We’ve provided this week by week outline of the average pregnancy so you can understand the normal bodily changes to expect during the months it takes to create a baby. Our guide is complete with natural and genetic changes the pregnant body undergoes, as well as the range of personal experiences of other pregnant women.
Week by Week
By informing you of what to expect during gestation, we hope that this guide will help you determine how you feel about carrying a fetus to term. Use this to make an informed decision about your own pregnancy.
Week one is counted as the first week of your last menstrual period before you became pregnant. You won’t notice anything yet with your body.
Your body is preparing, as it does every month since you started menstruating, to receive a fertilized egg. The lining of your uterus is getting thicker as the egg is released from the end of your ovary into the fallopian tube that leads to your uterus. Most tests cannot determine whether or not you are pregnant yet.
It is during this week that you actually become pregnant. You may experience some light vaginal bleeding, which many women mistake for a period. Spotting that is lighter than your usual menstrual flow is one of the early signs of pregnancy.
You’ve missed your period and the test came back positive – you’re pregnant. You might be experiencing some of the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy:
- Breast tenderness
- More extreme senses of taste and smell
- Frequent urination
Sleeping in a sports bra can help with breast soreness. Some women may also get headaches from the rise in hormones.
Your hormones are flaring – you might feel elated, depressed, sentimental, powerful and angry all in the same hour! It’s perfectly natural to be experiencing these mood swings, which are often most intense during the next month. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and take your prenatal vitamin.
There are also a lot of women who will have none of the symptoms that we’ve discussed. They will sail through early pregnancy without vomiting or being light headed. This is normal, too.
You should contact your care provider if you suddenly lose your pregnancy symptoms or if you feel depressed for more than two weeks.
You might have started experiencing morning sickness. Morning sickness can happen at any point of the day or night and can come from certain foods or smells. Morning sickness is perfectly normal; it’s your body’s way of adjusting to the hormones released during pregnancy.
A common way to minimize your symptoms is to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day and night. Your breasts may begin to tingle and feel heavy. The areola, the dark nipple portion of your breast, may become darker during this week.
Avoid changing cat litter, because there is a risk of getting an illness called toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis has flu-like symptoms, and can cause genetic defects in your baby. Don’t get rid of the cat! Just ask someone else to change the litter while you are pregnant.
Your face will either start sporting the pregnancy glow or you will have a break-out. Break outs are totally normal and are due to the hormones of your pregnancy. Consult your doctor before taking any acne medications or applying any acne creams. One medication, Accutane, can cause serious birth defects.
You might also begin experiencing food cravings. Many pregnant women never experience food cravings, but if you do don’t worry about giving into the cravings every once in a while. You might have already begun to put on a few pounds, not enough to be showing but just enough that your pants are starting to feel tight. You should think about maternity shopping in the near future.
You might have scheduled your first office visit by now. Many things will take place at the first visit: a urine sample, blood pressure, weight, pelvic exam, Pap smear, blood work, and a discussion of family history. The first visit is often the longest of your prenatal exams. Now is a good time to ask your practitioner any questions you might have.
You may start getting a stuffy nose during this week. Nasal congestion and nosebleeds are fairly common during pregnancy. Try using a vaporizer or humidifier to help lessen these symptoms.
You will continue to feel tired, nauseated, and possibly dizzy. Your hormones are still running wild, causing mood swings that make you laugh or cry for no apparent reason, or overreact to a simple situation. If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, some of your emotions may be brought on by your life situation. Don’t hesitate to get the help you feel you need right now, especially if you are feeling extremely depressed or suicidal.
You might find yourself running to the bathroom more frequently. This is just another symptom of the increased hormones in your body. Frequent urination will last the rest of your pregnancy, increasing during your last month or two when the baby will be pressing on your bladder. If you have any burning or pain during urination, contact your doctor as you could have a bladder infection and will need to take a prescription medication to clear it up.
You might also find yourself sporting the pregnant glow and your breasts creating more cleavage than normal. Hormones hCG and progesterone increase the number of oil glands in your face, making your complexion shinier and smoother. Estrogen and progesterone are spurring milk-producing glands to grow in your breasts.
By this stage of pregnancy most women have gained very little weight. Most women will gain about 1-2 pounds a month in the first trimester. Some women may actually lose weight due to their morning sickness during the first few months; this is perfectly fine. Some women may gain no weight at all, while others will gain 10 or more pounds in the first trimester.
Make sure that you are focusing on nutrition rather than weight. You are not really eating for two, you will only need about 300-500 extra calories a day while you are pregnant.
Women who had frequent headaches before being pregnant or while taking birth control usually have headaches during pregnancy. Check with your doctor before taking any pain medication. Ibuprofen and aspirin are medications that you should not take while pregnant.
You can try lying down in a dark room with a cool cloth on your forehead or on the back of your neck. This can sometimes diminish the pain of a headache. Some women get severe headaches or migraines from sleeping too much; try to decrease your nighttime sleep and increase your rest during the day with a short nap.
You might be feeling clumsier these days. Relaxin, another hormone that messes with you during your pregnancy, loosens up your ligaments and joints in preparation for birth. Even though you only need the extra “give” in your pelvis, the hormone works on your entire body – which means your hands and feet are affected, too.
You have reached the second trimester! Your risk of miscarriage drops substantially at the end of this week. Most women start to feel less nauseous and tired, suddenly having energy again. If your nausea and vomiting have stopped, you may be experiencing a return of your appetite by the end of this month.
The hormonal changes in your body are becoming more apparent as you notice changes in your skin. You may have developed a dark line down the middle of your abdomen called a linea nigra. You may also experience skin darkening around your nipples, areolas, navel, armpits and inner thighs. Skin darkening affects more than 90% of pregnant women. There is not much you can do to prevent this from happening but avoid spending time in the sun. If you do go outside, wear a hat with a wide brim.
You may be constipated. If you are having trouble having bowel movements, try to alleviate this problem by eating more vegetables and other food items that contain fiber. Drinking more fluids, especially water, will also help.
You may begin to feel the baby move around at this point in your pregnancy. It is not uncommon for first-time mothers to not recognize fetal movements until weeks 22-24. These first movements are called “quickening” or “flutters.” They are often mistaken for stomach rumblings or indigestion. They can be used in helping to determine your due date.
Your body’s secretions may increase, due to the increased blood volume. If you are sweating more, nasally congested, or suffering from increased vaginal discharge, this is nothing to worry about; it will go away after the baby is born.
It’s possible that you may occasionally feel faint or dizzy. Many pregnant women experience fluctuations in their blood pressure when they stand up too quickly or when they stand in one place for too long. Stand up slowly and hold onto something until you are sure you feel alright. If you feel faint, sit back down. If this dizziness or faintness happens very often, be sure to check with your doctor.
You may be gaining almost a pound a week right about now. Your uterus is also gearing up for major expansion. This may sound odd, but it will have grown to as much as 1,000 times its normal size by the time you deliver.
Your body is growing and you might find that sleeping is becoming increasingly difficult now. Try propping yourself up with pillows to find a better sleeping position. You might also try doing pelvic tilts before bed, and always be sure to go to the bathroom before lying down. Another tip is to sleep on your side in a fetal position.
You may feel a little bit wobbly these days; this is because your growing belly is shifting your center of gravity. Don’t be surprised if you have a few slips and spills. You will adjust eventually, subconsciously tweaking your posture and gait to offset the expanding belly. These changes can throw your spinal alignment out of whack, causing some back pain. To prevent the back pain, stand up straight when you walk so your hips and shoulders line up.
You are officially halfway through your pregnancy! If you’ve turned to your side while looking in the mirror you’ve noticed the change in your profile – you definitely look pregnant now. Your belly button may start to pop out and stay that way until your delivery; this is caused by your uterus pressing upward and outward.
You might be feeling down about your recent weight gain, but just remember: you are pregnant, not fat! It is not uncommon for women to feel unhappy with their weight gain during this time of their pregnancy, but don’t worry, you’ll get your pre-baby body back soon enough!
If you are having an ultrasound examination this week, you can ask to be told your baby’s sex. You might be excited to find out or want to wait for the surprise at delivery.
Feeling a little dizzy? It’s just another normal side effect due to the fact that your blood pressure has dropped. You might feel lightheaded when you stand up or after standing for a long period of time.
Your hair is thicker and your nails are stronger, but you might be noticing some unwanted hairs. Stick to plucking, waxing, or shaving for removal – bleaches and depilatories contain unsafe chemicals for pregnant women.
Your baby is using more and more of the vitamins and minerals that pass through your body, so you might need an extra dose. Doctors will sometimes prescribe iron supplements in addition to your prenatal vitamins. The extra boost can help reduce your risk of anemia, a condition in which your body doesn’t get enough iron to produce enough red blood cells. With anemia you might experience fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and dizziness. If you feel any of these symptoms during your second or third trimester, call your doctor.
Your cravings may be getting crazier, and the only thing shrinking right now may be your libido – so it’s OK if your cravings for French Fries trump your desire to do the deed.
Many women report that a growing belly translates to feeling more tired and achy and sex may become less and less desirable for you as your pregnancy drags on. Other women report a big can’t-get-enough surge in their third trimester. Either way, it’s perfectly normal!
Now is when your uterus is growing big time! It’s now about the size of a soccer ball. Your middle will begin growing longer and wider. It makes sense as your baby is going to be pushing past the two-pound mark in no time at all and needs some room in there!
You might be experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome in which your fingers may feel numb or tingly. It usually goes away shortly after your baby is born and your pregnancy swelling subsides.
You probably gained around 15 pounds already depending on your pre-pregnancy weight. You may not be loving your pregnancy size but remember that it is a necessity in pregnancy! Much of the weight can be attributed to the weight of your baby, an increase of blood and fluid volume, your expanding uterus, larger breasts, the placenta, and amniotic fluid.
You may be coming off as more assertive than usual, which is totally normal. The awareness that you’re responsible for another little person is often motivation enough to speak up or say no when necessary. Pregnancy also has a way of making you hyper attuned to your instincts. If you find yourself coming off more assertive rather than your normal shy or quiet self, don’t worry, you’ll be back to normal after the hormones!
You’re in the homestretch, but you’re probably ready to be done with pregnancy! You’ll feel the physical toll of pregnancy in your final trimester. The extra weight can lead to musculo-skeletal pain and the fatigue can slow you down even more. You’ll probably find it harder and harder to get comfy when you’re trying to sit or sleep. Don’t worry because you’re almost there!
Are your breasts leaking? Don’t worry, it’s totally normal. The yellowish, thin fluid is colostrum, which is the precursor to breast milk. If the flow becomes greater than a drop or two you should put nursing pads inside your bra to keep things under control.
Stretch marks aren’t always the only side effect with pregnancy. An estimated 20% of pregnant women experience itchy skin. A calming lotion can provide relief without having to go to your doctor who may recommend antihistamines or ointments. As for the stretch marks? At least half of pregnant women get them, usually in the sixth and seventh months of pregnancy. There’s really nothing you can do to prevent them.
Noticing lower-back or hip pains? Pregnancy hormones are relaxing the ligaments and tendons throughout your pelvic area so that the bones can spread to make room for delivery. Your expanding uterus may also be putting pressure on your sciatic nerve (runs from your lower back to your buttock and hip area and down the back of each leg). This can trigger chronic tingling or numbness along its path. It’s not usually serious and won’t affect the baby. It may become less intense as the baby shifts around.
Your baby is pressing more intensely on your internal organs. This can lead to symptoms such as urine leakage, heartburn, and breathlessness. Your hunger might wane due to this as well. Some pregnant women feel nausea come back around this time.
Your body readies itself for labor by practicing – which is why you might feel some contractions that are false alarms. The beginner and sporadic contractions are called Braxton Hicks contractions. If you take time to sit down, put your feet up and drink a glass of water or two; these contractions will subside. Labor-inducing contractions don’t stop even if you relax for an hour or two.
Don’t worry, weight gain often plateaus or slows down by this time in pregnancy. You probably can’t see your shoes and you may find it more comfortable to wear a bra while you sleep, and your popped-out belly button might make you self-conscious. Remember that you’ll be back to your old body within a few months.
A labor signal to watch for is extra-thick vaginal discharge that’s pinkish. This is the start of your mucus plug dropping. The mucus plug is a ball of tissue that’s been blocking your cervical opening during the pregnancy to keep your uterus safe from germs. Losing your plug doesn’t mean that labor is starting right now. Many women lose their plugs up to two weeks before labor officially begins.
Your belly might be feeling a bit lighter these days, that’s because of dropping. Dropping (or lightening or engagement) is common around this time as your baby settles lower into your pelvis to get ready for the big move. In a first-time mother, the baby often “drops” two to four weeks before delivery.
Your milk glands are expanding and filling with colostrum, thanks to the increase in the hormone oxytocin. Your breasts might also feel a bit lumpy, which is normal!
At this point in your pregnancy, your baby could come at any moment! This is very exciting, but also very scary! At this point you should buy any items you’ll need for postpartum recovery, review your birth plan with your doctor, as well as prepare your hospital bag for that quick grab-and-go moment during labor.
You may be getting nervous about your water breaking and making an embarrassing public scene. Most women start to notice a wetness running down the leg, not a sudden gushing of water to the floor. You should have enough time to get to a bathroom and call your doctor, so don’t worry!
Less than 5% of women give birth on their actual due dates, which means your baby could come in a few hours or not for another two weeks! Labor can begin in several ways: mild cramps, your water breaking, or a trip to the hospital if you have a scheduled labor induction or Caesarean section (C-section).
It’s your due date week! You’re going to possibly start feeling your first real contraction! They will come fast and furious once you’re in active labor, and they are going to hurt! You’ll feel an intense pain radiating through your stomach, lower back, and upper thighs. Now is the time when pain-relieving epidurals are usually administered, so don’t be afraid to ask for one! The pain will all be over after the last big push to bring the baby into this world! Visit our “Labor” page to learn what to expect now.
Still pregnant? Babies come to term anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks. Don’t stress, the time will come soon enough!
Baby is still not here? Over 80% of babies are born within two weeks of their due dates. Most babies are perfectly safe and healthy hanging out in your womb until week 42. Your baby isn’t technically overdue until after week 42. After this week your doctor might want to consider inducing your labor by breaking your water.