Learning you are pregnant can be great news. Adjusting to the thought of becoming a new mother can have you walking on clouds one moment and chewing your fingernails in distress the next. Not only is your body changing right under your eyes, your baby is rapidly getting ready for life outside your womb. Like many mothers, you may want to begin keeping track of your child’s milestones even before he is born.
About two weeks after the first day of your last period, your baby begins as a fertilized egg. Although you may not conceive until the latter half of your menstrual cycle, your doctor will begin tracking the stages of your pregnancy from the first day of your last period. A zygote at this initial stage, your baby begins his journey down your fallopian tube. Implantation into your uterus occurs around the fifth day after fertilization, also considered your third week of pregnancy.
Cells rapidly divide during the first few weeks or your baby’s development. By your fifth week of pregnancy, your baby is developing his heart, spinal cord and brain cells. According to the Mayo Clinic, at week five your baby is only about the size of a pen tip.
As your first trimester progresses, your baby begins forming his eyes, jaws and limbs. By the end of this first stage of pregnancy, your baby has fingers, eyelids that open and close, and the ability to suck and yawn.
By week 14, your baby can swallow and may be able to suck on his thumb. During this second trimester, he begins hearing and developing fine hair over his head. As you continue to gain weight, so does your child. Fat begins to develop under his skin; his skin begins to thicken and become less transparent.
You begin feeling your baby’s movements during the second trimester, even though he began his activities weeks ago. His strong kicks and squirms may feel like slight fluttering and be difficult to discern at first.
By the end of the second trimester, your little one can sleep and wake in cycles and jerk when startled.
By the beginning of the third trimester, you may be aware of your baby’s normal routine of periods of activity and periods of sleeping. Your baby rapidly increases his weight during this final period of your pregnancy. His brain continues to develop, and his respiratory system continues to mature. By your 27th week of pregnancy, your baby’s nervous system allows some control over body functions.
During the middle of your final trimester, your baby’s body begins storing phosphorus, iron and calcium. He forms thicker, coarser hair on his head, while the fine hair over his body begins to thin and disappear.
By your delivery date, your baby’s fingernails may extend beyond the tips of his little fingers. His grasp is strong. His lungs are capable of breathing and exchanging air. Your long wait is almost over, and your baby is ready to enter the world.
- Schwangere Frau image by GRETADESIGN from Fotolia.com