Surprisingly, an astonishing 45 percent of the 6 million pregnancies in the United States each year are unplanned for. In every year, millions of women, married and unmarried, the young and older are getting an outcome they did not plan for or desire in the form of pregnancy. The stress caused by an unintended pregnancy can throw anyone off kilter. And even if you planned for your baby and are excited about having it, it is common to feel vulnerable and anxious.
Pregnancy is beautiful, wonderful and miraculous, however, it is also hard work. Between the symptoms and the emotional roller coaster for some women, it can be bittersweet. The physical and emotional changes during pregnancy and postpartum may make pregnancy difficult and complex. You may love some of your body changes and still feel uncomfortable with others. Take note that some physical and emotional experiences are common to a particular trimester (stage) of pregnancy.
First Trimester: Early changes in a woman’s body
So the first trimester occurs between the period of conception to about the 12th week of pregnancy. Most women will experience early physical and emotional changes during this period as a result of hormonal changes, including missed period, nausea, tender and heavy breasts, mood swings, extreme fatigue, frequent urination, weight gain or loss. Not all women will experience this changes, and some might even question their pregnancy status. It is okay. Pregnancies’ manifest differently. Pregnant women may feel completely different with each subsequent pregnancy.
Second Trimester: Changes a woman may experience
This occurs between weeks 13 to 28. At this stage, things begin to ease up a little bit. You start to feel better, with less fatigue, moodiness and morning sickness or the pregnancy symptoms may go away completely. However, there will be other changes as well. The ‘baby bump’ will become more visible as your abdomen expands to accommodate the growing baby. And by the end of this trimester, you will even be able to feel the baby move! You’ll still feel some ‘stuff’ though — your hair may become thicker and your fingernails may become stronger, or your nails maybe softer and break more easily; aches and pains that seem to be all over, back, abdomen, groin, or thigh; numb or tingling hands; cravings of sweet, spicy or fatty foods; or you may feel anxious about the tests done at this stage. Try not to be, these tests will ensure that you and your baby receive the right care.
Third Trimester Changes
For the final stage of pregnancy at week 29 to week 40, discomforts experienced in the second trimester will likely continue along with some new ones. For instance, back pain, fatigue, and baby movements may continue, while you may begin to feel a tightening of the muscles of the uterus also known as Braxton Hicks — this should not alarm you as it does not mean that labor is starting. The pressure exerted by the baby on your internal organs may make it harder to breathe and cause you to urinate more frequently. This is normal and should go away once you give birth.
Other changes taking place in your body at this stage may not be visible. For instance, as your due date approaches your cervix becomes thinner and softer in a process known as effacement that helps the cervix open during childbirth. Your doctor will closely monitor your progress with regular exams as your due date draws near.
Feelings and Emotions: Is it Okay to feel?
Pregnancy has its high and low moments. You may experience a plethora of emotions and they may ebb away as easily as they came. It is okay to feel. If you were hoping to get pregnant, you now feel elated beyond words. However, these feelings could quickly morph in to fear if you are unsure about the change in your life, whether you will be able to cope financially or fear for your baby’s health. Talk to your doctor or midwife if you are worried about a particular risk to yourself or your baby. You’ll probably feel more at ease if you learn how to advocate with your medical provider.
You may also be concerned how the baby will affect your relationship with your partner, or whether the other children will accept and love the new baby. You could also be angry as a result of your hormonal changes or from pregnancy symptoms that are uncomfortable or painful. It is also likely that you are surprised because your choice of contraceptive did not work.
Your body is changing rapidly and you are probably unimpressed with your changing body. You seem to be putting so much weight, or not enough. Or that your partner may not find you attractive anymore. The combined result of all of these happenings and worries may make you feel completely out of control. This is common and it is okay.