Pregnancy is one of the most incredible experiences of a woman’s life. Besides the changes which occur in the womb almost daily, the body of a woman undergoes many changes to accommodate the growing baby.
The first weeks
After conception, no physical changes are noticed but the pregnant mom will experience a number of symptoms. Those who have not planned the pregnancy may tend to ignore the symptoms or pass them off as stress or overworking. The initial symptoms of pregnancy include tender breasts, tiredness, and slight nausea. After the third week, the nausea may become more severe, especially in the morning and early evening. By the fourth week, breasts will seem bigger and breast tenderness will increase.
The second month
By this time, the expectant moms will notice slight weight gain, especially around the hips. Breasts become firmer and the -baby bump’ becomes noticeable. Regular clothing fits a little snugly.
The third month
Once the second month of pregnancy is over, progesterone and oestrogen levels are four times higher than usual, this causes major mood changes and adverts on TV (especially ones with puppies or babies) bring tears to the soon-to-be mom’s eyes. Dads – by the third month, the elevated hormones will start the dreaded food cravings and this may result in getting up at two in the morning to hunt for pickled onions and ice-cream. Energy levels are at an all-time low!
The fourth month
The -baby bump’ becomes more defined and if anyone had doubts – their suspicions will be confirmed by the fourth month. The way in which each woman shows will differ. Morning sickness will usually stop (thank goodness) by the second trimester and the expectant mom will start to feel that she has a lot more energy. Weight gain will be small even at this stage, but a change the body’s hormones may lead to aching joints and skin problems. The muscles in the abdomen may feel tender as they stretch to accommodate the growing life inside the womb.
The fifth month
This month is often referred to the -feel-good month’. The baby’s first movements (the first flutters of life) are experienced, much to the joy of the mom and dad. Energy levels are high and the pregnant mom is in good spirits. On the downside, with the volume of blood increasing rapidly during the second trimester, light-headedness or dizziness is common and moms should not sit up or get up too quickly, this will ensure that rapid blood loss to the brain is kept to a minimum. With energy so high and mom feeling so well, couples should arrange a pre-baby break during this month, as the bump will still not be too big to cause too much discomfort.
The sixth month
The breasts will go through a number of changes in the sixth month of pregnancy. The areola will darken and expand – though this may happen slightly earlier than the sixth month. The darkening of the areola will continue throughout the remaining months of pregnancy. Women may also start to notice that colostrum (the first milk) leaks from their breasts and the Montgomery glands, which are situated next to the nipples, become enlarged. With the increased volume of that is blood circulating through the body, the soon to be mom’s skin takes on a healthy -glow’ – the glow of pregnancy. However, nails and hair may become brittle and thus expecting moms must ensure that the prescribed pregnancy vitamins and supplements are taken and that they enjoy a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables! Blood pressure could drop slightly during the second trimester of pregnancy but usually it returns to normal during the last few months.
The seventh month
The growing baby puts pressure on the mom’s internal organs, such as the lungs, liver and digestive tracts. These organs are squeezed and move upward. Urination becomes more frequent as the now- very-noticeable -baby bump’ puts more pressure on the bladder. Constipation is another issue, and again, to avoid this, the expecting mom must eat foods high in fibre and drink enough water. Pink or reddish stretch marks can form due to the stretching of the skin. Use bio-oil to reduce the appearance of the stretch marks.
Almost there… the eighth month of pregnancy
By the eighth month, moms feel drained. Sleeping becomes a problem as trying to find a comfortable position is difficult. A lot of moms may start having nightmares about the birth! The baby which is almost full term is causing mom to suffer from back aches and leg pains. Shortness of breath is usual at this time, as the lungs are restricted by the growing baby. At this time, moms may start a phase called -nesting’. As the term suggests, moms may hurry around the home, ensuring that their home is ready to welcome home their new baby. Partners will need to be extra helpful during this time, as moms will be physically and emotionally drained and they will need additional support. Besides the insomnia, weight gain, and back ache, the feet, ankles and hands could swell.
In the ninth month
By the time the pregnancy is in the ninth month, the baby is fully formed and developed and the last two weeks of the month will be used for weight gain. The baby will move less, as the space is limited, however occasional kicks and jabs will still be felt throughout the day. Many babies may actually suffer from hiccups in the womb – this is perfectly natural and the mom will instantly recognise the strange sounds and movements coming from the womb to be hiccups.
To prepare moms for the upcoming labour, -Braxton Hicks’ contractions will become more regular. Closer to the due date, mom will rejoice when -lightning’ occurs, and this happens when the baby drops and she is able to breath and less pressure is on her internal organs, however in the birth position, the pelvic bones and inner thighs may start to ache.
The changes may be vast and uncomfortable but usually pregnant moms are high on life and look forward to meeting their new son or daughter with each passing month. Enjoy your 40 week journey and keep a photograph journal of your growing -baby bump’!
– Kathy Baron