What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Pregnancy is a magical, yet not so magical time. 

Pregnancy is a miracle with life literally growing inside you! However, that little miracle can bring a whole lot of not-so-great pregnancy symptoms. 

There are so many symptoms that come with pregnancy, it can be hard to tell what’s normal and what’s not. 

Don’t panic!

Sometimes you think you’re the only one experiencing such a unique and bizarre symptom, rest assured someone else out there has also experienced it. 

So, here’s what you can expect on the crazy roller-coaster ride that is pregnancy.

Getting Pregnant

There are many things you should be aware of if you’re trying to get pregnant. How long does it take? What can you do to prepare your body? When can you take a pregnancy test?

How Long Does it Take?

It’s disappointing to see a negative pregnancy test, especially if you’re doing everything you can to get pregnant. 

Don’t give up!

It takes many women several months to get pregnant before they get that big fat positive!

In fact:

In the meantime, keep doing things that will help make you more fertile and create a perfect home for your unborn baby. 

What Can I Do to Increase My Chances?

Unsure about where to start? Here are a couple of pointers:

First thing’s first. Make sure you’re timing everything correctly. You should know exactly when your fertile window is to have the greatest chance of getting pregnant. 

There are several apps that can help you track your cycle to know when your fertile time is. These apps work really well even if you don’t have a regular cycle. 

Clue, Ovia, Glow, Fertility Friend, Kindara, and Natural Cycles are just a few of the apps that can help you to get pregnant. Several of the apps are free but come with in-app purchases for more features. 

Maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and eat a well-balanced diet. These things will help keep you healthy and help your body be ready for pregnancy. 

It’s also very important that you cut out unhealthy habits to help your body be healthy to carry a baby to full term. Stop smoking and drinking if you are serious about getting pregnant. 

Stress can play a negative role in your fertility. 

This can be hard to manage especially if you’re consistently getting negative test results. Negative results can cause more stress, which can reduce your chances of getting pregnant the next month. Although it might be difficult, do your best to reduce stress and feel calmer. 

It’s also a good idea to take a look at your medicine cabinet. Are there drugs or products that might harm your baby if you got pregnant? Do your research and find out what’s safe and what isn’t. You don’t need to throw things away, just save it until after pregnancy. 

It’s a good idea to start taking a prenatal vitamin even if you aren’t pregnant yet. Folic acid is essential for helping your baby to grow properly. 

Taking a prenatal vitamin before you’re pregnant will allow your body to have enough in its system to support the baby as soon as it’s conceived. This means the baby has a lower chance of birth defects and certain proper brain development.

Prenatal vitamins also contain a lot of iron which may help you get pregnant if you are iron deficient. One study showed that women taking an iron supplement had a significantly lower risk of ovulatory infertility.

Chances of Conception by Age

Taking a Home Pregnancy Test

Home pregnancy tests are one of the first ways you’ll be able to find out if you’re pregnant. 

Home pregnancy tests detect the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) which is produced when you become pregnant. 

You can take certain home pregnancy tests up to 5 days before your next missed period. However, taking a test early might result in a false negative because your body hasn’t produced enough hCG to be detected by a test.

Take the home pregnancy test the first day after you’ve missed your period for the most accurate results. 

Be aware:

Home pregnancy tests can also give false positives. This means that you could get a positive test then start your period a few days later. This can sometimes be due to a very early miscarriage that a lot of people often mistake for a late period. 

Read all the instructions carefully and make sure you take the test correctly for the most accurate results. 

A positive result means you’re going to have a baby! 

Congratulations!

Common Pregnancy Symptoms by Trimester

Pregnancy is divided into trimesters and each one is more different than the last. You may start to notice pregnancy symptoms very early on in your pregnancy. What do these symptoms look like? 

First Trimester (Weeks 1-12)

Your body will be going through some significant changes during the first trimester. This is why the first trimester is often the most difficult and taxing. 

You’re probably going to experience extreme fatigue, morning sickness, food cravings or food aversions, mood swings, constipation, gas, headaches, heartburn, and weight gain (1). 

Morning sickness doesn’t just occur in the mornings so be prepared for a day full of nausea. 

This is also the most crucial time to make sure you have healthy habits since all your baby’s major organs are developing at this time. 

Second Trimester (Weeks 13-27)

Some pregnant women report that the second trimester is the most enjoyable to them. A lot of this has to do with the diminishing of morning sickness in the second trimester. 

You’ll also start to notice your growing belly as it becomes harder and harder to ignore. Other people might guess your big news when you go to tell them. 

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • body aches in the groin, back, or abdomen
  • stretch marks
  • skin darkening
  • numb or tingling hands (carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • itchy belly from the stretching skin
  • swelling of the feet, hands, or face


Third Trimester (Weeks 28-40)

The third trimester is the home stretch before the baby arrives! 

Chances are you’ll start to get more and more uncomfortable as the baby grows to its final size. 

Aches and pains will continue to get worse as the baby pushes on nerves. This will probably result in difficulty sleeping. You’ll most likely experience shortness of breath since the baby is taking up so much room in your abdomen. Hemorrhoids are also a common symptom of pregnancy in the third trimester. 

You will probably start to experience more Braxton Hicks contractions as your body prepares for labor. These are a tightening of the uterus and aren’t harmful, they are usually painless. If those contractions start to hurt, it may be a sign of labor. 

Doctor’s Appointments

Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll have several routine doctor’s appointments to check on the baby and make sure everything is going according to plan. 

The first doctor’s appointment is generally around 8 weeks. This is when the baby has a steady heartbeat that can be heard by the doctor. Some offices will even schedule your first appointment at 4 weeks pregnant. 

You can expect one checkup every month up until you’re in your third trimester, then doctors usually want to start seeing you more frequently. 

After you enter into your third trimester, your doctor will want to see you every 2 weeks until you’re 36 weeks pregnant (2). 

From then on your doctor will want to see you once a week until the baby is born. Doctors want to see you more frequently as you get closer to delivery to make sure everything is ready for the big day! 

Doctor’s Appointment to Find Out Baby’s Gender

A lot of parents are really excited to find out what gender their baby is and want to know when they can find out from their doctor. 

The baby’s gender becomes apparent around 20 weeks when the baby’s genitals are fully formed and can be seen on an ultrasound. 

During this ultrasound, the technician will also look at all of the baby’s vital organs to make sure everything is developing properly. This can take up to 45 minutes, so make sure you’re prepared for a long appointment. 

The baby’s heart, kidneys, bladder, lungs, brain, bones, and other organs will all be examined and measured. Your doctor will have a follow-up appointment right after the ultrasound to go over results and tell you if there are any concerns. 

Typical Kinds of Delivery 

It’s too difficult to say which kind of delivery someone will have because it depends on their unique situation. However, there are typical methods of delivery that pretty common. 

Natural Vaginal Delivery

A natural birth means there were no pain medications involved. Although this method can be very painful, the pain can be lessened through breathing techniques and mindfulness. 

This type of delivery has no risk of adverse effects to medications since none will be used. Prepare yourself and take classes if you’d like to try a natural delivery (3). 

Vaginal Delivery with an Epidural

Epidurals are becoming more and more common. 

More than 50% of women giving birth at hospitals request an epidural.

Epidurals are a local anesthetic that block the pain from going to a certain area, in this case, the lower half of the body. 

A catheter is placed along the spinal cord and taped in place to provide continuous pain relief throughout labor. 

C-Sections

Sometimes a vaginal delivery is not an option. A c-section is the most common type of assisted delivery. 

About ⅓ of hospital births are c-sections.

The mother will be given a similar pain blocking medication in the spinal cord so that they don’t feel anything during the operation. 

Doctors will make a small incision in the abdomen and the uterus and pull the baby out through the opening. 

This delivery method involves a longer recovery time for the mother. 

Finish Line

Although there can be some bumps along the road of pregnancy, it can be a much smoother ride if you take good care of yourself, go to regular doctor’s appointments, and have a birth plan. 

Remember:

If something ever concerns you, talk to your doctor. Never be too embarrassed to ask to have something checked out. You’ll feel much better if you do. 

Then that’s it! You did it! 

Although pregnancy is difficult with many varying symptoms that change from trimester to trimester, it’s all worth it when you’re holding your baby in your arms. 

You’ve been preparing for 9 long months to welcome your little one into the world and all the excitement and buildup has finally reached its peak. 

Enjoy your new and challenging life as a parent!

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