Becoming pregnant is an exciting time in a woman’s life. There are a great deal of changes she will face both with her body and with her growing child. There will be so many new emotions and experiences happening at this time that it’s often overwhelming. For this reason, most medical professionals like to break down a woman’s pregnancy into stages.
There are three most common pregnancy stages. These are referred to as trimesters. The first trimester, second trimester, and the third trimester of pregnancy are the three you will hear about throughout your pregnancy. The first stages of pregnancy are the first 14 weeks. This is called the first trimester. It is at this point your pregnancy is the most fragile.
Additionally, while it’s the longest of the three stages of pregnancy, it won’t feel like it because most women don’t know they are even pregnant for at least four weeks – sometimes longer.
During this time you are most susceptible for miscarriage. Once you are out of the first trimester, your chances of losing your baby drop to less than five percent. This is also the trimester in which you will suffer the majority of your pregnancy symptoms. This can include anything from fatigue to nausea to food aversions to cravings. It can be a difficult time for women because their bodies are changing and they’re not feeling their best.
The second trimester begins at 14 weeks and lasts through 28 weeks. This is typically referred to as the best of the three stages. Your body tends to bounce back a bit during the second trimester. You’ll have more energy, feel a bit more like your old self, feel less tired, and you will likely notice that the most uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy begin to dissipate. It’s during this trimester that many exciting things happen.
For one, you’ll hear your baby’s heartbeat at every prenatal appointment. Additionally, you will also get to find out the gender of your baby – if you choose to do so – during your 20 week ultrasound. This is a required ultrasound. Doctors need to see that your baby is developing as it should be, that all is healthy, and that there is nothing happening that shouldn’t be happening in your uterus and with your developing child.
The third trimester might be the longest in terms of how you feel. It lasts from 28 weeks until you deliver, which is typically anywhere between 37 and 42 weeks. While 40 weeks is the typical length of pregnancy, not all babies are ready to come out at this point. However, doctors do not allow you to progress beyond 42 weeks as it is dangerous to you and the baby due to the lowering levels of amniotic fluid in the baby’s sac.
You will begin to feel quite large and uncomfortable during this trimester. You might not sleep well. You might spend more time using the restroom than ever before, and you might notice that your body aches and hurts in places you never knew were even possible. Additionally, knowing that your baby could come any minute now makes time feel as if it’s stopped.
There is another stage of pregnancy you will become very familiar with during your pregnancy. This is called the week by week stage. Pregnancy is 40 weeks long, give or take two or three weeks. Few babies are actually born at 40 weeks on their due date. Many women remain pregnant past their due date for as long as 42 weeks. Other women go into labor early. Provided that your labor begins after you reach the 37 week mark of your pregnancy, there typically is nothing to worry about.
Full term is considered to arrive at 37 weeks. If you were to go into labor at this point, all will be well with your child as far as development and the ease of labor. Your doctor will use the week mark to speak with you about your pregnancy as many different milestones occur at the week mark. For example, you will have a 20 week ultrasound. Hearing your baby’s heartbeat becomes certain at 12 weeks. You will have to take specific tests at specific weeks. There are many milestones at virtually every week of pregnancy.
Finally, the last of the stages of pregnancy are calculated by month. Surprisingly, most women ignore the month stage and count by weeks and trimesters. Pregnancy is said to last 9 months. Yes, 40 weeks actually consists of 10 months, but the way in which months are calculated, it’s considered 9 months in pregnancy.
Each month is a different milestone for women, but they tend not to count by months because it’s too general. Too much happens in terms of weeks for months to seem appropriate. For example, a woman who is 36 weeks pregnant is 9 months along. When she explains that she’s 9 months along to someone who asks how far along she is, they will likely become confused when they assume she’s going into labor any minute and she has to explain she still has 4 weeks to go before her due date. For this reason, women typically prefer to ignore the stages of pregnancy by month and focus more on the week by week stage of pregnancy.
Each pregnancy is different. For example, the typical pregnancy is 40 weeks. However, if you happen to be pregnant with twins or other multiples, your pregnancy will not last 40 weeks. Very, very few women pregnant with more than one child last this long. In fact, most doctors just want their multiples moms to make it to full term, which is considered 36 weeks for multiples. However, most women tend to go into labor anytime between 32 and 37 weeks. This means your pregnancy might be a few months shorter than you originally thought that it might be.