At the foremost, Congratulations! As you have just uttered ‘I am pregnant’, next, be ready for the most wondrous and miraculous experience of your life. Every day of the upcoming 42 weeks is going to give you a lot of new experiences, a few restrictions, many guidelines on ‘do this’ and ‘don’t do that’, etc. Well, all of these are extremely important for pregnant women to ensure a safe gestation and a healthy birth of a child.

As you embark on this new journey, here’s a guide on what all you’ll come across till your baby is in your arms.

Beginning with the 3 trimesters

The entire phase of gestation is categorized into 3 parts –

1st: 12 weeks – around 3 months:

This is the most crucial phase for the baby’s development. It is when the structure and organ systems are developed. However, it is also the phase when the risk of early miscarriage is higher.

2nd: Week 13 to week 27:  

Termed as the ‘Golden period’, most of the risks and unpleasant effects of early gestation disappears when women enter 2nd trimester. Would-be mothers can feel their baby’s first movements somewhere between 16th and 20th week.

3rd: Week 28 till birth 

The final stage, it is when mothers await the childbirth anxiously. Although you might feel pressure on your various organs due to enlargement of the uterus, but that won’t harm the baby anyway.

Changes and discomforts during the various stages of gestation

During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes some amazing changes. The baby starts getting nourishment by the mother’s hormones, even before the ‘good news’ has been confirmed. However, this transformation will also be accompanied by a few symptoms.

“It’s not simply a change of your body, but your transformation, from being a woman to a mother. Embrace it!”          

  1. Swollen and tender breasts
  2. Enlarged and darkened areola
  3. Healthier and thicker hair
  4. Increased hair growth on other parts (including nipples, upper lips, stomach, back)
  5. Stretch marks
  6. Pregnancy glow or a rosy complexion
  7. Dark line may occur in the middle of abdomen
  8. Belly button pops out
  9. Hormones tend to increase foot size

These are some of the changes that pregnant women experience; however, their body will regain its normal physical attributes after the birth. Talking of symptoms and discomforts, here are some of those –

  1. Runny nose
  2. Morning sickness
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Heartburn
  5. Constipation
  6. Back pain
  7. Increased urination
  8. Fatigue

Time for prenatal care

Well, the best time to start the prenatal care sessions is just when you get the confirmation of a bun in your womb. Expert care is extremely important both for the mother and the child to ensure a healthy birth.

During these visits, the gynecologist will perform various examinations. Not only does this help in accurate assessment of the fetus’ growth and development, but also it indicates possibilities of complicacies ahead in time.

Some of the commonly conducted examinations include –

  1. CVS or Chorionic Villus Sampling
  2. Amniocentesis
  3. Expanded Alpha-Fetoprotein Screening

Staying healthy during pregnancy

During prenatal care, doctors guide patients with everything that ensure good health of mother and child. Among all, proper food intake is a major factor.

Iron, fiber, folate are some of the important nutrientswhich the would-be mothers should consume. Apart from these, few other foods they can take for nutrition are –

  • Chives
  • Figs
  • Leeks
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Molasses,
  • Salmon and Asparagus salad, etc.

During gestation, women need to intake more vitamins, nutrients and proper minerals. According to experts, around 350 to 500 calories extra is required to consume every day. However, as this differs according to an individual’s conditions, they also recommend pregnant women to consult their doctors for recommendations.

What more to eat?

  • Dairy products, especially yogurt – rich on magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, different B-vitamins.
  • Sweet potatoes – rich in fiber and beta carotene; extremely important for fetal development.
  • Eggs – Although in lower quantity, but contains all major nutrients.
  • Lean meat – rich in high quality protein, choline, iron, B-vitamins.
  • Whole grains – great sources for vitamins, fiber, and other plant compounds.

Doctors will give a proper diet chart during your checkups.

What you shouldn’t eat?

Food cravings are quite common during this period, but women must avert a few things to prevent health risks and complications. Here’s a list.

  • Fish that contain mercury (Swordfish, Tilefish, etc.)
  • Empty calories
  • Poultry and meat that are undercooked
  • Refrigerated meat
  • Raw eggs
  • Unwanted vegetables and fruits
  • Food that expecting women are allergic to
  • Caffeine related items
  • Raw sprouts

Alcohol, smoking, and drug intake should strictly be restricted during pregnancy.

**Note: Improper diet can also lead to weight gain. Excess of it can result in gestational diabetes, longer labor and more.

So, pregnant women should be extremely carefully with their lifestyle choices from the initial stages.

Include another important factor – exercises in your regime

Staying active is essential for a proper birth. And there are some specific prenatal workouts to prepare the mother’s body for labor.

*Note: Take your expert’s advice before performing these workouts.

  • Sitting properly – Use an exercise ball or try sitting on the floor cross legged.
  • Walking – Keeps the body properly balanced
  • Butterflies – Helps in stretching lower back and opening pelvis
  • Kegels – Helps in preventing incontinence, strengthening vagina
  • Prenatal yoga – Many poses can impact the legs, hips and pelvis effectively

All these can largely assist in a proper labor and safe childbirth.

Last but not the least, common worries of pregnant women

  1. Early labor –

Chances of a premature baby are more when you already had a preterm childbirth previously. However, ask the doctor to aware of premature symptoms so that you can be prepared accordingly.

  1. Accidental harm to the fetus –

Most women panic thinking they might have accidentally harmed the fetus. Well, this is not always the case, if you aren’t alcoholic or a smoker.

  1. Stress can affect your child –

This is true that excessive anxiety and stress can increase your chances of preterm birth. So, it’s best to control your stress. As a tip, you can always read motivational stories.

That’s how pregnant women should carry them through the amazing 40 weeks ultimately to the delivery.