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What to Expect When You're Expecting: Pregnancy Information and Advice!

What to Expect When You're Expecting: Pregnancy Information and Advice!

Have you just found out that you're pregnant, or planning to have a baby in 2022?

Pregnancy is a very exciting time in a woman's life, full of big changes, new experiences, and a myriad of body transformations. It can also be a very daunting time, particularly for new moms.

We are here to help you have a stress-free pregnancy by giving you a breakdown of what you can expect in each trimester*, as well as give you some helpful tips for a perfectly healthy pregnancy!**

     

Your first trimester

Your pregnancy due date is calculated by adding 280 days (40 weeks) to the first day of your last menstrual period. The foetus begins developing at the time of conception, and your body begins producing pregnancy hormones.

As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, it’s time to cut out any unhealthy habits and start taking prenatal vitamins. You may also want to take folic acid supplements, which are important for foetal brain development.

Before the end of your first trimester, choose a doctor or midwife who you’ll see throughout your pregnancy.  

What to expect in the first trimester: 

If you haven’t already, it’s time to start a healthy eating plan, taking prenatal vitamins, and stopping any unhealthy habits, such as smoking.

Early on, your egg is fertilized and implanting in your uterus. You may experience mild cramping and extra vaginal discharge.

You might begin experiencing symptoms like breast tenderness, tiredness, and nausea. Eventually, morning sickness may be in full swing.

Schedule your first prenatal doctor visit — usually during weeks 8 to 12. Your doctor may do several tests. They’ll also talk to you about lifestyle habits and genetic testing.

Between weeks 8 and 10, your uterus will start growing, your breasts are tender, and your body is producing more blood. You may also experience weight gain. 

Dark patches on your face and neck, called chloasma or the mask of pregnancy, might also start to appear later in the trimester. Don't be alarmed — this is normal and treatable.

Your breasts will start getting larger later in the trimester as the first stages of breast milk, called colostrum, begin to fill them.

Your second trimester

Your body changes a lot throughout your second trimester, and shifting from feeling excited to overwhelmed is not unusual. Your doctor or midwife will see you once every 4 weeks to measure the baby’s growth, check the heartbeat, and perform blood or urine tests to make sure that you and the baby are healthy.

By the end of your second trimester, your belly has grown significantly, people have started to notice that you’re pregnant, and it will be time to go maternity clothes shopping. 

What to expect in the second trimester:

Your doctor may suggest a blood test for genetic disorders, called a maternal serum screen or quad screen.

If you have a family history of genetic defects, like Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, or spina bifida, your doctor may recommend additional testing.

By this time you’ve probably gone up a bra size or two. In the final weeks of your second trimester, you may have gained about 7 to 10 kilograms.

About halfway through, an ultrasound can tell you the baby’s sex. By the later weeks in the trimester, your baby may be about 33 centimeters long and weigh just under a kilogram.

Some trouble sleeping at night may happen due to normal pregnancy discomforts like urinating often, heartburn, and leg cramps.

Your doctor will likely schedule a blood sugar test between weeks 24 and 28 to see if you have gestational diabetes.

Your third trimester

You’re almost there! You’ll begin to gain significant weight during your third trimester as your baby continues to grow.

As you begin to approach labour, your doctor or midwife may also do a physical exam to see if your cervix is thinning or beginning to open. Your healthcare provider may recommend a nonstress test to check on the baby if you don’t go into labour by your due date. If you or the baby are at risk, labour may be induced using medication, or in an emergency situation doctors may perform a caesarean delivery.

What to expect in the third trimester:

You’re feeling the baby move a lot now and you might be asked by the doctor to keep track of your baby’s activity levels. Doctor visits become more frequent now — about twice a month.

You may start to notice discomforts like constipation and haemorrhoids.

The hormones your body is making at this stage cause your joints to loosen. In some women, this means your feet can grow a whole shoe size larger. Tell your doctor if you notice extreme swelling in your hands, feet, or ankles, because this could be a sign of pregnancy-caused high blood pressure.

Midway through the trimester, you might experience some leaking. As your body prepares for labour, you may start having Braxton-Hicks (false) contractions. Near the end of the trimester, your body has about 40 to 50 percent more blood. 

You may be feeling very tired at this point, from trouble sleeping and other normal pregnancy aches and pains. Your belly button may eventually be tender or have turned into an “outie.” You might also feel short of breath as your uterus presses against your rib cage.

As you reach the home stretch, you’ll have weekly visits to your doctor until you deliver. Around week 37 or so, you may pass your mucus plug, which blocks your cervix to keep out unwanted bacteria. Losing the plug means you’re one step closer to labour.

By the end of the trimester, your cervix should be getting ready for birth by thinning and opening. Braxton-Hicks contractions may get more intense as labour gets closer.

As the trimester comes to an end, you’ll have made it! If you haven’t had your baby yet, you will likely deliver around week 40.

Tips for a healthy and happy pregnancy

Avoid smoking: Quitting smoking is the single most preventable cause of illness and death among mothers and infants.

Avoid alcohol: When you drink alcohol, so does your developing baby. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant.

Avoid marijuana: The chemicals in marijuana pass through your system to your baby and can harm their development.

Start a healthy pregnancy eating plan: Protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and more are essential.

Take a full prenatal supplement every day which includes folic acid: These help promote the development of the baby's teeth and bones. Folic acid can help prevent some major birth abnormalities. It also might be beneficial to look for a prenatal vitamin that contains vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc and iodine. 

Seek help for depression: Depression is common during pregnancy, and treatable. If you think you have depression, seek treatment from your health care provider as soon as possible.

Talk to your doctor about traveling: Traveling might cause problems during pregnancy, particularly air travel later in pregnancy, so discuss your options with your doctor.

See your doctor before starting or stopping ANY medication: If you are planning to become pregnant, discuss your current medicines with your doctor, midwife, or pharmacist.

Try to reach a weight that is healthy for you before getting pregnant: Having obesity increases the risk for serious birth abnormalities and other pregnancy complications.

Learn about the benefits of breastfeeding: Consider taking a class to help you prepare, or speak to your doctor. 

* It is important to note that every pregnancy is different and your experience may vary.
** Please note that this is intended to be informative only. Your doctor or Gynaecologist will give you a full pregnancy plan on your first visit.  

Need some Perfectly Healthy help during your pregnancy and when the baby is born? Browse our wide range of natural wellness products on www.perfectlyhealthy.co.za
  

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