Signs of labour
Every woman’s experience of labour and birth is very different and there are a number of ways that your labour might start. It’s easy to confuse ‘pre-labour’ signs (like Braxton-Hicks contractions) with the real thing.
Welcome to the first week of your third and final trimester! Although you’re definitely looking pregnant by now, you’re not quite at that stage of feeling so big that you’re getting clumsy. You can still navigate your way comfortably around without feeling as if all you want to do is to lie down. While your ankles and feet may be a bit swollen by the end of the day, by the next morning they should be back to their normal size.
Your belly is leading the way from now on and it has probably become difficult for you to ignore it. Even if you aren’t particularly big, you’ll certainly be feeling the effects of your pregnancy on your legs, your bladder, your belly and even your brain.
The countdown has almost begun. You are now three quarters of the way through your pregnancy and you’ll be amazed at how quickly the remaining 10 weeks will go by. What once seemed so far away is really getting closer with every passing day.
This can be a special time in your pregnancy. You won’t be so big that moving around has become too challenging just yet, but it’s obvious to everyone that you are pregnant. This comes with some special privileges, especially if you are around other parents. For the first time ever, you may be offered someone’s seat on public transport, be invited to take the first place in a queue or other thoughtful gestures may be extended to you.
At 32 weeks pregnant, you are now entering the 8th month of your pregnancy, with just 2 more months to go! If this is your first baby you’ll probably be feeling a real mix of excitement, with a little healthy apprehension thrown in as well. Becoming a parent for the first time means you’ll need to make some major changes to your life. No matter how much you plan for the baby to fit in with your plans and lifestyle, there will be big differences in what you are able to achieve and where your priorities lie.
It’s getting harder to forget you are pregnant now. Frequent niggles and pains, kicks and prods mean you are constantly being reminded that there is a baby in there. This causes some women to feel like an incubator, the sheer physical nature of their pregnancy making it all a little too much to enjoy.
It’s getting harder to get around and maintain your usual activities at 34 weeks of pregnancy. Your lungs can’t inflate as much as they’d like to and there’s a general sense of everything being squeezed and squashed into your mid-section. You’ll want to stretch out whenever possible and wish you were just a few centimetres taller, especially in your trunk.
You are getting close to the last month of your pregnancy now. The countdown to having your baby has almost begun and somehow getting to 40 weeks doesn’t seem too far away. If you’ve still been working, you will be winding down now as maternity leave often starts within the last 4-6 weeks of gestation. There are good reasons for this. Although pregnancy is a normal state, it can become difficult to maintain usual employment activities in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
You’re getting close now. Only 4 more weeks to go before your due date, as your baby continues to prepare for life outside the womb. You may have a sense of the calm before the storm during this week. You are getting closer each day to holding your baby, but birth is still not so close that it is imminent.
You are getting oh so close now to having your baby! Next week you will officially be classed as “term”, so if your baby were to be born when you are 37 weeks pregnant, it is unlikely to have any issues because of prematurity.
You feel and look like a ripe peach this week. All rounded corners and full of promise. Even if you’ve loved every minute of pregnancy until now, some creeping, nagging doubts may start to surface when you are 38 weeks pregnant. “Am I too big?” “Am I too small?” “Will this baby ever be born?” And the classic, “How can this baby ever come out of me?”
Try to be open-minded and confident that your baby will know when it is ready to be born. Every baby will take their own unique time to grow and be ready for life outside the womb. Although you may be feeling increasingly impatient and eager to have your baby, try not to wish this time away. At least while your baby is still in your womb, all of its needs are being catered for and your workload is not as high as it will be.
You are here, you’ve made it. Congratulations on reaching the 40th week of your pregnancy! Although you’ve probably thought many times that you would never get here, take it as a personal accomplishment that you have. You may be heartily sick of the whole pregnancy deal by now and just want it to be over and done with. You feel and look uncomfortable and your energy levels aren’t what they usually are. It’s hard to focus on anything for too long or make plans in case the baby comes. It’s as if your life is on hold for the meantime.
You’re probably short-tempered even with your own shadow this week, waiting in anticipation for “D” day. Even though your planned due date has come and gone, don’t feel as if you’re experiencing humanity’s longest gestation. Less than 5% of pregnant women actually have their baby on their due date and deliver either before it or later. This is because there is often some confusion about dates, or when the baby was actually conceived and some babies just take a little longer than others. Although you may not feel it right now, you can be guaranteed there will be an end to your pregnancy within the next week or so.
Being overdue to have a baby means different things to people. But whether you’re feeling relaxed or anxious, it is important that you are being monitored carefully if you do get to 42 weeks of pregnancy.
By the end of each menstrual period, your body prepares to release another egg in around a fortnight’s time. The lining of your womb will build up in readiness to nurture the egg in case it becomes fertilised. If this doesn’t happen, the lining will be shed with your next period.
From the time you are 10 weeks pregnant until term, most of your baby’s changes will be targeted towards growth and maturity. Essentially, they are now a miniature version of how they will be at birth. All of their organs have formed and are being primed to support independent life when they are born close to 40 weeks. The chances of your baby developing a physical deformity after week 10 of pregnancy are reduced. But, it is still important to be very careful throughout the rest of your pregnancy. Other, equally important aspects of their development will still continue to progress throughout the remainder of their gestation.
The end of your first trimester is well and truly in sight. At 11 weeks pregnant, you are almost a third of your way through your entire pregnancy. If this is your first time it will all be new and exciting. But even if you’ve had other children, each pregnancy is a little different and brings its own challenges.
You’ve almost made it! You are now close to the end of your first trimester, one that many women find the hardest. So, if you want to breathe a sigh of relief because you’ve found the last couple of months such hard going, you’ve earned it. Speaking of taking deep breaths, you may as well enjoy it while you can, because from now until your baby is born, you are likely to feel that you just can’t expand your lungs as much as you’d like to. There’s a good reason for this – someone else is taking up all the space and the feeling is likely to hang around for a while longer.
Your baby is as cute as a peach this week and around the same size too. Up until this week, their abdominal organs have been forming outside of their bodies, but will now start moving to where they should be.
Conception usually happens in the fallopian tube and although it is by any standards a significant moment, there are no outward signs that fertilisation has occurred. Generally, it takes around 6-12 days for the fertilised egg to travel down the fallopian tube to your womb.
Once the fertilised egg or zygote has nestled into the wall of your womb, signals will be sent to your body to produce more oestrogen and progesterone. These and other hormones will help sustain your baby throughout your pregnancy. Some women experience a little bleeding as the embryo implants itself into the womb.
The placenta has started to form by now and will play a vital role in producing specific hormones and in feeding your baby. At this stage, the embryo is smaller than a grain of rice, but each of its cells are already programmed to fulfil a specific function.
It is now that a heartbeat may be seen on an ultrasound and the eyes and ears of the embryo are being formed. Small buds of tissue, that will eventually become your baby’s limbs, start appearing on each side.
If you suspect you are pregnant, but haven’t already done a pregnancy test, do one now. By the time you are 6 weeks pregnant, the baby can officially be measured. When measuring a baby through ultrasound, it is standard practice to measure from the crown to the bottom. By week 6 the average size is 5-6 mm.
You are now officially just over halfway through your first trimester. Your baby has grown about 10,000 times bigger than it was when you first conceived. So much of your baby’s growth is concentrated on its brain this week, with around 100 new brain cells forming every minute!
This week your baby is around 1 cm long and can officially be called a foetus. The valves in your baby’s heart are present and the passages, which will help air flow from the throat to the lungs, have formed. Baby’s fingers, toes, lips, eyelids and legs are becoming more clearly defined.
What a big week this is. Only 4 more weeks to go before the end of your first trimester! It’s still really important to be careful about limiting your exposure to any toxins, viruses or chemicals, which could potentially harm the baby as it’s forming. You don’t need to live in a bubble, but just be aware and focus on staying well and healthy.
You are now officially in the last month of your first trimester! You’ve probably gotten your head around being pregnant by now and it doesn’t seem like such a foreign concept anymore. At 9 weeks of pregnancy, your baby has become a permanent fixture and is probably making its presence well and truly felt.
This is the first week in your second trimester, the one a lot of women find the most comfortable of the three. Your nausea and exhaustion are likely to have lifted, or are starting to, and you won’t be so big that you feel awkward and cumbersome.
This week your baby can swallow. It will soon become adept at swallowing the amniotic fluid and recycling it through its kidneys. This may sound less than tasty, but is a vital means of determining if they will have renal problems. It also helps the lungs develop.
Your baby is almost 13 cm long this week and moving quite actively now, with alternating periods of rest and activity. All that movement helps your baby’s muscles to grow and consolidates the network of nervous system pathways linking the brain, spinal cord and muscles.
At 17 weeks pregnant your centre of gravity is changing. Trying to maintain a good posture will help you avoid backache and unnecessary muscular strain. If you have to lift heavy objects, remember to bend at the knees and use those large, powerful quadriceps in your thighs to help. Lift with your legs, not your back.
This should be an exciting week for you. You’ve probably already found that every new twinge and symptom brings with it a reminder that you are really going to have a baby. But of all the pregnancy signs, there is none more convincing than when you become aware of your baby moving! This is commonly around the 18th week for first-time mothers and a little earlier for those who’ve had a baby before.
Hooray! You’re almost half-way through your pregnancy. Enormous changes have occurred both in your own body and for your developing baby over the past 16 weeks, since you first conceived. Though for some women it is still not obvious to anyone other than themselves that they are pregnant. Tight abdominal muscles can hide an enlarging womb or alternately, if a woman carries extra weight around her middle, this may camouflage her pregnancy. If you are keen to keep the news of your pregnancy private, with careful dressing it may still be possible to cover up your tummy, especially in the cooler months.
Your baby is around 21 cm long. If you haven’t been able to determine it before, it is now possible to see what sex your baby is via an ultrasound. Your womb is at the half-way mark and will reach up to your navel by now.
Finding it hard to sleep on your tummy? This is because you can’t ignore the rather big lump that is forming in your middle. Also, creeping into bed seems to be a signal for your baby to wake up. Some people say this is nature’s way of preparing mothers for broken sleep when the baby is born. Even so, it’s hard to stay focused on nodding off when it feels like there’s an acrobat flinging around in your tummy. If you’re finding it impossible to go to sleep, give in and get up. A drink of milk, something light to eat, a book or something mindless on the television can all help your mind to switch off into neutral.
Your baby is hearing a lot of muffled noises by now so get into the habit of talking, playing music and having your partner chat away through your tummy wall. This will pay off when baby is born and responds to your partner’s voice.
Having any weird and wonderful dreams yet? It is common in the second trimester of pregnancy to have some pretty amazing and vivid dreams, which tend to hang around the next day. You could find yourself dreaming of being in the most fantastical situations bearing no resemblance to your everyday life. Your baby may even take a starring role and quite possibly be nothing you were hoping for.
If you catch sight of yourself in the mirror this week, you might be seeing a more rounded version of your usual self. Familiar, but still different. At 24 weeks pregnant, your bottom, thighs, tummy and upper arms seem more filled out and less defined than they were. There’s just a bit of softness happening overall and it’s not all on the outside.
You are almost 6 months into your pregnancy. Your belly is rounded and you are looking more pregnant with every week that passes. No doubt you’ve started to plan for the baby and are thinking about what you’ll need. If you’ve had a baby before this will all come relatively easily to you, but if this is your first, it can all seem a little overwhelming. There are so many choice and options available to expectant parents. Combined with a foggy pregnancy brain, it can all seem totally confusing.
Your baby’s eyes can actually see and you may find that baby is more active when you are out in bright sunlight. They are able to respond to touch through the abdominal wall and will move in response to gentle pressure on your tummy wall. Your baby is roughly the same size as the placenta this week.
There’s lots of movements and activity this week, with regular bursts of kicking and stretching. Your baby is still practicing breathing, though if it were born this week, it would most certainly need help to breathe. Watch and feel your tummy jumping rhythmically; it could be baby hiccupping.
Welcome to the second trimester!
Welcome to your second trimester! All the hard work involved in making your baby and helping it form has been done. Baby’s essential organs and body systems should be in place and ready to keep growing and maturing from now on.