The Three Trimesters of Pregnancy

The average pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks and is usually divided into three trimesters of roughly three months each. Here's a breakdown of how your baby grows during each stage of pregnancy


 

The average pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks – closer to ten months than nine, really – but for convenience it is usually divided into three trimesters of roughly three months each. What’s going on during each trimester?

 

 

 

 

 

First trimester

In the beginning, you won’t even know you are pregnant. It takes a week to ten days for the egg (which has been fertilized in the fallopian tubes) to find its way down to the uterus and send out the hormones that say “no period this month – a baby has begun!” Within a few weeks, though, as the rapidly multiplying cells burrow into the lining of the uterus and create the placenta, you’ll begin feeling a bit nauseous and tired. As blood flow to your uterus and pelvic area increases, you’ll need to pee more often.

Your baby is tiny at this point – only about one ounce – but by eight weeks, all the major organs and external body parts such as arms and legs are formed. The baby’s heart beats with a regular rhythm.

 

Second trimester

By now, nausea has subsided for many women (although some are sick through their pregnancies) and most feel more energetic than in the early weeks. At around five months, you’ll feel your baby moving (often called “quickening”). At first, this can feel like fluttering or gas, but soon you’ll recognize it as your baby’s kicks. (Your baby has been moving around for weeks now, but it’s only at this stage that you’re able to feel it.)

The baby’s eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails and toenails form near the beginning of this trimester, and your baby can hear and swallow. She’ll make sucking motions and may suck her thumb. By 24 weeks, she has her own unique fingerprints.

 

Third trimester

As your baby gets bigger, your blood volume increases to supply oxygen and nourishment to the baby, and your uterus. You’ll feel more pressure on your bladder (meaning frequent trips to the bathroom!) and may also experience constipation due to pressure on your intestines. Your baby is fully formed at this point, with all fingers and toes, but his brain will grow quickly during the final weeks and he’ll also lay down important layers of fat to help him maintain his body temperature after birth.

Most babies are in the head-down position by now, although a few are in a breech or transverse position. They may still move into the usual head-down position by the time labour starts.

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