Trimester by Trimester: Pregnancy at a Glance
Few things will throw your body and mind for a loop like pregnancy. And considering you’re growing a brand-new human from seemingly nothing, it makes sense that things will seem intense and crazy. Navigating through nine months (okay, it’s 10) of random aches, pains, cravings and emotions isn’t a walk in the park, but if you can acquire a basic understanding of what’s to come, the transitions through pregnancy will be less intimidating. Let us take you through this journey, symptom by symptom, trimester by trimester. Don’t be scared—the end result is the greatest gift you’ll ever receive.
Ask 20 women what symptoms told them they were pregnant and you will get 20 completely different answers. The way a woman discovers she’s pregnant can vary from super sore breasts to a metallic taste in her mouth, so it’s hard to nail down particulars. Ultimately, once the pregnancy has been established, the symptoms tend to lean a little more collective. Your uterus is supporting the growth of the placenta, and with that, your body adds blood supply. The increase in blood can cause a range of symptoms, including fatigue, headaches and every woman’s fave: nausea (most commonly known as morning sickness). By far the most frequent symptom, nausea is also something over which you often can gain a semblance of control. Always have small snacks at hand (almonds, crackers) and never, ever, ever skip a meal. Also, be sure to stay hydrated and avoid caffeine. At this early stage in the game, risk for miscarriage is at its highest, so be sure you’re taking a prenatal vitamin and eliminating alcohol.
In other symptom news, to your absolute joy or utter dismay, your breasts will probably start to swell at least a cup size, and you may even experience intense tenderness and itchiness on your nipples. Fun! Lastly, two of the seemingly inescapable symptoms of pregnancy in the first trimester are sleepiness and emotions that seem out of control. Your body is starting on a very long, very exciting journey and is dedicating every available resource it has to keeping your baby healthy and on the right track. So lie down, take naps and keep the ginger ale on standby.
Many women recall the second trimester as the most relatively comfortable and relaxing portion of the pregnancy. It’s a time when nausea occurrences subside and energy levels surge. This trimester also tends to coincide with the “safe zone” of announcing the pregnancy, so the joy of telling everyone why you’ve been such a hungry grump is a catharsis as well. In your second trimester, weight gain likely will become more obvious, so you can enjoy showing off the early bump and investing in maternity jeans—which were created by angels.
Despite the joyous side of the second trimester, the downside symptoms are still going to try to spoil your fun. Expect to feel an uptick in leg cramps, heartburn and back pain as the pressure from the baby affects blood flow and pinches nerves. Nausea still may stick around, but more than likely the weird tummy sensation you will experience is the baby starting to move! Although the first few kicks are monumental, don’t be surprised if the novelty wears off and you start silently wishing your baby would just-hold-still. This is due largely to the fact that your little nugget may want to start a dance party right when your head hits the pillow. Ce la vie!
It’s down to business now. The third trimester is a culmination of the first two trimesters’ symptoms with these added cherries on top: swollen feet, tummy and thigh stretch marks and maybe a little visit from uncomfortable buggers called hemorrhoids. You might also find yourself Googling “how do I sleep at 36 weeks pregnant” because lying on your back makes you choke and lying on your stomach would cause your head to float two feet off of the pillow. The third trimester also can cause a kick-in of back pain because you’re carrying around 25 pounds of extra baggage, as well as shortness of breath and Braxton Hicks contractions. We won’t lie—the final month of pregnancy can feel hellish and may seem never-ending. But know and believe that sooner or later, your little misery maker will decide she’s had quite enough and wants to meet you in person. Whether that happens through a natural childbirth, an epidural birth or a cesarean section, know that you will come out the other side with a little miracle that you will love more than anything you could ever imagine. You also will wonder, “How did that thing fit inside of me?”
Congrats! You made it through this 40-week litmus test and you’re a parent! Now the fun really begins…
Fun & Creative Ways for Dealing with Pregnancy:
- Take a day (or two) off. You’re saving all your days off for after delivery, but trust us, give yourself some time during pregnancy to really enjoy the days before Baby arrives.
- Take a nap or go to bed early. Don’t be a martyr. If you’re tired at 6:00, go to bed at 6:00. You can’t rest enough when your baby is cookin’.
- Embrace the bubbles. You can’t have caffeine, so skip the soda. Try a fun alternative like La Croix sparkling water. The fresh flavors are tasty, and the bubbles might even help soothe your stomach.
- Go to a movie at the theater. You’re going to be watching a lot of talking animal cartoons over the next 10 years. Watch a thriller with popcorn and extra butter while you still can.
- Get a mani/pedi. Treat yourself. Really. In a few months your life will be wrapped up in another human being. So take care of you for now. You deserve it.
Kim Antisdel is a freelance writer and interior design sales rep for KC. She lives in Liberty with her husband, stepdaughters and toddler son.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.
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