Pregnancy a Month by Month Guide

First Month: You’re wondering why you’re so tired, why onions – your favorite food – suddenly make you feel nauseous, why the smell of hard alcohol turns your stomach, and when your period is going to come. If it’s your second (or third, or eighth…) pregnancy, you probably have a good idea of what’s going on. If you’ve never been pregnant before, now’s the time to go out and buy a pregnancy test.

Second Month: How do you feel about being pregnant? Is this something that you had been planning? Is your partner supportive? Should you find an obstetrician, or consider midwifery? What should you eat? When should you tell your family? The second month of pregnancy is a time of emotional turmoil for many women. You should find someone who you can trust – ideally someone who has been through this herself – and talk about how you feel. Just because you’ve been hoping and praying for a child for years doesn’t necessarily mean that you will feel good about it – especially when you’re tired all the time, and your hormones are jumping up and down like a horde of kindergartner’s on a king-sized bed.

Third Month: You feel sick and tired, and you don’t know how you’re going to make it through six more months of this. You don’t look pregnant yet, but you don’t quite fit into your clothes either. The difficulties of pregnancy are very obvious, but the idea that there is actually a completely new person growing inside of you hasn’t quite become real. Don’t despair: it’s about to get better.

Fourth Month: You’re starting to get some of your energy back, and hopefully your emotions are starting to even out. If not, it’s time to talk to a health-care professional: continued tiredness or emotional disturbances at this point in a pregnancy could indicate iron deficiency, sleep problems, or pregnancy-related depression. Getting help now can make the rest of your pregnancy a much more joyful experience. Pay attention: mothers who have had babies before can often feel the first signs of fetal movement at this stage. The stirring of life in your womb reminds you that this is really worthwhile.

Fifth Month: Baby is starting to really move in there, and you go for your first ultrasound. You can see the little head, the belly sticking out, the little arms and legs. Maybe baby is sucking her fist. Now it hits you for real. There is a tiny person inside of you, and you are giving him life. You know that you can do this. There may still be hard days though, so make sure you’ve got a good support network and that you keep on talking.

Sixth Month: For many women, this is the best time of pregnancy. You’re big enough that people can tell you’re pregnant, not just putting on weight, but not big enough for your back and feet to be hurting in earnest. You start wanting to nest. Take advantage of the burst of energy that this can give you. This is about the right time to do serious redecorating in the nursery, but make sure that you avoid oil-based paints and working above your head, and for God’s sake, sit down and take a rest before you start to feel dizzy.

Seventh Month: Baby is really kicking up a storm, and your husband starts wondering if you’ve got a baby in there or an alien. This is probably the most fetal activity that you are going to feel – after this baby will start to get a little cramped and won’t be able to turn somersaults until two in the morning. Start taking it easier than you have been, and don’t be angry with yourself if you can’t do everything that you could in the second trimester.

Eighth Month: You wander into a room, wonder what you’re doing there, and then the phone rings and your mother demands to know why you haven’t shown up for your own baby shower. Sometime in pregnancy, many women will develop “baby brain.” It doesn’t mean that you’re stupid or irresponsible, but a lot of the oxygen that would ordinarily be going to your own gray cells is being redirected to baby instead. Explain this to people who wonder why you aren’t the sparkling conversationalist you used to be, or can’t understand why you keep forgetting to return their phone calls. If you’re frustrated with your lack of intellectual prowess, try doing creative work. This can be a great time to to write, draw, or make music because your intellect isn’t as able to get in the way of your intuitions.

Ninth Month: You ache, you’re tired, and none of the “good positions for having sex” during pregnancy seem to be working out. Baby has moved down into position, and started grinding her head against your pelvis and your bladder. You want this to be over – now. Make sure you rest and relax, but also keep doing things that you find meaningful and rewarding. You don’t have to do anything, but you also don’t have to put up with feeling like a useless lump or an invalid. You may start to feel pre-labor contractions more than a week before you actually go into labor and give birth. Don’t be alarmed. Talk to your health-care provider about when to go to the hospital, and make a birth plan: a lot of mothers, especially first-timers, end up getting stuck making decisions about labor and delivery in between contraction – or having those decisions made for them without being consulted. You have the right to tell your doctor or midwife what you want in labor, and they have the responsibility to give you the information that you need to make the decisions that are best for you.

Childbirth: The pain was a lot worse than you expected it to be, and perhaps you’re a little disappointed with yourself for having failed to experience the smooth, joyful, natural childbirth that you had planned. Don’t sweat it. Even if you screamed at everyone in the delivery room and bit your husband when he tried to help you get into a position that was better for the baby, you’ve done something incredible. Lie back, eat two greasy burgers and a box of arrowroot cookies, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.