Here’s what happens in each stage of pregnancy

Zariah Kale

Zariah Kale

Zariah is a writer, history nerd, amateur chef and mum of three. When she is not negotiating screen time with one of her two tweens, or falling asleep during movies, you'll find her scouring vintage shops for one-of-a-kind pieces or apologising to friends for the "late reply" over text.
Updated on Apr 30, 2024 · 5 mins read
Here’s what happens in each stage of pregnancy

If you happen to be a first-time mum or know someone who’s navigating their way with a baby bump, you’ve probably heard of terms like “first trimester” and “second trimester.” And while the exact date where you tumble—pun intended—from one to the other may have you confused for a while, we sort of have a quick and easy breakdown to help you understand exactly where you are. And then of course, what to expect!

Pregnancy is a remarkable and transformative journey that encompasses various stages. Once that strip shows up with a double line, you are already in your first trimester. Congratulations!

From the initial conception to the eventual birth, each stage of pregnancy carries its own significance and brings about notable changes. Understanding these stages is essential for expecting parents to navigate the experience with knowledge and preparation.

Another fun way is to think of them as acts in a play- albeit a muddled one. The first act is where there’s a bit of fear and happiness in the beginning, with “morning sickness” making a dramatic appearance.

In the second act, things start to look up, and you find yourself through the half way mark.

And the third act, is where the music pumps up and you “roll” towards the dramatic finale. Then a happy ending and a beautiful baby!

Well,  in more scientific and medical terms, here are the three stages of pregnancy:

First Trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy is frequently seen as an important and complicated time for

many new mothers-to-be. The first trimester lasts up to 12 weeks and is a key time at which

the fertilised egg inserts itself into the uterus (called conception) and develops rapidly.

The formation of major organs and bodily structures begins, and early pregnancy symptoms

such as morning sickness, tiredness, and breast tenderness may develop. Although every

pregnancy is unique, and no two pregnancies may be the same even among the same

women, certain unpleasant characteristics endure.

This is the time when the mum’s body adjusts to the process of making a baby: hormonal changes occur to sustain the pregnancy, and numerous physiological adaptations occur during this time.

Technically, a person’s body works hard during this time, even though she may not look pregnant. Many women suffer from common symptoms such as morning sickness, exhaustion, breast tenderness, and mood swings.

However, anything abnormal or out of the ordinary may be cause for concern and should be shared with a healthcare professional. For example, many physicians consider bleeding during the first trimester to be a reason for concern, so if there is even a bit of spotting, it is better to get in touch with your gynecologist or OB  to rule out any medical concerns and ensure that the mother and baby are healthy.

Second Trimester

The second trimester, which begins around week 13 and lasts until week 27, is widely regarded as the easiest. This is the time when many women opt to go for a babymoon- or get started on that nursery.

During the second trimester, the foetus grows rapidly and its features become more defined. Mums usually get relief from the early pregnancy symptoms like nausea and can even start to look pregnant! (Time to go shopping for new clothes!)

This is also the first time you’ll likely feel the baby’s movements.

The second trimester of pregnancy is typically thought to be a safer stage than the first. The danger of miscarriage has considerably decreased by this point, and the developing infant is more resilient, has gained a healthy weight, and has developed a good foundation for his/her vital organs.

The reason why many mums consider this phase to be an enjoyable part of their pregnancy is that by this time most pregnancy symptoms, like morning sickness and fatigue, tend to lessen or disappear, making it an ideal time to start incorporating a healthy and balanced diet and starting moderate physical activity into a new mum’s routine.

Third Trimester

Ahh, we’re almost there!

The home stretch! From week 28 to birth, the third trimester is marked by continuing fetal growth and final delivery preparations. By this time, the baby has gained a significant amount of weight, and the organ systems have matured further to allow for independent functioning following delivery.

The mother may endure physical discomfort because of the baby’s size and location. Braxton Hicks, contractions, nesting instincts, and labour and delivery anticipation are all prevalent in this trimester.

Which stage of pregnancy is most critical?

The thing is, pregnancy is different for every woman and may vary from person to person. For some, the first trimester is easy, while others who may have high-risk pregnancies require bed rest and considerable care not only in the first trimester but also throughout their pregnancy.

However, in the majority of cases, the first trimester of pregnancy is typically seen as a critical and delicate period for both the mother and the fetus.

Research conducted in the field of childbirth and pregnancy care highlights that most miscarriages and pregnancy losses occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, making it an extremely delicate and fragile time.

It is a period in which the baby’s organs and bodily structures rapidly form, setting the groundwork for future growth and development. During the first trimester, key structures such as the brain, spinal cord, heart, and limbs develop. Any interruptions or difficulties during this critical period can seriously impact the baby’s growth.

However, because the danger of miscarriage is highest during this period, it can also be a time of increased vulnerability. To support their baby’s well-being during this important stage, expectant mums must prioritise their health, seek regular prenatal care, and make healthy lifestyle choices.

FAQ: What stage is 6 weeks of pregnancy?

I remember sitting down with a notebook to figure out which week and trimester I was in, so this question is not only common but the confusion regarding weeks is quite understood. When is week 1 of pregnancy? Would week 6 be part of the first trimester?

Well, here’s the answer:

Your first week starts on the first day of your last period. In weeks 1 and 2, you are not even pregnant, but your body is preparing your uterus for the baby, so it counts as week 1.

By the sixth week of pregnancy, which is probably when most mums are sure they are pregnant, they are well into their first trimester.

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