The Months of Pregnancy

You’ve decided that you’re ready to try to get pregnant, or it’s a surprise! Either way, there are some things you need or may want to know.

First, you’ll feel like you’re on this unending journey. The third trimester and last few weeks feel like a never-ending road trip, but as your doula I will help you with coping strategies and comfort techniques to help those final waiting moments be a little more comfortable!

What will happen now?

How will my body change?

How does my baby develop?

The questions will keep coming, but your pregnancy will be a time of wonder, amazement, new beginnings, and a new you. You’ll change as your body changes. These changes are unavoidable, but you will do great! Congratulations, Mom!

PRECONCEPTION

So much happens before you’re pregnant, I wanted to give you a little information about it before you get started. Especially if you’re trying to conceive and are tuning into my blog!

Some of this I didn’t know while we were trying and it’s great information! I find it super interesting—then again my passion is birth. Hopefully it catches your attention too!

As your cycle starts, a group of eggs is gathered from the ovary for ovulation. Ovulation is the release of the egg into the follicles. These are small fluid-filled cysts. Your body will usually only use on follicle to complete the maturation—which means that it will be the one to release the egg. This follicle also keeps all other follicles from releasing their eggs to develop. It’s acting as the hall monitor keeping every other egg in the classroom while it’s egg makes its way down the tube!

Ovulation usually occurs about two weeks before your period, but this is not an exact science! I do reccommend using ovulation kits or tracking things like temperature and cervical mucus if you’ve been trying 6 months to a year.

The next step in the process of getting pregnant , is after ovulation. This happens when the follicle that is moving through the Fallopian tubes develops a structure called the corpus luteum. This structure secretes progesterone and estrogen. The progesterone will help prepare the lining of the uterus, called endometrium, for implantation of the embryo.

Fertilization occurs about two weeks after your last menstrual period. Did you know that a coating will appear around the egg preventing other sperm from entering? This is some serious protection here! It’s like it’s saying, “other boys not allowed!!” :) At this same time, your baby’s genetic make-up and sex is determined too!

At fertilization, if a Y sperm means a BOY and a X sperm means you’ll have a GIRL

Now, I won’t go into too much detail on this next part, just because if you’re like me sometimes all the scientific words and acronyms start to become a little too much, but I don’t want you to be informed!

There’s a hormone present in your blood once conception occurs (that part where the sperm meets the egg and tells all the other swimmers to GET OUT)!

It’s call the Human chorionic gonadoptrophin or (hCG). To put it as basically as I can, it is produced by cells that will form the placenta and is the hormone detected in pregnancy tests. It does take about three to four weeks from the first day of your LAST period for the hormone levels to increase enough to be detected by pregnancy tests.

SOO….I feel like this poor egg has gone through such a journey, but there is still more to go before it can be happily secure.

The egg will start to divide into many many cells about 24 hours after it’s fertilized. At this time, it’s still in the fallopian tube for three more days. Once the egg is fertilized, doctors call it a blastocyte. I have no clue why—maybe you can wikipedia it if you’re interested! The blastocyte will divide slowly as it makes its way through the fallpian tube to the uterus where it will attach the endometrium. This is where implementation occurs!!

I am picturing the blastocyte, let’s just call it an egg still, snuggling down into a warm blanket for a long winter’s nap! :)

This is when we have a burst of hormones let loose to help the little blastocyte attach. Some women will notice spotting for one or two days around implantation. This is when many women start to think their period may be showing up early, or confused about what this blood might mean. This is also what will thicken and seal the cervix with a plug of mucus.

With my first pregnancy, I went the ENTIRE pregnancy, without knowing anything about this mucus plug. Then someone asked if I’d lost it toward the end and I freaked out! I have learned a lot since then.

That goes to show you just how little some women (like me!) know about pregnancy and birth. My passion is now to educate other women (and men) about the process of pregnancy and birth so that there is less confusion, anxiety and worry associated with this wonderful and natural process.

After about 3 weeks, the embryo is now a little ball and the first nerve cells of the baby have formed. Your baby is called an embryo until about the eighth week of pregnancy. From the eighth week until birth the baby is called a fetus.

There are many different developmental milestones that occur during the remaining 9 months of your pregnancy. Because of this, the pregnancy is broken up into trimesters.

The next step is to explain those trimesters and what is happening to your developing baby!

First Trimester

Month 1

Have you ever wondered how the amniotic sac forms that the baby lives in during the time they are in utero? I sure did! The amniotic sac forms with fluid around the egg as it grows-cushioning it like the pillow we put our heads on at night.

This is also when the placenta develops—the organ that is responsible for getting the nutrients from the mother to the baby. It also helps transfer waste from the baby too.

I had NO idea just how much occurs in the first month and how closely baby will resemble a little human so quickly. A face-like structure will appear in the head with a mouth, lower jaw and throat starting to develop. Blood cells start to grow, and circulation will begin. The heart is more like a tube and beats about 65 times a minute by the 4th week. At the end of this month, your baby is about 1/4 inch long—about the size of a grain of rice!! Yes, that SMALL!!

Month 2

During this month there are many things developing:

Facial features, ears are starting to form. On an ultrasound you’ll be able to see small buds forming arms and legs. The fingers, toes and eyes are also forming.

Parts of the brain, spinal cord and other nervous system functions are developing. The digestive tract and sensory organs have started developing. Bone also starts to replace cartilage!

The head is large. We always thought that the baby on the sonogram looked like a Sour Patch Kid at around 6 weeks!

Your baby's facial features continue to develop. Each ear begins as a little fold of skin at the side of the head. Tiny buds that eventually grow into arms and legs are forming. Fingers, toes and eyes are also forming.

Around 6 weeks, your baby’s heartbeat can usually be detected on an ultrasound but not always a Doppler. .

Now, your baby will be referred to as a fetus as well.

After the 8th week, your baby is called a fetus instead of an embryo.

Month 3

So many things are starting to develop and happen for your baby during this month! But it’s not where near what will happen later!

The hands, fingers, arms, feet and toes are all fully formed. The fists can open and close as well as your baby’s mouth too. The beginning of teeth are forming as well as your baby’s reproductive organs. It’s difficult to figure out the baby’s gender on an ultrasound now. Most doctor’s and techs will look for baby’s gender around month 5. I know I know! It sounds like forever from now!

Everything your baby needs is fully formed by the end of this month. The organs, extremities are formed and will now take the rest of the time to develop and mature. The functions are still developing but they can be found in the body. The baby’s circulatory and urinary systems are working and the liver produces bile…yes, this means that your baby is able to pee!!!

At the end of the third month, your baby is about 4 inches long and weighs about 1 ounce. [Cleveland Clinic, 2014]

The third month is also the end of the first trimester where your chance of miscarriage significantly drops because most of your baby’s development is complete.

Second Trimester

Month 4

If you get to see your baby on a sonogram this month, you’ll find that there’s a lot of things that have changed since your 6 week sonogram. You’ll see your baby’s fingers and toes with nails clearly. Eyelids, eyebrows, eyelashes, nails and hair are all starting to grow.

The cutest thing for this sonogram is seeing your baby suck his or her thumb, yawn, stretch, and make faces at the sonographer!

Around the 14-16th week is the earliest a sonogram tech will try to see gender and most won’t tell you for sure until 20 weeks.

Your baby is now a bout 6 inches long!

Month 5

Sometimes you’ll be able to feel your baby move at this time. All their muscles are developing and they are moving and grooving!

That first movement you feel is called quickening.

Your baby will be covered with a soft hair called lanugo all over their body. This hair will protect your baby and will usually shed during the first week of his or her life.

At this time, the vernix caseosa is covering your baby’s skin. This substance looks a lot like cottage cheese and is thought to protect baby’s skin from exposure to the amniotic fluid. Sometimes it’s shed before birth, but many times the vernix will still be seen on baby after birth. In fact, some babies come out quite “cheesy”.

The World Health Organization recommends daily baby’s first bath as long as possible.

Even up to 48 hours after birth.

Allowing the vernix to absorb into the skin of your baby has been proven to provide many health benefits have been discovered.

ChildrensMD.org states 8 reasons why the first bath should be delayed on their website. I have linked the website for you at the bottom of this page. But, I will name and explain the benefits here!

Reduced risk of infection

Stabilizes infant’s blood sugar

Improved temperature control

Improved mom-baby bonding

Improved breastfeeding

No baby lotion required

Everyone will wear gloves

Parents enjoy giving their baby the first bath

Now your baby is about 10 inches long.

Month 6

This is the month where your baby will start to respond to sounds by moving around. You may notice your belly jerking up and down OR fast, repetitive motions if the baby hiccups.

The baby’s skin is wrinkled and translucent. You can see veins through the reddish colored skin where finger and toe prints can be identified as well.

If born prematurely, your baby may survive after the 23rd week with intensive care [Cleveland Clinic, 2014]

At the end of this month your baby is now about 12 inches long.

The above hyperlink will take you to an article about preterm labor written by the Cleveland Clinic.

The third, and LAST trimester!

Month 7

You’ve done it, Mom! You’ve made it to the third trimester. It is a milestone—every mom feels it and is excited about it. Be excited….and now, GEAR up, because these 3 months your baby is doing a lot of exciting, hard work and so are YOU!

The last trimester is all about continuing to grow and develop the organs and body functions that have already formed in the last two trimesters.

Your baby can now hear fully, respond to the outside world like sound and light. The amniotic fluid will also diminish some at this point too.

Your baby will continue to grow another inch or two each month and is now 14 inches long at the end of the 7th month.

The baby’s survival possibilities also go up after the 7th month if born prematurely.

Month 8

These next two months will see your baby’s fat reserves developing to keep them warm and help regulate temperature when they enter the world outside their nesting place. You’ll notice a lot more kicking. Your baby’s brain is working in overdrive.

The lungs are still immature at this point, so doctor’s like to see babies stay in mom’s belly longer. If you’re experiencing preterm labor, the doctor’s will still want you to rest and will try to stop it with medications.

Your growing baby has now added another 2- 4 inches to their length and will be about 18 inches long!

Some babies are also around 5 lbs at this point!

Month 9

This is my favorite month for baby—everything is developed. Your baby is ready to be born! The lungs still need time to develop though and my need ALL the way up the 40th week of pregnancy.

Reach out to me for ways to make the end of pregnancy just a little less miserable. It is now considered normal for baby to be born after his or her estimated due date.

Full term is considered 39-42 weeks.

Your baby can now blink, close their eyes, turn the head, grasp firmly, and respond to sounds, light, and touch. Baby is definitely ready to enter the world! [Cleveland Clinic, 2014]

Try not to worry too much about your baby moving less often. Your baby is now over 18 inches long and between 7-9 lbs (some are even bigger….GASP!!) With a fully developed baby, your body has run out of room and you are going to feel that too!

You bladder will be very small and you’ll find yourself making very frequent bathroom stops. Try to continue walking as often as you can to relieve aches and pains. Sleep on one side, preferably your left, and prop your feet up when you can. Look into the Spinning Babies exercises to relieve pain and check with me on ways to help baby position correctly for the best birth experience!

You will do this! You will birth a beautiful baby!

I hope you’ll let me help you along on your journey!

~Sarah Ross Birth Services

To find out more information or read the source article, here is the link below:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/7247-fetal-development-stages-of-growth

Resource on delayed bathing and the benefits.

https://childrensmd.org/browse-by-age-group/pregnancy-childbirth/delaying-babys-first-bath-8-reasons-why-doctors-recommend-waiting-up-to-48-hours-before-bathing-a-newborn/

This post was all about what happens to BABY during pregnancy. Here is some details about what happens to YOUR BODY during pregnancy.

Come back soon to read a blog all about what happens to MOM and how to help you have the best pregnancy experience possible!

Click on the picture to be directed to the source website.

Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam Women’s Health

Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam Women’s Health