Pregnancy Stages and Symptoms
Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle
When you are pregnant, you get to hear everyone else’s stories.
Those stories can be a little too fluffy (“Me? No, I never had ANY swelling!”) or a little too scary (“I was on bed rest from the second day!”) Everyone’s experience is different, and every pregnancy is different.
Here are some pregnancy symptoms you may expect, and some things to ask your doctor about, during your pregnancy.
First Trimester: What is WRONG with me?
A lot of women don’t know that they are pregnant when they become pregnant. They may think they have the flu, food poisoning, or they are stressed from work, but the female body has to work really hard in that first month to get the pregnancy going. The first trimester is the most vital of all trimesters; significant brain and organ growth is occurring.
The website “What to Expect”, based on the popular book series (and now the inspiration for a New Pregnancy Movie!) says that most morning sickness is blamed on the hormone hCG. That hormone shows up at the very beginning of the pregnancy and helps the body prepare for carrying a baby. It subsides, usually, in the second trimester, though some women experience morning sickness (or all day sickness) the whole pregnancy. hCG also causes the body to want to urinate often, and actually suppresses the immune system. This is so the body will not reject the baby, but it makes you more susceptible to colds and the flu.
- To keep yourself healthier, try to avoid situations around sick people.
- Don’t try taking extra supplements at this time other than your prenatal vitamin.
Physically, expect the breasts to swell in the first trimester. They may be a little uncomfortable. This is due to a surge in estrogen, the female hormone. You may start to see a tummy, or it may stay flat until the second trimester. You also may start to feel clumsier. hCG allows the joints to relax and spread out, preparing for carrying a baby. Because your joints are a little less stable than usual, be more careful about your activities.
- Check your normal fitness routine with your doctor. He may have specific recommendations.
Then, there is the sudden need to eat. Right now! This is normal. In fact, many women get sick if they do not eat when they get that first urge to eat. This is the hCG hormone keeping enough fuel in the body to fuel up that baby. So, go ahead and eat as soon as you feel that coming on.
- Have healthy snacks on hand, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy snack bars.
“But I crave chips and ice cream!” This is also normal. Cravings are different from woman to woman, so allow yourself some craving foods now and then, but don’t overdo it. This is where a lot of pregnancy weight gain can come from.
- Have a proportioned snack (Fudgsicles are fabulous) ready for such an occasion.
However, if your cravings include laundry soap, paint, or other non-food, see your doctor. You may have a severe iron or other mineral deficiency. He can supplement your diet and hopefully help get rid of those cravings.
- NEVER give in to a non-food craving.
Second Trimester: The Honeymoon
Usually, the second trimester is the happiest trimester. The hCG subsides some, and you are getting more comfortable with your pregnant body. By this time, it’s a little more obvious that you are pregnant, so expect most people, even strangers, to want to help you out.
You may find yourself dizzy at times. As your body starts to expand, your blood vessels also expand to allow more blood to get to the baby. This is like water going through a wider hose. It may not have enough pressure to get all the way to the top (your head).
- It’s very important to sit down when you start to feel dizzy.
- It’s also important to make sure you have water with you at all times.
Third Trimester: Getting There!
In this trimester, you may experience swelling and pain. The body is out of balance, holding most of its weight on the front of the abdomen. Your posture will compensate, which may affect your back. Another kind of back pain happens down at the tailbone. This is because the back side of the womb has a ligament connecting it to the spine at the tailbone. As the belly expands, it pulls on the ligament.
- To combat that pain at your tailbone, try stretching your back.
- Use a safe, prenatal exercise program, like Shannon Miller’s Fit Pregnancy DVD.
Swelling is common in the lower leg and ankle in the third trimester. According to Babycenter, this is because the heavy abdomen presses on the lower blood vessels, making the return blood from the legs difficult.
- Because blood flow to legs is more difficult in the third trimester, it’s important that a pregnant woman takes breaks and elevates her feet in the third trimester. In extreme or numbing situations, call the doctor.
- Poor circulation can make you start seeing spider veins in your thigh area. (Sclerotherapy can get rid of ’em!)
Because of the pressure on the feet and the continued expansion of joints to prepare for carrying the weight of the baby and childbirth, your feet may actually grow. Go ahead and get the larger shoe size, because other than the swelling, foot sizes will not shrink after the baby is born.