Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy: A Week-by-Week Breakdown of What to Expect

Micaela Jularbal Featured, Health, Pregnancy, Tests & Signs, X weeks pregnant

Pregnancy is both a wonderful and an overwhelming experience, whether it is your first time or not. You can never feel too prepared nor can you help being anxious about what’s to come. And as there is no better way to ease your worry than to keeping yourself as informed as possible, here is a helpful pregnancy guide broken down week by week.

First trimester (Weeks 1-13)

Within 24 hours of the sperm successfully fertilizing the egg, it would’ve divided itself into many cells as it travelled through the fallopian tube, finally implanting itself within your uterus. As it divides, the egg now becomes an embryo and soon, the different cells develop into the different organs and body parts of your baby. The pace of your baby’s growth will be drastic during the first trimester. By the end of this period, your baby would’ve grown from the size of a kidney bean to a the approximate size of a peach. During this period, a tiny heart will begin to beat inside of you, and your baby’s little ears, eyes, mouth, and nose will begin to take shape.

Weeks 1-2

A life changing event is waiting to happen! Your body is preparing itself to be in the perfect condition for potentially creating life.

The first week begins with your ovulation cycle — this period happens between the week of and immediately after your last menstruation. Technically, at this stage, you’re not exactly pregnant yet. Rather, your body has just queued the release of an egg through your fallopian tube as the amount of estrogen and progesterone in your bloodstream is heightened. As your egg shoots up in place from your fallopian tube toward your uterus, it awaits the chance to meet with a sperm that can potentially penetrate and fertilize it.

*Calculating your Due Date

The countdown to your pregnancy begins at this stage because there is no definitive way to pinpoint when exactly egg and sperm will meet. Sperm can live around 3 to 5 days inside you, so there’s a good window for it to succeed in meeting an egg; likewise,an egg can wait up to 24 hours for sperm to finally make it through the front door. This is also the reason why when counting down to your due date, you doctor will use the first day of your last menstrual period as ‘day 1’. This gives you a rough estimation — give or take two weeks — of your countdown to 40 weeks (assuming a 28-day cycle). After ovulation, you won’t know for sure if you’re expecting until one (or even two) months later.

Things you can do:

When preparing to have a baby, it is always best to first have a preconception check-up to see if you are perfectly fit to go through a healthy pregnancy. You will be able to inform your doctor about your current health condition, like if you are taking any specific medication. Likewise, you can be informed of the changes you’ll need to make with regards to your diet and lifestyle. Take the time as well to further reflect on whether you are truly mentally and emotionally prepared for the changes that are about to happen in your life as you expect to add a little one to your household.

If you are trying to boost your chances of getting pregnant, the best window for having sex is two days before and during the height of ovulation. During a 28-day cycle, the peak of ovulation varies between 7-14 days from the first day of your period, so it’s quite easy to miss if you haven’t been tracking your cycle too well. However, there are many ways to detect ovulation. Change in mucus texture from thick and sticky to slippery and clear (similar to an egg white) is one indication; another is charting your temperature. You can also purchase an ovulation kit to aid you with tracking.

Things you might feel:

During ovulation, you may experience some pain in your lower abdomen similar to a menstrual cramp and a dull ache in one side of your back. This condition is called ‘mittelschmerz’. Some people also look out for these signs when trying to detect the peak of ovulation.

Week 3

Finally, sperm meets the egg and fertilizes it. The egg starts to split into sections and becomes a tiny group of cells that soon would become a blastocyst.

Week 4

At this stage, the blastocyst that is your soon-to-become baby will divide into 2 cell types: one will be the embryo that will continue to develop into your baby’s organs and body parts, while the other will develop into the placenta which will house and nourish your developing baby to term. As early as this time, body parts are starting to take shape.

Week 5

By the 5th week, hCG hormone levels will be high enough for a home pregnancy test kit to finally detect and confirm your pregnancy via positive results. You might be feeling some soreness in your breasts and may also notice increased fatigue. By now, baby is starting to develop its heart and entire circulatory system.

Week 6

Morning sickness may start kicking in, and you may also experience some spotting and frequent urination. Your baby’s face starts to take shape despite being so tiny at only about 5 to 6 mm at this stage.

Week 7

You are probably feeling quite bloated; unknowingly, you’ve doubled the size of your uterus by now. As for your baby, the brain is growing rapidly, and despite the embryo looking more like a tadpole than a human baby, it has already started forming hands and feet.

Week 8

Baby is now moving inside your womb. Though you can’t actually feel it yet, it’s probably making you feel queasy, and you’re probably napping or inadvertently dozing off all the time.

Week 9

Despite noticing an increase in your waistline, your baby is barely an inch in size. With muscles starting to build, baby is looking more like a human.

Week 10

As the skeletal system takes form, baby’s structure and organs are now in place. The most critical part of development is almost finished! As for you, constipation may be giving you a hard time, so try to increase your fiber intake to help with that.

Week 11

As you’re nearing the end of the first trimester, the roller coaster feeling in your stomach may start to calm down a bit, and you may not feel like hurling out your lunch anymore. Tiny tooth buds are forming in your baby’s teeny gums, while hands will soon learn to open and close.

Week 12

Baby’s kidneys are functioning as they should, being able to excrete urine by now, and little toes are curling. The number on your weighing scale may be shocking as your baby’s growth could lead you to double your usual weight.

Week 13

Finally, you are on your last week of your first trimester. Still a long way to go! But with baby about 3 inches long, fine, unique details are becoming more elaborate and distinct. Baby most likely has fingerprints by now.

Second Trimester (Weeks 14-27)

At the beginning of the second trimester, your baby is the size of a peach and is pumping blood very quickly. From rubbery cartilage, its skeleton hardens into bone. Within the following weeks, baby will start to hear sounds, and you’ll start to feel fluttering inside of you as baby kicks.

Week 14

As the nauseated feeling subsides, your energy level will make you feel much like your old self again. Baby will begin sprouting some hair, and tiny eyebrows will make facial expressions more distinct.

Week 15

Baby is starting to sense some light. And your gustatory and olfactory senses may be experiencing some odd symptoms, as the taste buds on baby’s tongue develop inside his mouth.

Week 16

You may feel like you’ve suddenly grown bigger overnight as by this time, baby may be undergoing a growth spurt; doubling his size and length over a short period of time.

Week 17

The umbilical cord is becoming thicker and stronger as baby’s demand for nutrients increases. As preparation for feeding outside the womb, as early as now, baby is practicing how to suck and swallow.

Week 18

Baby’s weight is probably taking it’s toll on your back, and your increased appetite is not helping at all. Depressing as the situation may seem, baby’s movements are easy to feel by now, so that’s something to feel excited and happy about. Also, if you’re not one keen on surprises, you can now find out baby’s gender through an ultrasound.

Week 19

Baby’s senses are becoming more and more developed. Familiarize the baby with your voice by singing songs or reading the baby stories. These conscious bonding activities might help you get your mind off the cramping in your legs.

Week 20

Baby is now producing meconium for its first diaper change for when it comes out. And oh, by the way, Congratulations! You are now halfway through your pregnancy!

Week 21

Tickling flutters are becoming stronger now, and sometimes, the kicking will be a bit painful. You may be stretching too quickly for your skin to adapt, so if you haven’t done so by now, start taking extra precautions to help prevent stretch marks from forming.

Week 22

Inside the womb, baby looks exactly how you might expect a tiny newborn to look. You might be suffering from a bit (or a lot of) bloat and water retention, especially on your achy feet.

Week 23

Baby could feel and may react to your movements. Apart from swelling ankles, outside, you may appear like you have swallowed a bowling ball.

Week 24

Though baby’s length continues to grow, at this point, it’s body is still bony and lean, not much of chubby cheeks just yet. Your belly button is probably popping out.

Week 25

Baby is now filling up those cheeks with some baby fat, making it cuter for when it comes out to greet you. And as baby grows more hair, you might notice that yours has gotten quite thick and beautiful too!

Week 26

Baby is inhaling and exhaling amniotic sac fluid in preparation for breathing air. The pressure of baby’s weight pressing against your bottom might be torturing you with some hemorrhoid issues.

Week 27

Baby can now open and close its eyes whenever it pleases, and sucks on its thumb. You may also experience some weird flutters when it gets hiccups. Sleepless nights are getting common for you.

Third Trimester (Weeks 28-42)

At this point, baby will be growing rapidly at about half a pound every week. Its skinny physique is now filling up, and helping smooth out its wrinkly skin. Billions of neurons in the brain are making connections. Tips of the fingers and toes will grow nail. It will seem like this period is all about putting on weight. By full term, baby’s weight on average will be about 7 pounds.

Week 28

Your baby’s eyes are now blinking and its heartbeat has slowed down a bit, though it’s still twice as fast as yours. Gravity is further becoming your enemy as your baby’s rapid growth increases your body weight.

Week 29

Your baby’s head is growing to make room for the growing size of its brain. Lungs also continue to mature as it prepares to fill up with air at birth. More bothersome symptoms that may appear or escalate for you are varicose veins and heartburn.

Week 30

Baby is around 3 pounds by now, and about 15 inches long. You may start experiencing some Braxton-hicks contractions, which is intermittent flexing and tightening of the uterine walls. This actually prepares your body for your actual labor.

Week 31

It is getting tighter for baby inside your womb. And as more space is taken up by the baby, your breathing becomes tighter and you may have some shortness of breath.

Week 32

On average, your baby might weigh around 4-½ pounds by now. Senses continue to heighten, bones continue to harden, muscles grow more mass, fat accumulates further, and baby is practicing how to breathe. As you try to move around, your movements might be resembling an Emperor penguin by now.

Week 33

Baby is improving its immune system, and its central nervous system and the lungs are approaching the final stages of maturity. Once more, just as you were at the beginning of your pregnancy, you are experiencing a great amount of fatigue as you are nearing the end of your pregnancy.

Week 34

If you’re expecting a boy, his testicles are expected to descend at around this time. As the little one prepares to position for birth, more pressure on your bladder will cause frequent urination.

Week 35

Baby has now grown so big that the tight space inside the womb might restrict its movements, though you can still feel it lift an elbow or give a kick, somersault episodes may become more scarce or absent.

Week 36

As baby races against the clock for the big day, it tries to grow an ounce each day. By this time, you might feel an actual dropping as baby’s head positions itself on your pelvic floor in readiness for delivery.

Week 37

Baby continues to prepare for birth, just making itself stronger in there. Outside, you may be experiencing more contractions and a greater amount of vaginal discharge. Your doctor would be monitoring you for signs of labor.

Week 38

Surfactant is produced in the baby’s lungs to keep tiny air sacs open. Your breasts, on the other hand, are preparing to produce colostrum in preparation for breastfeeding your baby.

Week 39

Baby has officially reached full term!

As you are nearing your homestretch, it seems as though time has become slower and slower. Your symptoms have been agonizing for weeks by now. You just want the whole thing over and done with. The baby probably feels quite the same way, too. It’s pretty much waiting game at this point as you begin to experience definite signs of pre-labor and possibly, go into actual labor.

Week 40

By this time, if you still haven’t given birth, then you’re a little past your due date, but it’s still okay…baby is probably still feeling nice and comfy inside and is not inclined to come out just yet…or you may have just miscalculated — remember, there’s a 2 week window of accuracy, so no need to panic yet!

Week 41-42

If at this point, baby is still showing no clear signs of wanting to say hello to the outside world, your doctor might need to have you induced…after all, baby can’t stay inside you forever!

Many, if not all, mothers will say that even though pregnancy may be tiring and agonizing — a 9 month ordeal is no mean feat to go through — and childbirth in itself can be painful beyond measure, meeting your baby at last makes it all worthwhile. Once you get to hold your much-anticipated offspring in your arms, all your negative feelings tend to melt away and are instantly forgotten; instead, you’ll be filled with inexplicable joy. Here’s to hoping that your journey to motherhood feels exactly like that!

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