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Pregnancy: What You Should Know About Each Trimester
Congratulations, you're pregnant! Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. Knowing what to expect during the three trimesters of pregnancy will help you have peace of mind.
First things first, how long is a "normal" full-time pregnancy? A full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks and can range from 37 to 42 weeks. It's divided into three trimesters, and each trimester lasts between 12 and 14 weeks or about three months. As you may be experiencing personally or possibly witnessed from a family member or friend, each trimester of pregnancy comes with its own specific hormonal and physiological changes. Being aware of how your growing baby affects your body will help you better prepare yourself for these changes as they happen. It's also helpful to be mindful of the specific risk factors and associated medical tests for each trimester. If you're feeling nervous or anxious, don't worry. You're not the only one. A lot of this anxiety comes from the unknown, so the more you know, the better you will feel! Here you will learn all about the different phases of pregnancy and what to expect.
Your First Trimester, 0 to 13 Weeks
Your first trimester is the most crucial to your baby's development. Although you may not look pregnant, your body is going through some significant changes as it accommodates your growing baby. These changes often cause several symptoms like morning sickness, fatigue, headaches, and constipation. These are common symptoms, but it's important to know that every woman is different, so every woman experience symptoms differently. Some may experience an increased energy level, while others may feel very tired and emotional during the first pregnancy stage. During this period is when your baby's body structure and organ systems develop. This is why it's crucial to maintain a healthy diet, including adding a sufficient amount of folic acid to your diet to prevent neural tube defects. Your first appointment with your OB/GYN will take place at about 6-8 weeks after your last menstrual period. Your doctor will confirm your pregnancy with another urine test or blood test. Your doctor will also perform an ultrasound to ensure that the baby has a heartbeat and check on the baby's health. In some instances, your doctor will order a blood panel to check your immunity, nutritional levels, and indicators of the baby's health. Another vital factor to know during the first trimester is the risk of miscarriage. During this time, the risk can be significant, so if you're taking your prenatal vitamins and avoiding harmful substances, then you are on the right track to lowering your risk of miscarriage and having a healthy pregnancy. Some doctors advocate for cutting out caffeine. The thought of going nine months without your daily cup of joe can be scary. But on the bright side, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says moderate consumption (i.e., less than 200mg/day) is okay. Additionally, you should avoid eating any deli meat and shellfish while pregnant, especially during the first trimester. Some believe that these dietary changes help decrease the chances of miscarriage even further and help you stay healthy. Be sure to speak with your doctor about any specific dietary changes that you may need. You know your body best. Remember, the most important thing you can do for your baby is to be honest, have open communication with your doctor about your choices, and always follow their advice. The last thing to note is that this is an excellent time to think about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, parenting classes, and registering for those in your community or online.
Your Second Trimester, 14 to 26 Weeks
Your second trimester is typically the most comfortable period for the majority of pregnant people. Some even call it the "golden period" because many of the unpleasant effects of early pregnancy disappear. You will likely experience a decrease in nausea, a surge in energy levels, and a more restful night's sleep. However, a new trimester brings some new symptoms to get accustomed to, like leg cramps, heartburn, and a bigger appetite. Try working on gaining the amount of weight recommended by your doctor. Be sure to walk, choose healthy foods, and talk to your doctor about weight gain at each visit. It is also when your abdomen will start to look pregnant. Cue the baby bump photos! Now is a good time to invest in some maternity wear and avoiding any restrictive clothing. The second trimester is when you can, if you feel up to it, of course, share the good news with friends and family! Some other exciting moments happen somewhere between 16 and 20 weeks when most pregnant people can feel their baby's first fluttering movements! Your baby can now hear and recognize your voice during the second trimester, so always talk to your baby and let them know who you are. Your doctor may perform some screening tests during this time as well. Go over your medical history, family health history, or genetic issues that could put either you or your baby at risk. When you're at about 18-22 weeks, an anatomy ultrasound might be performed, which scans parts of the baby's body to measure and assess the body parts (heart, lungs, kidney, brain) to ensure everything is functioning correctly. Another fun part of the anatomy scan is finding out the sex of your baby (aka time for a gender reveal party)! Your doctor may also test for gestational diabetes, which can be detected once you are between weeks 26 and 28. If your family has a history of diabetes or have risk factors for developing diabetes, you may be tested earlier. That's why it's so important to inform your doctor of your health history, as well as your family's!
Your Third Trimester, 27 to 40 Weeks
The final stretch! You reached the last leg of pregnancy and are probably feeling very excited and anxious about the birth of your newborn. This is when you'll start seeing your doctor more often for a few different reasons:
- Regularly test your urine for protein.
- Check your blood pressure.
- Listen to the fetal heart rate.
- Measure your fundal height (approximate length of the uterus).
- Check for swelling in your hands and legs.
You may feel some physical symptoms like shortness of breath, hemorrhoids, urinary incontinence, varicose veins, and sleeping problems. Many of these symptoms listed result from the increase in the size of your uterus. Your doctor will determine your baby's position and check your cervix to monitor how your body prepares for birth. Somewhere between 36 and 37 weeks is when you will be screened for bacteria called group B streptococcus. Group B strep (GBS) can pose a severe threat to newborn babies if it's passed to them during delivery. If you are tested GBS positive, you will receive antibiotics in labor to prevent the baby from getting it. Next up is travel restrictions. Restricted travel takes effect during the third trimester. You are advised to stay relatively close in proximity to your doctor or midwife in case you go into early labor. Typically, cruise ships will not allow women that are over 28 weeks pregnant to board. However, airlines do let pregnant women fly, but we recommend you do so only with your doctor's permission. Your third trimester is a good time to educate yourself about labor and delivery! Study up and prepare yourself. Take some time to enroll in a childbirth class. These classes are designed to get you and your partner ready for labor and delivery. It's also a great way to learn about the different stages of labor and delivery options. Plus, it allows you to ask any questions or voice any concerns to a trained childbirth instructor.
Your Due Date
The time has finally come! As mentioned above, a full-term pregnancy can last anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks. Know that your due date is really just an estimated date of delivery or EDD. This is dated from the first day of your last period. The dating system works well for women who have relatively regular menstrual cycles. But for those who have irregular periods, this system may not work. So if the date of your last menstrual period is uncertain, other methods may be needed to determine the EDD. If that's the case, the most accurate way of determining your due date is by getting an ultrasound in your first trimester. Be sure to ask any questions and discuss current COVID-19 guidelines and safety procedures with your doctor and local hospital to know what to expect regarding arrival/stay at the hospital, testing if needed, visitors, etc.
Pregnancy is a time unlike any other, that's for sure. It's extremely important to get a doctor you know and trust and regularly see your doctor to ensure your baby's best outcome. By taking your prenatal vitamins, attending every scheduled doctor's appointment, and undergoing all the recommended tests, you are doing everything you can to give your newborn baby a healthy start!
Each stage in a woman's life brings unique changes. That's why CCP is here to guide you through these milestones. We can provide you quality women's care services throughout the generations. CCP brings together physicians specializing in obstetrics and gynecological care in convenient locations across the Capital Region.
Albany Family Medicine offers family-centered obstetric care right in Albany in the heart of the Capital Region. Our physicians at Albany Family Medicine provide you with comprehensive obstetrical and family medicine care and deliver babies at Albany Medical Center, which offers a high level of care for maternity and newborn. As a family medicine practice, the physician you choose to deliver your baby and care for you throughout your pregnancy can also care for your newborn, since this practice provides primary care for all ages. Learn more about Albany Family Medicine.
Community Care Obstetrics/Gynecology and Midwifery physicians and certified nurse midwives, assisted by our caring clerical and clinician staff, collaborate to provide our patients' best care. The office is conveniently located in the Capital Region Health Park in Latham. Community Care OB/GYN and Midwifery is centered on our patients and strives to provide a relaxed, caring, and comforting environment for you. When you are a patient here, you are treated like family. Learn more about the practice on their website. If you have any questions or are interested in becoming a patient, please call the office directly.
Capital Region Women's Care has multiple offices for your convenience in Troy, Clifton Park, and Delmar. The Troy location of Capital Region Women's Care also offers women's imaging services and many in-office procedures eliminating the need for a hospital visit. Capital Region Women's Care provides a unique collaboration between physicians and midlevel providers, which allows for individualized care to meet your specific needs. We take great pride in our training, clinical ability, and dedication to patient care! Our providers are partners in your healthcare. We will walk you through each appointment and address each question you have. Browse through their website for additional information about the practice. Please call the office with any questions or to schedule an appointment.
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