Pregnancy Symptoms Week by Week

What's Covered

The privilege of bringing forth a new life is a feeling that perhaps cannot equal any other. Pregnancy is a journey, packed with anxiety, emotions, and divine happiness. However, according to research carried out by BCBS; Blue Health Intelligence, 196 out of every 1000 pregnant women in the US in 2018 developed pregnancy complications[1].

No one can guarantee you a successful pregnancy. However, with adequate knowledge of the symptoms of pregnancy, there is a lot that you could do to influence the outcome of your pregnancy. This article will enlighten you with 42-week, week-by-week pregnancy information.

Week 1

The first day of your menstrual cycle is ideally the first day of your pregnancy. However, you are not technically pregnant. You will have your usual menstruation symptoms like period pains, fatigue, malaise, bleeding, mood swings, sore breasts, or no symptoms at all.

Week 2

The second week is a crucial period because ovulation occurs during this time. The actual ovulation process happens within 12-48 hours, and around this duration, you are most fertile. Common signs of ovulation include the following,

  • Tenderness of breasts
  • Increase in basal body temperature
  • Change in cervical position
  • Saliva ferning pattern
  • Slippery white vaginal discharge (The cervical mucus becomes thinner and clearer)
  • Increased sexual desire
  • Ovulation pain

Week 3

During this week, your newly fertilized egg implants onto the uterine wall. During this period, you should expect mild abdominal cramps and light spotting also called implantation bleeding. What you should not expect at this time are intense pain and heavy bleeding. These are danger signs that may require you to consult your doctor.

Week 4

Congratulations! You are officially pregnant! Your pregnancy results will now come back positive. The pregnancy hormone is now present in your urine. Below are some of the crucial signs you may experience,

  • Breast tenderness
  • A heightened sense of smell or taste
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Bloating

Get a comfortable maternity bra with breast pads to reduce friction on your tender nipples and reduce pain.

These symptoms may differ from one individual to another. No need for alarm if you do not experience any of these symptoms, they might take a few more weeks to show up, or they might not show up at all.

This week you may want to call your doctor to schedule the first prenatal clinic appointment. In case you are on any medication, talk to your doctor about their safety in pregnancy.

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Week 5

During this week, most of the week-4 symptoms will probably stick around plus extra hormone-induced emotional symptoms. You will experience an onslaught of feelings due to mood swings. Your emotions will periodically change from angry, to happy, to depressed for no credible reason. You will become more irritable.

You will also feel sleepy for the better part of the day due to high levels of progesterone. Find some time to sleep because your body needs rest. Start eating healthy for your baby; prenatal vitamins could come in handy.

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Week 6

This week might turn out to be one of the most dreaded weeks. In most women, week 6 marks the start of morning sickness. If you are lucky, morning sickness might come later on in your journey. Your enhanced sense of smell will worsen nausea as it sets the stage for cravings and food aversions. You might even lose a few pounds at this time. It is worth noting that morning sickness can come at any time of the day, even at night.

It is advisable to find a way of coping with these unpleasant symptoms because they are likely to stick around until later on in the second trimester of your pregnancy journey. Some women cope by eating smaller meals, taking ginger tea in the morning, avoiding trigger foods, and wearing an anti-nausea wristband. However, if you cannot keep food and fluids down your throat, you might need your doctor’s help.

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Something else to note is that this is a crucial time (day 17 to 56) because your developing baby is vulnerable and most susceptible to factors that may affect normal growth[2]. If you go for an ultrasound this time, your doctor will hear your baby’s heartbeat.

Week 7

You will need to plan for many bathroom breaks during your seventh week of pregnancy, and you better plan them well ahead of time. Your body temperature may also be higher than usual during this time. Your stomach should never get empty around this time, also increase your water intake.  If you have been exercising, you can maintain your usual exercise until week 13 when you should slow it down.

  • Low intensity weight training
  • Kegels
  • Walking and jogging
  • Yoga
  • Swimming and water aerobics
  • Dancing

Women who should avoid exercise during pregnancy are those with heart conditions, lung disease, weakened cervix, bleeding, placenta problems, and those that are at risk for early labor.

Week 8

Many of the earlier pregnancy symptoms may again appear in full force during this week. You will also have extra saliva in your mouth. These symptoms may last till the end of the first trimester.

Other symptoms include caffeine withdrawal, dehydration, stress, and mild headache caused by hormonal surges. A severe headache should be a cause for alarm.

Week 9

During this week, hormones will slow down your digestive tract, and it will manifest in several other symptoms in addition to nausea that characterizes morning sickness. You will suffer from excess gas and constipation. These are likely to pass after the first trimester.

Your heart will beat harder and faster. Discuss with your doctor in case of an underlying heart problem.

Week 10

By this phase, you should be glowing, mama! Your oil glands are working overtime due to increased blood volume to give your skin a glossy appearance. By the tenth week, you are likely to either have a radiant pregnancy glow or be suffering from pregnancy-induced acne. Your belly and your breasts are now growing bigger and bigger. 

Week 11

This week your body may attempt to clear bacteria, and you will notice this by a clear discharge from the vagina. Due to the growing baby bump, you might experience uncomfortable aching and pain around the abdomen. This might be mild to painful.

Week 12

If you are fair-skinned, you might be annoyed by the visible veins on your skin as a result of a sharp increase in blood volume. During pregnancy, the blood volume in your body increases by up to 50%[3].

Week 13

You are now nearing the end of the first trimester. Your journey might get a little bit easier because many of the early pregnancy symptoms will gradually diminish. However, you will start feeling dizzy for a good part of the day. Dizziness is due to lower blood pressure, reduced blood flow to organs, and hormonal shifts. You can combat these dizzy spells by putting your head between your knees and taking deep breaths.

Week 14

Hurray! You have officially reached the second trimester of your pregnancy journey. The second trimester is a feel-good trimester. You probably have renewed energy, increased appetite, and a higher sex drive, which will go on for the next few weeks. Start preparing your house for a baby and ask your doctor for a suitable fitness routine.

Week 15

You might experience some strange symptoms in this trimester, such as sensitive gums and leg cramps. You might wake up to a stuffy nose due to increased blood supply to the mucous membranes. Your ligaments will loosen, making you feel clumsy for the better part of your day.

Week 16

If you have a darker complexion, you might notice the mask-of-pregnancy at this time. It involves the darkening of the skin around the navel, nipples, armpits, and inner thighs. This darkening might extend to the nose and cheeks.

 Week 17

You will start feeling more forgetful than usual. You might also experience backaches. The blame is, again, on the pregnancy hormones. Around this time, be on the look-out for exciting news; you might just feel your first baby kicks.

Week 18

By now, everyone around you might have noticed that you are pregnant. Your belly has expanded, and your boobs have swollen in preparation for breastfeeding. You will regularly add on an average of one pound of weight each week until delivery. Stretch marks might be visible at this time.

Week 19

Pregnancy hormones will relax your gut muscles, causing heat burn experiences. To combat this, you should avoid foods that are acidic, spicy, or greasy. Eat smaller meals and stay upright after eating. As your baby exerts weight on your intestines, you might also experience constipation.

Week 20

By this week, you should be used to the fluttering kicks of your little one that causes a storm in your stomach. By this period, you might experience the following,

  • Dry eyes
  • Leg cramps
  • Varicose veins
  • Swelling in the feet and hands
  • Trouble sleeping

Week 21

Your uterus now exerts a lot of pressure on your lungs, and you might experience shortness of breath as a result. Your abdomen, hip, and groin will stretch to accommodate your growing uterus, and this might come with some feeling of sharpness. As your baby grows, ligament pain, which you might have experienced for a while by this time tends to increase.

Week 22

Despite the constant weight gain, you are probably prettier than your usual self. Pregnancy causes your body to stock up extra nutrients, thus hastening the growth of your nails and thick shiny hair. However, the skin around your stomach might be dry and irritating due to constant expansion and stretching. You can solve this by applying a skin hydrant.

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Week 23

The pressure of your ever-growing belly will push your belly button outwards. No need to worry though; after delivery, all this will go away. In this week you will still be dealing with headaches, constipation, pregnancy brain, stretch marks, backaches, leg cramps, increased discharge, and other symptoms of the second trimester.

Week 24

You might notice a dwindling sex drive by this time because you feel too tired and sore. You might start snoring due to swollen and enlarged membranes. Other symptoms include tingling hands from bleeding hands.

Week 25

Swelling and fluid retention will bring about a numb sensation, and your hands and fingers will feel tingly. To combat this, shake out your wrists more often and do not sleep on your hands. This feeling will vanish when you give birth.

Week 26

As you approach your third trimester your sleep will be hindered by many things, including frequent urination, anxiety, and leg cramps. You might experience itchiness in your hands, feet, and sometimes all over your body. You can cool down the itchiness by applying calming lotions, ointments, or antihistamines. However, if the itching gets intense, you should consult your doctor. 

Week 27

At this time backaches and leg cramps will get worse. Increased blood flow may cause swollen, itchy veins that might pop up in your rectum to cause hemorrhoids. Constipation will further worsen the condition. You can relieve the pain with ice packs, witch hazel pads, or sitz baths.

Week 28

You are now in the third trimester, and you are nearing the finish line. You feel physically exhausted and generally uncomfortable. You are now almost getting used to aches and pains. Stiffness of the pelvic joints and softening of the ligaments around your pelvic bone may cause pelvic girdle pain. You could try to manage this by learning a few pregnancy exercises to stabilize your muscles. Avoid sitting in twisted positions, crossing your legs, and sitting on the floor.

Week 29

At this time your breasts might start leaking yellowish colostrum. Your body is preparing for breastfeeding. You can start performing different exercise recommended for the third trimester of pregnancy. These are,

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Prenatal yoga
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Bodyweight moves
  • Pilates
  • Riding a stationary bike
  • Low-impact aerobics 

Week 30

Your stretch marks are getting more visible and more pronounced at this time. However, you do not need to worry much about them; they are likely to fade away after delivery. Moreover, you are still dealing with other more pressing symptoms like heartburn, itchiness, aching, and swelling.

Week 31

Just a few more weeks to go! Your baby’s head is now pushing against the bladder, and you will need to use the bathroom even more often. Minimal effort leaves you exhausted, and the tenderness of breast that you felt in your first trimester slowly creeps back in. your breasts are now preparing for breastfeeding.

Week 32

Around this time you might start experiencing false labor pains, also called Braxton Hicks. These are practice-contractions that will last either a few seconds or stay up to two minutes. During Braxton Hicks, you will feel the uterus tightening or hardening, and if you change position, the pain may stop. These pains are normal, and as the pregnancy progresses, they become even more often. However, in some instances, such contractions might indicate early labor. Call your doctor if the contractions get stronger, and too frequent.

Week 33

Around this time your baby might be pressing so hard on your bladder that it becomes leaky. Most of your internal organs are now under the pressure of your baby’s weight; therefore, general discomfort, heartburn, and shortness of breath are symptoms that you

are now used to.

Week 34

You now have a few more weeks to endure your symptoms. You will regularly feel your little one kicking around in your stomach. You are probably using breast pads due to breast leakage, and you may develop a mild blurry vision. 

Week 35

Around this week your weight gain might plateau, and insomnia might come in full force. Labor is quickly approaching, and the false labor contractions are getting more regular. Be keen on these contractions because at around this time they might turn into actual labor contractions.

According to research, 10.23% of all births in the US in 2019 were preterm[4]. This means that you should be psychologically prepared to have your new baby by now.

Week 36

Your baby is now on the move! The baby will settle lower in your pelvis in preparation for delivery. This lightening will shift the weight pressure away from your internal organs, and your breathing might become easier, and normal.

Week 37

Hang in there, you are almost there! Your baby has a new position now, and you are probably experiencing pressure on your abdomen and pelvic discomfort. Your cervix is now enlarged and sensitive, and because of this, you might spot after sex. However, you should not ignore heavy bleeding as it might indicate a problem with the placenta. Talk to your doctor about such occurrences.

Week 38

Around this time you might lose your mucus plug; a protective ball-like mucus collection in the cervix that seals the uterus from germs. You will notice a thick pink discharge on your innerwear. 

Week 39

Your water might break in this week; you will notice a mild popping sensation followed by a gush, then a trickle of fluid and wetness down your leg (Felix et al, 337)[5]. Water-breaking is the rupture of the fluid-filled membranous sac that cushions your baby. According to Mulder et al, pre-labor rupture of membranes happens around 10% of the time[6], otherwise, the breaking of water happens during actual labor.  Early labor may come with dull back pain, restlessness, pelvic pressure, and regular contractions. It may last several hours. You will need to head to the hospital when you feel your contractions have achieved the 5-1-1 rule. The rule dictates that contractions occur every five minutes, stay around for about one minute, and this pattern continues for up to an hour.

Week 40

If you have a scheduled induction or C-section you are anxious because it will be happening in the next few days. The late pregnancy symptoms hang around: frequent urination, swelling, insomnia, and pelvic discomfort. Your baby may arrive any time now. You probably know your new baby’s name by now, and you have their first clothes packed in a bag waiting for them.

Week 41

Your baby is a little bit late. You are probably restless and anxious, but hang in there! Your new born will be here with you soon! Just watch out for the signs of labor.

Week 42

Most newborns arrive within two weeks of their expected date. Keep watching for signs of labor, but keep in touch with your doctor. If your doctor feels it appropriate, he may recommend labor induction.

Final Thoughts

The pregnancy period is a time to listen to your body. One of the main keys to a healthy, successful pregnancy is timely planning. Unplanned pregnancies may come with mixed feelings of fear and confusion. While this is normal, you could reach out to organizations, family, and friends to help you put your thoughts and feeling into perspective.

Start attending prenatal care early enough, from week 6, so that your doctor can walk you through the journey. If you are a first-time mother, you could spend your time reading useful information to guide you through your divine journey.

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[1] BCBS; Blue Health Intelligence

[2] Romijn, Herms J., Michel A. Hofman, and Albert Gramsbergen. “At what age is the developing cerebral cortex of the rat comparable to that of the full-term newborn human baby?.” Early human development 26.1 (1991): 61-67.

[3] Brunton, Paula J., and John A. Russell. “Endocrine induced changes in brain function during pregnancy.” Brain research 1364 (2010): 198-215.

[4] CDC; NCHS

[5] Félix, Hevyllin Cipriano Rodrigues, et al. “The Signs of alert and Labor: knowledge among pregnant women.” Revista Brasileira de Saúde Materno Infantil 19.2 (2019): 335-341.

[6] Mulder, E. J. H., and G. H. A. Visser. “Braxton Hicks’ contractions and motor behavior in the near-term human fetus.” American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 156.3 (1987): 543-549.

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Author

Diana Lucas

Diana Lucas

Hi, Diana here. Welcome to my blog and hope you like my sharing. I am a mother of 2 boys, 3 years old and a 1 year old. I dedicate my career in child development research and I focus on parenting tips, positive parenting, educational toys for my babies. Your time here means a lot to me! Diana A. Lucas
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