The Stages of Pregnancy
Weeks 1 and 2:
The stages of pregnancy is a 40 week adventure! This journey begins on the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). The menstrual cycle is driven by changes in hormone levels. During the first stage the lining of the uterus is shed. This is experienced as flow from the vagina, often lasting 1-4 days. During the next 5-13 days the uterine lining begins to build up again and the next egg/follicle starts to mature in preparation for ovulation. At day 14, ovulation occurs. One or more eggs are released into the fallopian tubes. At day 15-28 the uterus prepares for possible implantation. If implantation does not occur within approximately two weeks the uterine lining again begins to shed.
At the end of week two, ovulation occurs. Sperm can survive in cervical fluid as long as 5 days, so if sperm are already present fertilization may occur soon after ovulation!
So the first two weeks are a bonus towards your 40 weeks since you have not yet ovulated!
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 3:
The sperm and egg meet forming a zygote! Congratulations on your conception! The gender is determined at fertilization and depends entirely on the sperm which carries either an X or Y chromosome. If an X sperm joins the egg (always X), then the gender of the zygote is female, and if a Y sperm joins the egg, the zygote is male. After just 24 hours the newly formed zygote consists of a cluster of cells and will commence a one or two week journey through the fallopian tubes to the uterus.
Your future child is smaller than a tip of a pen!
You may not yet know whether or not you or pregnant but if you are planning a pregnancy consider researching prenatal vitamins which are taken during pregnancy.
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 4:
Once the zygote arrives in the uterus it will implant into the uterine wall. Some women may feel some cramping or experience light spotting at this time.
Women may experience breast tenderness and their blood volume will increase. This extra blood requires your kidneys to work overtime and is thought to contribute to the extra bathroom trips many women experience. Women often feel fatigued since the heart is also working harder to pump the extra blood. Hormonal effects may also cause fatigue.
The cluster of cells begins to arrange itself into three layers during the next two weeks. The outer layer will form the skin, hair, eye lenses, tooth enamel, and salivary glands. The middle layer will form the blood and vascular system, muscle tissue, kidneys, and ureter. The inner layer will form the trachea, bladder, urethra, prostate, ear canal, liver, and pancreas.
Based on pregnancy symptoms some women may take an at home pregnancy test this week and discover the exciting and somewhat scary news! Congratulations! Begin looking for a doctor whom you feel comfortable with. You can choose a family practitioner or an OB/GYN (obstetrics/gynecology) doctor.
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 5:
Normally you would begin menstrual flow at the beginning of this week so this is the time that many women may use at home pregnancy tests when they realize their period is “late.” Pregnancy tests check for human chorionic gonatropin (hCG) levels and claim to be quite accurate on the first day of a missed period. hCG causes an increase in estrogen and progesterone which triggers many of the early pregnancy symptoms that women experience.
Make an appointment with a doctor to confirm the at-home pregnancy test results with a blood test.
Morning sickness and nausea are common during the first trimester. Acupressure bracelets or certain foods (candied ginger, saltines, graham crackers, cheese, or nuts) may help depending on your personal preferences.
Women will continue to experience breast and abdomen tenderness. Fatigue will continue as your body adjusts to the hormonal influences and organs work harder. Nausea often continues for the first trimester. There is a lot going on inside of your body and it is amazing the rapid development that occurs from what started with a small cluster of cells.
The neural tube begins to form. This will develop into the nervous system containing the brain, spinal cord, hair and skin. The heart and primitive circulatory system form.
Hopefully you have found some prenatal vitamins by this time. Also remember to stay hydrated! Prenatal vitamins are important, and mainly contain increased folic acid and calcium compared to normal multi vitamins. Increased folic acid intake greatly reduces the risk of birth defects.
Blood begins to pump. Already there is a heartbeat! The embryo is in the shape of the letter C. In the middle area of the C the umbilical cord and organs develop. The beginnings of arm and leg buds also appear. The embryo is 1.5-3 mm from head to rump!
Make an appointment with your doctor to confirm the exciting news if you have not already done so, and to verify healthy development during the various stages of pregnancy thus far.
Women will continue to experience breast and abdomen tenderness. Due to the increase in blood volume, your kidneys must work harder to filter it all and you will continue to make those extra bathroom trips! Fatigue will continue as your organs work harder and your body adjusts to hormonal fluctuations. Some women also notice an increase in saliva and/or swollen/bleeding gums.
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 6:
The embryo begins to take a more familiar shape as arm and leg buds begin to lengthen. Eye spots appear which are indicative of eye lens development. Nostril holes develop. Intestines and pancreas begin to form. Brain development progresses and the heart continues beating.
Fatigue and nausea remain, as do tenderness in breasts and abdomen. Women often experience water retention and increased bathroom trips.
At your first doctor appointment you will receive a full physical with blood and urine testing. In some cases an ultrasound is done.
Your future child has already tripled in size and is about the size of a pea now!
During week 7 the face begins to take shape with ear holes, some pigmentation in the eyes, and tiny nostrils. Teeth are beginning to develop. Fingers and toes are forming as the limbs lengthen but there are no individual digits yet. The beginnings of elbows can be spotted. The digestive system (intestines) and stomach start to form. The circulatory system becomes more complex, the lungs begin to form, and the brain continues to develop.
Your baby is the size of a pencil eraser!
During this week you will continue to experience fatigue. Morning sickness does not just occur in the morning but any time of day. Eating well can help you get through the day. You may also be experiencing cravings and aversions to certain foods and smells.
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 8:
If you haven’t already experienced pregnancy symptoms you may start this week with fatigue, nausea, tenderness of abdomen and breasts. Breasts will increase in size during this time as well. Remember to stay away from alcohol during your pregnancy. Others around you may notice your pregnancy glow. As blood flow increases your cheeks and face may glow. Some women can feel their enlarged uterus (about the size of a softball) when they press on their abdomens.
The baby’s cartilage and bone are forming. Fingers and toes are webbed. Eyelids are forming, the nose is beginning to protrude, upper lip is taking shape, and the tongue is beginning to form. The intestines are moving into place.
Your baby’s heart beat is beating very quickly at about 150 beats per minute! Your child is 0.61 inches (1.6 cm) long and weighs 0.04 ounces (1 gram).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 9:
Your face may break out thanks to the raging hormones. Fatigue remains normal so make sure you can get the time to relax and sleep extra. Limit strenuous exercise. Breast size may increase as much as an entire cup size. Some women experience increased vein size or stretch marks and itching. Some women also experience leaking. The breasts prepare for breastfeeding at the beginning of a pregnancy. Do some reading to prepare yourself but do not become overwhelmed and remember to stay positive.
The baby is beginning to move more although you can’t feel it yet. Their joints are developing. Fingers are beginning to develop fingerprints and can even curve around objects.
Your baby is 0.9 inches (2.3 cm) long about the size of a quarter, and weighs 0.07 ounces (2 grams)!
Within this stage of pregnancy, did you know you can take the X or Y test NOW to find out if your baby is a boy or girl?! You have only just found out you are pregnant and may be experiencing some pregnancy symptoms. Share the exciting news with your family (maybe now they’ll understand your nausea and fatigue!), begin forming that early close bond with your new little baby boy or girl, and start thinking about names earlier! Order Here
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 10:
To counteract your pregnancy symptoms make sure you get plenty of rest, drink extra water, and get some gentle exercise. You could join a prenatal class at this time. You may be starting to show signs of your pregnancy.
If you haven’t seen your doctor yet, schedule that first visit! Your doctor will do a thorough physical and then expect to see you for shorter appointments once a month until week 32 when you will go in every two weeks and then every week after week 36.
Of all the stages of pregnancy, this is the one where your baby is now called a “fetus,” since critical development is achieved. Now your baby can primarily focus on growing bigger. The baby has a large head and their irises are beginning to form. The placenta is beginning to function.
The baby is now 1.22 inches (3.1 cm) long and weighs 0.14 ounces (4 grams).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 11:
Pregnancy symptoms continue but may taper off beginning next week! Consider beginning Kegels and other pelvic floor exercises. You may begin to start noticing weight gain. Normal weight gain during a pregnancy may be 25-35 pounds, or 40-45 pounds for multiple births. You do not need to double your calorie intake. Increasing it by 1/6th is about all that is necessary. Remember to eat healthy and include plenty of protein, folic acid, calcium and iron in your diet!
At this point your baby’s fingers and toes are separating and hair and nails are beginning to grow. The genitals are beginning to develop and the organs are beginning to function. Amniotic fluid is beginning to accumulate. The baby’s intestinal wall muscles practice contractions.
Your baby is now 1.61 inches (4.1 cm) long and weighs 0.25 ounces (7 grams).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 12:
Pregnant women may have more vivid dreams. Frequent bathroom trips continue. Think about when to decide to tell your boss that you are pregnant. Many women choose to wait until the second trimester.
Your child’s vocal cords are developing this week. Their eyes are moving closer together, ears are shifting into position. The intestines move further into the body and the liver begins to function. Insulin production begins. Development continues in the nervous system but the brain is fully formed. The thyroid gland begins functioning as do some other organs.
For some women, nuchal fold tests are typically done between week 11 and 14 to check for down syndromes by ultrasound. You also have the option to do amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) at this time.
Your baby is now 2.13 inches (5.4 cm) long and weighs 0.49 ounces (14 grams).
Discover Trimester 2 of the stages of pregnancy by using the navigation link below!