Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life. It brings joy, love, and excitement. However, it also cannot be denied that going through this wonderful journey can get a little overwhelming, especially that they’ll encounter so many unknowns. For one, expectant moms will be greeted with unfamiliar changes with their bodies as their baby starts to grow inside their womb. This is why it is crucial for pregnant women to be well aware of the ways their growing baby is changing their bodies and how they can better prepare themselves for the changes.
The first trimester covers weeks 1 - 13 and is a period of major development for the woman and the fetus. While the baby bump may not be visible yet, the woman’s body goes through drastic hormonal changes. During this time, the uterus begins to support the growth of the placenta and the fetus, as the pregnant woman’s body adds to its blood supply to carry oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby.
These changes may be accompanied with/by pregnancy symptoms including fatigue, morning sickness, headaches, and constipation. It is essential for the expectant mom to have an appointment with a healthcare professional to begin caring for the developing fetus.
In addition, it is also important for moms-to-be to start taking prenatal vitamins such as folic acid during the first trimester. In fact, even before pregnancy, folic acid can already start doing its job of supporting the baby’s development. This essential nutrient plays a pivotal role in the formation of the baby’s neural tube, which is the structure that forms in the first month of life that eventually becomes the baby’s spinal cord and brain.
The second trimester, for many women, is arguably the most comfortable three months of pregnancy. Symptoms often experienced in the first trimester (like morning sickness) will usually subside or stop completely during this period. Expectant moms can take this time to start planning for the baby's arrival.
While this period is relatively easier compared to the first trimester, big changes are still taking place inside the body. For instance, pregnant women might start to experience abdominal aches because of the growing uterus and the stretching of the surrounding ligaments.
The baby’s organs will already be fully developed during the second trimester. It can also start to hear and swallow, and its small hairs will become noticeable. Later in the second trimester, pregnant women might start to feel the baby's first movements.
Expecting moms can already visit a healthcare professional to determine whether their baby is a boy or girl. However, this decision is entirely their own.
The third trimester begins in week 28 of pregnancy and will last until the expectant mom gives birth, which may be around week 40. This period marks the home stretch, as the pregnant woman prepares herself for the delivery of her baby.
The third trimester can also be challenging as the emotional and physical exhaustion during the first trimester comes back, which are mostly due to the increasing size and weight of the baby. As the baby continues to grow, his or her movements will become more obvious and are often accompanied by increasing discomfort and symptoms, such as shortness of breath, constant urination, and itchy skin, among others.
Having medical check-ups and screening tests are necessary to make sure that the expectant mom and the baby are both healthy during this time. It is important to discuss with the healthcare professional any issues the expectant mothers may have concerning their health and physical condition to see if there are any risks or complications during pregnancy.
While expectant moms can benefit from having check-ups, taking prenatal vitamins and eating healthy, it is also important to choose the right maternal milk to support their babies’ development.
Pregnancy is a beautiful and amazing time in a woman’s life. It is one of the most unique and special types of bonding, one can ever have with their baby. Creating, growing, and giving birth to another life is not an easy feat thus, it is encouraged to begin with smart choices today that can lead to the baby’s brighter tomorrow.
By: Christia S. Padolina, M.D.
1 Aptaclub.co.uk. (2018). Folic Acid in Pregnancy During Your First Trimester – Aptaclub. [online] Available at: https://www.aptaclub.co.uk/article/focus-on-folic-acid [Accessed 1 Aug. 2018].
2MedicineNet. (2018). Pregnancy: Read About Prenatal Care and Tests. [online] Available at: https://www.medicinenet.com/pregnancy_prenatal_care_and_tests/article.h… [Accessed 27 Mar. 2018].