Ready for motherhood? This pregnancy week-by-week guide tells you what’s going on in your uterus and what you can expect as your baby bump grows.
Congratulations on your BFP (big fat positive)! As you bask in the rosy glow of having embarked on the most amazing journey a woman can make, it’s a good idea to know what you’re in for. Because while being pregnant is a beautiful thing, it can also be a hormonal roller-coaster. Knowing that your foetus is developing exactly as it should be – and the symptoms you’re experiencing are completely ‘normal’ – can be reassuring. As they say, knowledge is power. So, let’s begin powering up, shall we?
1 Week Pregnant
My baby Well, you aren’t really preggers yet as there’s no embryo in the oven. You won’t even know if your egg has been fertilised for about another month. But if it’s the week following your last period, then hopefully we’ve got egg and sperm at the ready! However, as your gynae will use the first day of your last period as your pregnancy start date, technically this is week one.
My body Hormones that bring on your period also encourage your brain to produce luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). These are both keys to unlocking conception. You can help by staying relaxed, having a balanced diet, reducing alcohol and caffeine intake, and quitting smoking. It’s also a good idea to begin taking folic acid supplements if you hadn’t already started.
2 Weeks Pregnant
My baby There’s still no embryo, but ovulation occurs around day 14 of your menstrual cycle. This means that it could happen anytime now, so get into the groove of baby-making fun with baby’s daddy! After an arduous ten-hour journey, successful sperm finally gets to meet eager egg. If all goes well, the sex of your baby is determined in the next 10 to 30 hours as the two make that special connection.
My body As LH and FSH levels increase, they stimulate the production of follicles in your ovary. Usually one follicle grows larger and produces the egg, as well as oestrogen. Oestrogen helps thicken the lining of your uterus to make a more comfortable ‘bed’ for the fertilised egg to nestle in. Tracking your ovulation can help, but remember not to stress out in trying for baby – it’s counterproductive!
3 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Within a few hours, your fertilised egg a.k.a. zygote begins its journey from your fallopian tube to the uterus. It takes up to six days for it to reach that comfy nest your body has prepared. At the moment, your baby is a ball about the size of a pin head. It’s made up of about 100 cells and is technically called a blastocyst. An apt name, we think, because your baby is ready to blast into life!
My body You probably won’t even notice anything unusual. In fact, a pregnancy test may not even show up positive yet. But the same follicle that released the lucky egg is replacing it with corpus luteum. This is a set of cells that produces progesterone and oestrogen, the all-important pregnancy hormones. A side effect of oestrogen is a heightened sense of smell – a subtle sign pointing to new beginnings!
4 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Upon arriving in the uterus, the blastocyst burrows into the uterine lining, then splits into two parts. One part is the embryo, while the other is the placenta that will support your baby over the next eight months. Baby is now only about the size of a chia seed, but it’s got lots to do this week. The amniotic sac will form around it, while layers of cells begin growing inside to form Baby’s body.
My body If your doctor does a blood test, you’d get your BFP now. A urine test may need a few more days, so check again next week if your period is late. Your body, however, is sharper than any test and is already pulling out all the stops to get ready. While some may not notice anything at this stage, others may get mood swings, bloating and cramping. A third of women also experience some implantation bleeding, so it’s easy to mistake all these symptoms as PMS.
(See also: Are You Pregnant?)
5 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Now about the size of an apple seed, Baby’s all-important umbilical cord is forming. This week, she will also have a fully functioning heart. Other essential organs being worked on include the neural tube – the beginning of the brain and spinal cord. By the end of the week, Baby will have doubled from 2mm to 4mm in size!
My body Your body is releasing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the pregnancy hormone that makes your pregnancy test show positive. hCG supports the corpus luteum in nourishing Baby for five weeks before the placenta is ready to take over. Rising hCG levels also mean that morning sickness, food cravings and excessive saliva might be kicking in. It’s also normal to feel tired out all the time during the first trimester. After all, most of your energy is spent growing a whole new life, so heed your body’s call to rest.
6 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Picture your little sweet pea’s face, because that’s what you’ve got. At 4-7mm long, Baby is the size of a sweet pea, and in the process of developing her facial features. Dark patches will soon become eyes, tiny openings become a mouth and nostrils, and small folds of skin become ears. Four limbs are still little buds, while the spinal cord currently resembles a tail – we’re mammals after all! Also, an ultrasound scan this week will show Baby’s heart beating at around 110 times per minute!
My body Your body is now pumping more blood to send to your uterus, kidneys, skin and breasts. Muscles at the top of your stomach relax to give your uterus room to expand, but also gives you heartburn. Everything has cause and effect: your kidneys become more effective at removing waste so you’ll need to pee more, and your boobs are getting ready to breastfeed hence feeling really tender, for starters. Also expect bloating, nausea, vomiting, mood swings and fatigue.
(See also: Choosing your Gynae: The Quest for Dr Right)
7 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Now the size of a blueberry at about 1cm, Baby is generating 100 brain cells per minute. Facial features are also more defined, with tongue and tooth buds developing this week. Kidneys are in place and preparing to start producing urine. Tiny developing limbs will divide into hand, arm and shoulder, as well as foot, knee and leg segments. Even tinier fingers and toes start out webbed, so Baby’s hands and feet currently look more like paddles.
My body Your pregnancy still isn’t showing outwardly just yet, but you’re feeling its full effects on the inside. Your twins (no, not the ones in your uterus) could have gone up as much as a full bra size. This could be your dream come true if they weren’t also uncomfortably achy! It’s not all bad news, though, as that pregnancy glow everyone talks about is also kicking in. Your skin and hair are both looking model-esque, thanks to all that oestrogen.
8 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Now with growth spurts at the rate of 1mm daily, Baby is about the size of a raspberry. While her chin is still attached to her chest, she already has a nose, lips and eyelids. The retinas are starting to develop pigment, so she’ll soon have her eye colour. Baby has almost lost her tail and is working on a spinal cord. Bones are developing, and her longer arms and legs boast distinct knees, ankles, elbows and wrists. To keep up with all this growth, Baby’s heart is running at 150-170 beats per minute!
My body Your clothes are finally beginning to feel a little snug around the belly. You may also notice a thin milky discharge, but don’t worry – it’s helping to maintain healthy bacteria down there. The volume of blood in your body is still increasing, now at almost 1.5 times the normal amount, and your heart rate is also slightly raised. Progesterone helps to keep your blood pressure level by relaxing your heart and blood vessels. Unfortunately, this often leads to constipation and headaches on top of morning sickness and fatigue.
(See also: Morning Sickness Be Gone!)
9 Weeks Pregnant
My baby All of Baby’s essential organs are in various stages of development by week nine, and she’s around an inch long. You might even be able to hear her heartbeat on a Doppler ultrasound this week. She’s also starting to make tiny jerky movements with her arms and legs, although you can’t feel them yet. And while gender was decided by chromosomes weeks ago, this week the boy or girl bits start to develop.
My body Your body is working 24/7 to develop the placenta, so get lots of rest to make up for it. Try sleeping on your left side – this allows more blood flow to Baby as your uterus isn’t pressing on major blood vessels. You’re still making frequent toilet trips, your breasts are still ultra-sensitive, and you’re probably feeling bloated and gassy too. Regardless, keep up your water and fibre intake, and focus on snack-size meals throughout the day.
10 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Congrats, your embryo is now officially a foetus, and about 3cm long. On ultrasound scans, Baby is beginning to look less alien and more human, albeit with a bulge on her forehead. That’s her brain developing! Bones and cartilage are now forming, as are baby teeth beneath the gums. More of Baby’s organs are also beginning to function as they will in the outside world. Those tiny kidneys are even producing urine!
My body Take time to admire your profile in the mirror – you’ll spot the first true signs of that beloved baby bump. However, you continue to be affected by the rising tide of pregnancy hormones. The muscles in your bowel have relaxed, which often leads to constipation. Veins begin to look more prominent, even on your breasts and abdomen, from pumping all that extra blood around. You might occasionally feel lightheaded or dizzy for the same reason.
11 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Now about the size of a ping pong ball at 4cm long, Baby weighs about 7 grams. She’s stretching and kicking as hard as she can but you still won’t feel anything just yet. Those webbed fingers and toes are a thing of the past and she even has nipples! Baby’s large head is still about half her length, with hair follicles forming on her scalp. See-through skin shows a tiny heart beating furiously despite lungs not yet fully formed.
My body Even if your baby bump isn’t showing much yet, you’ve put on weight overall. Pair this with bloating, you can expect your waistbands to be a little snug. If your spouse alludes to you snoring, you can blame it on hormones making the inside of your nose swell. You’re still plagued by all the hormone-fuelled symptoms, and your boobs are the biggest and most painful they’ve ever been.
12 Weeks Pregnant
My baby At 12 weeks, Baby is the size of a 5cm plum. With all her organs in place, your foetus is now going into the maintenance phase. This refers to the next 28 weeks of developing her organs and systems to prepare for life in our world. The digestive system is working, and the bone marrow is busy forming white blood cells. Baby will also develop the Moro – or startle – reflex this week, which means she can hear and react to sounds. Play her your favourite music!
My body Your womb is now the size of a grapefruit and will start to push above your pelvic bone. You can expect the beginnings of a baby belly starting to show itself. Time to start expanding your maternity wardrobe to! You may experience cramping on either side of the groin as ligaments supporting your growing womb stretches in tandem. The good news is that as your uterus begins to move from the bottom of your pelvis to the front of your abdomen, your days of needing to pee every five minutes may be reaching an end.
13 Weeks Pregnant
My baby At about 7cm long, your Baby is peachy – well, peach-size, with eyelids fused shut to protect her eyes. Her little vocal cords are also developing in preparation to keep you on your toes after birth! Other parts actively in progress include her intestines, which will move to her belly from where they’ve been growing inside the umbilical cord. Little reproductive organs are growing too.
My body Good news! As you transition into your second trimester, morning sickness and that non-stop fatigue should begin to ease up. You should start to feel more energetic too. Your placenta is fully developed, although it will continue to grow larger throughout your pregnancy, in order to support Baby’s growing needs via the umbilical cord. Speaking of good news, it’s time to announce Baby’s impending arrival to the whole world!
14 Weeks Pregnant
My baby At about 8.5cm long, Baby is now positioned upright. She’s using her facial muscles and her neck is lengthening. Some hair is also growing – from little eyebrows to lanugo, the body fuzz that helps keep her warm. It’s also time for Baby’s first pee! As she swallows bits of amniotic fluid, it passes through and returns to the amniotic fluid as urine. Her intestines are beginning to produce meconium – that black, tar-like goop that will soil her first diapers.
My body Welcome to what is usually the most enjoyable time of your pregnancy! The start of trimester two typically signals the easing of morning sickness and breast tenderness. Your highly anticipated baby bump is well and truly in sight as your uterus rises out of the pelvic region. On the downside, you may experience increased appetite, weight gain, round ligament pain, swelling legs and varicose veins. You’re also more susceptible to colds and flu viruses, as your immune system weakens to avoid rejecting your foetus.
15 Weeks Pregnant
My baby By now, Baby’s eyes are shifting from the sides to the front of her face. Although they’re still closed, she can register bright lights. Moving a fair bit, even if you don’t feel it yet, she’s practising skills she’ll need for the outside world, such as breathing. Baby’s ears are also in position on the sides of her head. She loves the beating of your heart, your digestive system’s whooshing noises and of course, Mummy’s comforting voice.
My body With increased blood flow to membranes in your nose and sinuses, you may feel constantly congested. Similarly, your gums may be swollen and sore, prone to bleeding during brushing and flossing. Heartburn and indigestion may creep in with increasing appetite, so try to snack rather than binge. It’ll help keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevent dizzy spells too. Heard about ‘pregnancy brain’? Your brain cell volume actually drops – as Baby’s grows – so if you forget stuff, it’s not your fault!
16 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Despite being about the size of an avocado, Baby is just over half its weight and doesn’t pack any fat. Although looking more baby-like every day, her skin is still strangely translucent. She’s also starting to make faces, even though she has no real control over her facial muscles as yet. She’s definitely honing her hearing through, so remember to play music and chat to her lots. Studies have shown that babies can recognise songs they heard in the womb even after birth!
My body Many mummies struggle with pregnancy weight gain during this stage but that’s entirely normal. To keep both you and Baby healthy, a reasonable target is to gain about 1.8kg per month. As mucous membranes in your nose swell, you may even experience nosebleeds on top of the congestion. Pregnancy hormones can also temporarily increase skin pigmentation, from darkening the areola around your nipples to moles, freckles and birthmarks.
17 Weeks Pregnant
My baby At about 13cm long, Baby would fit nicely in your hand. If you could do that, you’d also notice that her body’s all coated in lanugo. Apart from the fuzzy hair, she’s also covered in vernix caseosa. The waxy substance protects her tender skin against the amniotic fluid she’s floating in. This week, her tiny body also begins to store baby fat and she’ll be getting her fingerprints too! She also continues to hone essential outside-world skills such as sucking and swallowing.
My body Don’t be surprised if your appetite continues to go into overdrive. Be careful to not literally eat enough for two – only enough to gain up to 1kg every other week. Besides your belly, milk-producing glands are growing too. Your boobs could go up by as much as three cup sizes – happy bra shopping! Your ovaries are also releasing relaxin, a hormone that relaxes ligaments and joints in your pelvis. While this will help with childbirth, it can also lead to backaches and back strains, so do be careful.
(See also: Pregnancy Weight Gain? Manage it with Exercise!)
18 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Now weighing about the same as a duckling or adult hamster, Baby’s nervous system is maturing rapidly. Her nerves are now forming complex connections and her hearing is getting more acute. Baby’s also practising her karate chops and dancing moves more than ever before. She’ll even be learning how to yawn and having hiccups for the first time – could anything be cuter?
My body If you’ve felt a weird flutter in your belly that’s distinct from the usual digestion-related rumbling, don’t worry. It’s just Baby kungfu fighting! It may still be a few weeks before you can properly distinguish those tiny kicks. Your bump is now about the size of a rock melon sitting a few centimetres below your belly button. With added pressure on your lower back, expect backaches to be by your side – or rather, back – from now on.
19 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Having had a growth spurt this week, Baby is now the size of a mango and weighs about 240g. The weight gain is from fat beginning to develop on her tiny body. That delicate, translucent skin is also beginning to develop pigmentation, as Baby now has skin cells that produce melanin. Her lungs are continuing to develop and she’ll begin to form windpipes this week.
My body Whether it’s your back or your legs, you’re probably feeling pretty achy around this stage. You may also be bothered by leg cramps, especially when you’re trying to get some well-deserved sleep at night. If your world is suddenly blurry, it may be due to eyesight changes. Pregnancy hormones can cause a build-up of fluid in your eyes, changing the curvature of the lens. It can also affect tear production, causing dry and gritty eyes.
(See also: Pregnancy & Your Joints)
20 Weeks Pregnant
My baby By 20 weeks, Baby isn’t just the closest thing to your heart, but also weighs about the same. At about 16cm long, her arms and legs have also lengthened – and strengthened – quite a bit. But the most exciting thing about this week is that if you choose to, you can find out if it’s a boy or a girl! If she’s a girl, her ovaries will already be home to seven million primitive eggs and if he’s a boy, his testicles will begin moving from his abdomen. Super exciting stuff!
My body Congratulations for making it to the halfway point! You’ll be feeling your baby more, even as more excited friends and family will be feeling your bump. If your belly button is normally an innie, don’t be surprised if it turns into an outie anytime now. This happens as your uterus pushes your abdomen forward, but it’ll go back to normal after birth. Thanks to those productive hormones, you may find your hair and nails growing at a super speed too.
21 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Now the size of a good-size carrot about 27cm long and weighing 360g, Baby is growing fast. You’re also feeling those kungfu punches and dancing moves much more clearly and often. Baby’s gaining more control over her limbs, as more cartilage becomes bone, and connections between brain and muscles increase. Eyelids and eyebrows complete, her taste buds are also developing. In fact, what you’re eating can actually affect the taste of the amniotic fluid she’s ingesting!
My body You may have begun noticing unsightly marks on your body, and they’re not limited to the belly. As your body expands and your skin stretches, supporting tissues underneath get torn, causing these stretch marks. They can appear on legs, thighs, hips, bottom and even breasts. As skin stretches, it also thins, causing dryness and itchiness. A moisturising baby bump oil can help in both cases.
22 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Baby is quite literally a baby doll this week, not least in size. With clearly formed eyelids, eyebrows, lips and tiny tooth buds, she really looks like a newly born infant now! Although the eyelids are still fused, Baby can distinguish light and dark better than before. Her hearing is also improving, and your heartbeat, voice, tummy gurgles and circulating blood are familiar and comforting sounds.
My body As your belly gets bigger, your feet and varicose veins continue to swell too. This is caused by edema – increased water retention and blood flow – and the good old relaxin hormone. Besides relaxing your pelvis, it also loosens ligaments in your feet so that the bones can spread to take the increased weight. Get new sensible shoes that fit and try to rest with your feet raised whenever possible.
(See also: Swelling (Edema) in Pregnant Women)
23 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Busily growing Baby will weigh the same as two blocks of butter before the week’s out. The blood vessels in her lungs are preparing for that first gulp of fresh air and her bone marrow is starting to create blood cells. You may notice a distinct sleep-wake cycle as Baby’s movements become clearer. See if you can feel her wake up when there are loud noises or when you down an icy drink. You can also hear her heartbeat through a stethoscope!
My body Your ‘pregnancy brain’ may be back with a vengeance this week due to hormones and tiredness. Breathlessness may also set in as your ribs move upwards and outwards to make room for your bump, leaving you less space to take deep breaths. The linea nigra, that line between your belly button and pubic area, may darken. On the flip side, your crowning glory is extra glossy and thick, as your body sheds hair more slowly.
24 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Growing about 100g weekly from now till birth, Baby now weighs about 600g and is a foot long! Much of the weight she gains come from growing organs, muscles, bones and fat. The growing fat deposits are what will make her translucent skin less see-through. Baby’s lungs are maturing, and she’ll begin moving her chest to simulate breathing, as she exhales amniotic fluid. Although still developing, she’s attained potential viability, which means if she’s born this week, she’s got a fighting chance.
My body While you tote around your now football-size uterus, a host of not-so-welcome symptoms come along, beginning with haemorrhoids a.k.a. piles. Just like varicose veins in your legs, the ones in your bottom are stretching to accommodate more blood, causing swelling and pain. Another is carpal tunnel syndrome – your fingers and wrists may experience tingling and numbness. Your soles and palms may also turn red and itchy as increased oestrogen and blood causes palmar erythema.
(See also: All About Premature Babies)
25 Weeks Pregnant
My baby At about 35cm and 660g, Baby is not just growing steadily but becoming prettier all the time! That translucent wrinkled skin is slowly filling in with baby fat and smoothing out. Capillaries under the skin are forming and starting to fill with blood, adding a lovely rosy hue. She’s starting to grow some hair and her tiny palms are developing creases. Her hands and fingers are also learning to grasp things like her umbilical cord!
My body As it takes more effort to move around, it’s important to get adequate but low-impact exercise. Swimming and prenatal yoga are great options. A good night’s sleep is also getting rarer, as your growing bump gets in the way. Lying on your back puts pressure on the veins conveying blood between the heart and placenta. Try to sleep on your left side – a purpose-made pregnancy pillow can help provide much-needed support.
26 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Weighing about 760g and a spring onion in length, Baby’s eyes are beginning to peep out to view her surroundings. She may even kick in response to any bright lights shone at your bump. Her ears are also growing in sensitivity and she’ll learn to recognise not just Mummy’s, but Daddy’s voice too. In fact, a kick or increase in heartrate may indicate reaction to sounds. Baby’s heartrate is finally slowing down from 180 to about 140 beats per minute.
My body By now, your belly button should be used to being an outie, just as you’re resigning yourself to being painfully kicked from the inside out. Insomnia, migraines and clumsiness are just a few of your struggles that have become the norm. The main thing to watch out for is your blood pressure. Normally, this falls in pregnancy as blood vessels relax to cope with the increased volume, but up to 10 per cent of mums-to-be develop pregnancy hypertension or high blood pressure.
27 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Baby welcomes trimester three with pretty eyes! As her melanin production increases, her irises will start to fill in with pigment. Now comparable in size to a head of cauliflower, she’s sleeping and waking regularly, and really active when she’s awake. Foetuses at this stage love to suck their fingers – isn’t that adorable! – and snuggle. Yes, in their favourite foetal position, naturally.
My body With your uterus the size of a basketball, your stomach space may ironically be squished despite your growing belly. You may even feel ill after a full meal, so eat lightly but often. Baby monopolising your quota of calcium and magnesium may leave you suffering muscle spasms in your legs. Muscle cramps often occur when you’ve been sitting or lying down for some time, with calves most commonly the target.
28 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Baby is nearly 38cm from head to toe and a full kilogram in weight this week! Her eyes are well-developed, and she can see light filtering through your belly. She can also blink and flutter her newly grown eyelashes! Brain wave activity in foetuses show that they go through various sleep cycles like we do, including REM sleep. This means that – believe it or not – Baby has also begun to dream!
My body You’ll be busy juggling doctor’s appointments, accompanied by blood and glucose tolerance tests, these few weeks. To top it off, you may also experience numbness in your buttocks and tingling or pain shooting down the back of your legs. As Baby moves around to prepare for birth, her head may rest on the sciatic nerve in your lower spine. This can be temporary – if Baby decides to move – or it can last till birth. Sorry!
29 Weeks Pregnant
My baby With Baby’s head expanding to make room for her developing brain, she’s now about the size of a butternut squash. Her weight will be doubled or even tripled by the time she’s born, however! Now that she’s bigger and stronger, she’s kicking and wriggling more vigorously all the time. Very often, it’s a response to stimuli, anything from what you just ate or drank to lights and sounds. Sometimes she’s simply kicking in her sleep, just like we do!
My body You’re probably visiting the loo up to three times as much, thanks to Baby’s increased pressure on your bladder. You could also suffer the indignity of incontinence due to stress on your pelvic floor muscles. It’s essential that you keep up the fluid intake, however, two lives are depending on you to stay hydrated! Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are also more common during the third trimester.
(See also: Pregnant? Watch out for UTI Woes)
30 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Measuring 40cm long and the weight of a cabbage, Baby’s looking more proportional this week. Her head, however, is still large in comparison, and inside, her brain is growing and changing. Previously smooth, it’s now developing the grooves we expect brains to have, which will make space for more brain tissue. Those tiny fingernails are fully developed and growing in the womb, so prepare to trim them when she’s born to prevent her from scratching herself.
My body Unpleasant pregnancy symptoms that you thought you left behind in the first trimester return to haunt you. Heartburn, fatigue, headaches and breast tenderness, just to name a few. The amount of discharge you’re producing down there increases too, although it should not change in look or smell. If it becomes thick, smelly, changes colour and is accompanied by itchiness, have your doctor check for an infection.
31 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Weighing the same as a 1.5-litre bottle of soda, your sweet Baby is growing steadily. She’s really busy and lively, often keeping you up at night. Apart from moving about, she’s practising making faces, breathing, swallowing and sucking, all important skills for the outside world. Her brain is furiously making connections between nerve cells and all her senses are gathering data. Inside her tiny body, kidneys, liver, pancreas and digestive system are all functioning too.
My body As Baby grows, the volume of amniotic fluid will shrink, which means there’s less buffer between you and her fists. If you’re paying attention, you may even see your bump move as she kicks, stretches and wriggles. You may occasionally feel muscles in your uterus tightening, but don’t get too excited yet. Unlike the real thing, Braxton Hicks contractions are random, don’t progress and just your body rehearsing for the big day.
(See also: Anticipating D-Day (Delivery day))
32 Weeks Pregnant
My baby At over 42cm long and weighing about 1.7kg, Baby is now fully opaque and more beautiful than ever! Fat accumulating under her skin is plumping up those limbs and she’s got a lovely head of hair. Her bone marrow is making red blood cells and her digestive system is prepping for her first breastfeed. With space in the womb getting a little more cramped, there may be less dancing and more squirming these days.
My body You should be gaining about 450g a week, with half going directly to Baby. Your gloriously plump boobs may also exhibit a less-than-glamourous development – leaky breasts. Nursing pads are useful for soaking up the drops of colostrum, which is the precursor to breast milk. It’s thanks to all the hormonal activity, which also contribute to your jelly brain. Then there’s baby-induced clumsiness, thanks to loosening joints and ligaments, extra weight and changed centre of gravity.
33 Weeks Pregnant
My baby At about 1.9kg, your pineapple-size Baby now takes up more space than the amniotic fluid inside your uterus. Her bones are hardening this week, except for her skull bones. These remain unfused, so they can move, overlap and allow her to squeeze through the birth canal. She also has her own immune system and as it develops, she’s collecting antibodies from Mummy. These will protect her against germs after she enters the big world out here.
My body At this stage, some mums-to-be may be visited by vulval varicosities and sadly, they’re as nasty as they sound. Picture varicose veins on your sensitive lady bits. If sitting down is a torture, you can try to alleviate the discomfort with a cushioned ice-pack. Elevating your bottom when lying down may help too. On top of leg cramps, heartburn, needing to pee constantly and just general anxiety about the impending birth, it’s just one more thing that causes insomnia in the third trimester.
34 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Still growing steadily and putting on weight, Baby is now about 45cm long and the size of a rock melon. Her first meconium poo is already forming in her intestines, ready to be passed after birth. If you’re having a boy, his tiny testicles should be journeying from his abdomen to his scrotum this week too. In fact, if Baby decides to join us from this week on, she should do just fine after a few days of extra TLC in the NICU.
My body At this stage, you’re probably tired – literally and figuratively – of being pregnant and can’t wait for Baby to be born. Slow down and take it as easy as you can. Some women suffer from a harmless but itchy rash called PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy). The red bumps usually start on the belly but can spread to the thighs and buttocks. Try not to scratch or fret, and save your energy for the big day – you’ll need it!
(See also: All About Premature Babies)
35 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Your rock melon has grown even more and is now honeydew-sized and just as sweet. With less room to move about in or somersault around, Baby may begin to push rather than kick. Look in the mirror when she does, and you may see tiny foot imprints pushing through! Her brain is still growing rapidly but most of her basic physical development is complete. She’ll spend most of the remaining time inside plumping up!
My body While the common symptoms like constantly needing to pee, a stuffy nose and bleeding gums are pretty much de rigueur, take comfort in knowing that you’re in the final stretch. Your doctor will be checking on your blood pressure quite regularly to ensure pre-eclampsia doesn’t develop. While it’s absolutely normal to be nervous about the impending birth, some women suffer tokophobia, a literal fear of childbirth. Your best bet is to stay calm and not stress out. Happy Mummy, happy Baby, right?
36 Weeks Pregnant
My baby By the end of this week, Baby will be considered early term if she’s born. After all, your EDD is just that – an Estimated Date of Delivery, since no one can know for sure. Baby is now over 47cm and 2.6kg, about the weight of a full-grown chihuahua! She should be facing downwards, and her head may drop into your pelvic cavity any time now. Baby’s also prepping for birth by shedding most of the lanugo and vernix caseosa that’s been protecting her skin.
My body Your belly is so stretched by now that the skin will be feeling dry and itchy. Extra weight and pressure plus increased joint flexibility may also be causing pelvic pains. Massaging with warm oils while speaking gently to Baby is a great way to bond and get some relief. On the positive side, once Baby engages into your pelvis, you’ll experience a welcome lightening. The pressure on your diaphragm is relieved and your stomach won’t feel as squashed. Whew!
37 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Now weighing about 2.8kg and about 48.5cm long, Baby is doing her final dress rehearsals ahead of her debut. She’s breathing amniotic fluid, sucking her thumb and blinking her eyes. And believe it or not, Baby is even forming some of her personality traits! Studies have shown that the more active a baby was in the womb, the grumpier they are after birth. And if she’s not spending at least three-quarters of the day sleeping inside, she’s likely to be a poor sleeper on the outside too.
My body You’ll probably stop gaining weight, although your nipples will be protruding more, in readiness for Baby to latch onto. While many mums-to-be are feeling really exhausted, some lucky ones may get a surge of fresh energy around this stage. This brings on the primal nesting instinct, where you’ll feel the urge to get organised for Baby. Pack your hospital delivery bag and enjoy designing (or redesigning) the nursery, but avoid doing anything too strenuous.
38 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Baby is now a whopping 3kg, half a metre long, and a fully functioning little being. She’s continuing to shed lanugo and vernix, which gets swallowed and ends up as meconium. Her brain and nervous system are getting fine-tuned and her lungs are producing surfactant, a substance that prevents the lungs’ air sacs from sticking together when she takes her first breaths.
My body The pressure of Baby’s head on your bladder makes it feel like you should just camp out on the toilet. It doesn’t help that you may begin having diarrhoea too, and look out for your mucus plug in what’s rather crudely termed a ‘bloody show’. Together with more frequent and intense Braxton Hicks contractions, these are all signs that labour isn’t far off. Stay calm and practise those breathing techniques.
39 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Equivalent to a small watermelon, Baby is now officially considered full-term! But hold your horses – most babies are fashionably late, even though they’re physically ready to be born. This is especially true if it’s your first child. There’s also a chubby layer of fat nicely coating Baby’s body now. This helps to regulate her body temperature after birth and makes her extra huggable too!
My body Your body will be doing all it can to prepare for labour. If you’re not scheduled for a C-section and don’t go into labour on your own, your doctor will usually advise inducing labour between your 41st and 42nd weeks. As you wait for the action to begin, look out for that ‘bloody show’, water breaking and strong, regular contractions, often accompanied by backache and diarrhoea.
40 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Now at about 51cm and 3.5kg, your little pumpkin-size Baby is fully grown and ready to be born! Some trivia about your soon-to-be newborn: her first cries will be tear-less and her eyes can only focus about an inch away. She may not know your faces yet, but she certainly recognises your voices, so talk to her lots. It’ll comfort her, as will swaddling her as she continues to curl up in her familiar foetal position.
My body Your pregnancy may officially be at its end, but Baby may not realise it yet. Around 30 per cent of pregnancies actually last longer than the advertised 40 weeks. In the meantime, the weighty pressure on your cervix will help to thin it and open it up in readiness. This is called effacing or ripening – yup, you’re ready to pop! Your doctor will be monitoring all vital signs, from your cervix’s position to Baby’s breathing movements.
41 Weeks Pregnant
My baby Baby still in there? Don’t worry – it could easily have been a miscalculation with the EDD. If she’s truly overdue, she may be larger than other newborns, having had more time to grow. Once she’s ready to make her entrance, she’ll send hormones to the placenta to trigger labour. In fact, Baby will produce more stress hormones during childbirth than at any moment in her entire lifetime ahead! These hormones also help kickstart her survival instincts once she’s out.
My body The final stretch can feel interminable as you can’t wait for your now late-term pregnancy to be over. Unfortunately, there’s really nothing more you can do but wait. Keep your eyes peeled for any fluids leaking from your vagina. Just before labour begins, your waters may break, and you may notice your mucous plug. Contractions, which normally start further apart and get more regular and frequent, should follow.
42 Weeks Pregnant
My baby It’s finally time for your shy Baby to make her grand entrance, even if she’s still reluctant. Overdue babies may appear a little wrinkled and have crackly, dry skin upon arrival. The vernix caseosa that protected her skin was shed weeks ago, so she’s been lightly ‘pickled’ in amniotic fluid. But don’t worry, her skin will bounce back to baby soft once she starts feeding regularly.
My body Even if you’re not going into labour, the doctor will help make it happen this week. Some methods used include inserting prostaglandins, a hormone that helps to ripen the cervix and stimulate contractions, doing a membrane sweep to separate the amniotic sac from the cervix, rupturing the membranes to break your waters, or administering the synthetic hormone Pitocin intravenously. So hang in there, it’s almost over!
(See also: What to Expect: Post-Delivery)
Your Pregnancy Week-by-Week
Remember, everything you’ve just read is a general idea of what to expect during a standard pregnancy. No two pregnancies, babies and mums-to-be are exactly alike, so expect some degree of variation. Always consult your gynaecologist/obstetrician for professional advice on how to manage your unique pregnancy. Finally, keep calm and carry (Baby) on!
Header image: Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash