Pregnancy and childbirth are among the most important occasions in the life of parents. They are critical stages that need to be handled with utmost care for the well being of the child and mother, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy. Though pregnancy starts with the male sperm fertilizing the female’s ovum, the date recorded is that of the last menstrual cycle. The first sign of pregnancy is noted with a missed menstrual period generally referred to as LNMP (Last normal menstrual period). In normal pregnancy, the gestation period lasts nearly 280 days i.e. 40 weeks. For the convenience of medical follow up, pregnancy is conveniently divided into 3 trimesters, each lasting for nearly 3 months.
- First Trimester – conception to 12 weeks
- Second Trimester – 13 to 28 weeks
- Third Trimester – 29 weeks until birth of the child
Every trimester has a totally different emotional and physical changes taking place in the mother and the baby which needs to be observed carefully to know if the pregnancy is progressing normally.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, the fertilized egg develops from a single cell to an embryo which resembles a human being, while growing into a size of 9 cm in length. In addition there are other developments like:
- Formation of placenta
- Nourishment and excretion through the umbilical cord
- Development of heart which starts functioning by the eighth week
- Appearance of genital organs
- Formation of blood cells in the marrow
- Development of fully functional internal organs
In short, we can say that the child acquires all of its human characteristics by the end of the first trimester. Physical changes visible in mother are:
- Tenderness in breasts
- High sensitivity to strong odors
- Morning sickness which may last throughout the day
- Frequent urination
- Undue exhaustion
- Weight gain and mood swings
Pica is a peculiar condition which makes its appearance in the first trimester of pregnancy, when the woman will crave for clay, toothpaste, soap or any other kind of non-edible substance.
In the second trimester, the organs that have developed in the first trimester continue to develop further and start functioning properly, in addition to the development of survival instincts. At the end of the second trimester, the fetus reaches 19 cm in length.
There is change in the physical appearance of the mother due to the growth of the baby inside the uterus. Though there is decrease in morning sickness and nausea, other troublesome symptoms like headaches, dizzy feeling, and back pain begin to show. The mother can feel the movement of fetus inside the womb by the end of twentieth week.
The third trimester will see the single celled embryo developing into an independent individual, capable of living outside the protective womb. The fat begins to accumulate under the skin, allowing the baby to gain weight. Towards the end of the third trimester, the baby assumes a head-down position getting ready for birth.
The weight and growth of the baby begins to show its effect on the mother, which induces nervousness and self doubt about bringing up the child. The nearing childbirth also causes emotional turmoil, especially in the first pregnancy. The pelvic region goes numb due to constant weight of the baby bearing down on it.
Finally it all ends well with a blissful moment for the mother, when she holds the baby in her arms after a painful labor.