Expect changes when you’re expecting

Each of the three trimesters of
pregnancy brings subtle differences in development and growth for the unborn
child and for the mother-to-be. Being aware of the changes will help ease your
progress through pregnancy and make it a more pleasurable experience.

A human embryo has a 40-week
gestational period, which is broken up into trimesters: the first covers the
first 12 weeks of pregnancy, The second runs from weeks 13 – 25 and the third
covers weeks 26 through 40.

 

First trimester

Around week four your body starts
to increase production of oestrogen and progesterone. Many mothers experience
fatigue and morning sickness as a result, as well as bloating. Remedies include
limiting your intake of greasy and spicy foods, taking daily vitamin B6
supplements, nibbling on a few plain crackers/dry cereal, eating smaller meals
every two to three hours and getting plenty of rest.

Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption,
avoid dehydration – as your body temperature increases – by drinking more
fluids. Your breasts will increase in size and may become sensitive and your
appetite will increase, so eat healthy foods.

During this stage, your baby will
develop from a cluster of cells the size of a pinhead to starting to grow teeth
buds, fingers, vital organs and ears.

 

Second trimester

This trimester is widely regarded
as the most enjoyable since most mothers will have stopped having morning
sickness and will begin wearing maternity clothes.

At this time, many women experience
that pregnancy glow and their hair and skin become lustrous due to increased
blood circulation. This is also the trimester where you may get a dark line
from your navel to pubic bone, and darker nipples. Prenatal screening starts in
earnest at round this time as well. Your weight will increase, so you might
experience back pain. It is also during the second trimester that some women
start having food cravings, shortness of breath and leg cramps.

Meanwhile, your baby will now be
approximately 4.92 inches and will start producing urine.

 

Third trimester

Your baby is growing rapidly and
this takes its toll on your body. It’s in the third trimester that many of the
discomforts of pregnancy really kick in: heartburn, severe leg cramps,
shortness of breath, nose bleeds, constipation and backaches bedevil most
expectant mothers during weeks 26 to 40.

You will really start to feel the
baby move. It moved before, but the movements become pronounced and can increase
your discomfort, especially if the baby pushes on your pelvic bones and ribs.
Your hips start to separate to accommodate the impending birth and this can be
painful. Your back is going to hurt from carrying extra weight and from
pregnancy hormones relaxing the joints.

During the final weeks, many women
develop swollen feet and ankles and haemorrhoids because of increased blood
pressure.

Keeping your feet raised will help
ease this. Wear support tights and in the case of piles, ask a pharmacist for an
effective treatment.

Women are prone to developing
stretch marks. Some use oils to prevent scarring but how effective this is
depends how rapidly you gain weight. Increase fluid intake to improve your
skin’s elasticity. During your pregnancy you should gain 25-35 pounds. Eat
healthy foods and exercise.

FEATExpectchangesSTORY

An expectant mother’s body goes through many changes throughout pregnancy.
Photo: FILE
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