. It’s pretty common. Probably your feet are often a bit swollen especially after standing. And that your hands are puffy too. If your rings are feeling tight take them off now before it’s too late. Swelling is common but only minor swellings. If you feel severe or sudden swelling especially in the face, contact your doctor. It can be a signal of a potentially dangerous complication called preeclampsia.

This could also have you make feel pretty fine, now that you’ve gotten used to the idea that there really is a baby on the way. You’re probably starting to think about how she’s actually gonna get here. Have you decided whether you want to deliver at home, in a hospital or at a birthing center? You’ll also be thinking about how you might want to deal with the pain. Drug massage, breathing techniques, and tub soaking are all options on the pain management spectrum. If you’re having a low-risk pregnancy with no evidence of preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, you could be a candidate for a home birth.

Some women prefer this option because you can labor in the comfort of your own home. You can be surrounded by as many loved ones as you want. And avoid potentially unnecessary medical interventions. Women who have had significant postpartum hemorrhaging or have delivered by c-section with a previous birth aren’t good candidates for a home birth. Women who have elevated blood pressure or are carrying multiples also need to deliver in a hospital. But you still have lots of time to decide. However, if you’re contemplating a mini holiday before your mini-me arrives.

Now’s the time to do it you should be free to fly until about weeks 34 to 36. But check your airline policies before you book. If you’re considering maternity, shoot the end of the second trimester is your best bet for looking at your big belly.

Week twenty-three of pregnancy

You are now five months pregnant. The size of the baby is equal to that of a carrot. If you’ve noticed bluish or purplish veins bulging on the backs of your legs. Those are varicose veins. Varicose veins are caused by the growing weight of your uterus. It put pressure on the veins in your lower body combined with an increased volume of blood to support you and your baby. Also, those hormones help your pelvis relax. Varicose veins tend to run in families. Chances are your mom had them too. And there’s not much you can do to prevent them to keep them from getting worse. Don’t stand for long periods. Avoid crossing your legs. And put your feet up as often as possible. Compression socks and tights can also help by boosting circulation in your legs. Fortunately, this is one pregnancy symptom that tends to diminish after delivery.

Linea nigra caused by the same pregnancy hormones that are triggering other skin discolorations. You might be seen as the darker shade of your areolas. Or the freckles on your face. But don’t worry they’ll fade a few months postpartum.

It’s a very strange sensation the first time you notice your belly subtly tightening almost like a quick muscle spasm. This is called a Braxton Hicks contraction. It may be a little uncomfortable. But it’s totally normal and it doesn’t mean your labor is starting. Your muscles are just randomly contracting, practicing for the real thing. As long as they go away quickly Braxton Hick’s contractions are nothing to worry about. Just change positions and try to stay as comfortable as possible. Until they pass call your practitioner, if they don’t subside or start becoming more intense.

Wondering what kinds of workouts are safe with a now prominent belly generally? pre-pregnancy exercises should be fine to continue with. With a few exceptions sports like horseback riding scuba diving and anything that convolve and impact your abdomen. You should avoid certain yoga poses like twists. Swimming is a great option. For the weightlessness you’ll feel on the floor is amazing.

If you’re excited about decorating your baby’s room, go ahead and do it. There’s no evidence that a small amount of house padding will harm you or the baby. Though it could do a number on that already aching back. Just avoid oil-based paints and paint strippers which are sometimes used on furniture. As they contain volatile organic compounds VOCs have been linked to birth defects and developmental disabilities. Open the windows to keep the room well ventilated and take frequent breaks.

Week twenty-four of pregnancy

Your baby is now the size of a burrito. Although she’s still small about 30 centimeters or 12 inches long and weighs roughly one and a half pounds. Her features are almost fully formed. She now has fine eyelashes and eyebrows. And the start of a head of hair. She can make out all kinds of sounds like your breathing, your voice, the dog barking or loud sounds like car horns. Her capillaries are also starting to form this week. This means that her skin is becoming less translucent and more opaque. As blood circulates and adds more of a pinkish undertone to her complexion.

As for you, achy legs are common at this point in your pregnancy. And usually nothing more than a sign of dehydration occasionally or nutritional deficiency. So be sure to mention it to your practitioner. Meanwhile, make sure that you’re drinking lots of water. Keep moving and stretch often if you’re experiencing tingling or numbness in your wrists and fingers. It might be carpal tunnel syndrome.

Repetitive motions like typing are usually but carpal tunnel syndrome. In pregnant women, it’s often due to the accumulation of fluids in your hands and wrists. When you lie down, it put pressure on the nerve that runs through your wrist and causes numbness tingling and pain. Put your hands up on pillows at night and stretch them during the day.

This is the time your practitioner may suggest a screening test for gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman’s pancreas isn’t able to produce the extra insulin needed to keep blood glucose levels in check. It increases the risk of preterm births. And also conditions like preeclampsia as well as the odds of having a very large baby. This may require intervention like a c-section, the test measures how your body processes sugar. If the results are abnormal.

You’ll need more testing to determine if you have gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes can usually be managed through changes to your diet. If you’re the kind of person who likes to be prepared for all scenarios of childbirth, it can be a tricky one. It’s a test you can’t exactly study for. You can attend prenatal classes and read every labor book out there. But from plan c-sections to drug-free births. Everyone has a different experience and often it’s not what you expect. You may feel reassured by reading about other women’s experiences. Or talk to friends who have gone through childbirth.

Week twenty-five of pregnancy

Your baby is now the size of a carton of milk. His skin is still getting Pinker as blood vessels develop. And he’s starting to fatten up. His nose is now functioning allowing him to take practice breaths of amniotic fluid in utero. Many women experience heartburn at this point in pregnancy. Baby is also squishing your digestive tract, which can feel like your stomach is being pushed up into your throat.

There are a few things you can do to manage pregnancy-induced indigestion. Avoid greasy and spicy foods. Skip big meals in favor of smaller more frequent ones. Stop eating several hours before bedtime. Half of moms-to-be have to deal with the horror of hemorrhoids. It’s a form of varicose veins in the rectum caused by increased blood flow and the weight of your uterus. For immediate relief, ice packs and witch hazel pad sickles will help soothe your sore. Check with your pharmacist if you’re constipated, which is another common symptom at this stage.

Increase your fiber intake with more fruits, veggies, and whole grains. And drink lots of water. Your weight during pregnancy may keep fluctuating, but that’s normal. Remember that you probably don’t need as much extra fuel as you think. If you had a healthy pre-pregnancy weight you only need about 350 additional calories. This is about three tablespoons of peanut butter. During the second trimester, if you’re concerned about gaining too much weight, talk to your doctor about your diet.

 

By now you’ve probably picked up some baby names. Does it lend itself to nicknames you like? are you happy with the initials? If you’ve selected your favorite name, seriously consider it whether you want to share it. Be warned everyone will have an opinion.

Week twenty-six of pregnancy

Your baby is now as big as a large side of fries. Your baby’s eyes are forming and she’ll be able to open them soon. Meanwhile, her immune system is also under construction soaking up all of your antibodies. In anticipation of life on the outside, you’ve probably noticed that she settled into a sleep-wake pattern. Sometimes you feel kicking and other times nothing where she’s quiet and likely sleeping.

Stress and hormone fluctuations can contribute to more frequent headaches during pregnancy as can dehydration and hunger. Be sure to take a water bottle with you for sipping. Eat every few hours. It’s safe to take the occasional acetaminophen but avoid chronic use. Acupuncture massage and meditation are drug-free pain relievers you can try. If you have a headache that just won’t go away, call your doctor. Combined with blurry vision sudden swelling or upper abdominal pain it could be a sign of preeclampsia which requires immediate treatment.

If you find yourself slipping and tripping more than usual you’ve got that big belly. Thank the added weight shifted center of gravity and reduced visibility. It can make you prone to stumbling. Pregnancy hormones have also loosened your joints making you less steady on your feet. Be extra careful in the bathtub on the pool deck and on other slippery surfaces. Keep the stairs and hallways in your home clear of tripping hazards. And watch out for your pets underfoot. A big fall during pregnancy can be serious. So, report it to your health care provider if you do take a tumble.

If you’re planning a hospital delivery, save yourself some hassle by registering in advance. You’ll need to fill out some paperwork. With your health history, insurance, and billing information, book a tour of the maternity ward. And scout out the admitted area, parking situation, and other key spots that you’ll need to locate on the big day. Do you keep losing your keys or forgetting appointments? Congratulations you’ve got baby brain absent-mindedness. It is a common physiological symptom caused by pregnancy hormones. Your forgetfulness will fade postpartum. In the meantime be kind to yourself. Set appointment reminders on your phone. Leave yourself notes and keep it to do list.

Week twenty-seven of pregnancy

Your baby is now as big as a slice of pizza. This is the last week of your second trimester. Your baby’s brain is busy developing. You’re probably having some trouble sleeping these days being forced to lie on your side. Along with potential restless leg syndrome, heartburn, or leg cramps. Leg syndrome can affect up to 25 percent of pregnant women. If it is keeping you awake it can be minimized by upping your iron and folate intake. You can do it with a supplement or eating more leafy greens and fortified grains. Lots of strategically placed pillows will make sleeping on your side more comfortable too.

At this stage, a lot of pregnant women experience leg cramps. They’re more common at night but they can happen anytime. You’re carrying a lot of extra weight. And your ever-expanding uterus is putting pressure on the veins and nerves that run to your legs. Dehydration is often a culprit too. So be sure to drink lots of water. Stop and stretch whenever a cramp strikes.

When you finally do drift off to sleep you might be having intense dreams. Nightmares are common at this stage of pregnancy. They’re likely triggered by anxiety – from finances to caring for a newborn – to imagining what delivery will be like. It can be easier said than done. But one thing you can do is try to relax before bed. Quiet your mind with meditation. A warm bath or whatever works for you.

Making a maternity leave budget or signing up for a prenatal class can also help you feel like you’re dealing with what’s worrying you in the wee hours.

Those little rhythmic bumps you’re feeling so often are your baby’s first hiccups. Even though she isn’t breathing yet, her diaphragm is getting ready to work outside the womb. And stimulation or irritation can cause those sudden contractions.

 

Congratulations, you are going to be a great mother.

Wikipedia

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