The Real Stages of Pregnancy According to Moms Who Have Been There

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When doctors and other healthcare providers talk about pregnancy, they usually describe the stages in trimesters. The first trimester is when the baby grows from existing as a fertilized egg to a fetus that has all of its important internal structures. During the second trimester, many of the fetus’s organs and systems start to function. The third trimester is when the fetus begins to put on serious weight and get ready for birth. Moms who’ve been there and done that though, they know the real stages of pregnancy. And they look a little something like this:

Weeks 4-6: The “Am I really pregnant?” stage

You peed on the stick, you saw the plus sign and then … you went and bought eight more tests in every brand the store carries. Maybe you were trying and maybe you weren’t. Either way, the fact that you’re pregnant can be hard to believe at first.

Weeks 6-12: The “Oh yeah, I’m pregnant” stage

Any doubt you had that the pregnancy tests were getting wrong results disappears pretty quickly when morning sickness starts to roll in. When your breasts get more tender than they’ve ever been before. Or the smell of coffee suddenly turns your tummy. Or when you see that beautiful heartbeat pulsing on the ultrasound screen. 

Weeks 12-16: The “Where’s my belly?” stage

You’ve started telling people you’re pregnant and you've certainly started to feel it- but what you thought would be a quick pop of your belly is turning out to be a slow thickening of your middle. Your regular jeans have lost the ability to button but you’re not quite round enough to hold up maternity jeans yet.

Weeks 16-20: The “OMG IS THAT A BABY KICK?!” stage

At first, you weren’t quite sure what you were feeling. Tiny flickers of movement low in your belly that were so faint and so quick you could hardly hold on to the feeling long enough to be sure. And then suddenly, one day, you were sure. Each time your baby kicks you instinctively move your hand to your belly- giddy with the realness of the person inside you. 

{ MORE: Here's Your Permission To Skip Exercise During Pregnancy }

Weeks 20-24: The “Look at my cute belly!” stage

Your belly has started to pop and it is a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e. You sometimes catch yourself off guard when you look in the mirror and see a pregnant woman but, that’s you now! You look cute in maternity clothes and wear your partner's big t-shirts to bed.

Weeks 24-30: The “Give me all the ice cream!” stage

The baby is growing and so are you. You are HUNGRY. Your day consists of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack before (and after) each. The pregnancy cravings are intense and you don’t feel the least bit guilty when you indulge them. You are, after all, growing a whole person.

Weeks 30-36: The “HOW THE HECK DO I STILL HAVE MONTH’S TO GO?!” stage

Pregnancy is beautiful and you’re glowing and …  wait … you still have months to go?! You look about how you imagined you would on delivery day by week 30 and you can’t image how you’ll get any bigger. But you do. You keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And all those lovely well wishers that you adored a few months ago are now driving you crazy with their questions and comments like, “Any day now, huh?” or “My goodness you’re about to pop!”

Weeks 36-40: The “It could be any day now …” stage

Okay, you’ve known you’re having a baby for quite a while but it’s starting to feel really, really real. You realize that any day now could be your last as a woman who's not a mother. You wonder when your water will break. The hospital bag is packed. You finally practice those breathing exercises you’ve had bookmarked on your computer since week six. You’re excited. And terrified.

Weeks 40-42: The “This is NOT FAIR!” stage

Your due date has come and gone. Long gone. Each day that you wake up and you’re still not in labor feels like a crushing blow. You wonder what’s wrong with your body or your baby. You worry that labor will never start. When people find out that you’re overdue they back away, worried that you’re going to go into labor and have the baby right then and there. You wish you would. You wonder if you will EVER get to hold this baby.

Your Baby’s Birthday: The “That was worth it” stage

This is the best of the real stages of pregnancy. Your baby is in your arms. And you are in awe of their fragility and their beauty. You are proud that you made them and proud that you birthed them. You close your eyes and lean your head back. It feels foreign that your body is your own again after so long. You gather your strength and promise to love your little person, fiercely and truly, forever and ever.  

{ MORE: Judgment and Shaming Have No Place in Parenthood }

Do these real stages of pregnancy sound more accurate to you?

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The Real Stages of Pregnancy According to Moms Who Have Been There

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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