The next nine months are an amazing time for you and your developing baby. Your body will be going through many physical and emotional changes, whilst your baby will be going through key developmental changes. We at the Women’s Hospital will be there to support you and hope that this pregnancy calendar will give you some general guidance on what to expect and helpful tips for having a healthy and happy nine months.
Your pregnancy can be viewed as three-month stages known as trimesters. Please choose a trimester to take a look at the key emotional and physical changes which take place at these different stages.
This is an exciting and often anxious time for many women as you may not feel pregnant at first but there are lots of hormonal changes going on in your body.
Up to eight weeks
The fertilized egg has implanted itself into the side of your uterus, where it continues its rapid development. Your baby is growing faster than at any other time of pregnancy and its sex is already decided. At eight weeks your baby has a recognizably human face with nostrils, lips and a mouth. Your baby’s heart has started to beat and the body is around two centimeters long.
For some women, a missed period may be the only sign that they are pregnant. You might also have some light spotting as your fertilized egg implants into the uterus. This is known as implantation spotting, and is completely normal. Your pregnancy is dated from the start of your last menstrual period so by week eight you are already two-thirds through the first trimester.
It is best to avoid foods which could lead to illness; this includes unpasteurized dairy products (for example soft cheeses) undercooked or rare meats, eggs, poultry, pâtés and unwashed fruit and vegetables.
The main organs of your baby have developed, although they do not all fully work yet. Your baby will be quite active, but at 5.4 cm long, you won’t be able to feel the movements.
Reaching this point in your pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of miscarriage as your placenta now produces the hormones for the baby’s growth. You will probably be feeling a little more relaxed and be able tell friends and family the good news. As your body is producing a lot of hormones in the early stages of the first trimester, many women have the following symptoms:
- Tiredness – try to change your routine so that you can allow your body rest more
- Nausea – can be in the morning and/or evening; eating little and often may help, try healthy foods rich in vitamin B6 and zinc (bananas, wholemeal bread and ginger).
Symptoms such as nausea tend to improve by week 14 but you may find as some symptoms go others appear (frequent urination, acne and bleeding gums). Eating well and looking after yourself should be top priorities.
This phase of your pregnancy marks a time when your baby begins to seem more real; feeling your baby move and hearing your baby’s heartbeat are the key highlights.
Your baby will now look more in proportion than four weeks ago, with limbs having grown longer now. Your baby’s skin is still transparent and layers of fat have yet to form but he/ she can now hear your voice and your heartbeat.
This phase of your pregnancy is often called the ‘blooming’ phase, where you feel less sick and tired, and your bump is clearly visible. You will probably have to wear maternity clothes now and eat more to quell feelings of hunger.
Light exercise in the form of a pregnancy exercise class will help you stay fit. Drink plenty of water as this will ease any constipation. Write down any symptoms so that you can discuss these with your doctor or midwife.
Your baby is increasingly aware of sounds, tastes and may even respond to touch through your abdomen. Your baby is now around 16.4 cm in length (crown to rump) and will more than double in length by the time he/ she is born.
You might start to feel a bit breathless at this stage. Your body will also now lay down extra fat in preparation for breastfeeding. Extra fat is nothing to worry about as you will be able to lose it naturally after the birth. First time mothers may only start to feel the baby moving now. Avoid large meals or spicy food as heartburn is a common symptom at this stage. Try eating foods rich in vitamin B..
Remember to speak to your caregiver if any symptoms persist or if you are worried about any aspect of your pregnancy.
Your baby is more solid looking in appearance as the skin is no longer translucent. Apart from the lungs, which won’t be used until birth, all your baby’s main organs are now working. The rest of the time in the uterus will be spent laying down fat.
Your bump will be noticeable at this stage and you may feel Braxton Hicks contractions (which feel like a short hardening of the abdomen and is a sign that your uterus is practicing for labor).
Get plenty of iron from your diet; leafy vegetables, lentils and red meat can help improve the oxygen supply of you and your baby (iron carries oxygen through the blood).
You are nearly at the finishing line and your thoughts are probably mainly on preparing for labor and birth, and wondering what to expect.
Your baby can now open and close his/her eyes. Your baby’s body looks much like it would at birth, as the head is now much more in proportion to the body. The air sacs in the lungs are now nearly fully formed, which means that your baby would stand a good chance of survival if it were born now.
You may find it is harder to move around, now that you have a sizeable bump. Put your legs up and stretch them, as this can help relieve varicose veins and leg cramps. Light exercise such as walking can help to position the baby correctly.
Your baby will probably be positioned head down and will have much less space to move. His or her skin is covered in a thin layer of waxy material which acts to protect it. Your baby’s brain and central nervous system still have a few weeks to go before they are fully functioning.
Your bump is very large now and you’ll probably be feeling very tired because you’re finding it difficult to sleep. The pressure of the baby on your pelvis may be uncomfortable and you’ll probably find you need to urinate frequently due to your baby pushing on your bladder.
Make sure to take some time out as its important to ‘bond’ with your baby, even before he/ she is born.
Your baby is gaining weight more quickly now. He/she can also sense changes in light through your abdomen.
Your baby is now so large that all parts of your body will be affected at some level. You may experience backache or discomfort in your lower abdomen. Many women feel their baby’s head drop lower into the pelvis, a process known as ‘lightening’ or ‘engagement’. This may provide some relief, although the urge to urinate frequently may become stronger.
If you’ve not already done so, now would be a good time to start packing your hospital bag and make your birth plan. Resting every day, preferably on the left hand side where there is increased blood flow to the placenta is recommended.
Very few babies arrive on their due dates so don’t feel too frustrated if your baby doesn’t arrive when you were hoping. Your baby’s lungs and nervous system have matured and are now fully functional. The average weight of a newborn baby is 3,500 grams or 3.5 kg.
You will be feeling very tired as your body has been under a lot of strain in the final few weeks, so make sure you try to rest as much as possible. You will probably be short of breath due to the size of the baby. It can help to have a few healthy snacks next to your bed as it is common to wake because of hunger or nausea at this stage. Placing a pillow under your bump may help to make you feel more comfortable at night.