- Women's Health
What it Feels Like to Be Pregnant
For those of you who have not had a baby, you may be wondering how the physical and mental changes will affect you. Will you feel sick? Will you be able to handle childbirth? How will you react to your growing tummy and what does it feel like when your baby is kicking inside you? I hope to answer these and many more questions in this article. I have carried four babies to full term and will draw on my experience but there are many fluctuations in how every pregnant woman feels.
For those people who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy that they are not happy about, the experience may bring a lot of other unwanted negative emotions and actions. For the purpose of this article I am going to assume that this is a very much wanted first pregnancy whether planned or unplanned.
The course of a pregnancy is divided up into three trimesters:
- First trimester - up to and including 13 weeks
- Second trimester – 14 - 27 weeks
- Third trimester - 28weeks to birth
Congratulations! You have finally got the confirmation from your doctor that you are pregnant. The first person you usually want to share it with is, of course, your partner and hopefully he is equally pleased, but you also feel like shouting it to the world.
From day one of the confirmation you are probably feeling a lot of different emotions; excited, a little nervous, extremely happy but maybe a tad scared. You have no other pregnancies to compare this one to, so you will rely on friends, relatives, books and perhaps online information to answer the hundred questions already milling around in your head. You will feel very special and immediately start noticing every pregnant woman in the street!
In the first trimester you may feel the following physical reactions to your pregnancy:
- Morning sickness - Some ladies get this worse than others and it is not always confined to mornings. A small fraction will get no nausea but most will get some and there can be a tendency for some to actually vomit. You seem to smell things more acutely. If I smelt anything frying I wanted to heave. You may find that something you used to eat or drink now repulses you and makes you feel nauseas. The good news is that this often passes by the time you are in the second trimester.
- Tiredness - Your fatigue is often very noticeable to you. You just seem to be much more tired than usual and feel the need to nap or go to bed earlier than usual.
- Tender breasts - For many this may be one of the first signs of pregnancy
- Urinating more frequently - Usually very noticeable
- Weight loss
- Mild backache
Sharing your pregnancy
How did your partner deal with your pregnancy?
On your first ante natal appointment you will have chance to ask questions and get any help for troublesome symptoms if the need arises. You will be excited about that first proper ante natal appointment and it seems to reinforce the reality of what lies ahead.
Mood in the first trimester
In the first few weeks there are many hormonal and bodily changes going on that may make you feel a bit grumpy at times. That initial euphoria tends to wane a little but despite everything you will have better days when you still feel the sense of excitement. You don’t want to appear anxious but sometimes you may have a troubling thought. Don’t worry, it is all natural and it’s only because you want everything to be perfect for you and your baby. Even in such early stages or pregnancy, you may feel a bit weepy sometimes and you can’t even explain why. Hormones have a lot to answer for!
You may even feel your partner isn’t quite as excited as you and wonder why. Believe me, no man knows what is like to feel pregnant, which in some ways is a shame. You don’t appear much different to normal so they may have a hard time trying to understand your changeable moods. You have to try to show patience because they can’t see your hormones!
Towards the end of the first trimester or early second trimester you will have your first scan to check everything looks OK and help confirm dates. Seeing your baby even if you can’t make sense of the photo or scan screen feels wonderful. Most partners attend the scans and it is something quite unique which will draw you closer together. You will look at that photo a hundred times and feel everything from downright strange to awesome.
Breathe a sigh of relief because the chances of miscarriage are getting much less likely now and slowly but surely some of those first trimester physical symptoms will not be bothering you so much. This phase moves us into more obvious changes. Physically you will notice such things as:
- Growing abdomen – now you can truly see your pregnancy and so can other people. You grow out of your normal clothes and by the end of this trimester you should be feeling the need for maternity wear. You will feel happy to show off your ‘bump’.
- Increase in breast size
- Skin changes – you may notice the beginnings of stretch marks and the dark line running from your naval downwards
- Occasional breathlessness
I always found this trimester to be the easiest. Tiredness seemed to die down a little, my nausea disappeared but I did get a urine infection which isn’t uncommon.
Mood in the second trimester
You might feel less attractive towards your partner and you may be frightened that having sex may harm the baby in some way. It won’t and you can pretty much carry on with things as usual. The excitement will still be there along with an anticipatory anxiety about the birth, your ability as a mother, the future effects on your body, the health of the baby and any effects on your relationship with your partner. You may actually look better than you have done in a long time and be impatient to buy things for the baby but hold back a little not wanting to tempt fate. You will want to read baby books with both enthusiasm…and sometimes trepidation!
You will feel odd little sensations and movements from your baby towards the end of this trimester although mostly quite light. You may even notice little tiny popping sensations when the baby is hiccuping which, although strange, will delight you. You will feel a bond forming for real when you can feel your baby’s movements and be keen for others to watch and feel these movements too.
Using a fetal doppler
You look forward to your ante natal visits and any chance to share concerns. Your midwife will listen to your baby’s heartbeat with something that looks like a funnel placed on your abdomen or use a dopple. If the latter is used the sound of your bay's heartbeat brings sweet reassurance and they can even be bought to use at home.
The second trimester seems to be going quite slow but there's always something to look forward to!
Around 20 weeks into pregnancy you may be offered another scan and the experience is even more pleasurable as you see your baby far clearer this time. Another photo to cherish!
If you thought the last trimester was slow, this third trimester seems to go even slower.
Now you may really start to feel the strain of pregnancy. Your increasing size coupled with impatience seems to be going on for an eternity. Physically you may encounter:
- Increasing backache
- Worsening heartburn
- Difficulty getting comfortable
- Increased urination - urgency with the weight of the baby on the bladder
- A more pronounced weight gain
- Risk of hemorrhoids
- Increasing tiredness
- Braxton Hicks contractions – you may feel these as a sense of tightenings that come and go. No, it’s not labour but your body is starting to practice!
Mood in the third trimester
You feel fit to burst; more tired with each passing week and get a bit fed up some days. It all seems to be taking an eternity and niggling physical symptoms can annoy you. Meanwhile, baby is growing much bigger now and kicking you at the most inopportune times such as when you want to go to sleep. That said, you marvel at these movements most of the time and can eventually recognize a heel or the baby’s bottom. On odd occasions the baby may turn and this can be quite alarming and uncomfortable but it only lasts for a very short while.
Now you may be getting rather more apprehensive about the actual labour, wondering if you will manage OK. It’s all a mixture of excitement and anticipatory anxiety and you are keen for the arrival of your baby despite any concerns. Sex with your partner may feel a little uncomfortable at times and you may even go off sex altogether leaving you feeling somewhat guilty. It’s all normal and you should be taking great care of you and listening to your body.
Great Online Pregnancy Information
- Free First Pregnancy Help | Nurse Family Partnership - NFP
Build parenting skills, get your questions answered, and more with NFP’s pregnancy help services. Let Nurse Family Partnership help you to have a healthy pregnancy.
- Pregnancy Signs & Advice. In Depth Pregnancy Guides & Help Pages | Bounty
Bounty have been providing free advice and samples to pregnant women for many years
You love shopping for the cutest of baby clothes and getting the nursery ready. You may keep taking these clothes out of the drawers just to have yet another peak and do some more imagining of your baby in them. Packing your hospital bag will make you feel great and you will keep checking that too! You will feel a need for everything to be just so, just how you want it. You will want to keep resting, reading up on birth or motherhood and possibly checking how far that due date is over and over.
It’s normal to feel scared going into labour for the first time, but actually I found that it’s a little scarier if anything with subsequent babies because you know what’s coming the second time around! If you go over the due date then it just adds to your impatience and utter tiredness but when childbirth finally arrives, it can bring utter relief and the most wonderful feeling that is unmatched by anything else in my opinion.