Anticipating Pregnancy-Related Changes
What does the course of pregnancy look like? This article explains pregnancy milestones and describes its general stages.
Early Pregnancy: The Initial Weeks
Conception, marking the commencement of pregnancy, is the first significant milestone – closely followed by a second major event: Realizing you are expecting.
- Conception: Pregnancy begins at fertilization, followed by the implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus. For more information, go to How Does Pregnancy Happen?
- Early Symptoms: About two weeks later, changes will become palpable, signaling the onset of pregnancy. Read more about Pregnancy Symptoms, or take the Symptoms Test.
- Pregnancy Test: Verification is usually sought through a pregnancy test or a pregnancy confirmation appointment.
- Correct Positioning? Using ultrasound, your gynecologist can determine whether the pregnancy is intrauterine or ectopic.
Note: Since the weeks of pregnancy start counting from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP), you are already considered two weeks pregnant at conception and four weeks pregnant by the time your next period becomes overdue.
- 🤰Unsure whether you are pregnant or not? Take the Online Pregnancy Test!
- 🗓 Wondering how far along you are? Use the Pregnancy Tracker!
Pregnancy Stages - An Overview
The nine months – or 40 weeks – of pregnancy are divided into trimesters of approx. three months each. The first trimester lasts from week 1 to 12, the second trimester ends at week 27, and the third trimester spans the remainder of the pregnancy.
- Want to know the details? Go to Duration of Pregnancy
Physical Changes in the Mother
1st - 12th Week
Experiences during this trimester may vary greatly:
This is truly amazing:
Two cells unite, forming a new human being with its own DNA. Its development from within happens at a fast pace: After only five weeks, a heartbeat can be detected. All essential organs have begun to form by the end of the first trimester.
13th - 24th Week
Most women enjoy this trimester. The bump is not uncomfortably large, and the increased level of hormones allows her to experience the “pregnancy glow.” She feels and looks great! 😉
Organs continue to develop. By the end of the second trimester all organs relating to the baby’s senses are functional and are already being used. The baby moves around a lot as it learns and explores.
25th Week to Birth
The baby-bump continues to grow. Your uterus will expand 100-fold its original size, making room for the growing baby, as well as the amniotic fluid and the placenta.
Even though this stage may be more exhausting, most women get a second wind as their nesting-instinct kicks in. This helps them get ready for the baby.
While most of the main developments are completed, this trimester is marked by major weight gain. Deposits of fat develop under the skin, gearing the baby up for birth.
Ideally the baby’s head will start descending into the pelvis, ready for delivery.
Your Pregnancy Health Record / Antenatal Record
In many regions, a booklet or card is distributed to expectant mothers where all pregnancy-related medical information is stored (e.g., prenatal visits, ultrasound results, maternal weight gain, etc.). The pregnant mother is encouraged to always keep this maternity record with her. This assures consistent care, even when seeing several medical providers. Often hospital staff request to see the card when checking you into the labor ward for delivery.
This is what it is called in your area:
Australian Capital Territory:
New South Wales:
- Co-operation Card or Antenatal Record Card, commonly known as “Yellow Card”. You will receive it at 12 to 16 weeks.
- Pregnancy Health Record: Your GP, midwife or obstetrician will give you this card at one of your first pregnancy visits. A copy of this card is also filed with your medical records.
- While New Zealand has parent-held well child health books, all antenatal recording is done online. You can request a copy of your maternity record, here:
- See our Austrian page: Verlauf einer Schwangerschaft
- See our German page: Verlauf einer Schwangerschaft
- See our Italian page: Decorso di una gravidanza
- See our Portuguese page: Evolução da gravidez
Republic of Ireland:
- No paper copy is supplied, unless a specific application is made.
- Scottish Woman Held Maternity Record (SWHMR): Among the UK countries, Scotland is the first to have a standardized handheld maternity record.
- See our Swiss page: Verlauf einer Schwangerschaft
Hormones - Transitions - Uncertainty
As you read about the pregnancy milestones which are often celebrated, you may be experiencing little or no joy.
Perhaps the pregnancy was unintended – or your anticipation morphed into anxiety.
You are not alone! Many expectant mothers, whether their pregnancy was planned or not, are overcome with doubts and fears during early pregnancy. The first 12 weeks of pregnancy are marked by drastic changes in hormone levels which trigger the physical changes necessary to create a nurturing environment for the developing baby.
You may feel out of control, wondering, “What is happening with my body?” or “Is this what I signed up for?”
Additionally, shifts in hormone levels are commonly accompanied by emotional upheaval. Feeling more emotional or even depressed during the initial months of pregnancy is normal.
The good news is that chaos of emotions is usually a natural part of early pregnancy, which should subside with the completion of the first trimester.
Even if it feels like this will never end, you have almost made it! Many women feel the negative emotions subside by the end of the first trimester, making room for anticipation or even joy.
When you feel alone...
Amid this turmoil of emotions, an overwhelming number of thoughts may be flooding your mind. We realize that making decisions while experiencing brain fog can seem almost impossible. That is why we have created unbiased resources to walk you through your decision-making process. Why not give our free digital coaching resources a try?
- Wondering where to start? ⛑ Take our First Aid Test
- Dealing with a specific situation? 💡 Take our Solution Finder Test
- Wondering whether you have what it takes? 💪🏻 Take the Strengths Finder Test
You may also like:
- How Does Pregnancy Happen?
- Duration of Pregnancy
- How Soon Should I See a Doctor?
- Unplanned Pregnancy? – 5 Tips
Disclaimer: While profemina aims to provide you with the most up-to-date information, pregnancy recording policies and procedures frequently change. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of all the details in this article.