Every hopeful mother must go through the stages of pregnancy. A normal pregnancy lasts for about 40 weeks and is grouped into three stages (trimesters) namely; the first trimester, the second trimester and the third trimester.
Each stage of pregnancy comes with its signs and symptoms and has a time limit to it. We will get to them shortly.
What are the changes a woman’s body will undergo during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, it is a normal occurrence for a woman’s waistline to expand, but there are other changes that may come as a surprise to the expecting mother and these are;
1. Body Aches
Back pains and aches are common at the early stages of pregnancy when the uterus expands. Some pregnant women complain of pains that runs from the lower back, down the back of one leg, to the foot or knee. Having a rest, lying down or applying heat can help alleviate the pain. And if no relief, a meeting with the doctor is advised.
2. Breast Changes
During pregnancy, a woman’s breasts will increase in size and fullness. The hormone changes that occur as the due date arrives will make the breasts become bigger as it prepares for breastfeeding.
A lot of pregnant women also complain of having hard dry stools; less than 3 bowel movement each week and painful ones too. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water daily, eating foods rich in fiber like fresh fruits, raw vegetables and bread, and abstaining from drinking caffeine can help to solve this problem. You may want to call the doctor if the constipation doesn’t go away.
A lot of pregnant women also complain of diziness and lightheadedness during their pregnancy. In this case, fainting isn’t common but even some healthy pregnant women do faint and there are many reasons for this. It could be the growth of more blood vessels at the early stage of pregnancy, or the body’s need for increased food can all make an expecting mother feel lightheaded and dizzy. In this case, the pregnant woman can try to avoid standing for too long, stop skipping meals and wear loose clothings. Reach out to the doctor if you feel faint and have abdominal pains or vaginal bleeding.
5. Fatigue and Sleep problems
You may feel tired even after lots of sleep during pregnancy, this is a normal occurence so don’t get worried. As you get bigger, it may become more difficult sleeping. The movement in your womb, the runs to the bathroom, can all interrupt sleep. So try to practice good sleeping habits such as going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, and going to bed a little earlier. Drink your fluids early in the day so you can drink less before bed.
6. Hemorroids during pregnancy
Swollen and buldging veins in the rectum are known as hemorroids. About 50% of pregnant women get hemorroids. They can cause pain, itching and bleeding. Eating fiber rich foods and drinking lots of water can help alleviate this issue.
Other body changes that could occur during pregnancy include; Frequent urinary and leaking, Swelling of the face, hands, and ankles, Stretch marks and skin changes, Morning sickness, Nasal problems, Leg cramps and Itching.
What are the stages of pregnancy and the symptoms associated with them?
There are three stages of pregnancy (trimesters) and they are as follows:
The First Trimester (1-12weeks)
Your body experiences many changes during the first trimester. There will be hormone changes to almost every organ in your body and these changes can trigger symptoms as early as the first week of pregnancy. Some of the other changes you can observe include;
- Swollen breasts and nipples
- Extreme tiredness
- Stomach upset (may or may not accompany vomiting)
- Distaste for some foods
- Need to urinate more often
- Headache, heartburn and weight gain or loss
Fortunately for you, most of these symptoms will go away as your pregnancy progresses. Some women may not even feel any discomfort at all. And if you have undergone childbearing before, it may feel totally different this time around. Just as every woman is different, so is every pregnancy.
The Second Trimester (13-28th week)
The second trimester may come as a relief because many women find it easier than the first. Initial symptoms like nausea and fatigue are giving way, though other changes to your body are now taking place. As the growth of the baby continues, your abdomen will expand, and before the end of this stage, you will begin to feel your baby move. Somebody you will observe in this trimester include;
- Body aches; back, abdomen, groin and thigh pain
- Darkening of skin around nipples
- Stretch marks
- Carpel tunnel syndrome (numb or tingling hands)
- Line on skin from belly button to pubic hairline
- Patches of darker skin on cheeks, head, nose, and upperlip (the mask of pregnancy)
- Swellings (ankles, fingers and face)
The Third Trimester (29-40th week)
The third and final stage is the third trimester. Some of the discomfort in the previous stage will continue in the third trimester. Some women will experience difficulties in breathing and frequent visits to the bathroom. This experience is due to the fact that the baby is growing and applying more pressure on your organs. This shouldn’t worry because the problems will reduce once you give birth. Some of the body changes you will notice during this trimester include;
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the ankles, fingers and face. If you notice extreme swelling or increase in weight really quickly, consult the doctor because it could be a sign of preeclampsia.
- Tender breasts which may or may not leak colostrum.
- The baby moving to the lower abdomen
- Contractions which may signal real or false labor.
Your cervix becomes thinner or softer as you near your due date. This is a natural process that helps open up the birth canal. A vaginal exam will be conducted by your doctor to check your progress. Be excited because your delivery date is near.