Pregnancy brings big changes with every passing week. Learn what to expect for you and baby.
During your first four weeks of pregnancy, you likely don’t even know you are pregnant. In the first two weeks, you aren’t pregnant yet, as doctors count pregnancy weeks from your last period. At the end of week 2, you ovulate, releasing the egg that eventually becomes your child. In weeks 3 and 4, the fertilized egg implants in the lining of your uterus and begins to grow rapidly into an embryo.
Toward the end of week 4, you may begin to feel some signs of pregnancy, like tender breasts or fatigue—and a missed period. You can get a positive result on a home pregnancy test during week 4.
Weeks 4 through 8 may leave you feeling very pregnant, with symptoms like:
- Tender breasts
- Peeing more often
- Food aversions
- Food cravings
You might have just a few of these symptoms or all of them. At this time, your baby is growing rapidly. Though they are still only half an inch big, they have grown the start of every major organ in their body. During week 8, you may have your first ultrasound to confirm your pregnancy and get your first peek at your baby and their tiny heartbeat.
In the next 4 weeks of pregnancy, your symptoms likely continue. You’ll see your doctor every 4 weeks for check-ups, but you can also call your doctor any time if you are concerned about your pregnancy symptoms.
Your baby, meanwhile, will grow to 2 inches in length or longer. They will grow hair follicles, fingers, toes and their digestive system. Every day, nearly every part of your baby will change.
As you move into your second trimester, you may finally get relief from pregnancy symptoms. Many women report feeling a burst of energy in their second trimester, which is exactly what you need to start getting ready for baby.Even though your nausea is gone, you might begin to feel aches and pains as your uterus expands. Even though your baby is tiny, your uterus has become much larger as it also contains the placenta and amniotic fluid. Exercise, like yoga, can help with back and hip pain. A physical therapist can also help you stretch out tight ligaments and build strength.
In this time, your baby will grow to the size of an avocado. They will be able to start making faces and even sucking their thumb.
As baby is growing, you may start to show with a tiny baby bump. You may also feel very hungry; many women gain a pound a week throughout the second trimester. During week 20, you’ll have your anatomy scan, an exciting ultrasound where you get to see your baby close up and even determine the baby’s sex if you want to know.
Your baby is having an exciting time as well, with their senses now developing. He or she can hear you and may be sensitive to light. They are also big enough that you may be feeling the first flutters of little kicks and flips.
Heartburn becomes more common as your uterus grows and your baby begins to push against your organs: including your stomach. The pressure can push food back up into your esophagus, leading to uncomfortable heartburn. Smaller meals and drinking water after meals may help stop the burn.
Your baby will be practicing for their life outside the womb, sucking and swallowing, as well as grabbing their ears and umbilical cord. As their movements become more coordinated, you may be able to see their kicking and rolling against your abdomen.
You probably feel your baby move frequently at this stage in pregnancy, including when you are trying to fall asleep. Insomnia is a common pregnancy symptom throughout pregnancy due to baby’s movements, back pain, hormones and even just anxiety about becoming a mom. You can create a bedtime routine to help ease yourself into slumber and talk to your doctor about options for improving your sleep.
Your baby’s brain and senses are changing rapidly. They can taste their amniotic fluid by sticking out their tongue. They can make faces and blink their eyes. They even begin to have dreams. You might begin to feel their hiccups as they practice breathing and developing the muscles they need in their diaphragm.
Welcome to your third trimester! Soon, you’ll be packing your hospital bag and getting ready to welcome your baby to the world. In the meantime, your rapidly growing baby may be making some pregnancy symptoms worse. Back pain, insomnia and heartburn can all get worse in the third trimester.
This is a great time to schedule a hospital tour so you’ll feel comfortable when the big day arrives. You can also take birthing classes, breastfeeding classes and infant care classes so you can start getting ready to become a mom. If you already have children, sibling classes can teach your older child how to handle their new little sibling.
Your baby, meanwhile, is starting to put the finishing touches on their important organs. Their organs are now fully formed, their skin is opaque instead of transparent and they continue to grow brain cells at a rapid pace. Though their organs are formed, every week they spend in your womb helps them have a healthier birth with stronger lungs.
At this point, you may feel like you are living large. The size of your uterus and the pressure on your abdomen may make it harder to breathe. You might also find you are clumsier as your center of gravity is thrown off and your bump, well, bumps into things.
Your little one is only getting bigger, packing on half a pound a week through the end of your pregnancy. During week 36, you may receive a growth ultrasound to check on how your baby is growing and if they are getting in position for birth. This ultrasound will help you and your doctor make plans for your baby’s delivery.
Being pregnant is magical, but at this point, you may be ready to just be done with the aches and pains. Get as much sleep as you can, pack your hospital bag and finish the nursery. Every week, you’ll see your OB/GYN to check on how you and your baby are doing. If you are still pregnant after reaching week 40 of pregnancy, you might also make plans for an induction to help baby along in entering the world.
By week 39, your baby is considered full-term! They are ready to come into the world and into your arms. It won’t be long before you’ll be stroking their little cheek and snuggling them close.