Your pregnancy week by week guide: what to expect

Pregnant woman holding a heart over her stomach

You’ve missed your period and you think that you could be pregnant, now what? While each woman is unique when it comes to experiencing pregnancy symptoms medical experts have determined the sort of symptoms you can expect to experience during your pregnancy week by week in the three-trimester stages. Studies have shown that most women start to feel early pregnancy symptoms by the fifth or sixth week of conception. Bloom Financial Services, and trusted healthcare partner, Momentum Health4Me, break down each trimester with this comprehensive week by week pregnancy guide.

Pregnancy week by week: a trimester breakdown

Trimester 1 (1-13 weeks)

The first trimester of your pregnancy can be quite an overwhelming period as your body experiences a rollercoaster of physical changes and emotions. You could expect to experience any of the following pregnancy symptoms:

Bloating and constipation. Due to the hormonal changes in your body, your digestive system could slow down, making it difficult to have a bowel movement. You can overcome the problem by including fibre in your diet and by drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water.

Morning sickness. This involves feeling nausea, sometimes without vomiting. This also occurs due to the hormonal changes in your body and, unlike the name might infer, the uncomfortable feeling can occur at any time of the day or night. Avoid morning sickness by eating small, healthy snacks frequently and try to avoid foods that are high in fat content.

Tender or swollen breasts. Early hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause progesterone and oestrogen levels to spike, which result in an increased blood flow to one’s breasts.

Frequent urination. Pregnant women can find themselves urinating far more frequently than usual.

Fatigue. Excessive fatigue is one of the more common pregnancy symptoms during the first trimester. Think of it as your body working overtime to supply your growing baby with the nutrients he or she needs for the next nine months. Plus, your blood sugar levels and blood pressure are likely to be lower at this time.

Heartburn. The valve between your stomach and oesophagus can relax during pregnancy, which allows stomach acid to leak into your oesophagus, causing a burning sensation in your chest. Avoid fried or spicy foods during this time.

Body changes during pregnancy week by week – what to expect in the first trimester:

Week 1 – you’re likely to experience symptoms similar to your period, which includes spotting, bloating and cramping, and menstrual migraines.

Week 2 – light spotting, frequent urination, tender or sore breasts, morning sickness and bloating.

Week 3 – light spotting called implantation bleeding, breast changes like darkening of the nipples or areolas, and it is possible to get a positive result from a home pregnancy test.

Week 4 – missed period, mild cramping, light spotting, morning sickness, tender and sore breasts and morning sickness.

Week 5 – fatigue, cramping, frequent urination, tender and sore breasts, and morning sickness.

Week 6 – cramping and spotting, emotional mood swings including hypersensitivity or irritability, frequent urination, sore and tender breasts, bloating and passing of gas frequently, fatigue and morning sickness.

Week 7 – cramping and spotting, acne or skin breakouts, mood swings, excessive amounts of saliva, food cravings or aversions and morning sickness.

Week 8 – spotting, constipation, pregnancy cramps, vivid dreams, fatigue, sore and tender breasts, heightened sense of smell and morning sickness.

Week 9 – headaches and nasal congestion due to higher mucus production in the body, fatigue, frequent urination, fatigue and morning sickness.

Week 10 – visible veins (spider veins), odourless vaginal discharge, fatigue, mood swings, enlargement of the breasts and morning sickness.

Week 11 – increased vaginal discharge, darkening of the skin, leg cramps, mood swings, digestive discomfort including gas, fatigue and morning sickness.

Week 12 – dizzy spells and headaches due to blood pressure changes, spotting, increased vaginal discharge, and morning sickness.

Week 13 – increased energy, including a raised libido and visible veins, and morning sickness.

Type of prenatal care you can expect to receive

During your first trimester, your health care professional, like a gynaecologist or midwife, will assess your overall health and determine if there are any risk factors that need to be considered. They will also determine your baby’s gestational age. This will give you a due date. After your first prenatal visit, you will probably be asked to schedule an appointment every four weeks for the first 32 weeks of your pregnancy.

Trimester 2 (14-27 weeks)

The second trimester means that the waves of nausea are finally over. This also means that you can expect to experience a whole new and different set of pregnancy symptoms. It’s during the second trimester that you will start to see significant physical changes in your body. Some of these include:

  • Increase in belly and breast size. You will definitely feel less fatigued than you have over the past few months and you can expect to see your stomach grow considerably as your uterus expands for the developing foetus. Your breasts will also increase in size.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions, which are mild or irregular contractions, are experienced by some women, from this stage of their pregnancy.
  • Skin changes. Expect to see differences in your skin, like discolouration, due to all the hormonal changes in your body. You could develop patches on your face, known as melasma or darkening of the skin. It’s likely that stretch marks will appear on your legs, abdomen, breasts or thighs.
  • Bleeding or sensitive gums. A pregnant woman’s gums become quite sensitive to brushing and flossing so you could expect minor bleeding.
  • Circulation issues might make you feel a bit dizzy at times so avoid standing for long periods and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Discharge. It’s quite normal to experience a clear, white vaginal discharge in the second trimester as well as urinary tract infections.

Body changes during pregnancy week by week – why to expect in the second trimester:

Week 14 – ligament pain due to your expanding abdomen, increased appetite and renewed energy.

Week 15 – shortness of breath, indigestion, heartburn, swollen or bleeding gums, nasal sensitivities like nosebleeds and increased libido.

Week 16 – forgetfulness (or #pregnancybrain), sensitive eyes – especially if you’re prone to allergies, constipation and backache.

Week 17 – stretch marks, along with itching skin, rapid weight gain, and increased bodily fluids like sweat and mucus.

Week 18 – the baby’s first kicks or movements, swollen hands and feet, backache, leg cramps, sleep disturbance and nasal sensitivity.

Week 19 – general abdominal aches and pains associated with your muscles stretching, leg cramps and hip pain, and frequent dizzy spells.

Week 20 – heartburn and indigestion, shortness of breath as your uterus continues to push against your lungs, and leg cramps.

Week 21 – Braxton Hicks contractions, itching skin, lactation from your breasts as your milk ducts will now be fully developed, heartburn and indigestion.

Week 22 – shortness of breath, hair loss, backache, swollen hands and feet, vaginal discharge.

Week 23 – Braxton Hicks contractions, backache, swollen hands and feet, and sensitive gums, which could include swelling or bleeding.

Week 24 – stretch marks, skin changes, backache, leg cramps, swollen hands and feet.

Week 25 – Braxton Hicks contractions, heartburn, sleep disturbance, constipation and haemorrhoids, and increased need to urinate as the baby presses against your bladder.

Week 26 – Braxton Hicks contractions, forgetfulness, headaches, sleep disturbance and high blood pressure.

Week 27 – leg cramps and backache, constipation and haemorrhoids, hair, skin and nail changes.

The type of prenatal care you can expect to receive:

During your second trimester, your medical health care professional will focus on the baby’s growth. They will also monitor your weight, blood pressure and the size of your uterus. An ultrasound or screening might be performed to check on the baby, and you will be able to find out the gender.

Trimester 3 (28-40 weeks)

You may experience an increased discomfort level in the third trimester. Some of the pregnancy symptoms you can expect to experience at this stage of your pregnancy include:

  • Shortness of breath as the uterus presses against your lungs.
  • Heartburn issues will continue as the valve between the stomach and the oesophagus relaxes, allowing stomach acid into the oesophagus.
  • Spider veins, varicose veins, stretch marks and haemorrhoids will occur due to the increased blood circulation. To ease the swelling, make sure you get enough exercise and elevate your legs when you’re sitting down.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions are likely to continue until your due date.
  • Frequent need to urinate as the foetus moves deeper into your pelvic area and places more pressure against your bladder. You may even urinate yourself when you laugh, cough, sneeze or bend down.

Body changes during pregnancy week by week – why to expect in the third trimester:

Week 28 – Braxton Hicks contractions, leaking breasts that will discharge colostrum, general body aches and pains, sleep disturbance and shortness of breath.

Week 29 – Braxton Hicks contractions, frequent urination, backache and leg cramps, constipation, haemorrhoids, leaking breasts, and sleep disturbance.

Week 30 – Braxton Hicks contractions, shortness of breath, sleep disturbance, leaking breasts, and general fatigue due to all the aches and pains.

Week 31 – Braxton Hicks contractions, leaking breasts, shortness of breath, frequent urination, and sleep disturbance.

Week 32 – Braxton Hicks contractions, shortness of breath, heartburn, leaking breasts and vaginal discharge.

Week 33 – Braxton Hicks contractions, overheating, headaches, shortness of breath, forgetfulness and clumsiness, and fatigue due to the lack of sleep you may experience because of the frequent need to urinate or the baby’s movements.

Week 34 – Braxton Hicks contractions, haemorrhoids, constipation, fatigue, abominable pain, swollen hands and feet.

Week 35 – Braxton Hicks contractions, aches and pains, frequent need to urinate.

Week 36 – Braxton Hicks contractions, changes to the vaginal discharge, which could now become watery or blood-stained, swollen hands and feet, pelvic discomfort, sleep disturbance.

Week 37 – abdominal pressure, contractions, nausea, and sleep disturbance.

Week 38 – increased vaginal discharge, which is likely to be the mucus plug, swollen hands and feet and sleep disturbance.

Week 39 – mucus plug or bloody show, sharp sensations in your pelvic area and vagina, pelvic pressure and contractions.

Week 40 – contractions, fatigue, pelvic pressure, sleep disturbance, and a frequent need to urinate.

Week 41 – contractions, fatigue, pelvic pressure, sleep disturbance, and a frequent need to urinate.

Week 42 – mucus plug or bloody show, waters breaking, frequent or regular contractions indicating labour.

Type of prenatal care you can expect to receive: 

During the third trimester, your healthcare provider will arrange for you to have frequent checkups. They will monitor your weight and blood pressure. They will also monitor the baby’s growth size and heart rate. Towards the end of the third trimester, you will be advised about the baby’s position and your preferences for a birth plan.

Health4Me maternity benefits for expectant mothers

Maternity benefits are available for the Gold, Silver and Bronze Health4Me health insurance plans. Health insurance with maternity benefits include:

  • Antenatal GP visits at a Momentum CareCross Network GP
  • Two 2D foetal growth scans per member per pregnancy
  • Antenatal pathology tests
  • Antenatal vitamins
  • Antenatal support
  • Antenatal and postpartum support from a nurse or midwife via Baby Yum Yum.
  • A nurse home visit on the day after returning home from the hospital after childbirth and another follow-up visit two weeks later.

Health4Me members can benefit from the expert assistance of Baby Yum Yum, one of the country’s leading parenting portals. This was created to provide a safe space for new mothers and parents to share, learn, discuss and contribute to all things relating to pregnancy and parenting.

Ensure a safe pregnancy & delivery with a health insurance plan

Pregnancy and childbirth are special times in a woman’s life. Ensure that you’re taken care of during your pregnancy journey with a health insurance plan that provides you with maternity benefits and access to the top-quality medical care you and your baby will need during this time. Contact Bloom Financial Services and make an appointment with a trained consultant so that you can discuss your medical insurance options and get a health insurance quote.

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