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What to Expect When You’re Expecting

The first trimester

When you are pregnant, your baby alters your body and the way you live. During the first three months, the first trimester, you will experience many physical changes as your baby begins developing. Although the symptoms of early pregnancy vary greatly from woman to woman, most women can experience:

  • No period
  • Larger, more tender breasts
  • Nipples may stick out more
  • More frequent urination
  • Feeling very tired
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Craving certain foods or loss of appetite
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Feeling bloated or heavy
  • Gain or loss of a few pounds

When to call your doctor

You can eliminate many common complaints of early pregnancy by eating properly, managing your stress level and getting enough rest. While most women have few problems during their first trimester, you should call your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding or clotting
  • Light bleeding that lasts more than one day
  • Passage of grayish or pinkish tissue
  • Bleeding accompanied by cramps, fever, chills or dizziness
  • Severe abdominal pain or pain in your shoulder area
  • Dehydration
  • Fever higher than 101°F
  • Painful urination
  • Watery vaginal discharge

During the first month of your pregnancy, your baby is one-half inch long and weighs less than one ounce. However, by the 14th week of pregnancy, all of your baby's major organs will be developed. By the third month, your baby is about three and one-half inches long and weighs just over an ounce.

The second trimester

This is the time many women begin to make important decisions concerning the birth of their baby, such as when to begin their maternity leave, whether to hire a doula and whether to write a birthing plan.

Often referred to as the “golden age of pregnancy,” the second trimester is typically when many women experience increased energy levels. The risk of miscarriage will decline significantly. Between weeks 16 and 20 is when you experience those exciting first stirrings of your baby. By noting the date when you first feel fetal movement, you can help your doctor more accurately date your pregnancy.

You'll likely lose a few of the more bothersome symptoms of the first trimester, such as nausea and extreme fatigue. Yet the second trimester has physical feelings all its own. While every pregnancy is unique, here are some of the changes you may see during weeks 15 through 27 of your pregnancy:

  • Increased appetite, easing of nausea and fatigue
  • Abdomen begins to expand
  • Abdominal and breast skin stretching, may feel tight and itchy
  • Abdomen aches on one side from stretching of uterine support ligaments
  • A dark line (linea nigra) may appear down the middle of your abdomen
  • Brown patches of skin on the face, known as the "mask of pregnancy"
  • Darker skin around the nipples (areolas)
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Hip and back pain
  • Feeling the uterus in the lower abdomen

When to call your doctor

Your body undergoes many changes during the second trimester, but there are some things that warrant a call to your doctor:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding or clotting
  • Light bleeding that lasts more than one day
  • Bleeding accompanied by cramps, fever, chills or dizziness
  • Severe abdominal pain or pain in your shoulder area
  • Dehydration
  • Fever higher than 101°F
  • Painful urination
  • Watery vaginal discharge
  • Sudden swelling of the face, hands or feet
  • Signs of premature labor, including regular uterine contractions, lower back pain, a feeling of heaviness in the lower pelvis or abdomen, diarrhea, slight spotting or bleeding or a watery fluid or mucus discharge
  • A significant decrease in fetal movement after the 24th week of pregnancy

By the end of the fourth month, your baby will be six to seven inches long and weigh about five ounces. At the end of the fifth month, your baby will be nearly 10 inches long and weigh between a half-pound and one pound. At the end of the sixth month, your baby is 12 inches long and weighs between one and one-half and two pounds.

The third trimester

From weeks 26 through the birth of your baby signal the third trimester. During this period, your baby grows larger, organs mature and the baby moves frequently. Your uterus is large and hard and you may experience false labor. The baby's increasing size and bodily changes in preparation for labor and delivery may cause:

  • Feeling the baby's movements strongly
  • Shortness of breath
  • Need to urinate more often as the baby puts pressure on your bladder
  • Colostrum (a yellow, watery pre-milk) may leak from your nipples
  • Navel sticking out
  • Contractions, either false or real

At the end of the third trimester, your baby will typically settle into a head-down position. This will likely cause you some discomfort as you get close to delivery. Although your due date marks the end of your 40th week, a full-term pregnancy can deliver between 37 and 42 weeks. Prior to pregnancy, your uterus weighed two ounces and held half an ounce of liquid. By the time you deliver, it will weigh over two pounds and hold a quart of amniotic fluid.

When to call your doctor

While most physical changes during your third trimester are expected, you should call your doctor if you experience:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding or clotting
  • Light bleeding that lasts more than one day
  • Bleeding accompanied by cramps, fever, chills or dizziness
  • Severe abdominal pain or pain in your shoulder area
  • Dehydration
  • Fever higher than 101°F
  • Painful urination
  • Watery vaginal discharge
  • Sudden swelling of the face, hands or feet
  • The signs of premature labor, including regular uterine contractions, lower back pain, a feeling of heaviness in the lower pelvis or abdomen, diarrhea, slight spotting or bleeding, or a watery fluid or mucus discharge
  • A significant decrease in fetal movement

Your baby continues to gain about 1% of its weight each day during the third trimester of pregnancy and will more than double in size. Males tend to be slightly heavier than females. By the end of the seventh month, your baby will be 14 inches long and weigh two to two and one-half pounds. At the end of the eighth month, your baby is 18 inches long and weighs approximately five pounds. By the end of your pregnancy, your baby will be approximately 20 inches long and typically weigh between six and nine pounds.

For more information about what to expect, call Capital Women’s Care Howard County at 410-531-7557 or use our convenient online Request an Appointment form. Our expecting patinets come to us from Columbia, Ellicott City, Fulton, Laurel and Maple Lawn in Howard County, Maryland and neighboring cities.

Contact Us

410-531-7557
7625 Maple Lawn Boulevard
The Midtown Medical Arts Building
Suite 1
, Lower Lobby
Fulton, MD 20759
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Capital Women’s Care Howard’s County offers comprehensive gynecologic and obstetric care, including well-woman exams, routine and high-risk obstetrics, family planning, treatment for heavy bleeding, menopause and urinary incontinence, minimally invasive surgery and postpartum care. You can easily find us in the village of Maple Lawn, on Maple Lawn Boulevard just south of Johns Hopkins Road, west of Route 29. We deliver expert care that’s convenient for women of all ages in Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Montgomery and Frederick counties.