Pregnancy is a roller coaster ride with excitement, anxiety, and butterflies in the tummy. It all starts with those small two lines on the pregnancy strip and ends with the tiny angel in your hands. The previous part would have helped you know about conception, pregnancy confirmation, and the first trimester. It is fascinating how a tiny cell could influence and bring in so much change to our body. The first trimester could have been exhausting to many mothers with morning sickness. But worry not, it all comes to an end with the first trimester.

Now you will start experiencing the tiny life moving and rolling inside your womb. Buckle up, the period of bonding and irresistible falling in love is about to start.

Second Trimester (Week 13- 28)

The second trimester is called the honeymoon period of the pregnancy where you get to enjoy the pregnancy with your child. Some women find their second trimester easier than their first. This may be because of reduced fatigue and vomiting, which means no morning sickness. If you have it, it tends to reduce as you step into the fifth month. Also, the mother’s body would have adapted to the changing hormone levels. This trimester travels halfway through the pregnancy period.

Fetal growth

In the second trimester, the formed organs develop further and start functioning. The facial features form more clearly. The fingernails, eyebrows, and eyelids are fully formed. The baby can yawn, suck the thumb and begins to move around exploring the new muscles being formed. By the end of this trimester, the baby can open the eyes and respond to the sounds by movements. They can swallow and hear and their kidneys and liver start to function.

The nervous systems start to function but the reproductive systems are not fully formed now. Brain development begins and continues until the early childhood years.

The hair grows in the baby’s head in this trimester. Also all over the body, small and fine hair grows and it is called Lanugo. The baby’s skin is covered by a thin white cheesy substance called Vernix Caseosa. These are formed to protect the baby’s skin and sheds it after the baby is born.

At the end of this trimester, the fetus measures 12-16 inches long and weighs 2-3 pounds.

Changes in the mother’s body

The mother’s body shows some visible changes from this stage. The baby belly pops out and as the baby grows the pregnancy tummy makes room for the baby pushing the other organs behind it. The mother can feel the baby’s movements as the baby now can flip and turn. At the end of this trimester, the baby can respond to the sounds by kicking, moving, increased pulse and the mother can feel the baby’s hiccups now. Some of the most common changes are,

  • Pressure in the lower abdomen
  • Visible stretch marks in the body
  • Mild swelling in the feet, face, and ankles towards the end of this trimester
  • Varicose veins and hemorrhoids
  • Backache/pain due to the increased pregnancy weight gain in the front of the body
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Patches of dark skin in the face, sometimes on the sides of the face
  • Itching in the abdominal skin, palms and feet – when accompanied by nausea or symptoms of jaundice, immediately call your doctor.
  • Some develop rashes all over the body due to increased bile pigment and can take the help of your gynecologist to deal with it. If you develop rashes it is best to check for the gall stones.
  • A dark line running from the belly button to the lower abdomen.

Things to know

If extreme swelling is found in the face or feet, check with the doctor for a condition called Preeclampsia. In this trimester the doctors take an anomaly scan, to check for the anomalies in the baby’s growth. Now your baby can taste the food you eat, so make sure you take a healthy and yummy diet.

Keep moving and avoid standing or sitting for a long time. Stay active to avoid swelling in the feet.

Third Trimester (Week 29-40)

It is time for the joyous baby showers, maternity photoshoots, surprising gifts, and loads of care. As a healthy body and stress-free life have a direct impact on the baby’s health, it is very important for the mother to take care of her.
The body starts preparing for the labor and it is very important you drink lots of water, walk as much as possible and spend the time in a relaxed way.

Fetal growth

The final trimester is important for the baby, as most of the organs are developed and functioning. The lungs though are almost functional, all other internal systems are well developed. The baby can hear, see and move the body, the clear kicks and the visible imprints of legs over the stomach of the mother make it clear.

The brain development is very much improved as the baby can now blink, turn the head and the baby’s reflexes are well-coordinated and fully functional. As the pregnancy nears the labor date, the movement reduces because the baby is fully grown and couldn’t move freely and might feel cramped in the less space.

The baby is about 18-20 inches long and weighs about 6-9 pounds now.

Changes in the mother’s body

Several discomforts from the second trimester might continue in the third trimester. As the baby grows and the mother’s stomach stretches to find room for the baby, you can experience breathing difficulty and frequent urge to urinate. The baby’s growth and the pressure in the pelvic area are the reason. However, it will go away after the baby is born.

Some common things to notice are,

  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Backache and pain in the pelvic area- your body is in the process of loosening up and preparing for the labor
  • Swelling in the face, feet and ankles as you retain more fluids in your body
  • Frequent urination due to the pressure in the bladder
  • Varicose veins in the legs start to appear and they fade out after the baby is born
  • Colostrum leakage- some women may leak a yellow fluid from the breasts
  • The baby may drop down to the lower abdomen. Towards the end of the pregnancy period, the baby turns with the head moving downwards. Nearing the due date the baby drops down paving way for the vaginal delivery.
  • False labor pain is known as Braxton-Hicks contractions
  • Constipation, heartburn and indigestion
  • Your cervix begins to get thinner (Effacing) and this helps the vagina or birth canal to open up for natural birth

Things to know

Kegel exercises are best to be done during your pregnancy period to strengthen your pelvic floor. It is never too late to start. There are also pregnancy exercise and yoga that help in having a stress free natural birth. Consult your gynecologist before starting any kind of exercise. Most importantly never try anything new during this pregnancy period without proper guidance.

Try hearing a lot of calming music and engage yourself in good books. Remember your baby is listening to you right from the uterus. Sleep on your left side for better blood circulation and always remember, stay comfortable wherever you are.

When the baby is ready for delivery, the most common check for vaginal delivery is the head-down position. The baby moves down with the head down position pushing towards the pelvis. When the baby’s position has not changed to head down (In Breech position) or the prior delivery you had was a c-sec (VBAC refused or not possible), health conditions of the mother is abnormal or has complications the C-Section is planned beforehand. Unplanned emergency C-Section is also done for unforeseen changes/emergency conditions in the pregnancy.

So our birth story ends here, as the little fetus we were talking about becomes little angels to their mom, especially when placed on her body to feel her warmth and love. Not every pregnancy journey is the same. But the sweet memories and happiness when you hold the baby close to your skin is the divine emotion in every pregnancy journey.

“Pregnancy is the only journey in life where you will fall in love with your fellow little passenger before you meet!”