Pregnancy Month by Month
There is perhaps no one better than you — a mamma-to-be or a mom of two who knows just how much the body (your’s and baby’s) can change during pregnancy.
Dr. Suzanne Wong, the Interim Chief and Medical Director of Obstetrics at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Amanda Spakowski, owner of and birth doula at The Nesting Place know just as much and then some about pregnancy. Together, they’ve helped to navigate pregnancy from the pink positive plus sign all the way to the delivery room.
Baby size: 0.1 to 0.2 mm
Your mothering intuition kicks in near the end of this month.
You know something’s different, and that missed period and breast tenderness lead you to believe that you may just be pregnant. “Finding out you’re pregnant can be a very emotionally intense time,” said Spakowski. “Whether parents have planned this birth or not, they usually move through a labyrinth of emotions ranging from excitement, dread, doubt, fear, pride and celebration.” At this point, baby is no more than an embryo setting up camp in your uterus, and is called a blastocyst by everyone with a medical degree. (But baby sounds so much cuter.)
Baby size: 8 to 11 mm
You and your partner may be the only ones noticing changes to your body, but inside the belly, your kidney bean shaped baby has gone through a full metamorphosis. It already has a head structure and little buds where arms and legs will soon be.
“Once pregnancy is diagnosed you should start prenatal care,” said Dr. Wong. At your initial visit to the doctor, you can expect to go over your medical history and participate in a series of standard testing including blood and urine tests, a cervical exam and a pap smear.
Baby size: 3 to 4”
While a ballooning belly and drawer full of bigger bras may feel like a luxury on most days, “Some women will struggle with accepting themselves as their bodies grow and change shape with pregnancy,” said Spakowski. Around 12 weeks, as mamma’s jeans start getting a little tight, Dr. Wong says baby ditches the bean look for a more human appearance.
“You can see the arms and legs, and hair has started to grow” she said. “The major organs and the nervous system are forming and the lungs are starting to develop.”
Your Ob/Gyn or family doctor will also want to conduct blood tests at this point to check for genetic and chromosomal problems like Down’s Syndrome.
Baby size: 6 to 7”
This month, baby really gets moving. You may even feel it’s first kick!
“By now, you’re starting to see the skeleton and facial features more accurately, and after weeks 12 to 14, the eyes start to form,” said Dr. Wong. “This is also when mom has a blood test for neural tube defects as part of the integrated prenatal screening.”
Spakowski designates this a good time for parents to start looking into birth doula care, postpartum doula care and prenatal classes.
Baby size: 9 to 10”
Congratulations! You’ve made it half way. Your belly is out in full force, your energy is up, baby is moving and your monthly prenatal tests have all come back normal.
“Eyebrows, eyelashes and fingernails have all started to form,” said Dr. Wong. “This is when we do the ultrasound to sex the baby.”
This is perhaps one of the more exciting times during your pregnancy. (That is, if baby isn’t camera shy!)
Baby size: 11”
“Organs are starting to function now and baby is swallowing, urinating and sucking it’s thumb,” said Dr. Wong. “Constipation and nerve pain worsen now because of baby putting pressure on the nerves and muscles.”
You might also be starting to have back pain and some swelling of the feet and ankles.
“If you haven’t already connected with a naturopath now would be the time, in particular to prevent the diagnosis of being GBS positive at 36 weeks gestation,” said Spakowski. “GBS (Group B Streptococcus) is a bacteria that we all have in our bodies. Women will be tested for the presence of GBS at 36 weeks gestation.”
Baby size: 13 to 14”
Baby is now functioning on a sleep schedule, and Dr. Wong says mommies will perceive activity during certain times of the day.
Doctors will conduct a Glucose test at this stage to test for diabetes.
Baby size: 15”
In months eight and nine, your practitioner will start checking the baby’s position more often. “Some babies will get into the head-down position on their own and stay there, while others will continue to turn and turn and turn,” said Spakowski. “The most efficient position for baby is head down with it’s spine in the front (anterior position).”
A posterior baby can have the following negative effects during labour:
• Slow labour or dilation
• Back pain
• Irregular contractions
• Lengthened pushing
• Early urge to push
Spakowski also says that now is a great time for parents to participate in postpartum support such as taking infant CPR or breastfeeding classes.
The time until baby and parents are united is dwindling, and baby, being full-grown is getting restless. “You may even see feet or hand impressions through the belly as baby stretches,” said Dr. Wong.
Baby size: 18 to 22”
The home stretch, this is it.
It’s not a glamorous month. The urge to urinate is stronger, and the back pains and nerve pain tend to worsen. “The main thing at this point is the kicks will get less and the baby will begin to shrug,” said Dr. Wong. “Mom will feel difficulty sleeping, and the swelling really starts to worsen now with the numbing in the hands, varicose veins and hemorrhoids getting much worse at this time.”
But you and baby are ready for labour. Breathe a sigh of relief —you’re almost there.
Ready for labour
Baby’s head will start to sink into the pelvic bones and mom can expect a little release in breathing because the pressure is off the chest. “Every week during the last month of pregnancy doctors watch for high blood pressure, preeclampsia, abnormal bleeding
and kick counts,” said Dr. Wong.
If all is well, you will become a willing participant in the waiting game. “If you start having pain like a severe menstrual cramp that
comes and goes—those are contractions,” said Dr. Wong. “We say if you’re having painful contractions occurring every five minutes that last 40-60 seconds each for over an hour, you are probably in labour.”
You’ve done it. Nine long months of hard work, and only hours until you’ll be parents.
Mom, you can take it from here.