The 3 phases of pregnancy

Pregnancy is the most critical stage of a woman as this is the time when she needs the maximum protection, love and care. The support of her partner is very much needed at this time for both her physical as well as her mental health.

There are three phases or stages of pregnancy which a woman undergoes before delivering her baby. Each phase has its own characteristics and must be dealt accordingly. The  three stages of pregnancy can be differentiated into the

1)     first trimester (week 1- week 12)

2)     second trimester (week 13- week 28)

3)     third trimester(week 29- week 40)

The time period of a normal pregnancy is 40 weeks and this is divided into three phases.

Each trimester is unique and is charecterised by different physical and emotional changes.

Changes during the first trimester

Morning sickness is a very common problem faced by would-be mothers in their first trimester. Pregnant women become very much sensitive to smells and odours and cannot tolerate strong smells. Perfumes, strong smell of cooked food, etc. cannot be tolerated by pregnant women during this time. To reduce bouts of nausea, a pregnant woman is always advised to eat small and frequent meals and increase the intake of fluids.

Tender and swollen breasts with nipple sticking out is another problem faced by pregnant women in their early trimester. This takes place due to hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy.

A pregnant woman is very much affected by mood swings and fatigue. There is an increased level of  tiredness during this time due to an increase in  the level of the hormone, progesterone. Hence proper rest is recommended to reduce the level of tiredness.

Constipation is another problem of  women in their first trimester. To avoid constipation women should include fibre based diet and drink lots of water.

A pregnant woman apart from physical changes undergoes emotional changes as well. Stress and depression is very common during pregnancy which takes a negative toll on both  the baby and the mother. Caressing, encouragement, and support from the partner is very much important for the mental stability of he mother and proper growth of the child.

The second stage of pregnancy (week 13- week 28) is said to be the most enjoyable and comfortable phase of pregnancy. It is the also the easiest phase of pregnancy. The feelings of nausea, fatigue and tiredness take a back seat and thus makes the would be mother feel more relieved and relaxed.

There are certain new changes observed during this phase. The changes include all body parts from head to toe.

1)      Change of Skin Colour : In this phase certain areas of skin undergoes colour change and becomes darker. Areas such as the face, around the neck, the skin around the nipples are more prone to this change. This happens due to increased blood circulation to the skin.

2)      Stretch Marks : Stretch marks become visible more and more as the size of the belly keeps on increasing. Stretch marks not only appear on the abdomen but are also visible on the thighs, buttocks, breasts and often tends to be itchy.

3)      Vaginal Discharge : Vaginal discharge is very common during this trimester. There is nothing to worry if you see a thin, white discharge from your vagina. But consultation with a doctor becomes necessary if the discharge is accompanied by strong smell or if it causes redness, itching or irritation in that area.

4)      Swelling : Swelling of the ankles, fingers and face is often observed during the second trimester. But you need to worry if the swelling is severe and you gain weight really fast.

5)      Kidney Problems : There is an increased risk of bladder and kidney infections during this phase. These infections are accompanied by fever, burning sensation while urinating and backache. These infections must be treated properly and cured at the right time to avoid complications.

Pregnancy is not only a physical and biological process but also a mental as well as a psycological process. Women tend to become very delicate and sentimental during this time. Though the feeling varies from person to person but most women have a strong desire for sex during this trimester while others feel alienated and depressed. This all happens due to hormonal changes in the body. Hence expecting women should be given proper and quality time to help them get rid of this feeling make them enjoy the feeling of having a baby.

The third trimester is the most challenging and the most difficult phase of pregnancy. The discomfort of the pregnant woman keeps on increasing with the growth of the baby. The would be mother becomes impatient as her time of delivery approaches and bearing the weight of the child becomes a difficult job.

1)   Abdominal Pain : The muscles and ligaments that support the baby keeps on stretching with the growth of the baby. This causes pain in the abdomen.

2)   Sexual Desire : There is no restrictions in having sex during this period as long as the sex is a soft and a gentle one. But having sex becomes very uncomfortable  due to the increased growth of the baby. The pregnant woman feels a lesser sexual urge not only because she is most of the time involved in thoughts about her new born but also because of her increased body weight.

3)   Weight Gain : A pregnant woman gains upto 11 to 16 kilograms by the end of her third trimester. Not only the growing baby but also the larger breasts, amniotic fluid, and the placenta  account for the increased weight.

4)   Backache and Swelling

As the baby grows, the weight may lead to backaches and joint pains of the  mother. There is nothing to worry. A light massage helps. A heating pad is also helpful. There may also be symptoms of swollen feet or ankles. Consultation with the doctor becomes necessary in case of severe situations.

5)   Vaginal discharge and frequent urination : There is nothing abnormal if you feel the urge of frequent urination. This is a common problem. There may also be symptoms of vaginal discharge. If there is discharge of the amniotic fluid immediate consultation with the doctor is recommended.

Not only physical but the pregnant woman undergoes a emotional transition especially during this trimester. The would be mother suffers from anxiety and tension. Here, the support and encouragement of the partner is required. He should spend quality time with his spouse. Listening to music, watching good movies, good humour may help the would be mother feel more relaxed and refreshed.

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