What to expect when you’re pregnant: Changes, Growth and Joy
It's a life-changing event, a blessing, and joy growing inside...expecting and then delivering a baby into the world.
In part one of our three-part series on pregnancy and baby life, we examine what you should do when expecting.
Dr. Steven Morgan, an M.D., OB-GYN with Hackensack Meridian Health, recommends women start prenatal vitamins and make their first of twelve to thirteen OBGYN appointments seven to eight weeks following their last period because that's the earliest doctors could see a pregnancy.
"They'll typically come once a month and once they reach the third trimester around 30 weeks, they'll start to come in more frequently about every two weeks, and usually in the last month they come weekly," Dr. Morgan said.
During the first trimester or 12 weeks, women may feel anxious, tired, and nauseous.
Over-the-counter or home, remedies can often do the trick to alleviate nausea-like ice pops, flat soda, sugary pasty chewing gum, and if all else fails you can take up to 50 milligrams a day of Vitamin B6.
The baby already has a blood supply within the first month of pregnancy and all the organs are developed within the first eight weeks.
During the second trimester, you'll feel the baby move between 18-20 and then they'll start to add weight.
"Once they reach 24 weeks, which is viability if the baby were to be born that early, the baby weighs about a pound. One month later at 28 weeks on average they weigh about two pounds, at about 30-32 weeks they weigh about three pounds, and then they slowly grow after that," Dr. Morgan said. "In the last month, the baby can gain about an ounce a day."
Dr. Morgan says the last thing to develop is the lungs at week 34.
"All these things are slowly developing and the first eight weeks of organ development are the most important because those are the things you don't want to affect as they're starting to develop," Dr. Morgan said.
Most women will typically have 12-13 visits with their OBGYN unless it's multiple gestations that require more visits and more monitoring.
"It's always beneficial if the patient shows up and says 'I'm pregnant for the second time and I had a 9 pound baby last time' because we know that the womb has accommodated a large baby and a placenta and they're more likely to carry to term," Dr. Morgan said. "Sometimes twins, triplets, or even quadruplets can come a little bit earlier."
You'll get a dating ultrasound during your first OBGYN visit at seven-eight weeks but there are two very important ultrasounds that need to be administered during the course of a pregnancy.
"One is at 12 weeks which is typically done with a perinatologist or a high-risk obstetrician called a nuchal translucency which measures the thickness behind the baby's neck to help rule out down syndrome," Dr. Morgan said. "We have another ultrasound at 20 weeks which is what we call an anatomical survey which is where the perinatologist will review an ultrasound that goes from head to toe looking at every structure in the body."
Dr. Morgan said it's important to do these ultrasounds before the baby becomes viable at 24 weeks so that if there's anything wrong, doctors can better address it.
Kicking or any kind of movement during pregnancy can be exciting or a painful shot to the ribs.
You'll feel movement every day between the second and third trimester.
"It also depends on the location of the baby and whether the baby's head-down or not," Dr. Morgan said. "If there's an anterior placenta, meaning that the placenta is in front of the baby that can act as a folded towel in front of the baby so the mom may not perceive it."
However, if suddenly the daily movements or kicking that you feel don't happen, call your doctor.
"In the last month we want to make sure that the baby is moving daily so for example if the mommy always says 'every night when I'm done with my day of work I feel my baby move usually between 7:00 and 9:00 and it hasn't been moving' so that's a sign of concern," Dr. Morgan said. "We will then typically have the patient come in for them to have some monitoring to reassure them and confirm that the baby is okay."
Dr. Morgan also explains that more than one-third of babies are born with a nuchal cord around their neck but that doesn't always it's a problem as long as there's blood flow.
As for sleeping while pregnant, there's one key posture to key down on especially in the later months.
"We recommend sleeping on the side as you get later on in your pregnancy and that's because the uterus can compress one of the major blood vessels in your body that returns blood to your heart," Dr. Joanne Chang, an M.D., OBGYN with Hackensack Meridian Healthcare and Ocean Medical Center. "If you sleep flat on your back in your third trimester you'll start to feel very short of breath and like your heart is racing a little bit. It just won't be comfortable."
Dr. Chang also says it's important to understand that each pregnancy is unique to each expecting mother so she urges you not to compare yourself to someone else or expect "an Instagram pregnancy" because those pictures are carefully crafted.
Learn More about what you need to know during a pregnancy:
In part two of our series, we learn how important diet and exercise are during pregnancy.