Stages of Pregnancy- Emotional and Physical changes in a woman
Who is she that looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? - A woman Of course- (Ref: Song of Solomon 6:10)
A woman goes through tons of changes in her body, especially when she is pregnant. The feeling of the new life developing inside her is an experience that she would cherish all her life even if she is not in the best of her health. Pregnancy is very different for each woman. It is a long journey with a lot of hiccups along the way. Some of the symptoms or discomforts would last for days, weeks or even months. A typical pregnancy will last for 40 weeks and is divided into three stages first, second and the third trimester. Each trimester brings about changes in the body, primarily because the foetus is developing differently in each of these trimesters.
Conception, Implantation and the First Trimester – Week 1-12
Conception to the 12th week of pregnancy is categorised as the first trimester. A woman may experience a lot of changes/symptoms during this period as the body goes through a host of hormonal changes. Though there are no changes in the physical appearance of a woman per say, inside the body there are plenty.
A woman will also feel more exhausted than the usual during the first trimester, as there is a sudden increase in the hormone called progesterone. This hormone makes a woman feel sleepy and she may also feel the need to urinate more frequently. Many parts of the body work harder during this period including the heart. The heart needs to pump more blood to support the foetus.
Increase in blood circulation also gives a woman that pregnancy glow. Besides these changes there might also be emotional lows and highs like mood swings and anxiety. Interestingly after the eight weeks, until the birth occurs a developing baby is called a foetus. After conception the embryo is about a size of a pea, around the second month it grows to be the size of a kidney bean. At about 8-10 weeks main organs start to form. It is also the period when most of the miscarriages occur. During the third month muscles and bones start to grow, fingers and toes grow, the intestines begin to form.
The Second Trimester- Week 13-27
This trimester brings about a lot of physical changes in the body of a woman. Good news being a lot of early pregnancy symptoms now disappear or lessen. The body now starts to adapt to the hormonal changes and hence the energy levels increase. The pelvic now begins to feel a little heavier as the foetus grows. The baby bump at this stage is more visible as a woman gains pregnancy weight.
In the second trimester the expanding belly starts to itch as it stretches. Some woman may have back pain as the stomach expands. It is in the 16th or 18th week of the pregnancy that the woman feels the fluttering of the baby. So, the baby now is kicking and turning. After the 20th week, when the woman is halfway through the pregnancy, a woman is in the best of the health and may take a short vacation. In the second trimester eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails, and neck form. The arms and legs begin to bend, the foetus starts producing urine, the kidney also starts working at this stage. By the sixth month eyes begin to open, hair grows, and the brain is developing too.
The Third Trimester- Week 28-40
A woman’s uterus is now enlarged and pushing towards the diaphragm and so, she might find difficulty in breathing. She might want to pee more frequently as the pressure on her bladder now increases. Backaches, hips and pain in the pelvis now rise as the body gets ready for delivery. At this stage, stretch marks are more apparent. False labour begins to appear as she gets closer to the due date. Sleeping in a comfortable position is now a dream and so she might feel tired.
By the beginning of the seventh month, the foetus responds to music, light and sound. During the eight-month the foetus gains weight rapidly, bones become stronger, but the skull is still soft to make delivery easier. The foetus in the night month is getting ready by turning the head down. A woman who does not start natural labour by the end of 42 weeks is often induced labour.
All in all, it is the most beautiful feeling and a period of pampering and enjoying. Eating healthy throughout the pregnancy is essential for the growth and development of the foetus. As it is beautifully said, “Everything changes, but you are more you than you have ever been.”