stages of pregnancy

Each of the three stages of pregnancy comes with its own set of problems that can stress you out. Stress is the last thing you need when you’re expecting, both for your sake and that of the baby, so this overview of your pregnancy timeline can give you a few hints on what to expect, as well as ways to pamper yourself each step of the way.

First trimester

The first trimester begins with conception and lasts through week 12. The best way to sum up the first trimester is hormones gone wild! From the moment you first get pregnant, those hormones will start raging through your body, causing a myriad of changes.

The ones you’ll notice right way include tender breasts, morning sickness, headaches, constipation and frequent urination. You’re also likely to experience extreme tiredness, mood swings and cravings for certain foods. You’ll begin to put on weight as your uterus expands to accommodate the growing baby.

If some foods aren’t agreeing with you, try to eat lightly but well. Shop farmers’ markets for the freshest and most delicious produce. Treat yourself to a variety of green vegetables like rocket and kale for salads that will tempt your appetite as well as being great for the health of both you and the baby.

Second trimester

The second trimester is the period from week 13 through week 28, and is likely to be easiest of the three stages of pregnancy. The nausea and fatigue of early pregnancy may dissipate, but as your body grows, you’ll experience more, and different, changes.

Your body adapting to the growing baby inside can lead to aches in your back, groin, abdomen and thighs. You may notice stretch marks on your tummy, breasts and buttocks. Your ankles, fingers and face may show swelling. Darker patches of skin called the mask of pregnancy can appear on your face.

One very serious condition to watch for is a problem with the liver. If you have nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue or jaundice combined with itching of the abdomen, palms or soles of the feet, consult your doctor immediately.

If you hate the way your ankles are swelling, remember the bad example set by Kim Kardashian and stash those high heels for the duration. Walk barefoot whenever possible or wear comfortable flats and sandals. Treat yourself to regular mani-pedis and gentle foot massages so your feet look so fabulous that no one will notice they’re a bit swollen!

Third trimester

The third trimester lasts from week 29 until week 40 (or until you give birth). By now, the size of the baby is putting pressure on your organs, leading to frequent trips to the bathroom as well as problems sleeping. You may also be experiencing swollen ankles, shortness of breath and tender breasts.

On the positive side, a look at your due date timeline serves as a reminder that you’ll be giving birth very soon. On the negative side, you may feel huge, heavy and clumsy. To cheer yourself up, indulge in sensual delights.

Splurge on your favourite candles, oils, creams, lotions and potions. Fill your home with deliciously fragrant flowers. Try relaxation methods like yoga or meditation, and treat yourself to a gentle, prenatal massage. If you feel calm and content in your final days of pregnancy, you’re more likely to have a stress-free birth and a healthy baby!

Which stage of pregnancy was your favourite – and least favourite?