When a woman conceives, she goes through three stages of pregnancy. Each of these stages is distinct taking three months to give way to the other. The stages are entails the maturity process of the baby till birth. However, the pregnancy period is counted from the last menstruation cycle to the estimated date of delivery a period that covers a total of forty weeks.
These stages are marked by different symptoms, distinct body changes and challenges that are best handled when the woman is aware of them.
First trimester (week 1-week 12)
The first trimester marks the beginning of the period of pregnancy. This stage takes place within the first three months right from the conception. If the person is using weeks counting method, the first trimester covers the first week up to the twelfth week.
It is important to note that during this stage the egg of the woman is fertilized and it attaches it’s self in the walls of the uterus. This leads to a drastic hormonal change in order to sustain the pregnancy. The change in hormones accounts for the symptoms experienced during this stage.
Among the stages of pregnancy in the first trimester, the woman experiences various symptoms that cannot be ignored. In this stage, the menstrual period for the particular month is missed hence marking the beginning of the pregnancy stage. However, a woman may experience light bleeding that takes a day or two occurring about seven days after ovulation.
This bleeding is known as the implantation bleeding as the fertilized egg attaches itself in the uterine walls. Then, the breast becomes tender which is experienced as fullness or swelling of the breast. Due to the presence of the pregnancy, blood supply increases with blood flowing more through the kidneys leading to increased urination.
The hormonal changes lead to a feeling of nausea commonly known as morning sickness. Extreme fatigue, drowsiness and frequent headaches are characteristic during this first stage.
The most common symptoms at the first pregnancy stage are:
- Missed menstrual period
- Possible light bleeding that (implantation bleeding)
- Tender breast
- Increased urination
- Nausea – morning sickness
- Extreme fatigue
- Frequent headaches
Second trimester (week 13-week 28)
The second trimester is among the stages of pregnancy that begins from the fourth to end of sixth month. According to the weeks counting methodology, this stage starts at thirteen weeks and spreads through the twenty eighth week. Unlike the first stage in which the pregnancy is not visible, in this second stage others around can see the body changes especially in the fifth month.
In the second trimester, the pregnant woman experiences symptoms some of which continues from the first trimester. In this case, the abdomen distends gradually becoming bigger and bigger as time passes by. This makes the pregnancy visible from outside and need for adjustment in dressing.
Also, the baby’s movements in the womb are experienced by the mother for the first time during this stage. During this stage, the hormonal supply becomes stable and the body gets adapted to the changes hence nausea as well as fatigue becomes minimal. However, due to growing abdomen, the woman experiences constipation regularly as the growing baby in the womb pushes the intestines.
In addition, craving for various food substances is evident at this stage whereby the woman gets a strong desire for certain food substances. Finally a possible itching on the abdomen, palms, and feet may appear (in case the itching is too intense, you should contact your doctor).
The most common symptoms at the second pregnancy stage are:
- Nausea and fatigue gets minimal
- Body changes
- Body aches (back, abdomen, groin, or thigh pain)
- The skin around the nipples gets darker
- Regular constipation
- Craving for certain food substances
- Itching on the abdomen, palms, and feet
Third trimester (week 29-week 40)
The third trimester is the last among the stages of pregnancy. It begins at twenty ninth week and lasting till the fortieth week that gives way to onset of labour for child birth. Ideally this period takes three months right from the 7th month to 9th month when the pregnancy comes to term. This stage ushers the baby into full maturity hence ready to live outside the mother’s body.
The third trimester is marked by continuous extending of the abdomen as the baby grows. Heartburn and constipation becomes frequent or worse in some cases. Also, body aches such as the back pains are experienced by the woman at this stage.
Towards the end of this stage the first milk known as colostrum is produced in the breast an indicator of the onset of milk production for the baby about to be born. In addition, some mild pains are felt in the lower abdominal region as the uterus contracts mildly while getting ready for the real labour.
It is important to note that onset of labour may be experienced at week 37 as the baby is at term and proceeds to the birth canal for birth. This stage ends with the birth of the baby.
The most common symptoms at the third pregnancy stage are:
- Frequent heartburn
- Frequent constipation
- More frequent body aches
- Colostrum is produced
- Mild pains in the lower abdominal region
- Baby is moving lower in your abdomen
- Baby birth (congratulations!)
How a woman can overcome major challenges during the stages of pregnancy?
The major discomfort is experienced during the first trimester due to extreme morning sickness. This can be lead to dehydration and body weakness due to frequent vomiting. This can be curbed by eating the small portions of snacks frequently. Also, avoiding strong odours and poorly ventilated rooms helps to minimize the impact of morning sickness. Lemon and ginger taken with fluids also helps in preventing vomiting.
It is advisable for the woman to maintain a healthy diet in each stage of pregnancy. Natural and fresh food substances are encouraged during pregnancy instead of the processed foods. In addition, taking a diet rich in vegetables such as broccoli and spinach is encouraged as it minimizes occurrence of constipation. Water should be taken in plenty but only during the day to minimize trips to the toilet at night.
During pregnancy, is advisable to have regular exercises. These exercises should be coupled by massage that helps in alleviating back pains. However, one need to consult the doctor before engaging to exercises.
This makes the stages of pregnancy easy to handle with minimal discomfort.