- Pregnancy Test
- First Trimester
- Second Trimester
- Third Trimester
- Due Date
Pregnancy can be an exciting journey. There is so much that changes and goes on during this time. And, in the end, you get to become a mother. However, this can be an overwhelming time too, especially for first-time mothers, as you can have many questions in your mind. From what you should do and what you should not, what you should eat and avoid, to how to manage pregnancy-related symptoms, it can be a confusing time. The timeline is also extremely important. When should you take the pregnancy test, what is the week-wise breakout of the trimesters and what to expect during that time, and how to calculate your due date -- these are crucial questions, whose answers you must know. Here are all of these questions answered.
What Are The Symptoms Of Pregnancy?
When you get pregnant, you experience certain symptoms. Some of those symptoms are displayed even before you take a pregnancy test, while others appear as your hormones change. Here are some such symptoms:
- Missed Period: It’s generally the first pregnancy symptom. However, you can miss your period due to other reasons as well, such as if you suffer from PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), if you are on certain medication, or due to a poor diet and lack of physical exercise.
- Vomiting And Nausea: These comprise the ‘morning sickness’, which is common during the first four months you are pregnant. This largely happens due to pregnancy-induced hormonal changes.
- Headache: This is common during the early part of pregnancy and happens due to altered hormones.
- Spotting: Most women experience light bleeding or spotting in early pregnancy, especially during the first one or two weeks. This happens as the fertilised egg gets implanted into the uterus. However, this can also be a sign of something serious, such as a miscarriage, placenta previa, or ectopic pregnancy.
- Tender And Swollen Breasts: Many changes happen in your breast early in pregnancy. They get tender, swollen, or full, nipples become sensitive, and the veins darker. You might experience some of these changes even before you take the pregnancy test.
- Weight Gain
- Cramps: Many women experience abdominal pain, similar to menstrual cramps during pregnancy. This results from the stretching and expansion of the uterus.
When To Take The Pregnancy Test?
A missed period is generally seen as the first sign of pregnancy. However, you should not rush to take the test as soon as you miss your period, as there could be other reasons as well. You should wait for at least a week. This also lowers the chance of a false negative. A false negative means that even though you are pregnant, the pregnancy test resort shows otherwise. This is because when you take the test, it checks the presence of a hormone, called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), in your body. During the first few days of pregnancy, the quantity of this hormone can be low, resulting in a false negative.
You can take the test either at home or at a clinic. If you are opting for the latter, other than the normal urine test, you can also undergo a blood test, which is more accurate and quicker. A home pregnancy test is another option, which is being availed by more and more women nowadays.
You can get a home pregnancy kit at any medical shop without any prescription. It largely comes with a dipstick, and some also contain a collection cup. You need to pee in the cup and place the cup in it. Some kits require you to pee in the cup. After that, wait for a few minutes for it to display the result. If it comes out to be positive, it means you are pregnant and should see a doctor immediately.
The initial phase of pregnancy, the first trimester spans from the first to the twelfth week. It begins on the first day after you miss your last period, i.e. even before you take the pregnancy test. Rapid and major changes occur in you and your baby during these first three months.
What Happens To You
The first trimester, just like the whole pregnancy, is different for every woman. Some sail through it, while some have a hard time. If you are confused over what to expect initially, here is what you might experience in the first trimester:
- Light Bleeding: Many women have light bleeding or spotting in the initial phase of pregnancy. This is a sign of the implantation of fertilised egg in the uterus. However, if you have heavy bleeding along with intense abdominal cramps, you must see your doctor, as this could be a sign of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
- Breast Changes: During pregnancy, your breasts get enlarged, sore, and tender. This is because the milk ducts are getting ready to feed the baby.
- Discharge: Thin, milky white discharge, called leukorrhea, is common during early pregnancy.
- Frequent Urination: During the first trimester, your baby is still small. However, the enlarged uterus puts pressure on the bladder, which explains the frequent bathroom trips. You should not reduce your fluid intake to prevent that. However, you can cut back on caffeine, which stimulates the bladder, and makes you pee often.
- Fatigue: As a baby is growing inside you, and your body is working hard to support that, you might get tired more often than usual. It is good to nap and rest frequently, or when needed.
- Vomiting & Nausea: As your hormones change, it can cause nausea and vomiting, or in other words, ‘morning sickness’. It is quite common and over 80% of women experience that. Although it’s nothing to worry about, if it gets severe, you must see the doctor, as it might lower the nutrition for the baby.
- Mood Swings: As your hormones change, and you get tired often, it can have an impact on your emotions. In fact, you can switch from a moment of elation to that of despair in a few moments. There is no need to worry, as most women go through it. Pouring your heart out to someone might help. That someone can be your partner, a family member, or a friend.
- Food - Craving & Aversion: Craving for food or aversion to the same are also common during pregnancy. In fact, you can crave food that earlier you didn’t like, or averse to those, which you loved before pregnancy. Giving up on your cravings sometimes is fine, as long as most of your diet comprises healthy foods.
- Weight Gain: As you carry another human being inside you, it is understandable that you gain weight during pregnancy. During the first three months, you can gain somewhere between 2 to 3.5 kilograms.
What Happens To The Baby?
In the first trimester, your baby changes from a fertilised egg to a full-grown fetus. Here are the changes that happen to a baby during the first three months:
- The placenta, amniotic sac, and placenta develop.
- The heart develops, and you can even hear the heartbeat during an ultrasound.
- The baby’s digestive system develops.
- The nervous system develops.
- Other major organs, such as the lungs, start to take shape.
- A soft skeleton starts to develop.
- Major body parts such as arms, fingers, legs, eyes, ears, nose develop.
- The baby moves, however, you cannot feel it.
- The baby’s genitals start to develop. However, it is still soon, and the sex cannot be determined during the ultrasound.
After the roller coaster of the first three months, the second trimester lasts from week 13 to 28 and is often the smoothest time for most women. The morning goes away and you get your energy back. However, your baby grows fast, and you will see major changes in your body, such as you’ll have a baby bump, you can feel your child moving.
What Happens To You
- Abdominal Pain: As your uterus expands, you might experience some abdominal aches and pains.
- Backache: The weight gain puts pressure on your back, leading to backache.
- False Labour: Braxton-Hicks contractions, or false labour, can be experienced during the second trimester. These are irregular, less severe, and result from the contraction in uterus muscles. These should not be mistaken for real labour, but can be used to prepare for the real one.
- Breast Changes: Your breasts don’t feel tender as they did during the first trimester. However, they still continue to grow, as your milk ducts develop to feed the baby.
- Vaginal discharge, frequent urination that you experience in the first trimester, also happens in the second one.
What Happens To The Baby?
- During the second trimester, the baby grows rapidly. Here are the changes that occur:
- The brain continues to develop.
- The baby’s lungs get fully developed, but not so much so as to breathe.
- The legs get developed, and the baby can kick, turn around, and move in your belly.
- The baby can hear your voice.
- Eyes develop, the baby can open and close the eyelids. Even the eyelashes and eyebrows develop.
- Starting in this period, the baby sleeps as per the normal sleep cycle.
- The baby’s hair grows.
The final leg, the third trimester of your pregnancy lasts from week 29 to 30. During this time, the baby develops fully and starts to take the position for birth.
What Happens To You
- You will experience Braxton Hicks contractions or false labour.
- You will continue to have backache, frequent urination, during the third trimester.
What Happens To The Baby
- The eyes develop see and your baby can see.
- He/she can hear, smile, cry and suck the thumb.
- The baby’s vital organs, such as the lungs, kidneys, heart, liver continue to grow and develop fully.
- In the 36th week, the baby’s head starts taking a position in the pelvic area, and the baby remains in that downward position for taking birth.
How To Calculate Your Due Date?
The exact date on which you are expected to start experiencing labour is called the due date. However, chances are you might not actually start experiencing labour on that day. In fact, just 5% of women actually give birth on their due date. Most go into labour at least two weeks before or after their due date. Your doctor will tell you your due date. You can also calculate it with the help of several due date calculators available online.
Pregnancy is an exciting, yet critical time, during which you should take utmost care of yourself. Have a balanced diet, exercise well, take all the care and precautions, and focus on your mental health.