We’ve all heard about ‘The Birds and the Bees’ and how babies are made, but what actually happens once the bun is baking in the oven? During pregnancy, a woman’s body changes more than any other time in her life to create and support the growth of her baby before it is born. But what really changes? And why? Let’s jump into it..
How long is pregnancy and what happens during each important phase?
Pregnancy usually lasts about 40 weeks and is generally split into 3 trimesters. Let’s dive into what happens during each phase!
The First Trimester
During the First Trimester, your body is preparing to grow a baby. One of the most important things that happens early on in the first trimester is that your body starts to develop the placenta. The placenta is an organ that develops in your uterus to provide your baby with nutrients and oxygen, and to remove toxic waste that could be harmful to your baby as they grow. It’s likely that during this time, women may gain 1-3kgs of weight, which kind of makes sense since you’re growing a real live human inside you! Having a healthy placenta is really important for keeping the bun healthy and growing while it’s in the oven.
Here are 2 things you can do to keep your placenta healthy:
- Stay on top of pre-existing conditions: Common pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure can sometimes be dangerous for the development and health of the placenta if not managed correctly by a healthcare professional. If you suffer from any health conditions prior to pregnancy, it’s generally recommended to seek ongoing medical attention and support to prevent any unexpected complications.
- Avoid smoking and recreational drugs. A possible side effect of regular smoking during pregnancy is detachment of the placenta from the uterine wall. This is called a placental abruption and can deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients and can cause heavy bleeding for mum. In some cases, this can lead to premature delivery.
The Second Trimester
By the Second Trimester (week 13 to week 26), the baby's organs are being developed and by the end of this phase they are almost fully there! The baby can also hear and swallow and later on during this phase, the baby will start to move. For you, there is lots going on in your body. Several hormonal changes during this phase of pregnancy cause your body to react in new and different ways than usual.
Your body produces a steep rise in estrogen and progesterone which, for some women, results in an increase in melanin in your skin. Melanin is a pigment-bearing cell that makes skin, hair and eyes appear darker. Some women develop what is called melasma, or “the pregnancy mask”, darker patches of skin around their face. This is normal and usually reverts back to normal after delivery!
While for most women, the whole pregnancy journey is one that they fondly reflect on post birth, the Second Trimester is often referred to as the most enjoyable. Morning sickness and extreme tiredness usually lessens by this time, breast tenderness sometimes eases. Your bump is getting bigger but not big enough to stop you from doing most normal things unassisted. At 14 weeks, at the start of the second trimester, your baby is generally around the size of a lemon, and by 24 weeks, your baby is as long as an ear of corn!
The Third Trimester
The Third Trimester… the final sprint! By the final trimester, your body has adapted and changed so much to support the life that is growing inside it - cue round of applause! For many women, the fast approaching due date is a silver lining as the final trimester is often recounted as the most challenging one physically for you. During this time, your baby is developing some of the most important functions. Throughout this final phase, your baby is:
- Able to see and hear
- Developing it’s brain
- Maturing it’s kidneys and lungs
Your baby is growing - and quickly too! As your baby gets bigger, your body may feel more strain than usual. Here are some things you might experience:
- Feeling hot, often! The baby is radiating body heat that you absorb as it works to grow it’s final bits before birth. If this is something that happens, it’s recommended to stay away from hot flush triggers like hot drinks, tight clothing, spicy food and to closely manage stress and anxiety levels.
- During your final trimester, you may experience white coloured discharge known as leukorrhea. This is usually normal; however it is recommended to get advice from your doctor if anything about your discharge changes.
- In your final days of pregnancy, it’s normal to experience pink/brown discharge. This happens when the mucus plug in your cervix begins to disappear to open up your uterus for birth. It is important to seek medical attention if you are concerned about changes in the colour of your discharge, if you begin bleeding or if you experience discomfort or pain leading up to labour.
Check out our next blog to learn more about 5 things you didn’t know about labour!
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