The process from conception to childbirth is typically nine months, and during that time a lot of changes take place. The changes occur to the mother as well as to the fetus. There is a very specific rhythm to a pregnancy. Just as a woman who is trying to get pregnant must calculate and track her cycle, days of ovulation, and any late periods, a pregnant woman is also tracking weeks of pregnancy and trimesters. The period of pregnancy is divided into the first, second, and third trimester. During each of the trimesters, there are specific developments that take place and various testing and screening that occur.
There are many tests and a woman will visit her doctor regularly during pregnancy. Typically, a blood test is run during the first trimester to test for things like hepatitis, STDs, and to make sure the right antibodies are present to prevent diseases like rubella and chickenpox. The doctor will also be checking hormone levels to make sure that the pregnancy has proceeded correctly during the first stage. Towards the end of the first trimester, the mother can have a Nuchal Translucency Screening, which tests for Down Syndrome in the child. During the first trimester (the first 13 weeks), it is not uncommon for women not to have a noticeable belly and many choose to keep the news only between close family members.
During the second trimester, there are other screening and testing that take place. These types of tests detect deformations like spina bifida and anencephaly. All are done to properly provide care for the mother and child in the event there is something problematic happening during development. Women of 35 and older are considered high-risk pregnancies and undergo a procedure called Amniocentesis – amniotic fluid is drawn from the abdomen to further check for birth defects and potential risks that can be harmful to the baby and or mother. At this point, pregnancy is usually visible and the belly has grown as the second trimester ends at the 27th week.
The third trimester starts in the 28th week and until labor. A Blood Glucose Test is typically done to detect any sign of gestational diabetes, and other vitals are monitored for irregularities. At 35 weeks, it is normal for some dilation to occur and for the physician to check inside and make sure the baby is in the correct position.
During the any of the trimesters, women can feel differently depending on how their body reacts to the pregnancy; there’s no right or wrong way.
In an effort to keep all women up-to-date with what trimester they are in, we feature a trimester calculator.
This is vital to tracking and monitoring a pregnancy so that you know exactly where you are in the process. Simply enter in the due date of your baby and the system will automatically reveal the beginning and end of your first, second, and third trimester. This is great for following your child’s development and can come in handy when planning a trip, because it may not be advisable to travel during the third trimester.