Once you’ve decided that you want to have a baby, you and your partner should aim to have unprotected sex at least 3 times a week, and ideally most often when and around when you ovulate.
The average woman has around a 20% chance of getting pregnant during each month she has unprotected sex but this can increase or decrease depending on your age, health and your partners sperm count.
Women in their twenties generally have the easiest time getting pregnant, where as women over thirty can find it more of a challenge. This is because each year after the age of thirty a woman’s fertility decreases between 3-5% and once they hit 40 this decrease rapidly accelerates. For a woman in her thirties or forties trying to get pregnant, they may still be able to conceive naturally or they may need to have infertility treatment.
Getting pregnant for a woman at any age can take anywhere from months to years, so patience is often required. Once you are pregnant, you will be able to confirm your pregnancy through an over the counter pregnancy test or through a blood test administered by your doctor.
Symptoms of Being Pregnant
of early signs of pregnancy include:
- Missing your period
- Breast changes
- Mood swings
- Frequent urination
- Back pain
Once you are pregnant you will experience what is commonly referred to as your first, third and third trimester, which make up the 9 months it takes to have a baby. Here is a breakdown of pregnancy week by week and the different pregnancy stages:
The first trimester lasts between 12-14 weeks (this estimation varies between medical professionals opinions) and during this period you are expect to gain 1 to 5 pounds. Most women are advised to increase their daily calorie intake by 300 calories during their first trimester. During your first trimester you may experience the following:
- Bleeding – Around a quarter of all American women experience some bleeding (often medically referred to as “spotting”) during the first trimester of your period. If you experience this it could be perfectly normal but if it is persistent or excessive you may want to get checked out by a medical professional to rule out the chance of a possible problem with the baby or even a miscarriage.
- Constipation – Constipation is a common problem for pregnant women throughout the length of their pregnancy and this problem can begin from the very early stages of pregnancy. You may have to significantly increase your intake of fibrous foods to help relieve constipation issues.
- Breast Tenderness – Soreness and increased sensitivity to the breasts and surrounding area is very common and is most often due to the hormonal changes a woman experiences during her pregnancy. Support bras and getting a larger sized bra may help relieve these symptoms.
- Discharge – White discharge is usually normal and benign during the first trimester, and you can wear panty liners to avoid this from becoming a source of embarrassment. If your discharge is any other color you should consult your doctor about it.
- Fatigue – You may feel exhausted from as early as the first few weeks of your pregnancy and you can help cope with this through increasing your daily intake of iron.
- Food Cravings – You don’t have to be heavily pregnant to experience food cravings, they can start at any time during your pregnancy. You may experience extreme cravings for foods or become completely turned off by others.
- Morning Sickness – Nausea also often referred to as “morning sickness” is typically most acute during the first few months of pregnancy. Despite its name, morning sickness can happen at any time of the day and often involves a tummy upset, usually resulting in vomiting.
The second trimester are usually calculated as weeks 13-27 of your pregnancy and during this period of time any symptoms of morning sickness and fatigue you may have been experiencing should start to fade away. Most women are advised to increase their regular daily calorie intake by between 300 and 500 calories during their second trimester and it is normal to gain between .5 to 1 lb a week throughout the second trimester.
Although some symptoms will fade or disappear during the second trimester, there are still many symptoms you may experience which can include:
- Backache – The weight gain from your first and now second trimester can equate to back ache. This can often be relieved by sleeping on your side with a pillow in between your legs, sitting on chairs with good support, wearing flat shoes and receiving pregnancy massages.
- Breast Enlargement – The second trimester is usually when your breasts will start to rapidly expand in size, and you may need to get yourself fitted for a new bra size and wear more comfortable bras to avoid feeling uncomfortable.
- Hair Growth – Due to your body’s changing hormones during pregnancy, you may experience more hair growth, which usually starts to show during your second trimester. You may find that your head hair becomes much thicker and fuller and you might also start to grow new hairs in other areas of your body such as your face, back and stomach.
- Hemorrhoids – The constipation experienced by many pregnant women can lead to hemorrhoids developing, which will typically start to appear around the second trimester. If you experience hemorrhoids you may be able to treat them with over the counter drugs or by getting a prescription medication from your doctor.
- Quickening – You may start to experience “quickening” or feeling your baby move about in your stomach during your second trimester. Although this is common some women don’t start to feel this until much later on in their pregnancy, so don’t be too worried if this doesn’t happen to you during your second trimester.
- Skin Changes – The “pregnancy glow” is often most apparent during the second trimester, and is due to your hormonal levels changing. You may start to develop stretch marks on body areas such as your breasts, stomach, thighs and buttocks and may also develop broken veins on the face and other parts of the body. These should both fade after you have had your baby.
In the final stage of pregnancy, the third trimester begins at week 28. This can be the most challenging of all of the trimesters. Most women gain between .5 and 1 lb a week during their third trimester.
- Backache – Your backache may accelerate during this time or you may begin to suffer from a backache for the first time in your pregnancy as you will gain your maximum pregnancy weight during this period. This increase in weight can put a lot of pressure on the back which can lead to back aches and pains.
- Braxton Hicks Contractions – You may experience contractions, known as Braxton Hicks contractions (also sometimes referred to as false labor contractions or labor contractions), which may feel like labor contractions but are actually just your uterus warming up for your future labor. You can usually tell the difference between the two contractions as labor contractions are usually closer together, regular and very intense whereas Braxton Hicks contractions can be sporadic and although you will definitely feel something they won’t be nearly as intense as labor contractions.
- Breast Enlargement – By the third trimester your breasts will likely have significantly enlarged, for some women they gain as much 2 lbs in their breasts. You may need to go up a bra size or even several to accommodate your new breast size.
- Discharge – Discharge can reoccur during the third trimester, and is usually nothing to worry about if it is white or creamy in color. If the color changes or the amount of discharge becomes excessive you should contact your doctor.
- Fatigue – Although fatigue can lessen or disappear entirely during your second trimester, you will likely feel much more tired and have less energy when you are in your third trimester.
- Shortness of Breath – As your uterus expands during your pregnancy it can lead to more pressure being placed on the lungs which can result in feelings of shortness or out of breath. This is perfectly normal during pregnancy and particularly during the third trimester and these symptoms may be reduced by exercising frequently.
- Swelling – It is very normal to experience mild swelling during your third trimester. You may notice that your rings feel tighter on your fingers and your face may become puffy and swollen. Swollen ankles are common too and these can be relieved by elevating your feet when sitting down with a cushion or ottoman.
The Three Stages of Labor
Once you come to the end of your final stage of labor, your body will begin to prepare to give birth. There are three stages of labor and they are as follows:
The First Stage of Labor:
The first stage of labor involves contractions and the possibility of your “water breaking” which is when your amniotic membrane ruptures. This stage of labor is typically the longest and can last up to 20 hours. During this stage your cervix will gradually begin to open (to create enough room for your baby to travel through it) until it is fully open at 10 centimeters.
As soon as the first signs of labor begin, it is essential that you go to a hospital or if you are having a home birth have a medical professional present.
The Second Stage of Labor:
The second stage of labor is when you deliver your baby; at this point, your cervix is fully open (dilated) at 10 centimeters. During this stage, you will most likely be in a hospital room setting and most likely be advised by the present health professionals to push and take deep breaths to help you successfully deliver your baby. Once delivery is complete your baby will have traveled through the birth canal, vagina and is finally born. This second stage can vary in length from minutes to multiple hours.
During the second stage, you may be administered pain medications to help ease the pain of giving birth and you may receive an episiotomy which is a medical procedure in which a small incision is made between the anus and vagina to expand the vaginal opening. This can prevent excessive vaginal tearing and also help the baby come out more quickly.
The Third Stage of Labor:
The third and final stage of labor begins after the baby is born and this stage is complete once the placenta has separated from the wall of the uterus and has been passed through the vagina. This can take from a few minutes to around twenty minutes to occur. If any vaginal tears occurred during delivery or you received an episiotomy stitches will be administered at this point.