Photo by João Paulo de Souza Oliveira from Pexels
You know how it goes! Like mother, like a child. It’s not just the looks and genetics we’re talking about. Some people despise the possibility they become like their mother, and yet they do. While others look up to their mothers for many reasons, and so develop those same admirable characteristics.
It makes sense if you think about it--the first nine months of a human’s life are spent snuggled up in the warm comfort of a mother’s womb, nourished by every nutrient that enters the mother’s mouth, excited by every kiss on the belly, and moved by every emotion she feels. It’s likely, despite your current relationship with the mother figure, your mom is the closest person to you that you will ever have!
Together, you and mom, or you and baby, experience a complete transformative experience together, like a caterpillar and a cocoon. So, as a mother, it is important to understand the mother-baby connection through each step of the pregnancy process.
Your belly stages during pregnancy reflect the stages of the soon-to-be newborn growing inside of you! Based on these stages, as well as the trimester, you can be aware of what’s going on internally and how you should be responding externally.
The first trimester, 1-12 weeks
During the exciting initial stages of your pregnancy, you might be experiencing some rounding of the belly, especially towards the final weeks of this trimester. The belly is more likely to be bloated than to be the actual “baby bump” you are expecting, so your belly may rise and fall to flatness again as your body adjusts to the change in digestion.
Just as your body is changing slowly, but surely, so is the baby’s, but at a much faster rate. The fertilized egg will become the amniotic sac, which becomes the embryo and attaches to the newly developed placenta, which helps to move nutrients to your baby. This pair will eventually become the fetus. Everything from the eyes, ears, and other facial features, to the heart and blood circulation, as well as the brain and nervous system, are all taking shape and action.
According to Cleveland Clinic, your baby will be about the size of a grain of rice by the end of the first month or four weeks. At six weeks, it is possible your baby’s heart may be visible. By the last weeks of the first trimester, your baby will already have started developing nails! You will continue to be amazed at each doctor’s check-up at how fast the baby is growing inside of you. It’s hard to believe you still have six months to go, and the fun has just begun!
The second trimester, 12-27 weeks
Your second trimester is much more obvious to you and everyone around you what’s growing inside. You can expect your belly to take the ideal shape, revealing your pregnancy to the world! Your baby becomes more active in these weeks, and you can feel him or her moving around more frequently.
As your body is fine-tuning the shape to make room for the baby, your baby’s body is also developing the details. Eyelashes, eyebrows, hair, etc. are all developed in the second trimester, as are the reproductive organs, which allows you to determine your baby’s gender if you wish!
Before your baby is born, it grows and sheds two layers: fine hair around the body, as well as their vernix caseosa, a white gooey substance that may protect them from the amniotic fluids. As this happens, you will likely be developing and shedding many thoughts, lifestyle habits, and other external factors as you go through the pregnancy process.
As your body increases in size, you may notice a decrease in energy and a desire to rest more often the closer you get to the third trimester. On the inside, your baby is getting more energized and active as a result of your body directing your energy to him or her. You will feel their movement increase, which is a really exciting experience for parents.
In addition to movement, the baby also develops hearing in the second trimester and responds to its senses. You may similarly experience extra sensitivity to things like bright light, loud and high-pitched sounds, and pregnancy pains, like the skin stretching. Your baby also experiences these sensitivities with you! If you pay special attention to the movement in certain scenarios, you can spot when your baby is irritated by something (such as construction outside your window) or enjoying it (like the casual band at a local restaurant).
In this time, you might feel immense excitement as you get to understand your baby’s quirks, feel its movement, and continue strengthening the mother-baby bond. You can also look forward to the first trimester's symptoms, such as morning sickness, to dissipate, so you can focus on and enjoy your baby’s development more.
The third trimester, 27-40 weeks
The final stage of pregnancy will be exceptionally crazy emotionally, as you and your family are mentally and physically preparing for this new human to be born. Your stomach will reach its peak stretch and you might reach other peaks as well with your emotions. As your uterus takes up most of the space, your baby’s development might require more frequent urination and a sensation of being stretched like taffy! The good news, you are almost complete with the process.
At this part of the process, it’s important to note where your baby is in development. Your baby's eyes are developing vision, while the lungs are also maturing. The brain is larger than it's ever been and eager to learn before entering this new world. Your emotions, although at an all-time high and fast-paced rollercoaster, will need to be kept in check! All humans are valid in their emotions and how they respond, so there is nothing to feel bad about, guilty, or ashamed of.
The point of understanding the signs of your baby's development is to help you prepare for each stage. By the second trimester, you should have a stress-relief routine and healthy emotional outlets developed, so you can manage your emotional rollercoaster when it takes off in the third trimester. Some ideas are meditation, yoga (for pregnant women), art therapy, and seeing a therapist.
Why is it so important to keep your emotions under control? In general, this is going to support your baby’s mental development. Again, like mother, like baby. A frantic, angry, or depressed mom will give birth to the like, while a calm, controlled, self-disciplined mom will give birth to the like. Which type of human do you prefer to bring into the world? Also, a mother who is under constant stress can give birth to a premature baby, who is underweight and hyperactive.
With that being said, no emotion should go repressed, because you can’t hide it from your baby! What stays inside, well, stays inside. What you can do, however, is let it be expressed naturally as it arises, without guilt or shame, and work extra hard to stay committed to the practices you have put in place for yourself. The outbreaks are inevitable in a woman whose hormones are constantly shifting, so ride the wave! Your baby will appreciate it.
Nine months can turn to ten if your baby is holding onto its comfortable stay in the womb, which is normal. Allowing it to take its course, rather than getting antsy or impatient will keep your stress levels at bay. When your baby stops moving so much, space has shrunk enough and you can expect a delivery to follow shortly! Super exciting!
A baby’s development is almost always somehow reflecting your own personal transformation, mentally or physically! Pregnancy, although a time to nurture the human being growing inside of you, is also a great opportunity, and often an inevitable one, to do some personal work. Whatever you take away from a pregnancy about yourself, your habits, and your desires in life, will be a great addition to understanding yourself and your baby as you transition into the next stages of your baby’s life: childhood, young adulthood, and even adulthood.
Once your baby, always your baby. What you see in them, is simply a reflection of yourself in many ways--good and bad! Whatever you like or don’t like, agree or disagree with, enjoy or not, can also be found within you, your spouse, and your family members. If you can hold onto that piece of information through childhood development, you will open a space for your child to mature with understanding and unconditional love.
This co-transformation will bring you and your child together inseparably, so it’s always a great idea to take the essential steps of forming a bond you both enjoy being a part of from day one, conception! Like mother, like baby, so be the person you want to be seen in the next generations of this world! You have the power in your hands to create massive transformation in you, your baby, and the world.