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Illustration by Alyssa Kiefer

Pregnancy is an exciting time of big life changes, new experiences, and the glow of new life. It’s also a time when your body goes through lots of transformations.

Here is an outline of what changes you can expect to experience as your pregnancy progresses, as well as guidance on when to schedule doctor appointments and tests.

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Illustration by Alyssa Kiefer | Infographic by Maya Chastain

Your pregnancy due date (expected day of delivery) is calculated by adding 280 days (40 weeks) to the first day of your last menstrual period.

The fetus begins developing at the time of conception, and your body begins producing pregnancy hormones.

As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, it’s time to cut out any unhealthy habits and start taking prenatal vitamins. You may also want to take folic acid supplements, which are important for fetal brain development.

Before the end of your first trimester, select a doctor or midwife who you’ll see throughout your pregnancy.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect. Note that every pregnancy is different and your experience may vary.

Your body changes a lot throughout your second trimester. Going from feeling excited to overwhelmed is not unusual.

Your doctor or midwife will see you once every 4 weeks to measure the baby’s growth, check the heartbeat, and perform blood or urine tests to make sure that you and the baby are healthy.

By the end of your second trimester, your belly has grown significantly, and people have started to notice that you’re pregnant.

You’re almost there! You’ll begin to gain significant weight during your third trimester as your baby continues to grow.

As you begin to approach labor, your doctor or midwife may also do a physical exam to see if your cervix is thinning or beginning to open.

Your healthcare provider may recommend a nonstress test to check on the baby if you don’t go into labor by your due date.

If you or the baby are at risk, labor may be induced using medication, or in an emergency situation doctors may perform a cesarean delivery.

  • Avoid smoking. Quitting smoking is the single most preventable cause of illness and death among mothers and infants.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption. When you drink alcohol, so does your developing baby. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant.
  • Avoid marijuana. The chemicals in marijuana pass through your system to your baby and can harm their development.
  • Learn the ins and outs of a healthy pregnancy eating plan. Protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and more are essential.
  • Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Folic acid can help prevent some major birth abnormalities.
  • Seek help for depression. Depression is common and treatable. If you think you have depression, seek treatment from your health care provider as soon as possible.
  • Talk to your doctor about traveling. Traveling might cause problems during pregnancy, particularly air travel later in pregnancy, so discuss your options with your doctor.
  • See your doctor before starting or stopping any medication. If you are planning to become pregnant, discuss your current medicines with your doctor, midwife, or pharmacist.
  • Get up to date on all of your vaccines. This will help protect you and your developing baby against serious diseases.
  • Get a flu shot. The flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women of reproductive age who are not pregnant.
  • Try to reach a weight that is healthy for you before getting pregnant. Having obesity increases the risk for serious birth abnormalities and other pregnancy complications.
  • Learn about the benefits of breastfeeding. Consider taking a class to help you prepare.