The pregnancy Trimesters (An over view)

IMG 2411

There is a huge deficit in the knowledge base of many couples, especially where I am from with issues concerning conceiving and the actual pregnancy journey. Just maybe, if I wasn’t a  medic, I would have spare headed this ignorant band wagon. 

It’s really sad to know that most pregnancy related mishaps seen in babies could have been prevented with adequate knowledge of the dos and don’ts of pregnancy. 

Now,  I would be simplifying this post to the best of my abilities. I would try as much as possible to avoid bombarding you with medical gibberish. This post was thoughtfully made to help anyone out there, who is about to take a huge and beautiful step towards this journey.

It is intended to give a bit of insight into what to and what not to expect throughout the pregnancy period. 

Let us  start by breaking the pregnancy weeks down. 

Trimester breakdown 

The pregnancy period is roughly broken into three trimesters, each usually lasting for about 3 months Yes, we often hear that babies are carried for 9 months, but in the medical world, we prefer to deal with weeks instead. So, ideally the full pregnancy/term period for a pregnant woman should range between 37 – 40 weeks of gestation. 

Breaking the trimesters down in manner of weeks: 

  • the first trimester usually spans from the the 1st week (week of conception/Last menstrual period date) to 12 weeks into gestation. 
  • The second trimester runs from the 13th week of gestation to the 27th week of gestation 
  • The 3rd and final trimester of gestation kicks off from the 28th to the 40th week of gestation 

So, generally speaking, a woman is expected to carry a baby for about 40 weeks. This definitely does not mean that all women usually make it to the 40th week mark, some women have their babies a bit earlier than their due dates. 

“Why?” You might ask? 

IMG 2409

It is because there are timelines to these things, and each pregnancy is unique and different. A baby is usually labeled preterm, term, and full term based on the exact week of gestation they were delivered.

Now, as much as no one ever wants a super early delivery, these things do happen. Some babies end up as “abortus” following a miscarriage and fortunately in most cases, preterm/premie babies. So many factors ranging from pre eclampsia (hypertension in pregnancy), trauma, placenta previa, abruptio placenta, an incompetent cervix and many other medical conditions could be responsible for these mishaps.

Some of the risk factors for a miscarriage/extremely early delivery are preventable, while some are not. This is the reason why it is best to stay informed to prevent the avoidable pregnancy related problems. Let’s give a brief overview of the delivery time lines. 

Delivery timelines (Know your terms)

Guys, just in case you never knew, there is something known as the age of viability for babies born prematurely in each country, this viability age varies according to the capabilities of the medics and infrastructures available in said countries.  

So you don’t get confused, age of viability refers to the age at which a baby can be delivered/resuscitated and can survive without significant morbidity. They would usually be managed as preterm babies most times with incubators and sometimes ventilators if necessary.

For instance, the age of fetal viability with chances of survival in Nigeria has been noted as 28 complete weeks of gestation in utero. In the United States however, their viability presently stands at approximately 24 weeks of gestational age. This is probably due to their more advanced infrastructures. 

This means that any child brought out before 24 weeks of gestation might most likely be considered an abortus (a dead foetus). 

Although the age of viability currently seats at 28 weeks of gestation in Nigeria, there are exceptions to these rules. I have personally witnessed and been a member of the managing team of some 25 weekers who by some stroke of luck survived. So, never say never. But even at the age of viability, nothing is guaranteed. 

If we are being honest, being preterm comes with its diverse challenges,  the best deal is usually to carry a child to full term. For sake of context

  • Any child born between the 37th week of pregnancy through to 38 weeks and 6 days, is usually referred to as an early term baby 
  • A child born from the 39th week of gestation through to 40weeks and 6 days is referred to as full term
  • Any child born from 41 weeks through to 41 weeks and 6 days is referred to as a late term
  • Finally, a child born 42 weeks and beyond is referred to as a post term baby! 

Don’t worry, most women usually have their delivery timeline falling between the 37th to 40th week of gestation, not so many pregnant women seep into the late term/post term. 

What to know about each trimester

  • The first trimester
IMG 2406

Where the pregnant woman is concerned, this has been noted to be the most challenging trimester, often coming with challenges/symptoms such as  tender/swollen breasts, cravings for certain foods, headaches, a need to urinate more often, weight changes, nausea, sometimes with vomiting, known as morning sickeness. In some drastic cases the pregnant woman may have severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy known as hypermesis gravidarum, which could make her weak and even necessitate hospital admissions. Please note that some other pregnant women may have no form of nausea/vomitting as well but have other. These ones may sometimes be referred to as the lucky ones, but the truth is that we all are unique and different.

You could call this trimester, the trimester of Major fetal Organ formation / and cravings/aversions for the mother. Whereas for the baby, this is the trimester where all the body’s major organs and structures have begun to develop in the baby. It is a very delicate period where drugs must not be used without first consulting your obstetrician. Many of these drugs could be “teratogenic” that is they could predispose to abnormal malformations/ development and as such should be avoided. X-rays and the likes should also be highly discouraged during this trimester to prevent harm to the baby. This is the trimester most known for miscarriages, therefore it is best to stay well rested and super careful. 

  • The Second Trimester
IMG 2410

This is the trimester characterized by a continuous development of the baby while the mother gets a bit more comfortable with pregnancy. In this trimester, the foetus can  see, hear, and even make sucking motions. The fetus can sleep and wake regularly, the taste buds, skin, hair and nails have formed amongst other things. Fetal movements such as kicks are usually first noticed in this trimester, usually around the 16th week of gestation. The mother on the other hand, has her abdomen expanding to accomodate foetal growth, stretch marks could appear around her breast, buttocks and thighs. The nipples and areola also darken in colour. In this trimester there are a few drugs that could be acceptable to take when absolutely necessary but it is always important to check with your obstetrician first. Thankfully, there is a bit of respite for most mothers in this trimester as the morning sickeness/fatigue often reduces. 

  • The third trimester 
IMG 7558

This is the trimester where most of the organs have developed, and the fetus still keeps growing. The bones harden, the eyes are open and more sensitive to light, movement become more noticeable and the Lungs which is usually the last organ to mature is completely formed at this stage. This is why children born preterm may have issues such as respiratory distress syndrome amongst other complications. The mother on the other hand, may start to urinate a bit more frequently with swelling of the face, ankles or feet and even leakage of milk from the breasts. Please note that some women never really experience these symptoms as there are honestly no hard and fast rules to pregnancy symptoms. Finally, the mother, especially first time mums may begin to feel anxious and there move closer to their due dates. It is important to remain calm mama and know that you have got this! As a believer, illd say that God has got you! 

TSJ’s proposed Pregnancy Rules from experience

IMG 2412

Here are a few Pregnancy rules that could help make your journey pleasant and stress free.

  1. Always remember to relax and stay far away from stress to the best of your abilities.
  2. Up your eating habits and lean more towards healthy meals. Also drink lots of water and stay hydrated to give your baby a clear and healthy (amniotic fluid)/ environment to thrive.
  3. Use medications only when absolutely necessary and always check those medications with your doctor/obstetrician to ensure they are safe. Never ever self medicate when pregnant! Even as little as a pain killer could wreck more havoc than good. 
  4. Try as much as possible to get an early first scan (this is usually before the 12th week of gestation), especially if you are not too sure of your Last menstrual period/date. This could help to track and inform the medical doctor with regards your possible due date)
  5. Register for a good antenatal care service within your 8/10th week to ensure you and your baby are properly monitored during the pregnancy period. And please avoid skipping antenatal visits.
  6. Take your prenatal vitamins judiciously, especially during the first 12 weeks of gestation as these are the most crucial stages of development. 
  7. Enjoy the pregnancy process and take lots of pictures mama

Wishing you the very best as you prepare to welcome your little one into the world❤️

Related Posts

Leave a Comment