Facts about Pregnancy. Don’t fret, Mama! You’re not the first pregnant person to ever walk the earth, and you definitely won’t be the last. There’s a multitude of resources for the expecting mother — online, in the library, and advice from your friends and family members who have done this before. Heck, there’s a whole book about what you can expect when you’re expecting — aptly titled What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Of course, everyone knows moms-to-be can expect rapidly growing bellies, morning sickness, unusual culinary cravings, and people wanting to get a feel of that growing baby bump — but what’s happening behind the scenes?
Here’s a look at the changes you can expect for your body and your baby throughout each week of your Pregnancy.
1 Weeks 1-4: Pregnancy or PMS?
At the beginning of your period, about 20 eggs called ova occupy fluid-filled sacs called follicles. If you typically have your period every 28 days, then about 14 days later, you ovulate: One of these follicles releases an egg, and it travels down your fallopian tube where it awaits fertilization. This time -- 14 days after your period started and a day or so longer -- is when you're the most fertile. If you want to get pregnant, this is the best time to try. Once the egg is fertilized, it moves into the uterus.
If your egg and your partner's sperm have joined successfully, your embryo is really there, although it's very small -- about the size of the head of a pin. It doesn't look like a fetus or baby; it's just a group of about 100 cells multiplying and growing rapidly. The outer layer of cells will become the placenta, and the inner layer will become the embryo. You won't notice any changes in your body at this point. Remember, you haven't even missed your period yet.
Now that your egg is fertilized, it burrows into the lining of your uterus. This is called implantation.
You're probably expecting your period this week, and if it doesn't occur, it might be one of the first signs that you're pregnant. You may also notice light spotting as the embryo implants itself in your uterus. You might not feel any different yet, but the amniotic cavity, which will be filled with fluid, and the placenta, which will bring oxygen and nutrients to nourish your baby, are forming in your uterus.
2 Weeks 5-9: Mood swings and tight jeans
By week five in your pregnancy, there's likely little doubt as to whether you're pregnant or not. You've probably taken a pregnancy test, excitedly told your family and friends, and had your first doctor's appointment with your bun in the oven. However, if there's still question regarding your mama-to-be status, look no further than your favorite pair of blue jeans.
That's right — in weeks five through nine of your pregnancy, the pair of jeans you've had forever will probably start feeling just a little tight around the waist. Your belly is growing bigger because your little one is, too! Now is the time your little guy or gal is developing a mouth, nose, ears, and something that kind of resembles a human head. According to Baby Center, by week seven, your uterus will have doubled in size!
The fifth week of pregnancy marks the start of the embryonic period. This is when your baby’s body systems and structures begin to form, such as the heart, brain, and spinal cord.
Your baby’s heart beats at a steady rate now, though it may not be detected by ultrasound for another week or two. The placenta is also starting to develop.
At this stage, your baby doesn’t look like a baby yet. The embryo is growing quickly, but it’s still very small, about the size of a pen tip. The National Health Service estimates that your baby is about 2 millimeters.
Your body is gearing up to go through big changes too. Pregnancy hormone levels are rapidly rising, and your uterus will begin to grow. You won’t look pregnant for a couple more months, but you may start to experience symptoms now.
3 Weeks 10-14: Baby bump alert
You can still hide your pregnancy from the rest of the world, but not for much longer. Avoid wearing tight and constricting clothes. Your belly is growing rounder as your uterus expands. You may gain a pound or two this week, although if morning sickness continues, you might not.
Your blood volume has increased so if you haven’t yet noticed the veins in your breasts and abdomen becoming more prominent, there’s a good chance you will this week.
There will be a number of graduations in your baby's life. Pre-K to kindergarten, high school to college, college to — well, the real world. But week 10 of your pregnancy can very well be considered your baby's first graduation. Why? Because your little baby bun has finally graduated from an embryo to a fetus! Hooray!
By week 11, your baby is the size of a lime. According to What to Expect, your little one has developed hands and feet, nostrils, a tongue, and little fingers and toes! In fact, your baby is a growing machine . It's another big growth week. When your doctor uses a Doppler stethoscope now, she can hear the rapid "swooshing" noises of the heartbeat. Your baby's genitals are developing, but the can't be determined yet by ultrasound.
Your little one is the size of a plum in week 12, a size of a peach by week 13, and the size of a lemon by week 14. And a growing baby means a growing belly for Mommy. There will be many exciting times throughout your pregnancy, the least of which not being the first glimpse you see of a growing baby bump! Go ahead, Mama — take that mirror selfie and show of your new (adorable) baby belly!
4 Weeks 15-19: Butterflies in your belly
Bye-bye, first trimester — hello, second trimester!
You may notice several outward changes. Your belly, breasts, and nipples may be getting larger. And you may consider switching to maternity clothes for comfort.
You may feel anxious about your pregnancy or elated about what’s to come. Your sex life may even change during this time. Feelings about sex can heighten or disappear while your body changes.
For many moms-to-be, the most difficult part of pregnancy (aside from not being able to find a comfortable sleeping position as your belly grows bigger) is the first trimester of pregnancy. Luckily, the start of week 15 means that you're well into the second trimester of your pregnancy, which takes place from week 13 to week 28. And that's not where the exciting news ends! According to WebMD, some women start to feel their babies kicking around inside their bellies as early as week 13! Now that gives a whole new meaning to having butterflies in your belly.
Your baby is still small, but there’s a lot happening during week 15. Your baby is now the size of an apple or orange. Their skeleton is beginning to develop and they are wiggling and moving their body parts. You’ll begin to feel little flutters of movement soon. Your baby is also growing more skin and hair, and even eyebrows.
Your baby is around 7 inches long and weighs about 7 ounces in the 19th week. And there have been a lot of new developments.Your baby’s kidneys are producing urine. The sensory parts of their brain are developing. And the hair on top of their head is starting to appear.Lanugo, the soft, downy hair that covers a baby’s body is also forming. On top of that is vermix caseosa, the oily substance that protects the skin while the baby is growing in the womb. If your baby is a girl, her uterus has formed and her ovaries contain about 6 million eggs.
The second trimester is considered by many to be the least difficult three months of pregnancy, so you can expect the fatigue you've been suffering through to ease off a bit. During your second trimester, you may encounter these symptoms throughout week 19:
- frequent urination
- weight gain
- enlarged breasts
- dark line down your abdomen
- trouble sleeping
5 Weeks 20-24: Watch that belly grow!
Congratulations on reaching this major milestone in your pregnancy. Your due date may still seem far away, but you’re making steady progress toward the finish line. You've reached the halfway point in your pregnancy. According to WebMD, you can expect to have your midpoint ultrasound between week 18 and week 22 of your pregnancy. It's also around this time that you'll be able to discover the gender of your little one — unless you'd rather be surprised, of course!
Have you felt your baby move? One of the changes in your body this week might be those little pokes and jabs you feel when your baby moves around in your uterus. This is called quickening. Women who have already experienced childbirth probably started feeling these sensations a few weeks ago.
Your belly is also getting much more noticeable these days. First-time moms may have only started showing in the last few weeks. And from this point forward, you may gain around a pound per week.
Along with that growing bump in your belly, you may notice a little swelling in your feet and ankles.You may have to set aside some of your favorite pre-pregnancy shoes for a while. And don’t be surprised if, even after you deliver, your feet have flattened and lengthened just enough to require new shoes.
Average weight gain at 23 weeks is 12 to 15 pounds. This weight gain may lead to stretch marks on your belly, thighs, and breasts.
Or they may not show up for several weeks if at all. If some stretch marks appear, they’re likely to become less noticeable over time following delivery.
Your breasts may start producing colostrum this week. Colostrum is an early form of breast milk that’s a little thicker than what you’ll produce after birth.This is normal, though don’t be concerned if no colostrum is present. It doesn’t at all mean you’ll have difficulty nursing. Colostrum may not appear until much closer to delivery.
Even though your delivery date is still four months away, your body is going through some “dress rehearsals” for the baby’s arrival.
For example, your breasts may soon start producing small amounts of early milk, called colostrum. This may continue on and off for the remainder of your pregnancy. Some women don’t produce any colostrum until after the delivery, so don’t be concerned if it isn’t happening. Many women start to experience occasional Braxton-Hicks contractions (false labor) around this time. You can think of these as practice contractions for the real labor and delivery. They are usually painless, though you may feel a squeezing sensation of the uterus. If those contractions are painful or are increasing in frequency, however, contact your healthcare provider. This could be a sign of preterm labor.
Pregnancy symptoms are usually lighter in the second trimester, but there are still some unpleasant aches and pains you may experience. During week 24, your symptoms may include:
- stretch marks
- itchy skin
- dry or itchy eyes
- slight breast colostrum production
- occasional Braxton-Hicks contractions
6 Weeks 25-29: Hands off my belly!
Guess what? By week 26, you are officially into the third trimester of your pregnancy — only a few more weeks left until you finally get to meet your little one! It's a very exciting time in your pregnancy; but unfortunately, the last few weeks can be the most uncomfortable time in your pregnancy, as well.
If you’re stressing about the excess weight around your middle, remind yourself that close to two pounds of that is baby, not to mention the amniotic fluid that’s needed to sustain this new life.
According to WebMD, by this point in your pregnancy, you can expect to be putting on about one pound per week. Both your belly and baby are growing at a rapid pace, which means more discomfort for Mama — and more people wanting to put their hands all over your growing baby bump. If you're not a fan of people touching your belly unprompted, don't feel bad — you're not alone. Don't be afraid to politely ask that people not touch your belly — after all, they probably wouldn't like you to rub their tummies, either! A bun in the oven doesn't give anyone entitlement to your body.
Now that you know your baby can hear you, add in some extra “talk time” with your belly. No worries if you’ve yet to stock the nursery with children’s books. Any reading or talking will do. One study from the journal Developmental Psychobiology measured how the fetal heartbeat responded to both maternal and paternal voices. While babies responded to both, researchers concluded that the fetuses preferred their mother’s voices. If you want to strengthen your baby’s bond with your partner, try to schedule additional “talk time” between your partner and your belly.
By week 29, As your breasts continue to get bigger, you might want to find a good sports bra or even a nursing bra. Try on a few to make sure you get a comfortable but supportive bra.
If you’re feeling especially tired and are getting a little winded with activity, don’t worry. Your body is working overtime to make a nice home for your baby, and you’re probably still as busy as ever at work and at home. You might notice signs of premature labor. Be sure you talk to your doctor immediately if you notice increased pressure in your pelvis, fluids leaking from your vagina, or contractions.
Apart from fatigue during week 29, some other symptoms that could occur include:
- shortness of breath
- constipation and gas
- passing hard stools
- abdominal pain
- frequent urination
7 Weeks 30-34: Where are your feet — and the cocoa butter?
You need only look down at your beautiful belly to know that you’re well on your way to baby snuggles and newborn coos. By this point, you’re probably more than ready to meet your baby and return to your pre-pregnancy body. But remember, these final weeks are an important time for your baby’s growth, development, and postnatal health.
You may be feeling extra tired these days. Finding a comfortable sleeping position is getting more difficult, and waking up to use the restroom can also affect your sleep. Try to go to sleep earlier than usual, and if you can, sleep in a little later in the morning. Napping may also help to improve your energy.
You're in the homestretch now! Only a few short weeks until baby is here — and by this point in your pregnancy, you'll undoubtedly be anxiously awaiting his or her arrival. Not only are you ready to meet your little bun in the oven, but you probably feel like your belly can't possibly stretch any further. Well, we hate to be the one to break it to you, but it definitely can stretch further — and it will. Make sure you keep some pregnancy-safe cream on hand to combat those pesky stretch marks that come with a rapidly growing belly.
According to WebMD, your baby likely measures about 18.9 inches long by week 32. Your little one is taking up pretty much all the space within your uterus (though you'll probably still feel some kicks from time to time). Those kicks and somersaults will slow down in the coming weeks, as your baby will have gained more than half its birthweight during that time, taking up even more space in your uterus. By week 34, your little one measures almost 20 inches long and is a whopping five pounds. They grow up so fast!
Some women see their belly button shift from an “innie” to an “outie” by this point. This is quite normal and nothing to worry about. If you notice that your belly button is especially sensitive, place a bandage over it to avoid irritation.
Your baby is also putting on weight, as fat is being stored under the skin. Baby fat not only looks cute, but it is critically important in helping your baby regulate their body temperature.
Because your baby is getting so big, their legs are usually bent and held near the trunk due to a lack of room by this point. That means you may feel less activity but notice more pronounced movements, such as a foot or hand moving along the inside of your belly.
Given the weight gain of the baby, it’s no surprise that you’re feeling additional strain, too. Like most expectant mothers at 34 weeks, you’re probably also experiencing symptoms, such as:
Stand by, because those symptoms will continue right up until you go into labor.
8 Weeks 35-40: Hello, Baby!
By now, from your belly button to the top of your uterus measures about 6 inches. You have probably gained between 25 and 30 pounds, and you may or may not gain more weight for the rest of your pregnancy.
Your baby is between 17 and 18 inches long and weighs between 5 1/2 to 6 pounds. The kidneys are developed and your baby’s liver is functional. This is also a week of rapid weight gain for your baby as their limbs become plump with fat. From this point, your baby will gain around 1/2 pound per week.
You’re no doubt exhausted from carrying around your growing belly, and you’re probably weary with worry. Even if this isn’t your first pregnancy, every pregnancy and every baby is different, so feeling a little anxious about the unknown is perfectly normal. If you find that your anxiety is impacting your daily life or your relationships, you should bring it up with your doctor at your next appointment.
Somewhere around 18 inches in length, at 36 weeks your baby weighs between 5 and 6 pounds. Soon, your doctor will probably check whether your baby is readying for delivery.
When your baby drops, its head presses against your bladder. You may feel like you have to urinate constantly or have a lower backache. Sitting in an all-fours position or with your arms reached over an exercise ball can alleviate the worst of the pain. The good news is that when your belly drops, you’ll get room back in your chest so you can take deep breaths again.
If this pregnancy isn’t your first, you might be surprised to learn that 37 weeks is no longer considered “full term” in the medical world. That designation changed in 2013 when the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine issued four new definitions of “term” deliveries:
Early term 37 weeks through 38 weeks, 6 days Full term 39 weeks through 40 weeks, 6 days Late term 41 weeks through 41 weeks, 6 days Post-term 42 weeks and beyond
The end of pregnancy can be long and nerve-racking. You may feel excited and want your little one to enter the world a few weeks early. Patience is the best gift you can give yourself and your baby.
Here it is — the moment you've been waiting for!
One of the first signs that your baby will be making his or her way into the world soon is lightening, or the process of your baby's head moving into your pelvis before delivery. When lightening occurs, your belly will sit a little lower — and you'll probably feel the urge to urinate more frequently. You also may notice bloody discharge, loose stools, and — of course — contractions. When those contractions occur at intervals of less than ten minutes, labor has likely begun!
Your delivery is divided into three stages. In the first stage, your cervix will begin to dilate — eventually dilating to ten centimeters! In the second stage, you'll be instructed to begin pushing to propel your baby through your birth canal, resulting in a successful delivery. During the third stage, you'll deliver your placenta. According to WebMD, the delivery process usually lasts somewhere between 12 and 14 hours for first pregnancies — and while labor may be painful, the feeling you get when you hold your little one for the first time will be well worth the wait (and the pain)!