Having a Baby?

Whether you are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant, you will want to give your baby a healthy start.

It’s important to have regular visits with your healthcare provider. These prenatal care1 visits are very important for your baby and yourself.

Some things you might do when you are pregnant could hurt your baby, such as smoking or drinking.

Some medicines2 can also be a problem, even ones that a doctor prescribed.

You will need to drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy diet.3 You may also be tired and need more rest.

Your body will change as your baby grows4 during the nine months of your pregnancy.

Don’t hesitate to call your health care provider if you think you have a problem5 or something is bothering or worrying you.

Pregnancy Positive Parenting American SPCC
Pregnancy Positive Parenting American SPCC

Importance of Prenatal Care

Prenatal care is the health care you get while you are pregnant. It includes your checkups and prenatal testing.6

Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy. It lets your health care provider spot health problems early. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others.

Your doctor or midwife will give you a schedule for your prenatal visits. If you are over 35 years old or your pregnancy is high risk because of health problems7 like diabetes8 or high blood pressure,9 your doctor or midwife will probably want to see you more often.

You can also expect to see your health care provider more often as your due date gets closer.

1st Trimester of Pregnancy (week 1-week 12)

During the first trimester your body undergoes many changes. Hormonal changes affect almost every organ system in your body. These changes can trigger symptoms even in the very first weeks of pregnancy. Your period stopping is a clear sign that you are pregnant.

Other changes may include:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Tender, swollen breasts. Your nipples might also stick out.
  • Upset stomach with or without throwing up (morning sickness)
  • Cravings or distaste for certain foods
  • Mood swings
  • Constipation (trouble having bowel movements)
  • Need to pass urine more often
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Weight gain or loss

As your body changes, you might need to make changes to your daily routine, such as going to bed earlier or eating frequent, small meals.

Fortunately, most of these discomforts will go away as your pregnancy progresses. Some women might not feel any discomfort at all! If you have been pregnant before, you might feel differently this time around. Just as each woman is different, so is each pregnancy.10

2nd Trimester of Pregnancy (week 13-week 38)

Most women find the second trimester of pregnancy easier than the first. However, it is just as important to stay informed about your pregnancy during these months.

You might notice that symptoms like nausea and fatigue are going away. Other new, more noticeable changes to your body are now happening. Your abdomen will expand as the baby continues to grow. Before this trimester is over, you will feel your baby beginning to move!10

As your body changes to make room for your growing baby, you may have:

  • Body aches, such as back, abdomen, groin, or thigh pain
  • Stretch marks on your abdomen, breasts, thighs, or buttocks
  • Darkening of the skin around your nipples
  • A line on the skin running from belly button to pubic hairline
  • Patches of darker skin, usually over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip. Patches often match on both sides of the face. This is sometimes called the mask of pregnancy.
  • Numb or tingling hands, called carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Itching on the abdomen, palms, and soles of the feet. (Call your doctor if you have nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice or fatigue combined with itching. These can be signs of a serious liver problem.)
  • Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face. (If you notice any sudden or extreme swelling or if you gain a lot of weight really quickly, call your doctor right away. This could be a sign of preeclampsia.11)

3rd Trimester of Pregnancy (week 29-week 40)

You’re in the home stretch! Some of the same discomforts you had in your second trimester will continue. Plus, many women find breathing difficult and notice they have to go to the bathroom even more often. This is because the baby is getting bigger and it is putting more pressure on your organs. Don’t worry, your baby is fine and these problems will lessen once you give birth.
Some new body changes you might notice in the third trimester include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heartburn
  • Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face. (If you notice any sudden or extreme swelling or if you gain a lot of weight really quickly, call your doctor right away. This could be a sign of preeclampsia.11)
  • Hemorrhoids12
  • Tender breasts, which may leak a watery pre-milk called colostrum (kuh-LOSS-struhm)
  • Your belly button may stick out
  • Trouble sleeping
  • The baby “dropping” or moving lower in your abdomen
  • Contractions, which can be a sign of real or false labor13

As you near your due date, your cervix becomes thinner and softer (called effacing). This is a normal, natural process that helps the birth canal (vagina) to open during the birthing process.

Your doctor will check your progress with a vaginal exam as you near your due date. Get excited — the final countdown has begun!

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