What to expect during pregnancy
You're embarking on the wonderful, exciting journey to motherhood. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for what's ahead so you can relax and enjoy your pregnancy.
What’s it like to be pregnant?
It’s exciting. And scary. And a time full of changes. Your baby needs 280 days, or 40 weeks, to grow inside your body before she’s ready to enter the world. Your pregnancy divides into three-month segments called trimesters.
- The first trimester. Your baby transforms from a blastocyst–a tiny little ball of cells implanted on the wall of your uterus–into a fetus that looks more like a person. As she grows inside, your body grows placenta to filter oxygen and nourishment to your baby. The glands and ducts in your breasts develop to provide milk for your baby after birth.
- The second trimester. Your baby’s organs begin to develop and mature. She’s covered with a creamy, white substance called vernix caseosa that protects the skin from exposure to amniotic fluid. In this trimester most women feel great energy, strength, and happiness. Morning sickness usually decreases, and your pregnancy is starting to show.
- The third trimester. Your baby’s skin turns from red to pink. Her body (and yours) begins to fill out as she begins to store a little fat. The size of your baby may produce a little discomfort such as backache, indigestion, and pressure on the bladder.
First prenatal doctor visit
Make an appointment as soon as you know you’re expecting. A doctor’s care early in your pregnancy is important. Be prepared with the following information at your first visit:
- Your reproductive history
- Any inherited disorders
- Any current and past illnesses
- The date of your last menstrual cycle in order to plot the due date
Your health care provider will record your height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse. He or she then will perform a general physical examination and a pelvic examination. In addition, samples of your blood and urine will go to a lab for analysis.
Doctor visits during pregnancy
You’ll be scheduled for monthly appointments until the 28th week. At that point you’ll need a checkup every three weeks for several visits and then every two weeks. After the 36th week you’ll be seeing your doctor weekly until the baby is born.