The Complete Analysis and Breakdown of 40 Weeks of Pregnancy
It starts with two pink lines, a plus sign, or even a digital test reading “pregnant.” The emotions then begin to rollercoaster their way into your life: Excitement, Fear, Anxiety, Doubt, Panic, Joy. After reality sets in, remind yourself that you only have 40 weeks with this little being inside of you. (More like 41-42 weeks on average, but who’s really counting?) It’s time to figure out what will change, how life will be different, and what you can do to help and prepare for this baby. Good news, I’ve done this a few times! I just gave birth to baby #5 (6 pregnancies total). I’ve combined my wealth of knowledge with the cold hard science, and a bit of natural-minded research to bring you the breakdown of pregnancy over 40 weeks.
Weeks 1-2As you noticed, the first two weeks are freebies that they throw in because the doctor bases your due date 40 weeks from your last menstrual cycle. If you know your exact date of ovulation, you can calculate your due date by counting 38 weeks from there. However, the average pregnancy is 41 weeks and 1 day in length and is still normal at 42 weeks. So instead of nit-picking at a certain day on the calendar, give yourself a “due month,” a 4 week window (weeks 38-42) of when baby can make her appearance. This will take a lot of weight from your shoulders, and keep people from nagging you to death once you hit 39 weeks.
Weeks 3-4Even weeks 3-4 of pregnancy go overlooked to most women, as their period has not been missed yet. However, if you were charting your temperature, taking ovulation tests, or hoarding dollar store pregnancy tests (like me), then you may have found out the wonderful news as early as 3 weeks along. There typically are not many true symptoms at this point, as the hormones are still building and aren’t strong enough to knock you down yet.
Week 5Month two begins at week 5. It’s a bit early to shout your pregnancy from the roof tops, unless you just can’t wait – then shout away! Many women wait until they have heard a heartbeat or enter the second trimester to share, but there are no rules to pregnancy announcements. Your little embryo is rapidly forming, looking quite like a tadpole. Your hCG hormone (human chorionic gonadotrophin) is rising at a significant rate, this hormone is produced by the cells forming the placenta, and they cause all of your early symptoms.
Weeks 6-12Between weeks 6-12, you may (or may not) experience a plethora of symptoms. Morning sickness is the most well-known symptom, but don’t let the title fool you, this pregnancy is causing me “morning sickness” that begins at 4:00pm and lasts until 2:00am every day. Other common symptoms include:
- Increase in Urination
- Breast Tenderness
- Enlarged and Darkened Areolas
- Increase in Gas
- Increased heart rate due to increased blood flow
- Emotional highs and lows
- Mood swings
Weeks 13-16The body begins to adjust to the hormones around week 13-14, the beginning of the second trimester. This should help to level out the intense symptoms and pregnancy ailments, but some women experience them throughout their entire pregnancy. Your baby bump begins to grow and weight gain will slowly creep up. Remember that you are only eating for one, and that extra weight gained from poor food choices means extra weight to lose after baby arrives. This is about the time that my back pain begins. (Hello Chiropractor!!)
Weeks 16-20First time moms report feeling flutters around weeks 16-18 and larger movements around week 20. If you have an anterior placenta (a placenta that grew on the front of the uterus), movements will be much harder to feel and will not be distinct until later in pregnancy. Baby now has eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails and a neck. The skin also has a wrinkled appearance. The arms and legs can now bend, the kidneys start working and can produce urine, and the baby can swallow and hear.(according to ACOG)
Weeks 18-22Most women receive their 20 week ultrasound during this timeframe. There is more than just gender being discovered at this appointment. Your doctor or midwife will learn:
- placenta placement
- fluid levels
- cervix position
- organ development
- chambers of the heart
- bone length
- genital development