How to Recognize Stages of Pregnancy

By Anita Holmes
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Creating a new human being is a remarkable process that takes about 40 weeks. During the gestation period, a woman's body goes through a series of changes; however, keep in mind that the experience can vary from one woman to the next, as well as from one pregnancy to another. You may have no morning sickness -- a typical sign of the first trimester -- with one pregnancy, while you might spend 6 months dealing with daily nausea when you have your second baby. Pregnancy is organized into three stages with characteristics common to each stage and relative to the stages of fetal development. Knowing the symptoms of each stage of pregnancy can help you track your progress.

First Trimester -- Weeks 1 to 12

Step 1

Expect to be very tired. Your body's undergoing changes in many systems to accommodate your baby.

Step 2

Look for tender breast tissue, mood swings, possible constipation, frequent urination, heartburn and the beginning of weight gain.

Step 3

Count on a certain degree of nausea, most often upon awakening. Should the nausea be severe and ongoing, you may experience some weight loss.

Second Trimester -- Weeks 13 to 28

Step 1

Prepare for body aches. You may want to invest in a body pillow for extra support over nighttime sleeping.

Step 2

Anticipate stretch marks appearing on upper legs, buttocks, breasts and your abdomen.

Step 3

Get ready to experience swelling, especially in the lower extremities. Sometimes swelling will be accompanied by itching. Patches of darkened skin may develop on the face; these temporary skin colorations are sometimes called the mask of pregnancy.

Third Trimester -- Weeks 29 to 40

Step 1

Anticipate possible shortness of breath as a growing baby places more pressure on your organs. Also expect trouble sleeping as your body copes with baby's ever-more distinct presence in terms of size and activity.

Step 2

Be prepared for increased swelling in your ankles, face and fingers. All signs of baby's important growth, you may also have more problems with heartburn and even more tender breasts. Your breasts may also secrete a watery substance known as colostrum; this is a sign that your body is preparing for baby's grand entry.

Step 3

Look forward to contractions, the first step in the final stage of pregnancy.

About the Author

A retired teacher, Anita Holmes is an experienced seamstress, wood worker and home decor specialist. She's designed and constructed new homes, gardens, remodeled multiple homes, built furniture, decks and cabinets and sewn everything from custom drapes to intricate quilts. Holmes holds a Master of Public Administration degree.