A normal pregnancy lasts nine months. Each three-month period of pregnancy is called a trimester. During each trimester, the fetus grows and develops. Regular medical checkups and prenatal tests are very important. They can
- Help keep you and your baby healthy
- Spot problems with your baby (if there are any). In some cases, health care professionals can treat the problem before your baby is born. But even when they cannot, it can still be helpful to know about the problem early on. That gives you time to learn about your baby's condition and prepare for any challenges you may face after the baby is born.
- Prevent problems during delivery. For example, if your baby is breech (bottom first or feet first, instead of head first), you may need to have a Cesarean section to avoid complications.
Besides getting medical care, there are other things you can do to keep your baby as healthy as possible. It's important not to drink or smoke. Try to eat a healthy diet and make sure to take care of any health problems you have during pregnancy.
- Pregnancy Week by Week (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation)
- Stages of Pregnancy (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health) Also in Spanish
- Your Baby's Development: The First Trimester (American Academy of Family Physicians)
- Your Baby's Development: The Second Trimester (American Academy of Family Physicians)
- Your Baby's Development: The Third Trimester (American Academy of Family Physicians)
- What Are the Risks of Preeclampsia and Eclampsia to the Fetus? (Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) Also in Spanish
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Toxic and Teratogenic Effects of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure on Fetal Development,...
- Article: The Impact of Early Life Exposure to Cannabis: The Role of...
- Article: Placental DNA methylation signatures of maternal smoking during pregnancy and potential...
- Fetal Health and Development -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Also in Spanish
- Find an Ob-Gyn (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
- March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation Also in Spanish