Pregnancy is a long-drawn process that goes on for about 10 months, during which your body goes through changes both physically and mentally. As you conceive and the embryo gradually grows, you notice closely how pregnancy changes the body. You will essentially go through six stages of pregnancy before enjoying full-time parenthood. To understand the functioning of your body better, you must keep a tab on the six stages as explained below:
6 Stages in Pregnancy: The Changing Female Body
The very first stage of pregnancy, although this is not quite being pregnant in the literal sense, is the fertilisation of the egg inside your body. The sperm that your partner releases inside your body, has to first fertilise your egg. There is a trail of steps involved in conception. Every month, a group of eggs is released from your ovary. These eggs develop follicles, of which only one matures enough to move forward, while the others are gradually degenerated. The follicle ruptures during ovulation, to release the egg. After this, the ruptured follicle takes the form of corpus luteum and starts producing the oestrogen and progesterone hormones. When the egg meets the sperm, both combine and fertilise, which culminates into a zygote. While all this is happening inside your body, you do not really know about what is coming, until the ‘implantation’ and the period after that.
This can medically be considered a part of the entire process of conception, although many doctors prefer looking into it as a separate, succeeding stage of conception. This is when the zygote has to get implanted in your uterine wall, officially deeming you ‘pregnant’. The most likely sign of your pregnancy will be missing your next period. You can get yourself tested with the home pregnancy test stick. If you find a confusing false-positive line, consult your doctor about your status.
After confirmation of your pregnancy, you officially enter the first trimester of the journey! Ideally, the first trimester stretches from the 1st week to the 12th week. During this phase, your entire system will go through lots of changes and you will get a first-hand experience of how pregnancy changes the body. Although this is the third stage of the journey, it largely overlaps with the first two in terms of internal developments of your reproductive system in order to determine pregnancy. The ovulation process generally takes place towards the end of the second week. The official baby bump, which appears when your belly starts growing in size, generally begins to be noticeable around the end of this stage or trimester. However, your body will go through a lot of changes internally, due to the developing embryo, and lead to the most common early pregnancy symptoms that include:
- Morning sickness
- Constant fatigue
- Mood swings
- Tender breasts
- Repulsiveness towards certain foods
- Gradual weight gain
These symptoms will, however, continue till the last trimester, along with the appearance of many other signs. You have to be aware of these general alterations due to hormonal changes.
This period generally stretches from week 13 to week 27. During this stage, you will see even more clearly how pregnancy changes the body as your foetus will grow significantly throughout the 4th, 5th, and 6th months. You will experience even more pregnancy symptoms apart from the fast growing and bulging belly. The most common changes to look out for are:
- Lower back pain
- Pelvic cramps
- Darker and larger areola
- Swollen feet
- Stretch marks
- Linea nigra
Between weeks 15 and 20, you will also gradually begin to feel the baby’s movements inside the womb as it keeps growing and gaining energy!
The last stage before you go into labour lasts from about week 24 to week 40. Since by this time your baby is on the rapid growth track, you experience a lot of sudden changes in your body, the primary one being gaining weight due to the increasing belly line. The most common ways to detect how pregnancy changes your body at this stage is to look at the changing signs in your health chart, like:
- Swollen limbs, joint, and face
- Frequent urination
- Pelvic pains
- Abdominal cramps
- Braxton Hicks contractions
- Leaking breasts
As the baby is now growing even more rapidly, you are likely to face lots of bodily changes that might also affect your thinking process, leading to a brain fog – commonly called pregnancy brain. The baby is now moving down towards the cervix and thus causing you all the discomfort in the lower pelvic area! But it might be relieving to know that you are nearly there! Only a few more weeks perhaps.
This is the last stage before you go to the delivery room. You are now in intense anticipation of the fact that the baby might out and in your arms any moment! Sometimes some women don’t experience the signs of a labour pain at the right time. It is okay to wait for a while, but if it crosses the estimated time limit, the doctor artificially induces labour using medically approved methods. By now, your body is bloated, you are probably constipated, and you are already lactating. You are all set to nurture the baby!
After successfully crossing all the six hurdles, you will be blessed with the trophy that you have been waiting for, all this while. As much as it can be called a ‘hectic journey’, you will enjoy every moment when you think back about the times when you could simply watch how pregnancy changes the body almost like magic! Everything will change from thereon, and you will definitely thank your stars! For those of you still thinking about the journey ahead, or are planning to conceive, the first thing to do is to accumulate all the details of the six stages of pregnancy and think accordingly, whether you are ready for it, based on what your body might go through.
Hope this article was of help to you! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy, Healthy and Empowered Women!!