How Far Along Am I in My Pregnancy?
Pregnancy: One of the most glorious, tiresome, rollercoaster ride of emotions a woman will experience in her entire life!
Chances are, you are here because you are pregnant, or think you may be pregnant. Here I will go over many of the symptoms, both pleasant and not-so-pleasant, that a woman may experience during pregnancy.
Early Pregnancy: Conception to 12 Weeks
The first trimester, weeks 1 to 12, are usually the hardest and most miserable for many expecting mothers, but breathe! This too shall pass, and you are more likely than not to feel like superwoman once you get up this hill!
You’re “pregnant” before you’re actually pregnant?
If you have been asking yourself, “How far along am I?,” try to think back to the very first day of your last menstrual period, a full menstrual period, not just spotting.
It seems weird, but when doctors speak in terms of “weeks along,” this includes two weeks that you weren’t even pregnant yet because this “weeks along” thing starts at the beginning of your last menstrual cycle, as this is the cycle that you got pregnant during.
So if someone tells you that you are 12 weeks along, you’ve technically only been actually pregnant for 10 weeks.
When is My Due Date?
The best way to determine how far along you are is to determine when your due date is!
Your due date is your baby's approximate day of arrival!
To calculate your due date manually, take the first date of your last period and add 40 weeks, or 280 days.
Don't feel like doing the math? Here's an easy Due Date Calculator.
Month 1: Weeks 1 to 4
During the first month of pregnancy, most women don’t even know that they are pregnant yet! Some are lucky to get a positive pregnancy test during this time, but a lot of the time, it goes undetected.
It is important to note that early pregnancy symptoms are just like that of PMS, so the best way to tell if you have actually conceived is through positive pregnancy tests. Also, some women are plagued with symptoms throughout their pregnancy, while others experience very few.
Each pregnancy is different, person to person, pregnancy to pregnancy. You might feel great during the first month, or you may begin to experience the very earliest pregnancy symptoms.
Spotting can happen when the fertilized egg implants, and is often mistaken for a period. It Is typically a little earlier than the expected period, much lighter, and lasts only a few hours to a couple of days and can be accompanied by cramps in the front or lower back.
Basically during the first month, if you have any symptoms, they are likely very similar to what you’d experience before a normal period.
Month 2: Weeks 5 to 8
This is the time when the majority of women will receive their positive pregnancy test. As soon as this happens, you need to get on the phone with your OB GYN or midwife to schedule an appointment! How exciting! Oh, and get some prenatal vitamins and folic acid if you haven’t already.
What might not be so exciting is that around 6 or 7 weeks along, you’ll likely start to feel the morning sickness at full force, if you are destined to get it. The good news about this, though, is that it most likely won’t last the whole pregnancy! The majority of women who experience morning sickness in early pregnancy report that they feel relief after the first trimester. So if you are feeling sick, hang in there!
Other symptoms that may be experienced are:
- increased appetite
- increased thirst
- frequent restroom breaks
- lack of energy. You’re growing a little person, after all!
As exciting as it is to be pregnant, it’s still best to contain that excitement until you get out of the “critical period” known as the first trimester. It’s a very, very tough thing to have to tell people you’ve lost your baby, after sharing the joyous news with them just days before. So as much as you want to shout it to the world, just wait a little while.
Month 3: Weeks 9 to 13
By this time, you are in the home stretch of the first trimester, and while some women are still not experiencing really any symptoms, others will begin to feel some relief! Whew! Although you won’t be able to feel your baby moving just yet, this is the time that you might be able to hear that precious little heartbeat for the first time!
If you cannot yet hear the heartbeat, don’t be alarmed, sometimes you just need to wait a little bit longer, and it’s well worth the wait, trust me.
You've waited so patiently, but now that you've passed the 12 week milestone, it's time to shout it to the world! You're pregnant!
Second Trimester: Weeks 14 to 26
How far along am I? Well, if you are in the second trimester, chances are, you are starting to feel great after many weeks of not being able to eat much, or not being able to hold anything down. The second trimester is often the time when women feel the best during their pregnancy.
Make sure you are not skipping out on your prenatal vitamins and folic acid! How is your diet? You should be eating healthy, wholesome foods, whole grains, and lots of protein. Don’t skimp on the fiber because you really will need it to keep things moving in there, and I’m not talking about the baby!
Exercise and drinking lots of water is also important! Women often retain a lot of water during pregnancy, as a result of not drinking enough water. Sounds weird, but that’s how the body works! If you’re not drinking enough water, the body will retain it because it needs it. You will still gain water weight, but keeping yourself hydrated can really help with not getting so puffy around the edges.
Month 4: Weeks 14 to 17
Although the unpleasant symptoms of early pregnancy might be starting to taper off, other symptoms may be setting in.
This is right around the time that women begin to really start eating for two! You may put on some weight, but this is not a time to go on a diet! Did you know, the average weight gain during pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds?
And chances are, you might be starting to show that weight gain too!
So if you're seeing an extra 5 pounds on the scale, who cares! You've got 20 to 30 more to go!And remember, It’s all for the baby. Keep telling yourself that!
If you need even more affirmation, listen to that precious, little heartbeat at your next checkup because you will almost certainly hear it at this point!
Month 5: Weeks 18 to 21
If this is not your first rodeo with pregnancy, then most likely you’ve been able to feel the baby’s first kicks! If this is your first pregnancy, you might still have a few weeks before you’ll feel anything. The first movements are often described as a “fluttery” feeling, like gas bubbles, but it can very well be gas, and not the baby!
Want to know what you’re having? Well, that’s great because if you haven’t had an ultrasound yet, you’ll need one around this time to make sure the baby is growing nice and healthy, and you always have the option of finding out the gender during this scan!
Month 6: Weeks 22 to 26
There is a really good chance that by now, you can feel your baby moving. If you still don’t know, wait a few more weeks! As long as there is a healthy heartbeat during your checkups, the movements will come all in good time.
This is also a great time to start taking birthing classes, especially if you are planning on a natural, unmedicated birth or home birth.
It’s important to learn how to manage your labor, and important to know what you want for you labor and demand it. It’s your body, your labor, and your baby; you’re in charge!
Third Trimester: Weeks 27 to 40
How far along am I? Ahh.. the home stretch known as the third trimester! This period of pregnancy is filled with a whole different host of surprises from seeing your baby move in your tummy, to stretch marks, and giving up wearing pants entirely.
You might also be surprised with a baby shower from your friends and family. What a great why to get your mind off those third trimester discomforts!
Month 7: Weeks 27 to 30
You've made it to the third trimester! Right about now, eating has become a sport, your feet are swollen beyond recognition, and you want to strangle the next person who says, "Enjoy this time! It goes by so fast!"
By 7 months pregnancy, you’re looking undeniably pregnant to strangers! And be prepared for this because you’ll probably hear a lot from strangers, and although it’s okay at first, it might get very annoying!
It’s normal to feel annoyed, just try to maintain a smile and a positive attitude, because the strangers usually mean well!
Month 8: Weeks 31 to 35
The most enjoyable part of your pregnancy has likely ended and you are probably starting to feel fatigued again, but this should be expected because this child inside of you is really beginning to plump up into that chubby little baby you’ll be greeting in a couple of months! Continue to eat healthy and drink plenty of water, and get some rest because you will really need it!
If you haven’t felt the “practice contractions” by now, you probably will soon. Don’t be alarmed though, they are just Braxton-Hicks contractions. Although sometimes they might feel a little crampy, most of the time, it’s a painless tensing of the uterine muscles just preparing your uterus for the real thing.
Also kicking into high gear, if it hasn’t yet, will be urinary frequency. The baby needs to expand up and down and wherever it can make itself fit, so this includes squishing your bladder and pushing up into your sternum. At times and in certain positions, you might find it a little hard to breathe! Oh, the joys of pregnancy!
Pack Your Bags!
By week 37, you should make sure your hospital bag is packed so you're ready when baby is!
Your hospital bag checklist:
- Important paperwork: picture ID, Insurance, etc.
- Loose clothing & underwear
- Nightgown, robe, & socks
- Nursing bras
- Eyeglasses or contacts if needed
- Camera and/or video camera
- Cell phone
- Batteries, chargers, adapters
- Baby's stuff: 'going home' outfit, socks, hats, onesies, mittens, etc.
Month 9: Weeks 37 to 40
As much as you’d love to meet your little bundle of joy right now, there’s still some more growing and developing to be done! It’s still a bit early to have the baby for it to be healthy outside the womb, so while you’re still surviving this long, dreadful wait, how is the nursery coming along?
Your nesting stage is probably kicking in and I bet everything is looking great! This is also a nice way to break your boredom and yearning for the big day, for a little while at least!
And if you haven't noticed it already, it's probably quiet evident by now that you have heartburn!
If your heartburn is becoming too much, try:
- eating smaller
- more frequent meals instead of large meals
- sleep in an upright position.
Also, you may begin to notice water retention at this stage, so make sure you drink lots of water, both to help fight off retention, and to avoid preterm labor. Yes, dehydration can cause preterm labor, so I cannot stress the importance of drinking enough fluids!
Month 10: Almost There Mama!
By “9 months of pregnancy,” they really meant 10, because you’re not done yet!
You are surely feeling like you’re about to pop at this point, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen soon! At 37 weeks and beyond, the baby’s lungs are fully developed so it is now safe for him or her to meet the world!
By now, you’ve experienced aches and pains in places you didn’t even knew you had, but that part is not over, because labor is imminent, and you’ll just know when you’re in labor; there is no mistaking it.
When asking yourself “how far along am I?” The truly best way to answer this question is to visit your OB GYN or midwife who can make that determination for you. Good luck, and sticky baby dust to you!