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What Are the 3 Stages of Pregnancy?

author image Elizabeth Wolfenden
Elizabeth Wolfenden has been a professional freelance writer since 2005 with articles published on a variety of blogs and websites. She specializes in the areas of nutrition, health, psychology, mental health and education. Wolfenden holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in counseling from Oakland University.
What Are the 3 Stages of Pregnancy?
Learn what happens during the three trimesters of pregnancy. Photo Credit altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images


Pregnancy is typically divided into three periods called trimesters. These trimesters are different in physical changes to both the mother and the unborn baby. Although the experiences of each trimester can vary depending upon the individual woman and her situation, some things are common to all healthy pregnancies.

First Trimester

The first trimester takes place the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Although it may not seem like the pregnant woman is experiencing any dramatic changes, many extraordinary things are actually happening in her body during this time. The unborn baby begins to develop all vital organs of the body and goes from a mass of cells to an identifiable human fetus complete with fingers and toes in just a few short months. Due to a surge of pregnancy hormones, the mother is also experiencing many physical changes, although most may not be noticeable to outside observers. Things a pregnant woman may experience in the first trimester include nausea, vomiting, food cravings, food aversions, fatigue, mood swings, constipation, swelling and tender breasts, frequent urination and headaches, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). During this trimester, it is particularly important that a pregnant women gets enough vitamins and minerals, as these are essential for the unborn baby's proper growth and development, says the University of Rochester Medical Center. It is also important that all pregnant women meet with their doctor during this trimester to discuss proper nutrition and things to avoid during pregnancy.

Second Trimester

The second trimester lasts until the end of the seventh month of pregnancy and is considered the easiest trimester for many pregnant women. Many of the physical symptoms of the first trimester ease up during this time. This is also when women begin “showing” and wearing maternity clothes. However, this trimester is not always symptom-free. As the baby grows larger, muscle aches and pains may develop and breasts may continue to grow and become more sensitive or swollen. Planned Parenthood says that many women will begin to have shortness of breath and may feel dizzy or faint due to the changes to their blood and blood vessels. The unborn baby continues growing and developing during this trimester, beginning to move, kick, and open and close its eyes.

Third Trimester

The third trimester lasts until childbirth and can be a difficult stage for some women. During this period, it's vital that you get enough vitamins, minerals and nutrients as they are essential for growth and development. It's a good idea to consult with your health care provider to determine what is best for you. Not only are there many physical discomforts, but many women begin to experience emotional changes as well. Some women start to feel anxious about childbirth or being a mother, while others may become frustrated by physical limitations due to their size and condition. During the third trimester, the unborn baby continues to grow, adding layers of fat and finishing its development.

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