Pregnancy is one of the most exciting but nerve-wracking experiences a woman can have in life. Here’s how to manage your pregnancy week by week.
For some women, discovering that they’re pregnant can be a disappointing and even terrifying revelation.
Not all pregnancies are planned and, even when they are, not all women are emotionally prepared for the news of a life growing inside them. Regardless of which type you are, discovering that you’re going to become a mother has probably set off a flurry of emotions, questions and doubts that are now competing with the hormonal changes taking place in your body.
And, if your pregnancy was unplanned, you may still be struggling to accept the news and haven’t even begun to consider the implications. You may be in denial and hoping that you’re wrong.
This ultimate guide will take you through your pregnancy week-by-week, starting with that all-important initial stage of recognizing that you are, or may be, pregnant.
It’s been more than a month since you’ve engaged in sexual activity with your partner and your much-anticipated period has not yet arrived. Each day becomes more agonizing as you wait for your monthly cycle to start.
The only thing you can do so that you don’t keep guessing is to take a pregnancy test at home. Better yet, visit your OB so you can get a blood test done.
This trip to the OB may be something you’re hesitant to take at first, especially if you’re still in the “I’m-trying-to-figure-this-whole-thing-out” stage.
With this in mind, here are the symptoms of early pregnancy you should look out for:
1. Frequent Urination
If you suddenly find yourself unable to sleep through the night without needing to take a trip to the loo several times, you may be pregnant.
During pregnancy, your body produces more fluids, causing your bladder to work overtime. Thus, you take more bathroom breaks than normal. This symptom of early pregnancy is usually observed when you’re in the sixth to eight week of conception.
2. Sore or Tender Breasts
Do your bras feel more uncomfortable? Do your breasts look and feel bigger? Does the areola or area around your nipples look darker? If your answer to all three questions is yes, then you may be pregnant. These changes are all due to changes in your hormone levels.
When you’re pregnant, your body produces higher levels of progesterone, which causes your digestive system to slow down. Progesterone also causes the slow process of food passing through your intestines. Because of this, you will be constipated so you have to drink a lot of water and eat plenty of foods rich in fiber.
You feel exhausted and your eyes feel droopy. If you’re pregnant, fatigue is your body’s response to the increase in hormone levels. This is normal and can start as early as the first week of pregnancy. Get plenty of rest every day and be sure to eat foods rich in iron and protein.
Have you noticed any spots of blood in your undies? You may notice this during the first few days, normally six to twelves days after conception; this occurrence is referred to as implantation bleeding.
What happens is the fertilized egg attaches to your reproductive system’s uterine wall, which then causes the spotting. It may sometimes be accompanied by cramping, although it will be mild.
Aside from spotting, you may also notice a white discharge. This is caused by the vagina’s walls thickening and the growth of the vaginal cells’ lining to prepare for conception. This discharge is normal and can occur throughout pregnancy, so don’t worry about seeking treatment for it.
However, if you’re not expecting, and the discharge is accompanied by a bad smell and itching, tell your OB because it may be caused by a bacterial or yeast infection.
6. Shortness of Breath
Do you suddenly feel short of breath every time you go upstairs? It could be because you’re pregnant.
Your baby is now sharing your oxygen with you, so being short of breath is something you should expect throughout your pregnancy. As your baby grows, you’ll feel even more short of breath because of increased pressure on your diaphragm and lungs.
One of the symptoms of being pregnant is a sore lower back. This is caused by your baby growing and you gaining weight, which causes your ligaments to loosen up.
You will also experience headaches during the first week of pregnancy due to changes in your hormones. If the headaches are intolerable, consult your OB before reaching for the Ibuprofen.
9. Dizziness or Fainting
Pregnant women have low blood pressure and low blood sugar, which causes some dizziness during the first weeks of pregnancy and later. This is why it’s important to eat properly (and enough!) and stay hydrated.
Despite its name, morning sickness does not only occur in the morning. It usually starts in the sixth week of pregnancy, but some women experience this symptom even earlier. This usually subsides during week 13 or 14.
What exactly causes morning sickness isn’t known although hormonal changes contribute to it. However, there are women who do not experience morning sickness at all during their pregnancy.
11. Cravings or Strong Aversions to Certain Foods
Suddenly, your favorite food makes your stomach go crazy, or you crave foods you never even really liked that much before. These food issues can be attributed to pregnancy.
12. Increased Sensitivity in Smell
You know you have a bun in the oven when smelling your partner’s perfume suddenly leaves you feeling repulsed. Or, maybe the smell of food you usually like now makes you feel like you want to throw up. If you notice an increase in your sensitivity to certain odors, you may be pregnant.
13. Mood Swings
Do you feel like you’re overreacting or have become more emotional than normal in petty situations? Do you bounce from one mood to another?
Being hormonal is also a symptom of pregnancy, unless you naturally experience rollercoaster emotions. These mood swings are related to changes in your hormones and, like other symptoms, are common during the first trimester. They will eventually subside.
14. Missed Period
Missing your period is one of the most telling signs that you’re pregnant, especially if you have a regular menstrual cycle. While not all missed periods mean pregnancy, it’s best to take a pregnancy test if you think pregnancy is a possibility.
15. Positive Pregnancy Test
If you’ve already taken a pregnancy test and had a negative result, it’s possible that the result was because of early testing.
If you have other symptoms of pregnancy and your period is still late, try taking another pregnancy test later on. Tests can usually be done two weeks after a missed period.
Morning sickness can really be a pain for pregnant women who have to deal with it each day.
What many do not know is that it’s not something that you just have to grin and bear, but rather something that can be treated.
So, if you’ve been suffering from morning sickness, you’ll be relieved to know that there are natural remedies and traditional medications available to make it a bit more bearable.
The following are some remedies for morning sickness that have worked for other pregnant women. You may need to try a few to find one that works for you so that you can have a nausea-free first trimester.
Mint not only helps to freshen a not-so-fresh mouth after a bout of morning sickness, but when you sniff or eat something mint-flavored, you’ll feel better and less nauseous.
You’ll find that crackers or toast can help to ease your stomach when it starts to get queasy. In fact, any food that is savory or sour, whether it’s lemon water or candy, will help. If you don’t like eating it, try smelling it to help you feel better.
Popular in Chinese medicine, ginger is known to have properties that help to tame a queasy tummy. Drink a ginger soda or tea when feeling queasy and nauseous.
While it’s definitely going to be hard to walk with a big and heavy tummy, studies have shown that even a brief walk of 15 to 30 minutes can help to release endorphins, which help pregnant women in fighting nausea and fatigue.
5. Motion Sickness Patches
Do you get dizzy with even minimal movement? Treat nausea with Scopolamine. Make sure your doctor approves before you take it though.
6. Prescription Medications
There are over-the-counter medications such as Unisom and Benadryl, which can also help in treating nausea—more so if your morning sickness begins early in the day when you wake up. Just be sure to take only what your doctor has advised.
Pregnancy can make you picky about what to eat and not to eat. You have to be responsible with your decisions as they won’t only affect you but your baby as well.
With this in mind, here are some healthy foods you should eat throughout your pregnancy to make sure you and your baby will be in the best possible health.
1. Whole Grain Bread
When you’re pregnant, you’ll feel bloated and constipated from time to time. So, to make it easier for you, you have to eat foods rich in fiber like whole grain bread. The good thing about whole grain bread is that it will also provide you with zinc and iron—minerals that are essential for your baby’s growth and your health, too.
Another food rich in fiber is oatmeal. It’ll also give you the energy you need to start the day because it is packed with carbohydrates. Oatmeal makes your stomach feel full longer while lowering your cholesterol levels. Plain oatmeal is better than flavored oatmeal, which is high in sugar.
3. Fortified Breakfast Cereal
Folate is essential throughout your pregnancy. Experts recommend that pregnant women get at least 400 mg of fortified foods every day, and you can get this by eating a bowl of breakfast cereal. It’s also recommended that you consume 200 mg of foods rich in folate like black-eyed peas and asparagus.
Not all fats are bad. Fat is actually essential to the development of your baby’s brain, so experts suggest that pregnant women consume unsaturated fats, which can be found in nuts. You just have to eat them with caution since they are high in calories, too. Stick to eating a serving of one ounce.
However, peanuts are one of the highly allergenic food that are not advisable to eat during pregnancy. Some studies have shown that certain foods can cause your baby to become sensitized while in utero. Eating peanuts may then cause your baby to develop food allergies later in life.
Cheeses like mozzarella and cheddar are high in protein. Eating them will also help you in getting the calcium you need for your bones to stay as strong as you need them to be during your pregnancy.
6. Non-Fat Milk
Another food that can help you to meet your calcium requirements during pregnancy is non-fat milk. Experts recommend that pregnant women drink an 8-ounce glass of non-fat milk each day as it can supply around 30% of the recommended dietary allowance per 1000 mg.
Broccoli is packed with calcium, folate, fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants—everything you need to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
8. Dried Fruits
Looking for healthy snacks? Choose dried fruits. You have plenty of choices, including cherries, apricots and cranberries. Not only will you enjoy eating them while you’re pregnant, but they’ll also help to prevent urinary tract infections (UTI).
Bananas are great for when you’re feeling queasy and nauseated. They are also rich in potassium, which you need during your pregnancy.
Oranges are rich in vitamin C and fiber. They help to boost your immune system while aiding with constipation. They are also made up of 90% water, so consuming them helps you to meet your daily fluid needs.
You need protein when you’re pregnant. If you become picky with food and develop an aversion to meat products, eggs are a great source of protein and work as an alternative. Hard-boiled eggs are recommended rather than scrambled eggs or sunny side up.
During your pregnancy, you don’t only eat for yourself. You also need to feed that little fetus inside of you.
You may feel ravenous most of the time since you’ll be eating for two, but before you jump on the next food you come across with, remember these important points you need to adhere to for a safe and healthy pregnancy.
1. Cut back on or skip beverages with caffeine.
Aside from coffee, caffeine is present in soda, tea, chocolate and cocoa. If you’re a regular coffee drinker or soda lover, and have a hard time skipping it altogether, choose to drink decaffeinated brews and sodas instead. Better yet, try steamed milk, fruit juice and water with lemon squeeze.
2. Forget the alcohol.
Drinking any alcoholic beverages while pregnant is a big no-no. Studies have proved that when an expectant mother drinks alcohol, the baby deals with learning disabilities, physical defects and even emotional problems after birth. So, it only makes sense to cut out the alcohol.
3. Don’t go on a diet while you’re pregnant.
Now that you’re pregnant, you’re supposed to get bigger over time so keep calm and relax, okay? Yes, I know you want to keep that gorgeous bod, but if you stick to your diet instead of following your doctor’s dietary plan for you, you and your baby’s health may be at risk.
As long as you eat well and gain weight within the normal range as advised by your doctor, you’ll be fine and you’ll have a higher chance of delivering a healthy baby, which is what matters most.
4. Gain weight gradually.
The recommended pace of weight gain varies on all pregnant women. Depending on your weight in the early stages of your pregnancy, your doctor will tell you the normal number of pounds you can gain as you grow bigger.
If you are overweight or underweight, you need to have that important conversation with your doctor to make sure you and your baby are at the best health while you’re pregnant.
5. Eat frequent but smaller meals.
Eat around five to six healthy meals per day to avoid digestion difficulties. If you feel hungry during your regular meal times, eat.
Do not prevent yourself from eating so that you can stick to the five to six smaller meals each day. Just stick to eating enough but not so much that you end up feeling queasy, bloated or constipated later on.
6. Treat yourself to something sweet occasionally.
Don’t punish yourself just because you’re asked to eat healthy meals. A little cake and ice cream on occasion won’t have any negative effect on you or you baby. The key is to eat a balanced meal together with your favorite foods.
7. Take a prenatal vitamin supplement.
Some pregnant women deal with the worst morning sickness and food aversions. In this case, a prenatal vitamin supplement works wonders. Ask your doctor about one and take them only with medical advice and supervision.
I’m sure you are dying to find out when you can get your first ultrasound or when you can experience your baby’s first kick. Pregnancy is indeed a very exciting time. You can expect weekly developments in your baby’s growth. As you grow bigger, she or he grows inside of you, too.
There is a lot of information to be found in books and online about pregnancy week-by-week, but with such limited time, we know it’s not possible to read them all.
So, in an effort to make it easier for you, here’s a detailed guide about all the changes happening to your baby while inside your belly and everything you can expect from your body as this happens, week-by-week:
Nine months is a long time for a pregnant woman. There are a lot of things to learn, discover and, more importantly, to remember.
So, to avoid you being stressed with all the things you have to do as an expecting mom, we’ve compiled a comprehensive to-do list of the most important things you have to take care of while pregnant.
1. Take a prenatal vitamin.
Be sure to consistently take all the prenatal vitamins prescribed by your OB. One good example is folic acid. Taking enough folic acid has been proven to cut your baby’s risk of having birth defects, such as Spina Bifida.
2. Be present at all prenatal appointments.
You will need to see your doctor at regular intervals to ensure that your health and your baby’s condition are supervised closely.
3. Find out more about health insurance.
If you have health insurance, get all the information about your plan’s coverage in regard to the cost of prenatal care, delivery and others. Give your health insurance company a call. If you don’t have health insurance, research about where you can get help during your pregnancy.
4. Shop for maternity clothes.
The second trimester is the best time to shop for maternity clothes. Just remember to pick clothes you can wear comfortably in the different months of your pregnancy.
5. Shop for baby gear.
Be sure to assemble cribs, monitors, swings, strollers, etc. while your bump is still not that big. Do this with your partner and, if there are friends who can help, let them help you. If you already know the gender of you baby, this is the perfect time to shop for baby clothes and feeding needs.
6. Use moisturizer on your belly.
Pick a moisturizing lotion that you can use on your belly. While this may not prevent stretch marks, it’s still important to keep your skin moisturized as it stretches as your bump grows bigger. It can also help to prevent itching.
7. Join a prenatal exercise class.
Find a class that offers pregnancy-friendly workouts. You not only keep your body healthy while pregnant, but an exercise class is a great way to make connections and get support from other expecting moms. Some great examples are prenatal Pilates or yoga and water exercise.
8. Talk to your baby.
Start bonding with your baby by talking to him or her since he or she can hear your voice now. If you feel odd or awkward talking, you can also sing, read stories or play music to your child.
9. Prepare yourself for breastfeeding.
If you have decided to breastfeed your baby, be sure to learn more and read about it.
Talk to moms who are nursing their babies, read books about breastfeeding or go online to read from websites that offer information about it. This way, you understand how to do it properly and the benefits it can bring to you and your baby.
10. Understand labor and how to cope with labor pain.
If it’s your first pregnancy, know that you will experience labor for an average of 15 to 20 hours. If you’ve delivered via normal delivery before, it should not take more than 8 hours.
Know that it’s going to be painful and, based on your pain tolerance, you have to decide now whether you want to deliver via natural birth or if you need a pain medication to help you during the childbirth process.
11. Create a birth plan.
You’ll never know when exactly you will deliver your baby, so make sure you are prepared. The birth plan includes whether or you want pain management during delivery, who will be with you as you give birth and more.
12. Pack your bags.
Make sure everything you need, including your comfortable clothes, toiletries, baby clothes, camera or video camera, charger, food, insurance card and more are all in one bag. This way, by the time you deliver, your partner or whoever is with you can just grab the bag and go.
13. Tour the birth center or hospital where you will give birth.
Visit the nursery, labor room and recovery room to know where you will go when the time to give birth has come. Know the basic policies.
14. Check for late-pregnancy complications.
Be sure to check for symptoms of pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia. If anything happens, call your doctor right away.
15. Cope with jitters you may feel during late pregnancy.
You may be feeling anxious since you don’t know what will happen. It can be nerve-wracking, but you need to remain calm, relax and make the most of the moment.
16. Stop panicking if your due date has passed.
If your baby is overdue, do not panic. Your doctors is prepared and is trained to handle the situation.
That more or less wraps up how your pregnancy will go week-by-week.
As you have learned, pregnancy is a beautiful thing and you can make the journey even better by making wise choices.
It’s a must to consider how every decision you make will affect your baby. Be prepared and arm yourself with enough knowledge to manage your pregnancy and be the best mom to your child after delivery. It will be hard, but if you were able to survive all the pain of pregnancy, it’s not a feat you can’t achieve.
If you’ve liked this Ultimate Guide, please share it with friends and add your own pregnancy tips in the comment section below!
Maine Belonio is a twenty-something mom and writer who has a penchant for coffee, long distance running, Tolkien, Switchfoot, and Jesus.
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