Following 2020 health guidelines
In our trimester overview article, we cover:
And everything else you may not have considered. Let's get started!
Pregnancy lasts, on average, for 40 weeks.
Anything from between 37 to 42 weeks is considered within the normal range. Medical professionals divide that time up into three-month (12 week) periods, known as trimesters.
Every trimester brings its own changes to your body, your baby’s growth and your emotions.
Knowing what to expect will help you to deal positively with each change as it comes. With that in mind, we’ve put together this guide for you.
During the first trimester, there are rapid transformations happening in your body.
Even before you know you’re pregnant, hormones will tell your body to start nourishing the baby.
For most women, one of the first signs that they’re pregnant is a missed period.
Others notice nausea or breast tenderness even before that. Here are some of the changes you can expect during this trimester.
Tender, slightly swollen breasts are normal at this stage and are caused by hormonal changes.
You may feel slightly nauseous or extremely sick. Some women experience vomiting.
Although it’s often called “morning sickness” it can happen at any time of the night or day. Many women find that avoiding an empty stomach relieves the nausea. Try to nibble on small, nutritious snacks frequently and try to stay hydrated.
Certain smells may trigger the nausea. You may find that you “go off” certain foods and crave others.
If you are suffering from severe nausea and vomiting, contact your healthcare provider. There are medications that are safe to take during pregnancy, but you must check with your doctor first.
The nausea usually eases at about twelve weeks pregnant.
You’ll probably find that you need to pass urine more frequently than normal. At this stage that’s because your body is making extra blood for the pregnancy, so your kidneys need to process extra fluid.
Another thing that many women notice in the first trimester is increased fatigue.
Progesterone levels are now very high, and this can make you sleepy. Listen to your body and sleep more often.
Make sure you’re having a healthy diet and are exercising to keep your energy levels up.
Progesterone is also responsible for slowing the rate that food passes through your digestive system.
This can lead to constipation. If you’re taking iron supplements, these can do the same.
Take in extra fiber and water to prevent constipation. Try natural laxatives like figs or prunes, but don’t use over the counter medication unless your doctor gives you the green light.
You’ll probably find that your emotions are all over the place at this stage. Again, increased hormone levels are to blame for the mood swings.
Some women struggle to come to terms with having a baby, especially if it was a surprise, while others are elated.
It’s completely normal to worry if your baby will be healthy, how you’ll adapt to parenthood, and how you’re going to pay for everything.
This is a good time to start a routine of relaxation exercises, yoga or meditation. Find whatever helps you cope and commit to doing it regularly.
In the first few weeks, your baby will just be a bunch of a few cells.
He quickly grows into a fetus the same size as a small apple.
During these early weeks, the major organs like the heart, liver and lungs begin to form.
By the 11th week the heart can be heard on an ultrasound machine. At the end of this trimester, the cord and placenta will have developed, as well as all the main organs.
In the first trimester, you’ll need to find a health care provider like a family doctor, an obstetrician or a midwife, to see you through your pregnancy.
At this stage, your first visit will be to assess your overall health, check for risk factors, and confirm your pregnancy. Your caregiver will also check baby’s gestational age based on your dates and on the sonar.
After this first visit, you can expect to have scheduled checks every month. These give your caregiver a chance to make sure that Baby is developing normally and that your health is good.
They’re also a chance for you to ask any questions.
This middle trimester is the most enjoyable for many women.
The morning sickness has usually subsided, and you will probably have increased energy levels.
Baby isn’t yet big enough to make you uncomfortable. Here are some of the changes you can expect during this trimester.
Bigger Tummy and Breasts
Baby is growing fast and your uterus is expanding to make room. The volume of intrauterine fluid is increasing, and the placenta is larger.
All of this makes your tummy grow, and it’s now time for a new wardrobe! Your breasts will grow too, so you’ll need some comfortable, supportive bras.
You may feel mild, irregular contractions now and again. These are called “Braxton Hicks contractions” and are normal. You may find they happen more after exercise or sex.
If they become painful or occur at regular intervals, see your doctor because they may be a sign of premature labor.
Pregnancy hormonal changes increase the number of melanin cells in your skin.
Some women get brownish patches on their face, especially with sun exposure. There may be a brownish line running from your belly button down to your pubic line.
This is called the linea nigra and will fade after Baby is born.
Some women get stretch marks on their stomachs, breasts, buttocks and thighs which can be itchy. These also tend to fade after the birth but won’t completely disappear.
Blame the hormones again! Because the body is making more blood at this time, some women experience a stuffy nose and even nosebleeds when they’re pregnant.
It’s safe to use saline nose drops. Drinking lots of fluids and using a humidifier may also help.
During pregnancy, the gums can be more sensitive and may bleed more easily when you floss. Try saltwater mouth rinses and changing to a softer toothbrush.
The circulation changes associated with pregnancy cause some women to feel dizzy at times.
Try not to stand up too quickly and don’t stand for too long. If you feel really dizzy, lie on your side for a while.
These uncomfortable calf contractions often happen at night. They’re a fairly common pregnancy complaint which may have a number of possible causes.
They may be due to fatigue, pressure on certain nerves by the uterus, calcium deficiencies, magnesium deficiencies or dehydration.
Check that your shoes are comfortable and try stretching your calf muscles before bedtime. A warm bath before bed may help too.
Urinary Tract Infections
Many women get bladder infections in pregnancy. You’ll notice pain or burning when you pass urine and you may have a fever or pain in the kidney region of the back.
Don’t delay in contacting your healthcare provider for treatment because if left, a urinary tract infection may escalate to a kidney infection and premature labor.
Increased Energy and Feelings of Wellbeing
It’s not all negative! Many women find that they feel better in the second trimester than at any other time of their pregnancy.
Use the opportunity to take childbirth classes, decorate the nursery and do all the other things on your list.
Be careful not to overdo things though, and make sure you schedule time to rest every day.
The focus in the second trimester will be on baby’s growth and keeping a check on your weight and blood pressure.
The size of your uterus will be measured, and you will probably have an ultrasound scan or two. You’ll get to listen to your baby’s heartbeat.
Make a note of any questions you may want to ask your doctor while you’re there.
By the end of the 6th month, your baby will have finger and toenails, eyelashes and even some hair.
She will be able to suck her thumb, yawn and stretch. The reproductive system and organs will have formed, and you’ll be able to tell on the ultrasound if it’s a boy or a girl.
At the end of the trimester, your baby will be about 6 inches (15 cm) long and weigh around 4 ounces (100 g).
Your last few months of pregnancy can be a little uncomfortable because the weight of baby has increased dramatically.
Your body will also change a lot to support the growing child. Here are some of the changes you can expect during this trimester.
Fast Weight Gain
Baby gains the most weight during the third trimester.
He’ll go from being about 2 pounds (900 gram) at 27 weeks to up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) by the end!
His length increases by about 6 inches (15 cm) too. You’ll also gain weight from extra amniotic fluid, a bigger uterus, the growing placenta and more blood circulating around your body.
This increase in weight can cause swelling of your legs and ankles.
If you just have minor fluid retention, it’s probably nothing to worry about, but if your legs swell quickly and it’s painful, contact your doctor.
It may be caused by pre-eclampsia, a serious condition needing immediate treatment. Remember to keep well hydrated.
You may notice spider veins or varicose veins on your legs from the increased pressure too. Try sitting with your feet up to relieve them.
Your breasts will start to produce a small amount of colostrum, a yellowish colored fluid which is the early breast milk.
Your breasts may also become larger and a little more tender in the last weeks.
A little vaginal discharge that looks like mucus comes from your cervix and is normal.
However, any other discharges that are thick, yellowish or cheesy may mean you have an infection. It’s important to get this cleared up before the birth.
Any vaginal itching or bleeding should also be reported to your doctor at once.
General Body Aches
The increased weight you’re carrying can make things a little uncomfortable by this point.
Most women experience aches in the back, knees and feet. Check your posture when you’re walking, making sure to tilt your pelvis forwards. This will protect your back.
Also, rest with your feet up as often as you can.
Frequent Trips to the Toilet
You’ll feel the need to urinate often in the third trimester because baby’s weight puts pressure on your bladder.
Also, just before labor your baby moves further down into your pelvis. You’ll know this has happened because you’ll be able to breathe easier.
Try to walk outdoors a few times a week and keep up with the childbirth class exercises.
Practice your breathing and relaxation exercises.
Sleep on your side and use lots of extra pillows to get comfortable. You’ll be needing weekly appointments with your obstetrician in the final month to keep a check on your progress.
In the final weeks you’ll feel tired and just want to get it all over with. You may experience a little anxiety about labor and the birth.
Many women feel a spurt of energy in the last week or so and begin “nesting”.
They tidy the house, decorate the baby room and generally prepare for the baby’s arrival.
Try not to do too much and wear yourself out but keep a healthy balance between activity and rest.
Your baby looks more and more like a real baby because of increased fat deposits under the skin.
He’ll be about 4 pounds (1.8 kg) in weight by week 32 and will double that before birth.
Your little one will form a sleep-wake cycle and you’ll notice that at certain times he’s more active than others.
Third trimester babies make suckling movements with their mouths and even suck their thumbs. This is good practice for nursing after birth. The eyelids aren’t fused together anymore, and baby can see and hear. You’ll notice responses to noise and music.
We hope that knowing what to expect will help alleviate some of the stress and worry.Enjoy this very special time and remember to pamper yourself and your partner! We wish you all the best.
In our baby naming article, we cover:
And everything else you may not have considered. Let's get started!
While choosing a name for your baby can be a lot of fun, it can be quite pressurizing too.
After all, your child’s going to keep the name you choose for the rest of his/ her life! There are so many things to consider.
While you may not want to be too traditional, if you’re too creative it can lead to teasing on the playground.
We’re living in a time when there are a lot more baby names available than ever before. This should make it easier, but the choice can be overwhelming too.
Where does a parent start when you have to consider meanings, family expectations, origins and even just your partner’s different ideas?
At least you have about nine months to come up with a name!
Enjoy the process and have fun because out of all the things about having a child, this is probably the only thing you have complete control over.
Take note of how you “feel” about certain names. We often associate names with people we’ve known previously, and they generate strong emotions.
You’ll find yourself gravitating towards certain names and feeling repelled by others. At the end of the day, you want to pick a name that you both love, that feels right and that sounds good to you.
The critics, and there will always be some, will just have to get used to it!
Most people pick a name that’s unique but that isn’t too much of an outlier. This is probably the safest way to go.
Look at a list of the thousand most popular names in the US and pick one from near the middle.
That is, look at those around either side of the 500th most popular. In this range you’ll find names that aren’t totally unfamiliar to most people yet are special enough that there won’t be three children in class with the same name as your child.
Most people don’t want a name that’s so popular that it’s in the top ten. Look out for celebrities who’ve just named their babies, because these names will be over-used in the next few years.
Luckily there are lots of baby name generators online as well as articles and advice.
One idea is to use meaningful places for inspiration. Perhaps you and your partner went to Egypt for your honeymoon…Cairo is an interesting baby name.
Maybe he proposed to you in a club named Havana…Inspiration is everywhere.
You may have a name from a favorite movie or book that you’d like to use. Alternatively, there may be someone in history who inspires you or your partner.
If you want to pick a name that stands apart from the rest, beware of trends.
A few years ago, the trend was for names rhyming with “ee-aah.” We therefore had Olivias, Sophias and Mias in every school corridor.
If you want to be trendy but also a bit different, pick a similar sounding name that isn’t as popular. In this case you could go for Amelia.
While the name Noah may rank very high in the country, it may not be so popular in your neighbourhood.
Chat with your local kindergarten teachers and parents of young children and find out which names are popular.
You may choose to use them or avoid them, but at least you’ll know.
Consider the children in your social circle too. Do the names tend to be Biblical, like Adam and Ruth, or more hippie like Storm and Raine?
Many parents don’t want to share their choice of names with family and friends until after baby is born.
However, it’s nice to check out public response to a name. One way for you and your partner to do this is to use the name the next time you order a coffee at Starbucks.
Watch the barista’s reaction carefully. Do they ask you to repeat the name? Do they have problems with spelling it?
You may think Hermoine and Joaquin are beautiful names but they’re difficult for most people to spell.
How much difficulty does the barista have with repeating the name out loud? A name like Penelope tends to get shortened to Penny because it’s not easy to say.
While you may not want to make your name choices public, it may be an idea to share them with a few close friends to get their opinions.
They might see something that you’ve missed. If you haven’t seen the movies, the names Loki and Hannibal may seem appealing, but your friends may spot the problem straight away.
If you want to give your child a middle name, and not everybody does, there’s no need to put quite as much thought into it as you did for the first name. It’s seldom mentioned after the birth announcement in most cases.
The middle name is a useful place to hide that obligatory relative’s name that you’d rather not have used. The middle name can also be useful if you want to have a gender-friendly alternative to an overtly masculine or feminine first name.
If you’ve chosen the very manly Hagan as a first name, you may want to balance it with Jackie as a middle name.
Of course, when adding a middle name, always check that the monogram doesn’t spell something awful, as in Amanda Scarlett Stevenson. That said, Lisa Sophia Denton’s monogram is even worse!
Once you’ve settled on a first name, put it with your surname and see how they sound together.
If you have a very long or complex surname, consider a short, simple first name.
For example, with the three-syllable surname Patterson, we’d suggest something short like James.
Have a look at the letters that end of the first name and the beginning of the last. Nicholas Anders can sound like Nicola Sanders!
We’d advise you to use the most commonly accepted spelling for your baby’s name.
It will just make life so much easier for your child if people don’t constantly misspell her name or have to be corrected.
Try to avoid extra apostrophes and strange capitalization. Use Desiree, not Desire’; Malasia not Ma’Lasia.
Keep it simple and save your child the hassle of “No, it’s J-A-K-U-B not J-A-C-O-B!”
Names are used in a standard way for email handles.
Most places of work or study use the first initial with the surname, so do check if that is going to work for your chosen name.
Fred Atkins is an okay-sounding name, but his future email will likely be email@example.com.
Not so good.
Some people like the new baby’s name to compliment that of an older sibling. You could rhyme your children’s names, like Michelle, Chantelle and Janelle, but once they’re older the girls may not enjoy their names sounding so matchy-matchy.
Try to avoid giving brother and sister similar sounding names. Kids like to be seen as individuals, even if they’re twins. That’s why Simon and Simone are best not used together.
The other extreme is total inconsistency in your children’s names. If you name one child something simple and modern, like Todd, it probably won’t work to name his baby sister Henrietta.
Try the names out together by saying them in a sentence out loud. “Todd and Henrietta, it’s dinner time!” sounds a little awkward compared to “Todd and Ava, it’s time to eat!”
Your family, or his, may have a long tradition of family names.
Think carefully before choosing to disregard this. It can give a child a sense of belonging and heritage to have a name that goes back for generations.
You could use family names creatively. For instance, if his mother is Anne and yours is Mary, what about naming your baby girl Ann-Mary?
Yes, it can cause problems if the baby’s grandparents object to the name you’ve chosen.
The bottom line though is that they got to name their babies.
This is your baby and you get to name it even if your mother-in-law cries or you - yikes - get disinherited.
If you anticipate having problems, you can always keep the chosen name to yourselves until after the baby is born.
Just name the baby and make an announcement after the birth.
Stay firm in your commitment to the name you’ve chosen. Those involved will hopefully soon get used to it despite being disappointed.
They’ll adore the baby and will start using the name you’ve chosen or will come up with a cute nickname of their own.
If you and your partner share a common ancestry, such as French, you may want to use a French name for your child even though you live in the US.
We get it - the struggle is real!
Deciding on the perfect name for your little one can be difficult and nobody wants to make a mistake.
Added to that, you probably have a hundred other things to get done like decorating the nursery and scheduling doctors’ visits.
Deciding on a name should be more fun than stress, though.
Think of it as a creative project that you’re tackling together.
So, whether you’re looking for something traditional, picking a very special family name from your family tree or making up your very own brand-new name, chances are that if you and your partner both love it, it will be perfect.
In our first trimester of pregnancy article, we cover:
And everything else you may not have considered. Let's get started!
Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters of approximately three months each.
The first trimester is from the beginning of your pregnancy until week 13. It might not look like much is happening when you look at your stomach, but many dramatic changes are taking place as your baby grows.
Our guide will help you with what exactly is going on and what to expect in these early weeks. We’ll also fill you in with what you should be doing and what to avoid.
Many women miss most of the first trimester because they don’t even realize that they’re pregnant at first!
Whether you know or not, your body knows what to do and pregnancy hormones are preparing your body to nourish and protect your baby for the next nine months.
The first thing to do is make sure that you definitely are pregnant.
Your healthcare provider will be able to calculate your due date for you, if you know when your last menstrual period was. Otherwise, it can be worked out from sonar.
This first sonar is known as a “dating scan.” It’s usually done around 12 weeks of pregnancy but can be done from 6 weeks. An ultrasound machine and probe are used to perform the scan. It’s done by your ob-gyn, a midwife or a radiographer.
If done after 10 weeks gestation, the dating scan is done via your abdomen. Some gel is placed on your tummy and the hand-held probe is moved across your skin. The picture shows up on a monitor.
If the scan is done before 10 weeks or if you are very overweight, a vaginal probe may be used. This is painless and does not cause any harm.
The only preparation needed for an ultrasound scan is to have a full bladder. This pushes the uterus up and makes it easier to see. The procedure only takes about 10 minutes.
The radiographer will measure the baby to determine its age, providing a reasonably accurate estimation of how far along you are in your pregnancy.
Remember that very few women give birth exactly on their estimated due date.
Think of it as a guide, not an exact date. At the scan you’ll be able to hear the heartbeat and see any movement the baby is making.
The radiographer will check for twins and also make sure that the baby is growing normally.
Most of the symptoms experienced in early pregnancy are due to changing hormonal levels. The following symptoms are common:
The changes listed above are all normal and unless severe, are nothing to worry about.
However, if you experience any of the symptoms below you should contact your healthcare provider. The risk of miscarriage is highest in this trimester, so be aware of the following:
We hope this isn’t an overwhelming number of dos and don’ts for you. There’s no need to worry about too many things, just take care of yourself.