Pregnancy is an exciting time for many expectant mothers and fathers, and is marked with a large number of important milestones. While this entire process typically takes place over the course of 40 weeks, a pregnancy is often broken down into three separate stages or trimesters to notate unique prenatal developmental changes within each.
The First Trimester
The first twelve weeks of pregnancy can often bring about the biggest changes to a woman’s body. During the first trimester, it is common for women to experience a number of common symptoms of pregnancy, including:
- Morning sickness
- Frequent urination
- Swelling of the breasts
All of these symptoms are completely normal, though it is advised for patients to speak with Dr. Crable if they experience daily difficulties in managing their new pregnancy symptoms. For example, some women may suffer from severe cases of nausea and vomiting, which may be caused by a particular condition like hyperemesis gravidarum.
In the first trimester, the fetus is still very small as it begins to develop key bodily systems and functions. Among the first organs to form are the heart, brain, gastrointestinal tract, and spinal cord. It is also at this embryonic stage that the baby’s heartbeat will be able to be detected during a fetal ultrasound.
The Second Trimester
After the mother has progressed through the first 12 weeks of her pregnancy, she then transitions into the second trimester. At this point the fetus usually weighs 2-4 ounces, its movements will become gradually stronger until the kicks are able to be felt, and its gender may be determined if the parents request this information.
The second trimester is also when a rapid amount of growth occurs, leading the fetus to reach approximately 10-11 inches in length and 1-1.5 pounds in weight. While it is ideal for prenatal development to continue over the course of several more weeks, infants can survive being delivered during this trimester if absolutely necessary.
The Third Trimester
In the last stage of pregnancy, the fetus is more likely to begin responding to outside stimuli like light and sound. The rapid growth noted in the second trimester continues to progress until the child is born, which will no longer be considered as a premature birth after the 37th week of pregnancy. While the lungs may not yet be able to fully support themselves in the first few weeks of this stage, all other major systems of the body should be intact once the fetus reaches the end of the third trimester.
Most infants born by week 37 or after will have reached 6-9 pounds in weight, 19-21 inches in length, and will naturally move into proper birthing position with their head facing downward toward the birth canal.
Addressing Your Prenatal Concerns with Dr. Crable
There are many moments during a pregnancy that can happen unexpectedly. In order to determine whether or not these special occurrences are normal, it is crucial that patients consult with their obstetrician about any new symptoms they experience. Dr. Crable is here to help each of our patients on their journey through pregnancy so that they may deliver a happy, and healthy child.
Routine diagnostic testing and fetal monitoring will be performed throughout all three trimesters to ensure that the fetus is developing normally, and that the mother is also safely progressing through her pregnancy. These regularly scheduled visits are an excellent time to voice any new concerns or questions, though we highly encourage patients to contact our office in Dallas immediately if they notice sudden and/or severe onset of new symptoms.