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    Stages of Pregnancy by Trimester

    Pregnancy Journey

    Stages of Pregnancy by Trimester

    Updated on 20 October 2023

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    Pregnancy is divided into three stages commonly known as trimesters: first trimester, second trimester and third trimester. Each trimester in pregnancy lasts for 12-14 weeks and a full-term pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks, beginning from the first day of a woman’s last period. A pregnant woman experiences different symptoms and body changes during each trimester of pregnancy. And her baby also achieves various fetal developmental milestones through the 3 trimesters of pregnancy.

    What is the meaning of Trimester in Pregnancy?

    As explained, pregnancy is broken into three phases called trimesters. A pregnant woman undergoes three trimesters of pregnancy: first trimester of pregnancy, second trimester and third. The first trimester of pregnancy starts from the first day of the woman’s last period and lasts for 13 weeks. The second trimester of pregnancy lasts from 13-26 weeks and the third and final trimester lasts from 27-40 weeks or till the week of childbirth.

    Let’s understand each of the three trimesters in pregnancy briefly to help you navigate the challenges and changes of each of these 3 trimesters of pregnancy.

    1. First Trimester of Pregnancy (0-13 Weeks)

    The first trimester of pregnancy is the earliest phase of your pregnancy, and also the most crucial. As the little miracle of life begins to develop in your womb, a plethora of changes and challenges come your way. You might experience symptoms like nausea, breast tenderness, fatigue and frequent urination. Additionally, you will notice body changes like swelling or soreness in breasts, pigmentation around the areola, unexplained mood swings and increased blood circulation.

    But you are not alone, your baby too will experience a whole host of changes. Your baby will transition from a fertilised egg to a fully-formed foetus and begin to form a body structure as well as organs. By the end of the first pregnancy trimester, your baby will be around 2.5-3 inches long. A nutritious and balanced diet, regular exercise, prenatal vitamins and some dietary precautions will help you keep healthy during your first pregnancy trimester.

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    2. Second Trimester of Pregnancy (14-26 Weeks)

    The second trimester of pregnancy is the middle one in the 3 trimesters of pregnancy. The second trimester in pregnancy is a lot more smooth and more relaxed than the first trimester of pregnancy. It’s also the pregnancy trimester when the much-awaited baby bump makes an appearance. By the end of the second trimester of pregnancy, you may even feel your baby move.

    The second trimester in pregnancy may result in the following symptoms: abdominal pain, backache, bleeding gums, vaginal discharge, nasal problems, leg cramps and hemorrhoids (varicose veins). You might also notice some body changes like stretch marks, breast enlargement, pigmentation, hair growth and increased appetite. Your baby will weigh around 900 grams and be 16 inches long during the second pregnancy trimester.

    3. Third Trimester of Pregnancy (27-40 Weeks)

    The third trimester of pregnancy is the final phase of your pregnancy and you’re about to meet your little one very soon. It is also the toughest of the 3 trimesters of pregnancy as normal movements, breathing and sleep all become harder. During the third pregnancy trimester, your baby will continue to grow and develop rapidly and begin changing position for the birth. The little one should weigh around 3.4 kgs and measure 19-21 inches long by the time of birth.

    The third trimester in pregnancy will bring around the following symptoms and changes: body aches, leaky breasts, frequent urination, vaginal discharge, shortness of breath, swelling and Braxton-Hicks contractions. By the end of your third pregnancy trimester, you may have gained a total of 10-15 kgs.

    You may also like: The Ultimate Guide to 4th Month Pregnancy Symptoms

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    Frequently Asked Questions about First, Second and Third Trimester

    1. What is The Best Pregnancy Trimester?

    The second trimester of pregnancy is often called the best trimester in pregnancy. Also referred to as the babymoon period or the golden period of pregnancy, the second pregnancy trimester is the most comfortable trimester for most women. Most of the unpleasant pregnancy symptoms begin to disappear and women experience higher energy levels, better sleep and little or no nausea.

    2. What Pregnancy Trimester is The Most Critical?

    The first trimester is the most critical of the three trimesters of pregnancy. Although you may not show much on the outside but inside, your body is undergoing major changes. It’s also during the first trimester in pregnancy that the fetus is the most vulnerable. Try eating a healthy diet, taking prenatal vitamins and staying off of any harmful foods or environment to ensure crossing this crucial milestone in your pregnancy.

    3. What Pregnancy Trimester is The Hardest or The Most Painful?

    Most women consider the first trimester of pregnancy to be the hardest as their body is undergoing a major transformation. Additionally, the onset of pregnancy symptoms like nausea and vomiting, breast tenderness, frequent urination and extreme fatigue doesn’t make it any easier. As a result, it takes some getting used to in order to brace through this hard and painful first pregnancy trimester.

    4. What Pregnancy Trimester is The Longest?

    The third trimester of pregnancy is considered to be the longest as it begins in week 27 and lasts until you give birth. It can also be the shortest trimester depending on how eager your baby is to come into the world. If your pregnancy lasts longer than 42 weeks, it is called post-term or past due.

    5. What Are Signs of Healthy Pregnancy?

    Surprisingly, the most unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy are some of the signs of a healthy pregnancy. Sore and enlarged breasts, increased vaginal discharge, nausea and exhaustion are all signs of a healthy pregnancy as they indicate a surge of pregnancy hormones in the body and that the body is adapting well to pregnancy.

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    6. What Are the Signs of Unhealthy Pregnancy?

    Some of the warning signs of an unhealthy pregnancy include bleeding, severe nausea and vomiting, a significant decline in fetal activity, a persistent & severe headache, sudden swelling on the face, hands & legs and visual disturbances. In case you notice any of these signs, call your doctor immediately.


    1. Fowler JR, Mahdy H, Jack BW. Pregnancy. (2022). In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing

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    Written by

    Anupama Chadha

    Anupama Chadha, born and raised in Delhi is a content writer who has written extensively for industries such as HR, Healthcare, Finance, Retail and Tech.

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