From Conception to Birth: The Trimesters of Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the miracles of life. But, as your body changes and becomes the perfect habitat for your baby, you may experience some unpleasant symptoms. On average, pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks, starting from the first day of your missed period to the birth of your child. These 40 weeks are divided into three stages: the first, second and third trimester.

Learn what happens to your body and your baby’s development during these trimesters.

Sperm Meets Egg: Conception

Ovulation takes place around two weeks after your period. This is when your ovaries release a mature egg. In order for pregnancy to occur, the egg must be fertilized between 12-24 hours after it’s released. This is when it travels through the Fallopian tube towards the uterus.

Once a sperm cell fuses with the egg cell, this is then known as fertilization or conception. It then takes three to four days for the fertilized egg to migrate to the uterine lining. It then implants into the uterine wall.

The First Trimester (week 1 to 12)

During this stage, your body begins to undergo many changes. This starts with the development of the amniotic sac and placenta. Your baby’s development also occurs rapidly during this time. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the foetus begins to develop a brain, spinal cord – down to the little fingers and toes.

At the end of the first trimester, the average fetus at 12 weeks is about 2.1 inches long (5.33 centimetres) and weighs around 0.49 ounces (14 grams). This trimester may bring some unwanted symptoms. These symptoms include nausea, vomiting, swollen breasts, cravings, mood swings, constipation, headaches, heartburn, and weight fluctuations. It is important to note that although these are common pregnancy symptoms, every mommy-to-be has a different experience. And although these symptoms are considered normal, it’s important to take care during this crucial time. As most miscarriages, as well as birth defects, occur during this trimester, we suggest speaking to a medical practitioner and other mums about your symptoms.

The Second Trimester (week 13 to 28)

During the second trimester, your baby is growing exponentially and will be between 13 to 16 inches long (33 – 40 centimetres) and weight about 2 to 3 pounds (900 – 1360 grams). Additionally, between 18 and 22 weeks, an ultrasound may also reveal the sex of the baby.

Usually, around 18 weeks of pregnancy, your baby’s fingernails, eyebrows, eyelashes develop and the skin has a wrinkled appearance. According to ACOG, your baby’s organs will begin to be functional – the kidneys can even produce urine. Incredibly, your baby will already be able to swallow and hear. By week 21, the foetus will be more active, and you may be able to feel your baby moving around. But don’t worry too much about your bouncing baby, they will also go to sleep at this stage, so you’ll get a few moments of peace.

During the second trimester, your baby grows fine hair (referred to as lanugo) and is protected by a wax-like coating (called vernix). This is to protect the very delicate skin as it is still very thin and undeveloped at this point. By week 26 your baby’s organs begin to develop more rapidly, the eyes begin to open, and the brain is maturing quickly.

Many people find the second trimester to be easier than the first, as some symptoms such as nausea and fatigue might pass at this point. This is why it is often referred to as the ‘golden period’. Although you may still experience different symptoms such as back pain, abdominal pain, leg cramps, constipation and heartburn, these tend to be less severe than those of the first trimester. More noticeable changes will now occur in your body such as the expanding of the abdomen as your baby grows.

Third Trimester (week 29 to 40)

This may be the most difficult period of pregnancy. But don’t worry, it’s the final stretch (quite literally).

During this trimester your baby will move around less than the previous trimesters due to the compact space. This can also mean some serious kicks and pokes to the gut. Things like bones, skin, the digestive system and the brain rapidly develop. tour baby will also be able to perceive light, taste and even be able to dream. Your baby’s position will change and drop down to your pelvis in preparation for labor. Usually, the baby is upside down, head facing toward the birthing canal.

You may be experiencing shortness of breath, haemorrhoids, urinary incontinence, varicose veins and sleeping problems. These symptoms are mainly due to the great expansion of your uterus as well as the weight of the baby putting pressure on your organs.

Surecheck Tip: If you notice sudden or extreme swelling or weight gain, and high blood pressure then call your doctor immediately. This can be an indication of more serious health issues such as preeclampsia.

As you are near your due date, your cervix becomes thinner and softer. This process is called cervical effacement and helps your birth canal open during birth – this prepares your body for the delivering of your baby. Your doctor will check your progress with a vaginal exam as you get closer to your due date. Get excited! The final countdown has begun!

Think You Might Be Pregnant?

If you have missed your period or you’re noticing any unusual changes to your body, then take a pregnancy test as soon as possible. Early detection enables you to make an informed decision about your body and future. We recommend using a pregnancy test that works with the hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin) hormone-like Surecheck. This technology is able to detect pregnancy from your first missed period.

Should you decide to go ahead with the pregnancy, you should reevaluate your diet, bad habits (such as drinking and smoking). It’s also good to consider taking the necessary supplements for the health of you and your baby. Speak to your general practitioner about this process so that you can get all the help you need.