That very moment when you are in the period of waiting is quite unnerving sometimes. May it be waiting for a loved one whom you haven’t seen for a long period of time or probably waiting for test results of any kind. The same thoughts and feelings can overcome a mother who is anticipating the birth and delivery of her baby. For the past months, a pregnant woman had been keeping up with all the healthy regimens just to keep both her and the developing baby inside healthy, and at the same time making things good out of the discomforts she felt along with the pregnancy.
Lifestyle modifications were probably done, if not, extremely done, episodes of nausea and vomiting along with fatigue may probably have been constantly felt by the mother. All of these are carried along with the woman while anticipating for a happy and healthy pregnancy.
In order for her (and her significant other) to keep abreast and be aware where she is at in her pregnancy, it is crucial for the couple to know, beforehand, the development of the baby and the physical changes of the mother in every trimester of pregnancy. Yes, pregnancy is divided into trimesters or a period of three months within the normal 9 months duration of pregnancy. In the first trimester, development of the baby is focused on the fertilization and implantation of the fertilized growing ball of cells into the uterus of the mother to the formation of major organs: heart, brain, spinal cord and until it becomes a 3-inch embryo.
At this stage, the mother will start to feel nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP). Hormone levels of the mother change drastically as the body prepares the placenta and increases blood volume to deliver enough supply of oxygen to both the mother and the baby. This includes increased heart rate, headaches, and even constipation. The second trimester (13th-28th week of pregnancy) might probably be considered as a more comfortable period during the whole duration of the pregnancy. Several symptoms of pregnancy will begin to decrease and surges in energy levels will become evident thus allowing the mother to do more things.
However, the abdomen will start to become visible, leg cramps will take place and heartburn will be experienced. The mother will have increased appetite thus it is important to eat healthily and do more pregnancy appropriate exercises. The fetus at this stage will have that fine downy hair known as lanugo and the vernix caseosa, a white cheesy substance that covers the fetus skin. Sucking and swallowing reflexes of a minimal amount of amniotic fluid will become evident. The fetus will begin to move around and become responsive to sounds at 18-19 weeks of gestational age. Tests for blood sugar levels should be performed in this period to detect any possibilities of gestational diabetes.
For the last trimester of pregnancy which is from the 29th to the 40th week, the fetus will have full development of the bones, lungs may exhibit rhythmic breathing (movements only and not meant to be functional, yet). Enrolling in childbirth classes can be very helpful in preparing the mother both physically and psychologically for the labor and delivery. Further tests on the mother that her Ob-Gyne may prescribe is the screening for Group B streptococcus, checking blood pressure and fetal heart rate, and testing the urine for protein. At this stage, the mother might probably have discomforts from the second trimester. Additional discomforts include breathing difficulty because of the growing abdomen which pushes the diaphragm of the mother and urinating more often because of the pressure of the growing uterus on the urinary bladder. Swelling of the extremities and face may become evident because the body is packing up more blood volume for the blood loss later on.
However, the doctor should be informed of the swelling so to further assess for any medical conditions that may be contributing to the swelling. Hemorrhoids will also be present and trouble in sleeping can take place because of the growing belly. It is always advisable that if the mother lies down, she should lie on her left side. Not doing so can put pressure on the vena cava of the mother when lying on the back and thus diminishing circulation to the fetus. At 38 weeks, the infant is considered full term and is ready for delivery. At this stage, the mother might probably experience false labor and then true labor. The mother and her significant others should be knowledgeable on the difference between the true and false labor. Also, the cervix becomes thinner and softer and the doctor will perform the internal examination for the cervical dilatation. Although, genuine individuals as we are the progress of pregnancy may differ in some ways, but there will always be universal events that can take place.
The setbacks when anticipating the delivery of the baby can be minimized if the couple and people around the pregnant mother are knowledgeable enough so to counteract the mixed emotions of joy and discomforts perhaps. In the words of Izbir (2013) a registered nurse who made her birth story as her publication, fear of childbirth is considered universal. Nevertheless, according to Quiroz, Blomquist, Macmillan, Mccullough, & Handa (2011), the goal of women for childbirth includes a healthy baby, longing for the support of the significant other and her family and a want to have external control on the birthing environment.
Author: Sarah Catina RN
American Pregnancy Association (2018). Fetal development. Retrieved from
Healthline (2018). Trimesters and due date. Retrieved from
Isbir, G. (2013). My birth story is like a dream: A childbirth educator’s childbirth. J Perineal Educ; 22(1):
23-29. DOI: 0.1891/1058-1243.22.1.23
Quiroz, L.; Bloquist, J.; Macmillan, D.; Mccullough, A. & Handa, V. (2011). Maternal goals for childbirth
associated with planned vaginal and planned cesarean birth. Am J Perinatol. 28(9): 695-702. DOI: 10.1055/s-0031-1280598