The process of pregnancy unfolds week by week, bringing many changes and milestones. Here we explore what happens in pregnancy each week, so you have a better handle on what’s happening in your or your partner’s body. 

Weeks 1-4

The pregnancy begins with the fertilization of an egg, leading to a tiny cluster of cells called a blastocyst. The blastocyst implants itself into the wall of the uterus, then placenta starts to develop in response to hormone signals. At this stage, the expectant parent may experience early signs of pregnancy; fatigue, breast tenderness, and a missed period.

Weeks 5-8

By the fifth week, the embryo’s major organs and systems begin to form. At around six weeks, the embryo is only about pea size. You might have an ultrasound scan, which you can undertake at, to confirm the pregnancy, check for the presence of a gestational sac, and detect the baby’s heartbeat.

Weeks 9-12

During weeks nine to twelve, the embryo transitions into a fetus. The organs continue to grow and genitalia start to form. By the end of the twelfth week, the fetus is approximately three inches long. 

Weeks 13-16

The fetus now undergoes rapid growth. The baby’s movements become more pronounced, and its external features, such as eyebrows and eyelashes, start to develop. The expectant parent may start to feel the baby’s movements, known as “quickening.” 

Weeks 17-20

Between weeks seventeen and twenty, the limbs become more defined. The mother may start to feel more distinct and regular movements as the baby becomes stronger. Around week eighteen, a detailed ultrasound scan may be conducted to evaluate the baby’s growth.

Weeks 21-24

The baby’s senses become more developed. It can hear sounds from the outside world and may even respond to familiar voices. The baby’s lungs continue to mature, and fine hair called lanugo covers its body. A mid-pregnancy ultrasound scan may be performed to evaluate the placenta and amniotic fluid levels.

Weeks 25-28

During this period, the baby’s brain rapidly develops, and its eyelids open. The baby gains more weight and starts to store fat, which helps with temperature regulation after birth. The expectant parent may experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which are practice contractions that prepare the body for labor. 

Weeks 29-32

As the baby continues to grow, its movements may become more restricted due to limited space in the womb. The baby’s bones are hardening, and its senses, such as taste and touch, are further developing.

Weeks 33-36

During weeks thirty-three to thirty-six, the baby continues to gain weight and fine-tune its bodily functions. It may start to shift into a head-down position in preparation for birth. The expectant parent may experience increased pressure in the pelvic area as the baby descends into the pelvis. 

Weeks 37-40

The final weeks of pregnancy mark the full-term stage. The expectant parent may experience signs of labor, such as contractions, the release of the mucus plug, and the rupture of the amniotic sac. An ultrasound scan may be performed to confirm the baby’s position, assess the placenta’s health, and monitor the overall well-being of both the baby and the expectant parent.

In conclusion, pregnancy is an incredible journey characterised by significant changes and milestones. Week by week, the baby grows and develops, with each stage bringing new wonders and preparations for its arrival. Through regular prenatal care and the use of ultrasound scans, healthcare providers ensure the health and well-being of both the baby and the expectant parent, creating a nurturing environment for the precious life growing within.

By Manali