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Pregnancy is an exciting time, albeit a little overwhelming. During this time, your body will go through a lot of changes to prepare for your baby’s arrival. A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period to the birth of your baby, and is split up into three trimesters. However, a pregnancy is considered full term at 37 weeks.

A missed period is usually the first sign that you may be pregnant. If you have your suspicions, it’s a good idea to take a pregnancy test, and your doctor can confirm your pregnancy via a blood test.

The First Trimester – 1 to 13 Weeks

During the first trimester, hormonal changes will affect nearly every organ system of your body. They can trigger symptoms such as morning sickness, cravings for certain foods, mood swings, headaches, weight gain or loss or tender breasts. Fortunately for many women, these symptoms go away as pregnancy progresses.

During the first trimester, it’s important to make changes to your daily routine and lifestyle, such as going to bed earlier or eating smaller meals more frequently.

The Second Trimester – 14 to 26 Weeks

During the second trimester, your abdomen will begin to expand and you will begin to feel your baby moving around. However, as your body makes room for your growing baby, you may experience body aches in your back, abdomen, groin or thighs, and you may also notice stretch marks on your abdomen, thighs, buttocks and/or breasts.

You may also notice the skin around your nipples darkening, varicose veins, swelling on the ankles, fingers and face or itching on the abdomen, palms, and soles of the feet. All of this is completely normal, but if you are feeling increasingly unwell, consult your doctor.

The Third Trimester – 27 to 40 Weeks

During the third trimester, some of the discomforts you experienced in your second trimester will continue. You’ll also likely notice that you’re going to the bathroom more often and you may experience heartburn, shortness of breath and contractions (which may be a real or false sign of labour). This is all because the baby is growing bigger and putting more pressure on your organs – but don’t worry, your baby is fine and these problems will lessen once you’ve given birth.

As you come closer and closer to your due date, your cervix becomes thinner and softer, which will help the birth canal to open during the birthing process. Your doctor will check your progress with a vaginal exam as you get close to your due date. You’re on the home stretch now – the final countdown has begun!

The third trimester is when you will go into labour and give birth to your baby.

Some Things to Remember

Foods to avoid. Some foods are not safe for you while you are pregnant, such as raw fish, soft cheeses (such as brie and camembert), raw or partially cooked eggs, liver products and alcohol.

Activities to avoid. Some activities are unsafe during pregnancy, such as going on rides, going in hot tubs or saunas, rigorous exercise and changing the kitty litter (cat faeces may carry the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis, which is rare but better to be safe than sorry).