A pregnancy is divided into three phases, called trimesters. Each trimester has its own significant milestones. The first trimester is the most fragile period, during which all major organs and systems are formed. Most birth defects and miscarriages occur during the first trimester. During the second and third trimester, the fetus is fully formed and grows and matures rapidly. The trimesters are divided as follows:

What's Happening to You

  • Your body begins to change about 2 weeks after the fertilized egg embeds itself in the lining of your uterus.
  • A little bleeding or spotting may happen when the egg implants into your uterus.
  • Your breasts may be sensitive and tender and feel fuller, and the nipple area may look darker.
  • You may experience morning sickness.
  • Your uterus is getting larger and putting pressure on your bladder, making you feel like you have to urinate more often.

Tips for Your Well-Being

  • Get plenty of rest to help yourself cope with these exciting changes in your body and your life.
  • This is the best time to check with your health insurance company about your coverage.
  • Mild to moderate exercise provides many benefits during pregnancy. To be safe, get approval from your physician before starting or continuing your exercise program.
  • Although your body undergoes many changes as a normal part of pregnancy, be aware of warning signs in pregnancy that may need immediate medical attention.
  • Take time to learn about the changes in your body and what you can do to cope with morning sickness and other discomforts of early pregnancy.
  • If you have an existing condition such as diabetes, thyroid disease, or seizure disorder, you'll want to consult specialists who can provide advanced care for higher risk pregnancies.

How Valley Medical Center Can Help

Choose a bra

As your body prepares for baby, your breasts will grow larger during the second trimester. This is the time to invest in a good quality, supportive, and proper-fitting bra. Sales professionals at your local maternity shop and finer department stores specialize in fitting bras. Try on several styles to find ones that fit you best, are comfortable, and suit your style.

To estimate your correct bra and cup size, measure like this:

  • Bra size: Measure around your chest, placing the tape measure high and snug under your armpits. Round to the nearest even number, for example 34, 36, 38, or 40.
  • Cup size: Wrap the tape measure around the fullest part of your breasts. To estimate your cup size, calculate this measurement as follows: If your breast measurement is less than 1½ inches larger than your bra size, you are an A cup. If it is 1½ to 2½ inches larger than your bra size, a B cup is best; 2½ to 3½ inches larger, a C cup is best; and 3½ to 4½ inches larger is a D cup.

For example, if your chest measures 36 inches and the fullest part around your breasts is 39 inches, your breasts are 3 inches larger than your chest, so you would buy a size 36 bra with a C cup.

Cope with morning sickness

Morning sickness usually starts in the morning and wears off during the day. Your choices about how, when, and what you eat can help you get through this period. Try this:

  • Keep some crackers by your bed so you can put something in your stomach as soon as you wake up.
  • Get plenty of rest when you can, but don't take a nap right after a meal.
  • Eat whatever you feel like eating, whenever you feel you can.
  • Avoid smelling or eating foods that trigger the nausea, especially spicy, rich, and fried foods.
  • Keep meals small, but eat as frequently as you need to.
  • Eat bland foods, such as chicken soup, broth, or a plain baked potato
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Try crushed ice, ginger ale, fruit juice, ginger or peppermint tea, or flavored Popsicles.
  • Try a wristband that uses acupressure pulse points to fight nausea.

Mostly importantly, talk to your doctor if your morning sickness is so severe that you are constantly throwing up.

What's Happening to You

  • Your uterus expands and so does your belly as you start to gain weight faster.
  • Morning sickness may cease.
  • As your uterus expands, it begins to displace other organs in your abdomen.
  • You may have backaches and light-colored discharge from your vagina. This is normal.

Tips for Your Well-Being

  • It's not too early to think about labor and delivery. You'll want to consider issues such as how you'd like to manage pain, who should be present at the birth, and whether you'll need an interpreter.
  • Regular exercise can help you maintain fitness. Don't overdo—you should be able to talk without becoming short of breath.
  • If you have a family history of genetic disorders, or are at high risk for certain problems, your doctor may suggest amniocentesis between the 15th and 18th weeks of pregnancy. A sample of amniotic fluid is tested to detect conditions such as Down syndrome.
  • Birth and parenting classes can help you prepare and set your mind at ease.
  • If you already have children, help them get ready to be a big brother or sister.
  • Preregistering for hospital admission saves time when the big day comes!

How Valley Medical Center Can Help

What's Happening to You

  • Your expanding uterus presses on many other organs—bladder, kidneys, stomach, intestines, and diaphragm.
  • Toward the end of pregnancy your protruding abdomen may sag lower.
  • Your feet and ankles may swell, especially after standing for a long time.
  • You feel the need to urinate often and feel more fatigued.

Tips for Your Well-Being

  • As your due date draws near, make sure you've written down your preferences for labor and delivery, such as managing pain, preferred labor positions, and any cultural, religious or family traditions.
  • Take care of paperwork now so your hospital admission goes smoothly on the eventful day!
  • Pack a weekend bag for your stay at the hospital.
  • Choose someone as your birth coach who can be a calming influence. He or she can prepare for your hospital stay by participating in birthing classes, touring Valley's Birth Center, and knowing what paperwork is expected at check-in.
  • If you have other children, arrange for a support person to be with each one during childbirth.
  • Swimming and other moderate exercise can help reduce discomfort in later pregnancy.

How Valley Medical Center Can Help

  • Complete pre-registration prior to your delivery if possible to save valuable time.
  • We know our patients' medical information is a private matter. To see how your health information may be used and disclosed and how you can access it, please review our Privacy Policy.
  • Our packing checklist shows what's needed for you, baby and your birth coach.
  • You and your birth coach are invited to take a virtual tour of our Birth Center. See where you'll give birth and start caring for your new baby.
  • Valley Medical Center, in collaboration with Bloodworks Northwest, accepts cord blood donations. Learn more about becoming a cord blood donor on the We are Valley blog and through A Parent's Guide to Cord Blood

Birth Center Packing Checklist

Babies tend to pick their own birthdays, so it's a good idea to be prepared well ahead of time. Pack at least 1 month before your expected due date.

Be sure to write your name on all items you bring from home and leave all valuables safe at home.

Here is a handy checklist of all the things you should have packed and ready to go:

For Birthing Parent

For Baby

For Birth Coach

    • Your preregistration papers
    • Your birth plan
    • Your newborn care plan
    • Insurance and prescription cards
    • Body pillow, if desired
    • Music (CDs or digital player)
    • A focal point, if desired
    • Chapstick
    • Socks/slippers
    • Robe/nightgown
    • Nursing bra
    • Toiletries (Sanitary napkins and breastfeeding supplies are provided.)
    • Change of clothes to wear home (maternity clothes)
    • Car seat. Washington State law requires babies be transported in car seats, so you will need to have your support person bring it when you and baby are discharged.
    • Two receiving blankets
    • Clothes to wear home
    • Heavy blanket, booties and hat for cool weather
    • Change of clothes
    • Address book/phone list
    • Camera/film batteries
    • Change for vending machines

How to Recognize False Labor

It is very common for pregnant people to think that they are in labor only to find out it's "false labor"—contractions that are irregular and unpredictable, don't progress over time, and slow down or stop.


True Labor

False Labor 

Frequency Regular and grow closer together Remain irregular
Length and intensity More than 30 seconds at onset and last progressively longer, up to 60 seconds, and stronger Vary in length and intensity
Relation to your activity Continue regardless of activity, grow stronger with increased activity such as walking Often stop regardless of activity
Where it is felt Begin high in abdomen and radiate throughout entire abdomen and lower back, or vice versa

High-Risk Pregnancies

The Maternal-Fetal Medicine Clinic at Valley Medical Center provides prepregnancy counseling for a variety of medical or genetic disorders affecting pregnancy. Maternal-fetal medicine specialists offer consultative care for medical disorders affecting pregnancy or complications that may develop during pregnancy such as premature labor, toxemia, fetal-growth abnormalities, seizure disorders, thyroid disease and diabetes.

Contact Us
For more information about the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Clinic, call 425.690.3477.

Get directions.

DocTalk: Pregnancy FAQs

Valley Family Medicine physician Maika Jean-Baptiste, MD shares when to start prenatal visits, types of providers who offer care, where to get health insurance if you need it, what causes morning sickness and more.

What's Happening to Baby

  • Month 1: This early, baby looks like a tadpole and is called an embryo. Tiny limb buds appear, and baby's major organs—heart, lungs, and brain—begin to form. At the end of this month the embryo is about 1 inch long.
  • Month 2: All major body organs and systems have begun to form by end of the month, along with fingers, fingernails, and toes.
  • Month 3: Already baby's heartbeat can be heard, and bones are starting to get hard. Now called a fetus, baby may weigh as much as a small apple.

Tips for Baby's Health

  • At regular doctor visits, your doctor will weigh you, check your blood pressure, take urine and blood samples, and monitor baby's heartbeat. The doctor may also use sound waves to create a picture of baby (sonogram).
  • Parents-to-be have lots of questions about childbirth and caring for baby. Help set your mind at ease by taking our virtual Birth Center tour and signing up for birth and parenting classes.
  • Now's the time to make lifestyle changes for the better. The best rule of thumb is, if it's bad for you, it's bad for your baby. Cigarette smoke, alcohol, and drugs can harm baby.

How Valley Medical Center Can Help

What's Happening to Baby

  • Month 4: Baby moves, kicks, and swallows. Length is 8-10 inches and weight about 1/3 pound.
  • Month 5: Baby is more active and sleeps and wakes at regular intervals. Skin is red and wrinkled and covered with fine, soft hair.
  • Month 6: Eyelids begin to part, and the eyes open. Baby grows to 14–15 inches and to 2½ pounds.

 Tips for Baby's Health

  • At regular visits, your doctor will monitor baby's heartbeat and growth.
  • Thinking about baby's arrival ahead of time will help you decide about breastfeeding and other important issues.
  • As you prepare the nursery for your baby, consider safety issues around your house.
  • Most pregnancies go smoothly, but possible complications include toxemia and fetal-growth abnormalities. Know the signs of a miscarriage and other warning signs that call for immediate attention. 

How Valley Medical Center Can Help

What's Happening to Baby

  • Month 7: Baby can open and close eyes and suck a thumb. Responds to light, sound, and exercise by kicking and stretching.
  • Month 8: Rapid brain growth continues. Baby can kick strongly and roll around. You may notice the shape of an elbow or heel against your belly.
  • Month 9: Baby reaches full-term, with mature lungs. Baby is too big to move around much. Baby settles into position to be born, usually head down and resting lower in the pelvis.

Tips for Baby's Health

  • Office visits become more frequent generally after week 27. After week 36, your visits may include pelvic examinations to monitor the effacement (thinning) and dilation (opening) of your cervix.
  • This is the time to choose a healthcare provider for your baby, one that is covered by your health insurance. Check out guidelines for Choosing Your Baby's Doctor
  • Depending on whether you plan to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby, get supplies you need, such as maternity bras or formula and bottles.
  • Get a car seat for the trip home from the hospital—state law requires it.
  • If you're expecting a boy, consider whether to have him circumcised. Find out whether your health insurance covers it.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all infants be screened for hearing loss. Before delivery, verify whether your insurance carrier covers a hearing screen for a normal, healthy newborn.

How Valley Medical Center Can Help

It may seem early, but the beginning of your third trimester is the ideal time to choose your baby's doctor.

To get recommendations, ask reliable sources—your obstetrician, other healthcare providers, family, friends, neighbors, your pharmacist or a local medical society. Find a Valley Medical Center provider with our Find a Provider directory online. Check to see if your insurance plan covers the physicians you are considering.

These points can guide you in selecting a physician who will help your child grow healthy and strong, from birth through adolescence and into adulthood:

  • Personality fit: Consider the type of personality that suits you and your family. Some people want an easy-going physician who provides options and asks for patient input. Others prefer a directed or authoritative approach.

  • Good communication skills: Look for a physician who listens and is good at explaining complex medical information. You'll want someone who is straightforward and easy to understand while respecting your intelligence, cultural background and personal experience.

  • Convenient location: Choose a physician who is close to home, work, daycare or other caregivers.

  • Friendly and reliable nursing and office staff: Make sure the entire healthcare team is helpful and relates well to children. Over the years, you can get lots of useful information from these professionals.

  • Credentials and hospital privileges: Ask if the physician is board-certified in a specialty, like pediatrics or family health. Your baby will need to be examined while you are still in the hospital. If your doctor of choice does not have privileges at Valley Medical Center, s/he may apply for temporary privileges, or an on-call physician can see your baby while you are in the hospital.

  • Support for your beliefs: When you interview a prospective physician, discuss any strong philosophies or beliefs you have—such as dietary or religious—that could affect your healthcare. Your physician does not have to share your philosophy, but he or she should be supportive and willing to work with you.