Physical Changes by Trimester

What to expect in the first trimester:

You may experience:

  • Some weight gain. You may begin “to show” your pregnancy later in the trimester
  • Nausea and vomiting (especially in the morning)
  • Intense mood swings (particularly in the second month of pregnancy)
    • You may switch between feeling excited about the baby and anxious and tearful. These intense mood swings are normal, especially in early and late pregnancy
  • Fatigue/tiredness is normal during this stage of pregnancy
  • Breasts may begin to ache or grow and may even start leaking milk
  • Heartburn, bloating or constipation may occur as hormonal changes affect your digestion

The First Trimester: This is one of the most important phases for the development of the baby’s brain and vital organs. Take very good care of yourself by: eating good, nutritious food, drinking plenty of water, taking prenatal supplements, getting a lot of rest and protecting yourself from illness by sleeping under a bed net.

Remember to start antenatal care (ANC) as soon as you know you are pregnant! You should have at least eight ANC visits during your pregnancy.

What to expect in the second trimester:

You may experience:

  • Weight gain as the baby continues to grow
  • Less nausea and fewer episodes of vomiting
  • Increased energy
  • Increased appetite
  • A stuffy or running nose is common during this phase of pregnancy
  • Poor balance and feelings of unsteadiness when walking so take extra care at night and be sure not to fall
  • Some swelling of the legs and ankles Putting your feet up and reducing salt intake should reduce swelling in your feet or ankles.
    • If the swelling persists, worsens or is present in the morning go to a health center for evaluation
  • Low back pain is common. Weight gain and the growing baby may put extra strain on the lower back. Sleeping on your left side may reduce back pain caused by the weight of your growing belly

The Second Trimester: Your baby’s organs are continuing to develop and their body is growing a lot! As the baby grows and develops you may begin to feel them move. You may begin to feel the baby kick or which may feel like little pops in your belly (like someone making popcorn).

As your body experiences rapidly growth, you may develop stretch marks on your stomach and breasts. These are a normal part of pregnancy. Applying shea butter or moisture cream to stretch marks may reduce itching and lessen the appearance of stretch marks

What to expect in the third trimester:

You may experience:

  • Heartburn, constipation or indigestion
  • Hemorrhoids and varicose veins
  • Intense mood swings and emotions
  • A “nesting” impulse or drive to prepare the home for the baby
  • False contractions: early “practice contractions” (Braxton-Hick’s) may occur irregularly to begin to prepare the body for birth. These contractions are different from labor, because they do not occur in regular intervals are do not increase in intensity

If contractions occur frequently or are worsening before the end of your pregnancy, you should go to the health center

The Third Trimester: This is the period of rapid growth for your baby. Most of the weight you gain in pregnancy will occur during this time. Most of the baby’s development has occurred in the first and second trimesters, and now their body is growing and preparing for birth. The baby is fully developed at 37 weeks, which means you have reached a “full term” pregnancy.

During this trimester, your body is preparing for birth. As your date of delivery approaches you may experience:

  • Your baby “drops,” or moves into a lower position in the womb to prepare to exit. The lower position of the baby may make you feel like you waddle more and need to urinate more frequently
  • You may experience more cramping and back pain as your muscles and joints stretch and shift in preparation for birth
  • Your joints begin to feel loose as hormones make your ligaments soften and loosen in preparation for birth. This may also make you clumsy
  • You have diarrhea as the muscles in the uterus begin to relax to prepare for delivery, the muscles in your bowels and rectum will do the same. This is normal, but it is important to remember to stay hydrated.
  • You may stop gaining weight or may even lose a little weight due to lower levels of amniotic fluid. This is normal and will not harm your baby.
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