The foremost objective throughout the pregnancy should be to stay robust and healthy for the growth and development of the baby and the mother. The pregnancy period (Latin word meaning three months) is divided into three divisions of three months each, the first, second, and third trimesters covering 40 weeks of gestation period.
The first trimester is the term of pregnancy from conception to 12 weeks that is invariably marked by nausea, increased fatigue, and vomiting and high emotional compassion due to hormonal changes.
For the baby, which is called an embryo at this stage, the heart lungs and brain begin to develop and the heart will beat by the 25th day. During the second month, the embryo now called the fetus develops limbs, stomach liver, brain, spine and the central nervous system. By the end o f first trimester i.e. during the 3rd month of pregnancy the baby is about 3in length and baby’s sex is determined. Facial features are well developed and the baby moves its legs and head. There will be a weight gain of 3 to 4 pounds for the mother.
The various gifts of pregnancy during the first trimester are food aversion and changes, heartburn and indigestion, complex change, frequent urination, constipation and dizziness. Such problems can be mitigated through changes in habits, nutritive diet, light exercises, taking sufficient rest and drinking ample water.
Pregnancy period from 13th to 27th week is the second trimester. The nausea and fatigue that was prevalent during the first trimester will subside and the baby grows fast showing movements of the limbs. The umbilical cord that carries oxygen and nourishment to the foetus thickens. For the healthy growth of the baby light exercises nutritious food and good personal hygiene are essential.
During the fourth month the baby is about 6 ounces in weight grows rapidly about 8 to 10 inches long. By the end of the 5th month, the physician can hear the baby’s heartbeat. Sounds from outside the uterus will be audible and the baby responds to sound and music. During the sixth month except for the fat under the skin, the baby is fully formed but weighs only about 11/2 pounds. The baby sucks the thumb and can open the eyelids and at this time, brain tissue also increases.
The period from the 28th week of pregnancy till the childbirth is the third trimester. The baby continues to grow in size and shows changes in physical appearance. Adequate oxygen supply should be provided to the fetus through deep breathing. Precautions should be taken against lifting of heavy weights and standing for a long time and taking care has to be taken in eating timely and regular balanced diet and doing mild exercises like walking. During the seventh month the baby kicks and stretches and changes its position, which can be felt by the mother. It is natural to have swelling of the feet. By eighth month the baby’s face becomes smooth resembling that of a newborn and continues to put on weight. During ninth month the baby’s weight gain is about pound per week. At 40 weeks it is full term. The baby settles further down the mother’s pelvis and it is still growing and moving but has less room to move about. Since one pound of weight gain per week is essential for the mother during this period, 300 extra calories day, prenatal vitamins, at least eight glasses of water and 1000mg of calcium should be taken. The immune system of the baby is not yet mature and therefore it continues to take antibodies of the mother through the placenta.