If you’ve been dreaming of motherhood, finding out you are pregnant can seem surreal. As your pregnancy progresses, aches and pains might put a bit of a damper on your excitement, but with each milestone the joy of being closer and closer to meeting your baby can hit home.
We know what you’re thinking: What are these milestones and when do they occur?
Every pregnancy is different and every mother will have their own unique memories, but we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite pregnancy milestones you may experience. We hope you’ll consider these special times to stop and smell the pregnancy roses.
Experiencing first pregnancy symptoms
For many women, missing their period is the first sign that they may be pregnant. However, other moms-to-be experience morning sickness very early on or battle some telltale mood swings.
While feeling nauseous and being extra emotional may not seem like something to celebrate, if you’ve been hoping to have a little one, these first pregnancy symptoms can be cause for great joy.
Getting a positive pregnancy test
Once you think it’s possible you could be pregnant, most people want to know for sure right away! Home pregnancy tests rely on rising hCG levels in your urine to determine whether you may be pregnant.
How early in your pregnancy you can get accurate test results depends on the particular pregnancy test, but the week after your missed period is a common time for hCG levels to be high enough to register positive.
Having your first prenatal appointment
Many expecting parents have their first prenatal appointment around 8 weeks into their pregnancy. After the questions, exam, and blood work, the fact that you’re pregnant can really hit home!
Hearing your baby’s heartbeat
Vaginal ultrasound can detect a baby’s heartbeat as early as 5 1/2 to 6 weeks into the pregnancy. Hopefully your doctor will be able to pick up your baby’s heartbeat during the first ultrasound, but if it’s not possible to hear the heartbeat, your doctor may ask you to return in a week or so to try again.
By weeks 6 and 7, the heartbeat should be between 90 and 110 beats per minute (bpm) and by 9 weeks the heartbeat should have risen to 140 to 170 bpm.
Seeing your baby on ultrasound
Depending on your medical history and your doctor’s preference, you may have the first ultrasound at 7 1/2 to 8 weeks into your pregnancy. This early in the pregnancy a transvaginal ultrasound will be performed.
Some doctors don’t order the first ultrasound until 11 to 14 weeks though. As your pregnancy progresses you’re likely to have an abdominal ultrasound.
If you have a history of miscarriage, fertility issues, or have had a difficult pregnancy in the past, your doctor may request an early first ultrasound at 6 weeks gestation. This will give an opportunity to confirm the fetus’ location and size.
Telling friends or family you’re expecting
While some people choose to wait so that there is a decreased chance of miscarriage, others can’t wait to phone everyone in the extended family with the good news a baby is on the way right after the positive pregnancy test.
There are also endless ways to spread the good news to your social circle. How you tell others can make for priceless memories!
Buying first baby item
You may not have even been pregnant yet when you bought the first item for your future child — or you may have avoided buying anything until the final weeks of your pregnancy.
There are all kinds of things you may choose to purchase, but whatever you purchase will likely hold a special place in your heart and your child’s nursery.
Craving — or avoiding! — foods
Many women experience pregnancy cravings and food aversions as early as the first trimester. These typically pick up during the second trimester and decline in the third trimester.
While many women crave sweets, carbs, or salty items, every pregnancy and woman is unique. Keeping notes of the cravings and aversions you experience can make a fun memory to look back on after you give birth.
Reaching the second trimester
The second trimester spans from weeks 13 to 27. Since this is the trimester when many women start to really notice their body physically changing, it can be a time when your pregnancy seems very real.
Reaching the second trimester may be a cause for celebration as morning sickness and some other first trimester symptoms ease up.
Finding out the sex
There are many ways to find out the sex of your baby, and depending on the method you decide upon, you can find out at a variety of different points!
If your pregnancy began by having an embryo implanted, you’ve likely known the sex of your baby since before you were even pregnant. Alternatively, you may have decided to go a completely different route and not find out the sex until after the baby is delivered!
Ultrasound may allow you to find out the sex. Most doctors determine this at an ultrasound done between 18 to 21 weeks, but it can be done as early as 14 weeks.
Wearing maternity clothes
By the time you’re several months into your pregnancy, you may find that your body is starting to change enough that your normal clothing no longer feels comfortable. Of course, this may happen much earlier depending on your body type and if this is a second or third pregnancy.
While adjusting to your different shape may bring a lot of emotions, maternity clothing is sure to bring a sigh of relief after the tightness of your normal pants! This also means you’re probably showing more, and others may notice your pregnancy.
Feeling baby move
Your baby has been moving since the end of the first trimester, but you probably won’t feel it until at the earliest 13 weeks. (And that’s typically only if you’ve been pregnant before and know what those little flutters are!)
As the second trimester advances, you’re likely to feel stronger and stronger kicks. This can be uncomfortable, but also extremely reassuring that your baby is still doing well.
Having someone else feel baby move
Your partner will typically be able to detect movement a few weeks after you do. If they’re placing their hand on your stomach, they may feel the baby squirming around as early as 20 weeks. (As time goes on, they’ll also be able to see movement from the outside, which can be another exciting moment.)
By around 25 weeks, your baby should begin to respond to familiar voices, and your partner may even be able to evoke a few kicks just by talking to the baby!
Reaching the third trimester
Once you reach week 28, you can celebrate reaching the third trimester. Your baby will be full term by the end of week 37, and that’s a major accomplishment!
Celebrating your baby-to-be
Two words… baby shower! This event can be a fun opportunity to get together with all the special people in your life. There are no hard-and-fast rules about when this celebration should be held or even what it should look like, so the most important thing is just to enjoy this special time.
However, if circumstances don’t allow for a shower, don’t feel like you’ve missed your chance to celebrate. Taking photos, journaling, and otherwise documenting your pregnancy is a lasting way to celebrate your journey to parenthood.
Reaching your due date
If you haven’t gone into labor by the time your due date rolls around, you may be ready to throw in the towel. It can seem like you’ve been pregnant for forever.
It’s important to remember that your due date is an estimated delivery date (based on either the date of your last period or data from an ultrasound), and your baby will be here very soon. While
Feeling labor begin
Whether your labor begins with a gradual build-up of contractions, a gush of water as your amniotic sac breaks, or a scheduled appointment for induction or a C-section, it’s all part of your unique labor story.
The birthing experience is different for every person (and different every time you give birth), so you may feel lots of anticipation leading up to the beginning of labor. When you realize your labor has begun, you may feel extreme excitement.
Meeting your new baby
Assuming everything goes well, you’re likely to find yourself with a little baby bundle on your chest within minutes of delivery. This can be a lot to take in!
You may find yourself crying, exhausted, confused, or just madly in love. Whatever emotions you feel, you may want someone to capture this on camera, so you’ll always have it recorded.
Of course the excitement is just as real and powerful if your meeting is delayed or not what you expected. Whether you carry and deliver your baby yourself, experience your first meeting thanks to surrogacy or adoption, or however your story goes, the moment you see your child for the first time is a special one.
Pregnancy may not always be glamorous, but there can be some extremely memorable moments along the way to meeting your baby.
From first kicks to telling your family and finding out the sex, it’s important to take a moment and celebrate all the little milestones along the way.
Don’t forget to document these milestones, either! Someday your little one will want to hear all about them.