Some calendars start at conception, while others start two weeks before. Some calendars go to 40, while others go to 42 weeks. Zliving’s Pregnancy Guide, as most doctors recommend, begins at the first day of your final menstrual cycle, which is usually about two weeks before the actual date of conception.
Even if you have an irregular period, finding out the exact date, and in turn your due date is important for a number of reasons. First, it’s important to know when your baby is scheduled to be born. And your pregnancy dating will help inform the obstetrician whether your pregnancy is healthy, and the baby is growing normally.
Generally it is considered that a pregnancy needs nine months to fully develop. But since very few women get to know with precision the exact moment of conception, the duration of pregnancy is calculated from the first day of the last menstruation up to the 280th day. The delivery date might be several weeks sooner or later than the 280th day which is normal. Doctors say that a healthy pregnancy can last between 260 and 290 days. So, in order to find the answer for the question “How far along am I?” it is enough to know the day when your last menstruation started and then to count the days until now.
In pregnancy trimesters differ in length. The first 12 weeks since conception make up the first trimester, the second trimester ends on the 28th week and the third one includes the rest of the pregnancy.
First month of pregnancy: In the first month of pregnancy you may not feel or look pregnant at all. However the excess pregnancy hormones (human chorionic gonadotrophin, progesterone, estrogen, and others) begin to act up and favor sudden changes of mood, decreased libido, increased food appetite, intense sense of smell and aversions to some odors and tastes. At the end of the first month of pregnancy, which is six weeks after the last menstruation, you will most probably feel tired, nauseated, sore and swollen breasts, with dilated veins and tingling in the nipples. Slight bleeding may occur after the implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterus.
Second month of pregnancy (5th week to 8th week): Morning sickness, which can occur at any point of the day, increases this morn as your pregnancy hormones ramp up. Increased salivation, thirst, frequent urination, abdominal bloating, constipation, itchy skin and sleep disorders sometimes associated with dizziness and fatigue can be frustrating, but they are all signs of a healthy pregnancy. Your vulva and vagina may turn deep red, even purplish and the volume of vaginal secretions increases.
Third month of pregnancy (9th week to 12th week): By the third month of pregnancy, your body will have adjusted to new hormones, and you may find your symptoms begin to improve. Although you may not show yet, you may find that your nausea and fatigue start to disappear. And you’ll get your first ultrasound, called the dating ultrasound, at 10 to 16 weeks (usually at 12 weeks). This can be a magical time in the pregnancy, as you are able to hear your baby’s heart beat for the first time. You can expect to hear the sound of galloping horses, as the heart of your baby beats twice as fast as yours.
Fourth month of pregnancy (13th week to 16th week): In the fourth month you will begin to regain your old vitality and energy. This is one of the calmest times in the pregnancy as your body has adjusted to your growing pregnancy hormones (pregnancy hormones increase throughout the pregnancy), and your mood swings have calmed down. You will start to look pregnant and may feel your baby move for the first time. If you want to know your baby’s sex, you can probably find out this month via ultrasound.
Fifth month of pregnancy (17th week to 20th week): Expect a lot of kicking in the fifth month – your baby’s arms and legs can reach the uterus walls. As your baby gains strength, so do her kicks and punches, which might feel like sharp pokes. From the 5th month of pregnancy, your baby begins to gain weight because of fat deposits. His or her body is preparing for the difficult birth process, and fat is needed for protection. And your body begins preparation for breast-feeding with the secretion of colostrum. The colostrum, sometimes called “first milk” is a normal breast secretion, and it will become more abundant in the next months.
Sixth month of pregnancy (21st week to 25th week): The movements of your baby will be a constant presence, and you may find them waking you up at night. Your weight is ramping up, at a rate of about one pound per week. Your uterus’s size can put pressure on your lower ribs and cause you pain. That is why it is recommended to sleep on the left side, facilitating the blood flow and helping your baby gain plenty of oxygen. As your baby grows, you may find that your central abdominal muscles stretch, which can feel like ‘tearing’ or ‘splitting’. While uncomfortable, don’t panic, they will return to their original position after birth.
Seventh month of pregnancy (26th week to 30th week): You may find your face is rounder and fluffier as the pounds pile on. And you may feel more lower abdominal pain, as the ligaments supporting the uterus become more stretched. Any digestive problems such as constipation, flatulence or bloating will likely continue. You’re carrying a lot more blood – about 45 % more – so your heart has to work harder. Try and make time for exercise – it will help with the edema and the fatigue.
Eight month of pregnancy (31st week to 35th week): You may find your Braxton-Hicks contractions increasing this month, as the body prepares for birth. And you may find that you are running the toilet in what seems like every 30 seconds as your uterus pushes on your bladder. Keep practicing your Kegels this month – they will help with bladder control and post-birth recovery. This is also a good month to prepare the birthing plan.
Ninth month of pregnancy (36th week to 40th week): This month you will visit your obstetrician every week to examine the position of your baby. It’s worth looking into the difference between real contractions, Braxton Hicks and false labor, covered in Z Living’s pregnancy guide. Try not to fly this month – it is not recommended by doctors, and many airlines may refuse you on the plane.
Now that you briefly know what to expect during the nine months of pregnancy, why not start by taking care of yourself? Your mental and physical health are key to an enjoyable and healthy pregnancy. By practicing good nutrition and exercise, albeit with pregnancy modifications depending on the stage of pregnancy, you will ensure that you are in the best shape for a relaxing and enjoyable pregnancy. Be good to yourself – you and your baby deserve it.
Week-By-Week Guide To Pregnancy