What to Expect During Each Trimester of Pregnancy

The journey of pregnancy can be the most exciting, thrilling time of a woman's life. Waiting as your bundle of joy grows inside of you is a feeling that can't be compared to anything else. However, we all know a baby is not formed overnight!

A woman goes through three main “seasons” during pregnancy, known as trimesters. Knowing what to expect during each of these trimesters may help relieve any anxiety you may be experiencing.

A full term pregnancy is 40 weeks, starting from the first day of your last menstrual cycle. These 40 weeks are grouped into three different trimesters. During each of these trimesters, you will experience a variety of changes in your body. This article will further explain these stages and what you can expect throughout each of them.

First Trimester (Weeks 1-12)

A woman may not realize she is pregnant until well into her first trimester. This is especially the case if a woman does not have regular menstrual cycles. During the first trimester, your body is dealing with many hormonal changes which can affect other body functions and organs.

Some common symptoms women in their first trimester experience include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Tender and/or swollen breasts
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Need to urinate more often

Most of these symptoms will dissipate as the pregnancy progresses. You may experience one, all or none of these symptoms. Each woman is different, and so is each pregnancy. What you experience during your first pregnancy may be totally different with your second.

Nausea is the most common issue women deal with during the first trimester. The Mayo Clinic offers some great advice on how to relieve nausea, such as eating small amounts of low fat and non-greasy food, drinking plenty of liquid and wearing a motion sickness arm band.

Second Trimester (Weeks 13-28)

Many women find that they begin to feel better during the second trimester. Oftentimes, the nausea and fatigue from the first trimester ends or is not as severe. However, the second trimester brings about many other physical changes, such as:

  • Increased breast size — Breast tenderness should subside at this point, but they will probably grow due to preparing for milk production. A supportive bra may be necessary.

  • Weight gain and growing belly — A normal weight gain during the second trimester is 3 to 4 pounds a month as your abdomen begins to expand. If you were overweight to begin with, your pregnancy care doctor or midwife may caution you on the weight gain.

  • Braxton Hicks contractions — This is when your uterus begins contracting to prepare for the baby and can begin in the second trimester. They are usually very weak and not painful. Contact your physician if the pain gets worse to make certain you are not experiencing pre-term labor.

  • Vaginal discharge

  • Leg cramps — These usually occur at night and can get worse as you get further into the pregnancy.

  • Kidney and bladder infections

Third Trimester (Week 29-birth)

You’ve made it this far and now the arrival of your baby is just weeks away! First, though, here is what you may experience:

  • Backaches — At this point, you are carrying much more weight than your body is accustomed to. The pressure on your back with this extra weight can cause back discomfort.
  • Difficulty sleeping — It can be tough to get comfortable sleeping during these last weeks of pregnancy. One recommendation is to sleep on your side and use a pillow between your legs.
  • Bleeding — If you see bleeding, do not panic. Call your physician so they can examine you to make sure that it is nothing serious.
  • Continued Braxton Hicks contractions
  • Frequent urination
  • Heartburn and constipation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of feet

If any of the symptoms experienced during pregnancy becomes severe, contact your physician immediately.

At All About Women, we will walk your through each and every phase of your pregnancy. If you are pregnant or are considering starting a family, schedule an appointment at our Lake City or Gainesville location to speak with one of our highly experienced pregnancy care physicians and midwives.

View All General Women's Health Articles