Pregnancy Month by Month

By Madhavi Gupta, M.D.

Pregnancy Overview

 

Healthy mama, healthy baby

Pregnancy can be a miraculous time in a woman’s life. Incredible things are happening in your body every day. You are growing a whole new person! Yet, no two pregnancies are the same. Don’t worry if you have symptoms your sister or friends didn’t have — or if you don’t have the ones they did. Taking good care of yourself is the best way to increase the odds of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

 

Something new every day

Both baby and mama go through a lot of changes from conception to birth. As your baby is growing and developing, your body is doing the work to make that development possible and adapting to your body’s changing demands. While some needs are consistent throughout a pregnancy’s term, some are especially critical at key stages. Knowing what your body needs is a great first step to feeling better and supporting your baby’s development. 

 

Your changing body

As your baby is developing, your body will go through amazing transformations that work in harmony with the needs of your growing baby. You may see skin differences, even blotches or acne, due to hormone changes. You may experience backaches and lightheadedness. Many women experience some constipation which can be helped with diet and good hydration. This is all part of the work your body is doing in this important lifestage.

You will experience metabolic changes. Protein and carbohydrate metabolisms are affected during pregnancy and it is common to develop maternal insulin resistance. In a normal pregnancy, maternal tissues become increasingly insensitive to insulin. In late pregnancy, the hormones estrogen, cortisol, and human placental lactogen can block insulin so that glucose stays in the blood and makes blood sugar levels go up.

Pregnant women experience adjustments in their endocrine system. Levels of progesterone and estrogens rise continuously throughout pregnancy. Estrogen produced by the placenta is essential for fetal well-being. You will experience an increase in human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG), which is produced by the placenta and maintains progesterone production by the corpus luteum.

Your body’s adaptations are accommodating your growing baby’s needs. It’s amazing how the female body naturally adjusts physiological and homeostatic mechanisms during pregnancy. Increases in blood sugar, breathing, and cardiac output are all required to ensure proper development.

You may notice you are more sleepy than usual, especially common during the first trimester. This is to be expected. Making a human takes some work and during this early period, the placenta is forming, your heart is pumping faster, and the body is making more blood. Hormones are flooding your body and progesterone levels are increasing. All of this can make you tired as your body prepares to nurture and protect your growing baby. 

Control what you can

Along with the excitement that expecting can bring, there are obstacles at every turn — including unhealthy food, hidden toxins, high stress levels, immune challenges, and difficulty sleeping — that can negatively impact your baby’s health.


The three most important areas
to consider when you’re trying to conceive and once pregnant are good nutrition, avoiding toxins, and making healthy lifestyle choices.

      1. Eat a Clean Diet. Drinking filtered water and eating minimally processed, whole organic foods is an excellent way to protect your health and support your baby’s optimal development. Experts agree that relying on diet alone to fulfill the nutritional demands of making a baby isn’t enough. The Mayo Clinic advises that women of reproductive age regularly take a prenatal multivitamin, whether they’re planning to get pregnant or not (1).

        In the month by month timeline below, we’ll guide you through which nutrients are most essential during pregnancy, why they are so important, and how to choose the best, most bioavailable forms of supplemental vitamins and minerals.

      2. Avoid Hidden Toxins. You probably already know that if you’re planning to conceive or are already pregnant, you need to quit smoking and avoid alcohol altogether. But cookware, cleaning products, and personal care products can all deliver hidden toxins. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Exposure to even small amounts during pregnancy, infancy, childhood, or puberty can lead to diseases (1).”

        The key here is to be aware without getting overwhelmed. Once you know the most pressing risks — from mercury in fish to phthalates in personal care products to triclosan in household cleaning products — you can learn how to mitigate them.

      3. Live Your Best Lifestyle. This means exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress when you can, taking steps to bolster your immunity, and getting enough sleep. There’s no better motivation than growing a little one inside of you to inspire better lifestyle choices.

        Bonus: Making healthy changes also benefits you, mama. Take diet, for example. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Studies have shown that substituting vegetable protein for animal protein before pregnancy can decrease the risk of gestational diabetes by about half (2).” 


    Extra Nutrients: 

    Because some of your baby’s most important development happens in the first few weeks after conception, it is ideal to start taking prenatal vitamins 3-6 months before you plan to conceive. Many of the nutrients important in the first trimester continue to be important throughout your pregnancy and even postpartum. Establishing a healthy routine early on sets you up for the best possible experience.

    Here’s to a healthy baby and a healthy you. You’ve got this!

     

    Nutrients that are important the entire pregnancy

    • Folate 
    • Vitamin B6
    • DHA / Omega 3 Fatty Acids
    • Choline
    • Vitamin D

       

      Folate

      During pregnancy, folate supports a baby’s healthy neural tube development and is very important in the early weeks. Recommended folate intake increases during pregnancy and breastfeeding to fuel rapid growth and help prevent neural tube defects in the fetus. 

      Folate is a critical nutrient for methylation, a vital process required for life. Demands for folate increase during pregnancy because of folate’s role in nucleic acid synthesis, the synthesis of DNA and RNA, which is essential for the growth and proliferation of all body cells (4). Folate also plays a role in the detoxification of cells in the brain and regulating homocysteine, a critical factor in heart and neurocognitive health. 

      Not only does the neural tube form at this early stage, but there is a critical window. The neural tube forms in the embryo between the 17th and 30th day after conception (4 to 6 weeks after the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period), and then closes. Folate supplementation prevents up to 70% of neural tube defects (NTDs).

      The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends a prenatal supplement for most pregnant women. Because folate is so important for healthy neural tube development, it’s an essential vitamin to look for in a prenatal multivitamin. But folate is important for mama, too. It goes beyond early development and can influence mood, sleep, memory, and more.

      Folate benefits include:

      • Supports healthy neurodevelopment 

      • Promotes energy production

      • Improves memory & brain processing speed

      • Supports the creation of DNA

      • Helps make neurotransmitters


      Forms of folate

      The form of folate matters. Types of folate include folic acid, folinic acid, food folate, and methylfolate. The benefits of folate, or vitamin B9, are well established. Yet even care practitioners can be unaware of how differently the distinctive forms of folate act in the body. It is important to seek out the right form. 

      Methylfolate is the active form found in our bodies. When you take methylfolate, your body can use it immediately because it doesn’t have to convert it to anything else. Learn more about the forms of folate.

       

      Vitamin B6

      Vitamin B6 during pregnancy is important for your baby's brain development and immune function. Some research suggests taking vitamin B6 may help reduce nausea during pregnancy. It is a water-soluble vitamin that your body needs for several functions. It’s significant to protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism, and the creation of red blood cells and neurotransmitters. 

      Vitamin B6 benefits include:

      • Helps make several neurotransmitters
      • Supports a healthy immune system
      • Promotes healthy blood vessels 

         

        Omega-3 fatty acids

        Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic fatty acid (DHA), are widely recognized to impact fetal and infant neurodevelopment. Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to a healthy memory, brain function, cellular and cardiovascular health, healthy immune function, and many more of the body’s processes. DHA in particular plays a big role in early brain growth and development.

        DHA makes up over 90% of the omega-3 fatty acids in your brain. It regulates neurogenesis (the formation of new brain cells called neurons), neurotrophic factor (regulates the growth of neurons), and synaptogenesis (the formation of connections between neurons). DHA is vital for the neurodevelopment of a baby’s brain, spinal cord, and eyes, all beginning to form in month one, making it especially important for pregnant mothers (5).

        DHA benefits include:

        • Plays a big role in early brain growth and development
        • Supports a healthy immune system
        • Promotes the formation of new brain cells
        • Contributes to the growth of brain cells
        • Needed for the connections between brain cells
        • Helps release serotonin for memory, sleep, mood, and behavior


        Without DHA, a baby's brain, spinal cord, and eyes cannot develop properly (6), so it's vital that you get enough of the nutrient throughout pregnancy. It also boosts mom’s mood, sleep, and memory (7, 8, 9).

         

        Choline

        Choline is vital during pregnancy and especially important during the initial stages of brain development. Several studies have demonstrated the positive effects of prenatal and perinatal choline on neurodevelopment (32, 33). It plays a pivotal role in maintaining the structural and functional integrity of cellular membranes. Choline also regulates cholinergic signaling in the brain via the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Choline is related to memory and cognitive functions at different stages of development (10).

        In a study on choline’s critical role during fetal development, the Annual Review of Nutrition reported that choline influences stem cell proliferation and apoptosis, thereby altering brain and spinal cord structure and function and decreasing risk for neural tube defects, and influencing lifelong memory function (11).

        Choline benefits include:

        • Boosts attention and memory
        • Supports prenatal neurodevelopment
        • Promotes cell to cell communication
        • Improves gene expression
        • Helps muscle movement and liver function 

           

          Vitamin D

          Along with vitamin D's more well-known benefits, like supporting immunity (12), (13), and helping to build healthy bones, it can be especially supportive to you when on your pregnancy journey (14, 15). The vitamin D receptor is found in 900 genes in the human body, an appreciable part of the human genome. The brain is filled with vitamin D receptors and proteins that are turned on by vitamin D. 

          Elevating vitamin D levels can help support a full-term birth. While vitamin D repletion during pregnancy minimizes the risk of certain adverse outcomes (e.g., preterm birth, asthma, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes), the mechanisms of how these processes occur are not yet fully understood (16). 

          Vitamin D is important from the beginning of pregnancy. Human studies have shown that poor vitamin-D status prenatally is associated with adverse neuropsychiatric outcomes (17,18). Two recent longitudinal studies showed a link between maternal vitamin-D status in early pregnancy and delayed neurocognitive development (19).

          Growing bones need vitamin D because vitamin D regulates minerals necessary for healthy bone growth and promotes calcium homeostasis (42). 

          Vitamin D is important for mama as well. Vitamin D boosts immunity and mood and can modulate innate and adaptive immune responses. A deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection (20).

          Vitamin D benefits include:

          • Builds nerve cells
          • Supports nerve function and communication between brain cells
          • Boosts immunity and mood
          • Regulates minerals necessary for healthy bone growth


          Look for ways to add more of all these important nutrients to your diet. For information on foods rich in folate, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, choline, and vitamin D, see our article on diet and nutrition during pregnancy. Prenatal multivitamins can help you meet these needs, especially for nutrients that are hard to get enough of through diet alone.

           

          Month-by-Month Timeline

          Let’s walk through what is happening in every stage of a typical pregnancy and how you can care for yourself and your baby by supplying the best nutrition to support healthy development.

           

          What's happening to baby:

          The first month after conception is one of the most critical stages. After an egg has been fertilized and implants into the uterine lining, the amniotic sac forms around it. This sac holds the amniotic fluid and cushions the embryo. Month one is also when the placenta forms. The placenta brings nutrition and support to the baby from the mother. The face and eyes begin to develop, and the heart begins to beat. By the end of week 4, your baby is slightly smaller than a grain of rice.  

           

          Neural tube development

          Neural tube development occurs right away which is why early multivitamin supplementation, especially folate, is important. As Mayo Clinic advises, “The baby’s neural tube, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops during the first month of pregnancy — perhaps before you even know that you’re pregnant (3).” 

           

          What’s happening with mom:

          The end of this month is when many moms-to-be discover they are pregnant. The first few weeks you are not technically pregnant yet as ovulation occurs near the middle of the month.

           

          Important nutrients in month one

          • Folate 
          • Vitamin B6
          • DHA / Omega 3 Fatty Acids
          • Choline
          • Vitamin D

             

            Folate

            During pregnancy, folate supports a baby’s healthy neural tube development and is very important in the early weeks. Recommended folate intake increases during pregnancy and breastfeeding to fuel rapid growth and help prevent neural tube defects in the fetus. 

            Folate is a critical nutrient for methylation, a vital process required for life. Demands for folate increase during pregnancy because of folate’s role in nucleic acid synthesis, the synthesis of DNA and RNA, which is essential for the growth and proliferation of all body cells (4). Folate also plays a role in the detoxification of cells in the brain and regulating homocysteine, a critical factor in heart and neurocognitive health. 

            Not only does the neural tube form at this early stage, but there is a critical window. The neural tube forms in the embryo between the 17th and 30th day after conception (4 to 6 weeks after the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period), and then closes. Folate supplementation prevents up to 70% of neural tube defects (NTDs).

            The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends a prenatal supplement for most pregnant women. Because folate is so important for healthy neural tube development, it’s an essential vitamin to look for in a prenatal multivitamin. But folate is important for mama, too. It goes beyond early development and can influence mood, sleep, memory, and more.

            Folate benefits include:

            • Supports healthy neurodevelopment 

            • Promotes energy production

            • Improves memory & brain processing speed

            • Supports the creation of DNA

            • Helps make neurotransmitters

                  Forms of folate

                  The form of folate matters. Types of folate include folic acid, folinic acid, food folate, and methylfolate. The benefits of folate, or vitamin B9, are well established. Yet even care practitioners can be unaware of how differently the distinctive forms of folate act in the body. It is important to seek out the right form. 

                  Methylfolate is the active form found in our bodies. When you take methylfolate, your body can use it immediately because it doesn’t have to convert it to anything else. Learn more about the forms of folate.

                   

                  Vitamin B6

                  Vitamin B6 during pregnancy is important for your baby's brain development and immune function. Some research suggests taking vitamin B6 may help reduce nausea during pregnancy. It is a water-soluble vitamin that your body needs for several functions. It’s significant to protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism, and the creation of red blood cells and neurotransmitters.

                  Vitamin B6 benefits include:

                  • Helps make several neurotransmitters
                  • Supports a healthy immune system
                  • Promotes healthy blood vessels 

                     

                    Omega-3 fatty acids

                    Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic fatty acid (DHA), are widely recognized to impact fetal and infant neurodevelopment. Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to a healthy memory, brain function, cellular and cardiovascular health, healthy immune function, and many more of the body’s processes. DHA in particular plays a big role in early brain growth and development.

                    DHA makes up over 90% of the omega-3 fatty acids in your brain. It regulates neurogenesis (the formation of new brain cells called neurons), neurotrophic factor (regulates the growth of neurons), and synaptogenesis (the formation of connections between neurons). DHA is vital for the neurodevelopment of a baby’s brain, spinal cord, and eyes, all beginning to form in month one, making it especially important for pregnant mothers (5).

                    DHA benefits include:

                    • Plays a big role in early brain growth and development
                    • Supports a healthy immune system
                    • Promotes the formation of new brain cells
                    • Contributes to the growth of brain cells
                    • Needed for the connections between brain cells
                    • Helps release serotonin for memory, sleep, mood, and behavior
                      Without DHA, a baby's brain, spinal cord, and eyes cannot develop properly (6), so it's vital that you get enough of the nutrient throughout pregnancy. It also boosts mom’s mood, sleep, and memory (7, 8, 9).

                       

                      Choline

                      Choline is vital during pregnancy and especially important during the initial stages of brain development. Several studies have demonstrated the positive effects of prenatal and perinatal choline on neurodevelopment (32, 33). It plays a pivotal role in maintaining the structural and functional integrity of cellular membranes. Choline also regulates cholinergic signaling in the brain via the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Choline is related to memory and cognitive functions at different stages of development (10).

                      In a study on choline’s critical role during fetal development, the Annual Review of Nutrition reported that choline influences stem cell proliferation and apoptosis, thereby altering brain and spinal cord structure and function and decreasing risk for neural tube defects, and influencing lifelong memory function (11).

                      Choline benefits include:

                      • Boosts attention and memory
                      • Supports prenatal neurodevelopment
                      • Promotes cell to cell communication
                      • Improves gene expression
                      • Helps muscle movement and liver function 

                         

                        Vitamin D

                        Along with vitamin D's more well-known benefits, like supporting immunity (12), (13), and helping to build healthy bones, it can be especially supportive to you when on your pregnancy journey (14, 15). The vitamin D receptor is found in 900 genes in the human body, an appreciable part of the human genome. The brain is filled with vitamin D receptors and proteins that are turned on by vitamin D. 

                        Elevating vitamin D levels can help support a full-term birth. While vitamin D repletion during pregnancy minimizes the risk of certain adverse outcomes (e.g., preterm birth, asthma, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes), the mechanisms of how these processes occur are not yet fully understood (16). 

                        Vitamin D is important from the beginning of pregnancy. Human studies have shown that poor vitamin-D status prenatally is associated with adverse neuropsychiatric outcomes (17,18). Two recent longitudinal studies showed a link between maternal vitamin-D status in early pregnancy and delayed neurocognitive development (19).

                        Growing bones need vitamin D because vitamin D regulates minerals necessary for healthy bone growth and promotes calcium homeostasis (42). 

                        Vitamin D is important for mama as well. Vitamin D boosts immunity and mood and can modulate innate and adaptive immune responses. A deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection (20).

                        Vitamin D benefits include:

                        • Builds nerve cells
                        • Supports nerve function and communication between brain cells
                        • Boosts immunity and mood
                        • Regulates minerals necessary for healthy bone growth

                          Look for ways to add more of all these important nutrients to your diet. For information on foods rich in folate, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, choline, and vitamin D, see our article on diet and nutrition during pregnancy. Prenatal multivitamins can help you meet these needs, especially for nutrients that are hard to get enough of through diet alone.

                           

                           

                          What's happening to baby:

                          During the second month, your baby grows buds that will eventually become limbs and the face continues developing. Bone starts to replace cartilage. The embryo’s organs begin to take shape as the brain, sensory organs, and digestive tract begin to form. By the end of month two, your baby is about 1 inch long. Usually at around 6 weeks is when you might hear your baby’s heartbeat with an ultrasound. 

                           

                          Brain development

                          Sections of the brain are forming during this time, developing into the five different regions: the cerebrum, cerebellum, brain stem, pituitary gland, and hypothalamus. However, the first electrical brain activity doesn’t begin to occur until around week six. This is when the first synapses develop and the neurons begin to fire and communicate, although the activity is still unorganized.

                          Once the neural tube closes, it begins to shape into a curve and bulges into three sections known as the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain. The section that will turn into your baby's spinal cord sits just behind the hindbrain. Depressions form that will eventually become your baby's nostrils. The beginnings of what will be the retinas are also developing.

                           

                          What’s happening with mom:

                          You will likely feel increased tiredness. Pregnancy fatigue is caused by the hormones flooding your body. You may also notice a need to urinate more frequently along with heartburn or nausea and vomiting (morning sickness). Try to get extra rest and remember to drink plenty of fluids .

                           

                          Important nutrients in month two

                          All of the nutrients critical in the first month continue to be important as you move into the second. Iron needs increase as well and calcium plays a role.

                          • Methylfolate 
                          • Vitamin B6
                          • DHA
                          • Choline
                          • Vitamin D
                          • Iron
                          • Calcium

                             

                            Iron

                            Iron deficiency rates are highest for young women, infants, and children under the age of two years old. Without it, the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen to make energy. 

                            During pregnancy, plasma volume and red cell mass expand due to dramatic increases in maternal red blood cell production (21). As a result of this expansion and to meet the needs of the fetus and placenta, the amount of iron that women need increases during pregnancy. These higher iron demands make the risk of iron deficiency much higher. Iron deficiency during pregnancy increases the risk of maternal and infant mortality, premature birth, and low birth weight (22).

                            Supporting baby’s development takes a lot of red blood cells, and iron is important to help provide extra support for red blood cell production (23), attention span (24), and your body’s immune response. Proper iron levels can improve attention span, which is helpful if you experience mom brain during pregnancy. Micronutrient deficiencies related to iodine and iron are linked to cognitive impairments such as attention span, intelligence, and sensory perception, as well as to potential changes associated with emotions and behavior, often directly related to the presence of iron deficiency anemia (25).

                            Iron benefits include:

                            • Supports learning and memory
                            • Helps make red blood cells (26)
                            • Improves attention span (27)
                            • Boosts energy
                            • Supports your body’s immune response

                               

                              Calcium 

                              Adequate calcium during the first trimester supports fetal growth and ensures transmission of nerve impulses, development of muscles, and a strong heart, besides building stronger bones and teeth. 

                              Calcium benefits include:

                              • Essential for strong bones and teeth
                              • Helps grow a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles
                              • Lowers the risk of pre-eclampsia (in 2nd trimester)

                                  

                                 

                                What’s happening to baby:

                                The buds that formed in month two begin to grow into limbs during the third month. Hands, feet, fingers, and toes become well developed. External ears begin to form and teeth begin their development, as do fingernails and toenails. Reproductive organs begin to develop but can’t yet be determined on an ultrasound or sonogram. By the end of the 3rd month, all organs and extremities are present and baby weighs about an ounce and is approximately 4 inches long.

                                By the tenth week of pregnancy, your baby's head has become more round. At the eleventh week baby's head makes up about half of its length. The body will begin to catch up as you move into the second trimester.

                                 

                                What’s happening with mom:

                                Your uterus begins growing when you become pregnant but at the end of month three it reaches the top of your pelvis. If you have experienced a lot of morning sickness or grown averse to certain foods, you may have even lost a few pounds rather than gained at this point. This is common and nothing to be concerned with either way.

                                 

                                Important nutrients in month three

                                All of the nutrients critical in the first two months continue to be essential and iodine becomes important.

                                • Methylfolate
                                • Vitamin B6
                                • DHA
                                • Choline
                                • Vitamin D
                                • Iron
                                • Calcium
                                • Iodine

                                  Iodine is an integral part of the thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3), necessary for normal growth and development. Beginning in the second half of the first trimester the fetus requires an adequate supply for neurodevelopment. Severe iodine deficiency can result in damage to the developing brain.

                                  Around the beginning of the second trimester, the fetal thyroid begins to produce hormones. But the reserves of the fetal gland are low, so maternal thyroid hormones are needed to contribute to the fetal concentrations until birth. In order to produce enough thyroid hormones to meet both your own and your baby's requirements, a 50% increase in iodine intake is recommended. 

                                  Iodine benefits include:

                                  • Helps brain and nervous system development
                                  • Maintains normal thyroid function
                                  • Helps to prevent intellectual disability

                                    Iodine and iron have important roles but note that some women are sensitive to iron, or have thyroid needs for which they must limit their iodine intake. For those reasons, they may need to take a multivitamin that is iodine and iron-free.

                                     

                                    What’s happening to baby:

                                    Many things happen during month four. When you make a prenatal healthcare visit, you’ll be able to hear the heartbeat clearly through a Doppler. 

                                    Finer details begin to fill in as baby’s hair, eyelids, eyelashes, and nails develop, and the teeth become denser. Although you won’t yet detect it, baby begins to stretch, yawn, suck their thumb, and move. This is the point at which reproductive organs are developed enough to be visible on an ultrasound. This is also the month that baby’s nervous system develops. By the end of the 4th month, your baby is about 6 inches long and weighs 4 ounces.

                                     

                                    What’s happening with mom:

                                    Welcome to the second trimester! Many moms find this to be a return to feeling more like themselves again as pregnancy nausea wanes. Energy levels tend to rise and you may feel less like napping. 

                                     

                                    Important nutrients in month four

                                    As you move into the second trimester, all of the nutrients from the first three months continue to be important, along with zinc.

                                    • Methylfolate
                                    • Vitamin B6
                                    • DHA
                                    • Choline
                                    • Vitamin D
                                    • Iron
                                    • Calcium
                                    • Iodine
                                    • Zinc

                                      Zinc

                                      Zinc is a trace mineral present within all bodily tissues and needed for healthy cell division. Our brain contains a significant amount of zinc, which is a cofactor for more than 300 enzymes. Zinc contributes to brain cell processing, promotes communication between brain cells, and improves learning, thinking, and reasoning. It provides the basis for the functioning of more than 2000 transcription factors and is necessary for memory formation and learning processes in the brain (28).

                                      Antioxidant vitamins and trace elements (including zinc) counteract potential damage caused to cellular tissues and modulate immune cell function, helping maintain an effective immune response (29). This is especially important during pregnancy and lactation when our bodies have additional micronutrient demands needed to support immune function.

                                      Zinc may also help reduce incidence of preterm labor. Research trials showed evidence for a 14% relative reduction in preterm birth for zinc compared with a placebo (30).

                                      Zinc is a cofactor in enzymes that mediate protein and nucleic acid biochemistry (31). Fetal zinc deficiency results in decreased brain DNA, RNA, and protein content (32). Studies suggest that zinc is particularly important for brain development, particularly in the medial temporal lobe, frontal lobe, and cerebellum(33).

                                      Zinc benefits include:

                                      • Supports a healthy immune system
                                      • Contributes to brain cell processing
                                      • Promotes communication between brain cells
                                      • Improves learning, thinking, and reasoning
                                      • Plays an important role in fertility
                                      • Reduces chances of preeclampsia and preterm labor

                                         

                                        Calcium

                                        During the second trimester, calcium may reduce the risk of preeclampsia, as the nutrient aids muscle contraction and helps in regulating blood pressure.

                                         

                                        What’s happening to baby:

                                        Hair is growing on the baby’s head and there is a thin hair called lanugo covering the shoulders and back. Vernix caseosa is a thick substance that develops about this time to protect the baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid. Baby will shed this protective layer before being born. By the end of the 5th month, your baby is about 10 inches long and can weigh anywhere from .5 lbs – 1 lb.

                                         

                                        Brain development

                                        During the second trimester, your baby begins to practice essential functions as the brain directs the diaphragm and chest muscles to contract. This is a rehearsal of the breathing motion. The first sucking and swallowing impulses also begin. By 21 weeks, your baby's natural swallowing reflexes allow several ounces of amniotic fluid to be swallowed on a daily basis.

                                         

                                        What’s happening with mom:

                                        The fifth month can be an exciting time as this is often the first time you feel the baby move. You might also notice your heart beating a little faster from the expanded blood volume. Over the course of your pregnancy plasma and blood volume increase and lead to changes in heart rate and blood pressure. You’ll be making more trips to the bathroom thanks to your kidneys working extra hard. 

                                        Important nutrients in month five

                                        This is a crucial time to continue supplying important nutrients as baby’s growth continues and brain, heart, lungs, and nervous system develop in their functioning.

                                        • Methylfolate
                                        • Vitamin B6
                                        • DHA
                                        • Choline
                                        • Vitamin D
                                        • Iron
                                        • Calcium
                                        • Iodine
                                        • Zinc

                                           

                                           

                                          What’s happening to baby:

                                          During month six, your baby will begin to respond to external stimuli. You may notice movement in response to sounds and baby’s pulse may increase. You may feel a jerky motion when baby is having hiccups. Baby’s skin is still translucent but now reddish and wrinkled. Small details like fingerprints and toe prints are well developed. The eyes can be opened as the eyelids now become parted. At this point, your baby is about 12 inches long and can weigh close to 2 lbs.

                                           

                                          Brain development

                                          This is a time of major development in your baby's brain. The brain stem, which controls heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure, is almost entirely developed by the end of the second trimester. The brain stem rests just above the spinal cord and below the cerebral cortex. The fetal nervous system is also well developed at this stage. You may notice your baby startle in the womb at loud noises or even turn toward your voice. By 28 weeks, there is fetal brainwave activity including sleep cycles with REM sleep.

                                           

                                          What’s happening with mom:

                                          During month six, you’ll start to be visibly pregnant. You may experience a bit more heartburn as the baby takes up more space.

                                           

                                          Important nutrients in month six

                                          Baby is more active now and mama is beginning to feel the effect of supplying energy to a rapidly growing baby. All of the essential nutrients continue to support healthy development.

                                          • Methylfolate
                                          • Vitamin B6
                                          • DHA
                                          • Choline
                                          • Vitamin D
                                          • Iron
                                          • Calcium
                                          • Iodine
                                          • Zinc

                                             

                                             

                                            What’s happening to baby:

                                            During month seven, organ systems continue to develop and baby grows larger. Hearing is fully developed now and the reactions to sound that began in previous months will be more discernible. There may be some discomfort for you as baby changes position more often. Baby will feel and respond to stimuli. Your baby will begin to develop and store a layer of fat. As baby grows larger, the amount of cushioning amniotic fluid will decrease. By the end of the 7th month, your baby is about 14 inches long and can weigh between 2 – 4 lbs.

                                             

                                            Brain development

                                            During the third trimester, your baby's brain almost triples in weight. This is also when the neurons are rapidly developing and the brain’s wiring is learning to fire. The surface of the brain is no longer smooth as those familiar bumps and grooves begin to form. The area developing most quickly at this stage is the cerebellum.

                                             

                                            What’s happening with mom:

                                            The third trimester means the end is in sight. Although there are many important developments still to come, you can imagine baby’s arrival. You may even begin to have practice contractions known as Braxton-Hicks.

                                             

                                            Important nutrients in month seven

                                            All of the essential nutrients continue to support healthy development as baby grows larger and mama feels the cumulative effects of carrying a baby.

                                            • Methylfolate
                                            • Vitamin B6
                                            • DHA
                                            • Choline
                                            • Vitamin D
                                            • Iron
                                            • Calcium
                                            • Iodine
                                            • Zinc

                                               

                                               

                                              What’s happening to baby:

                                              During the 8th month, your baby will continue adding to fat stores and brain development will accelerate. You will likely feel more kicking and pushing as baby becomes more active and also grows larger and presses more against the womb. Eyes and most organs and internal systems are fully developed and baby can see, however, the lungs are not yet mature. By month eight, your baby is close to 18 inches long and can weigh close to 5 lbs.

                                               

                                              What’s happening with mom:

                                              As you enter the eighth month, you are likely to feel more fatigue and at the same time may have trouble sleeping. Baby’s growing size will put additional pressure on your bladder and you may notice your body’s posture changing. You may have some backaches. Try to get sleep when you can. Many women find a specially designed pregnancy sleep pillow helps make sleep more comfortable. Exercise helps keep the circulation going and is a good stress reliever. 

                                               

                                              Important nutrients in month eight

                                              As you get closer to delivery, all the important nutrients continue to prepare you and baby for a positive outcome.

                                              • Methylfolate
                                              • Vitamin B6
                                              • DHA
                                              • Choline
                                              • Vitamin D
                                              • Iron
                                              • Calcium
                                              • Iodine
                                              • Zinc

                                                 

                                                 

                                                What’s happening to baby:

                                                This is the important last stage of development as the lungs become mature and you and your baby prepare for birth. Baby continues to respond to sounds, and can also blink, grasp, and turn the head as reflexes become more coordinated. Often, there is a quieting down during the last few weeks as the baby moves less and begins to settle into birth position, head down near the birth canal. Your baby is now about 18-20 inches long and can weigh at least 7 lbs.

                                                 

                                                Brain development

                                                Although your baby’s brain largely resembles that of an adult brain at birth, it is far from finished. Essentially, the infrastructure is in place but there is a lot more development to go. As an example, even the rapidly developing cerebral cortex does not start to function until full-term and then continues to mature in response to your baby's environment. Brain development continues well-past infancy and childhood. sourdoughagency@gmail.comThe latest research suggests most people don’t reach full maturity until they are into their 20s.

                                                 

                                                What’s happening with mom:

                                                Your body is in tune with approaching delivery and begins to get ready. Through your pregnancy, your breasts grow and change in preparation for lactation. This last month, your cervix will start changing by softening and moving forward. You will feel more practice contractions as your uterus prepares for birth.

                                                Important nutrients in month nine 

                                                With that exciting day near, these essential nutrients are more important than ever, helping you prepare for the transition from pregnancy to postpartum.

                                                • Methylfolate
                                                • Vitamin B6
                                                • DHA
                                                • Choline
                                                • Vitamin D
                                                • Iron
                                                • Calcium
                                                • Iodine
                                                • Zinc

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  Postpartum

                                                  The birth of your baby can be both a joyous and overwhelming experience. Once you have that little bundle in your arms, the adventure begins in a whole new way. Continuing to nurture your nest at every stage is an ongoing and evolving journey with many rewards along the way.

                                                  Supplements to Support Healthy Pregnancy

                                                  Supplementing your nutritional needs is an important part of supporting baby’s development and your own health and well-being. At Best Nest Wellness, the reliability and safety of our products are always our top priority. Every choice we make is based on extensive research and ingredient effectiveness. We believe the best ingredients make the best vitamins–and this impacts all that we do. 

                                                  We handpick each ingredient for its optimal nutrient level and its bioavailability. We choose the most bioavailable form that is best for absorption. We look at how ingredients work together. We spend a lot of time and research to determine which delivery form will be the best for a particular product. 

                                                  Mama Bird Prenatal Multi+  

                                                  Once daily advanced prenatal multivitamin with active methylated vitamins for a healthy pregnancy.

                                                  Mama Bird AM/PM Prenatal Multi+

                                                  Twice daily advanced prenatal multivitamin with active methylated vitamins and extra choline, for a healthy pregnancy.

                                                  Mama Bird Prenatal Multi+ Iodine & Iron Free

                                                  Advanced prenatal multivitamin with active methylated vitamins for a healthy pregnancy. This version is iodine- and iron-free.

                                                  One Fish, Two Fish Prenatal DHA

                                                  Crafted for pregnant and lactating mothers, this purified DHA is made from omega-3 fish oil in the triglyceride form. 

                                                  No Fish, No Fish Vegan Prenatal DHA

                                                  Crafted for pregnant and lactating mothers, this purified vegan DHA is made from sustainable algae. 

                                                  Sunny Skies Vitamin D Drops

                                                  Liquid vitamin D3 formula that provides 2000 IU per drop.

                                                  Hello Vitality Liquid Iron

                                                  Liquid iron formula provides 15 mg of iron in a rich chocolate flavor.

                                                  Mama Bird Probiotics

                                                  Crafted for pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum mothers to provide gut and brain support for you and your baby.

                                                   


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