Whether you are a first time mother or a seasoned veteran at pregnancy, there are still nine months of changes and none are totally predictable. Many older couples plan their pregnancies to occur during a certain time, such as during the summer when a teacher would be on vacation. Just as many pregnancies are not planned and may catch the parents off guard. The quality of your own care month by month is important for the proper development of your baby. There are three stages of pregnancy, usually defined as trimesters, which are determined by the milestones that a mother and child reach.
The first trimester is the most difficult for the mother because of the many hormonal changes her body is going through. Month by month in the first trimester the changes are subtle. The mother may experience headaches, back pain, nausea, vomiting and an increased appetite during the first three months. These are usually the first indicators that a woman may have that she might be pregnant. A simple urine test can determine whether hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is present, indicating a pregnancy. Your doctor may also order a blood test if they are in doubt about your pregnancy. Once your pregnancy is confirmed, your doctor will discuss with you what to expect during the first trimester and may prescribe vitamins and calcium supplements. Normally you will schedule doctor visits every four weeks during the first trimester.
During the second and third months of your pregnancy you will experience many changes including weight gain, fatigue, back pain and nausea. The nausea, in most cases, will disappear after the third month. Depending upon the mother's age, the doctor may request an amniocentesis. The test can determine whether a child has Down's syndrome, Hunter's syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, sickle-cell anemia and Huntington's chorea. An amniocentesis can also determine the sex of a child, which would be important if the mother had a genetic disorder such as hemophilia. The baby will continue to develop month by month and begin gaining weight during the second trimester.
The second trimester is usually uneventful for the majority of women. The most common complaints women have include heartburn, indigestion, bloating, headaches, faintness, nasal congestion, swelling of ankles and feet and an increase in appetite. It is crucial during this time to eat the best foods possible, both for the mother and the developing fetus. Month by month the baby is growing and needs more nutrition. If a mother doesn't eat foods rich in calcium and vitamins the developing fetus may deplete the mother's own calcium from her bones. If parents haven't had a child before, they may want to consider taking a childbirth class at this time. This is especially important if a mother has decided to not have pain medication during the delivery. A doctor will continue to see a woman at least every four weeks unless there are any problems such as increased blood pressure which signals pre-eclampsia and premature labor signs.
The third trimester is the most difficult of the pregnancy stages for many women because of their increasing size, fatigue, back pain and shortness of breath. Month by month the baby continues to increase in size and may cause pain when putting an arm or foot between your ribs. Changing your position by lying down or even nudging your child's offending appendage may cause them to change their position. By the eighth month the baby may find their position, which is usually head down. Occasionally a child may be facing up which indicates a possible breech delivery. Though babies can continually change their position even days before delivery. The doctor will see a woman every two weeks during the seventh and eighth months and then every week the last month of pregnancy.
The pregnancy usually ends when the mother goes into labor, which is signaled by the amniotic sac rupturing. Most children are delivered within 15 hours or less to happy, albeit exhausted, parents.