20 Pregnancy Milestones You Don’t Want to Miss

Last Updated: June 19, 2024
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

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I thought it would be fun to look at your journey to baby through a series of pregnancy milestones! Sooo much happens during your 9 months, and there is so much to look forward to!

Pregnancy is a time that’s typically filled with lots of emotions. But there’s no doubt that whether it’s your first or your 8th, there is a lot that goes on in the nine (give or take) months of growing your baby.

I could probably come up with a list of 100 or more, but today I’m going to focus on 20 pregnancy milestones that you definitely don’t want to miss.

So without further ado, mama, let’s get going!

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First trimester pregnancy milestones

1. Positive pregnancy test

Congratulations, mama, you got that BFP (big fat positive) aka a positive pregnancy test! Maybe you have been waiting on this for months or years or maybe you just started trying.

Either way, this is likely to be the first big milestone of your pregnancy, so congrats…and cue alllll the emotions!

2. First prenatal appointment

For most women, their first prenatal appointment will be somewhere between 6-12 weeks from your LMP (last menstrual period). Certain medical conditions or a history of recurrent pregnancy losses might warrant the need for an earlier initial visit, but otherwise, you can expect to have your first appointment by the 12-week mark. And most providers will actually want to see you in the 6-9 week range.

At this appointment, your provider will confirm your pregnancy with a urine pregnancy test as well as an ultrasound. Because your peanut is teeny tiny right now, this ultrasound will likely be transvaginal (just a heads up) where your provider will measure your baby to confirm the measurements agree with your due date. 

If baby is measuring more than one week off from the date calculated by your LMP or if your cycles are irregular, your provider will probably adjust your estimated due date (EDD). 

Your first prenatal appointment is a huge milestone in any pregnancy and one that you will certainly remember for years to come!

Related Reading: How to Make the Most of Your First Prenatal Appointment

3. Hearing (and seeing) the heartbeat for the first time

All the milestones are special in their own way, but hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time has to be at the top of the pregnancy milestone list.

Your baby’s heartbeat might be detected for the first time as early as 5-6 weeks. This early in pregnancy, a transvaginal ultrasound would be required to see it. If your dating is off or your first appointment is closer to that 5 or 6-week mark, there is a chance you might not be able to see or hear it at your first appointment. 

Don’t worry though, if everything is good and baby is healthy, there shouldn’t be an issue detecting it at your next appointment!

4. Sharing the news with family/friends

When, and if you want to share your exciting news with friends and family is completely up to you and your partner. There is no rulebook for this and there is no right or wrong way to go about it.

Some people share the day they find out, others wait until their first appointment, some wait to complete their first trimester, and others choose not to share until it’s physically impossible to keep it a secret any longer. 

When it comes to sharing your pregnancy news, I’m completely team “do whatever the heck you want”. It’s your pregnancy, your body, your baby, and your news to share.

Whether you share the day you find out or wait until further in pregnancy, I hope sharing this news with family and friends is an exciting and memorable milestone for you!

5. YOU noticing your bump

A lot of things impact when you start showing in pregnancy, but one thing is for sure: you are going to notice your bump before anyone else does. 

For some women, this happens really early in their pregnancy, especially if it’s not their first baby. For other women, you might be well into your second trimester before you notice a bump. Both situations are totally normal and healthy!

Related Reading: When Do You Start Showing in Pregnancy? All About Your Pregnant Belly

6. Completing your first trimester

Your first trimester comes to an end once you complete 13 weeks and 6 days of your pregnancy…aka the second trimester starts at 14 weeks. This is an exciting pregnancy milestone for several reasons. 

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), early pregnancy loss occurs in about 10 of 100 pregnancies. An early pregnancy miscarriage is a loss of pregnancy that occurs before the completion of the first trimester.

This is not to say that a miscarriage cannot occur in your second trimester, but the rate drops pretty dramatically after the first trimester.

For this reason, a lot of women choose to wait until their first trimester is complete before sharing their pregnancy with others. Again, you know where I stand on this topic (discussed above), but this is why completing your first trimester of pregnancy is such a significant milestone!

Second trimester pregnancy milestones

7. Announcing your pregnancy

I sort of touched on this one above, but let’s revisit it. Sharing the news with friends and family, and actually announcing your pregnancy, are a little bit different.

A lot of women choose to share their news with a few select family members and friends early in pregnancy and wait to make a full-blown pregnancy announcement. 

Whether this announcement be a social media post, an email to extended family and friends, phone or Facetime calls, or physically getting a group together – announcing your pregnancy is an exciting milestone. 

And if you are looking for a little inspo, you must check out my article below!

Related Reading: The Very Best Ways to Do a Pregnancy Announcement to Family

8. Quickening

If you have never been pregnant then you are probably unfamiliar with the term “quickening”. Quickening refers to those first little baby flutters and movements you feel.

When you first feel these movements vary from person to person and even from pregnancy to pregnancy, but it usually happens sometime around 16-20 weeks.

I have heard women describe quickening as feeling like gas bubbles, popcorn popping, a fish swimming around in their belly, or someone thumping the belly from the inside.

If it’s not your first pregnancy then you might notice these movements sooner because you know what you are looking for.

If it’s your first pregnancy, it can be pretty hard to differentiate between gas, your stomach growling, or baby moving, so you might not know that you are actually feeling movements the first several times. 

This is one of the big milestones that mamas tend to really remember!

9. Anatomy scan

Your anatomy scan will take place around 20 weeks. I would venture to say that this is one of the bigger pregnancy milestones!

During your anatomy scan, the ultrasound technician will take a deep look into things like heart health, organ development, growth in the womb, and screen for some of the more common issues that can be spotted before birth. 

Knowing that this might be the pregnancy scan where you find out about possible defects, delays, or other abnormalities is a little nerve-wracking. But remember, early intervention, education, and knowledge are key to giving baby the best possible outcome.

To learn more about the 20-week anatomy scan and what to expect, read through my article below.

Related Reading: Everything You Need to Know About Your 20-Week Ultrasound

10. Finding out the sex

If you choose to find out the sex of your baby during pregnancy (and don’t do the early blood test), you should be able to learn this at your 20-week anatomy scan!

Another reason why the anatomy scan is such a big milestone!

And if you decide not to find out the sex (team green x2 here!), then it’s super easy for the ultrasound tech to have you look away for certain parts of the scan. 

Baby Registry Guide

11. Purchasing maternity clothes

I know this one sounds a little silly, but it’s an exciting milestone for some pregnant mamas – especially if it’s your first pregnancy!

It can be fun to pick out some new tops, dresses, etc. to accommodate your growing bump!

This is probably one of those milestones that’s more exciting for some women than others, but nonetheless, still worth mentioning.

12. Someone else noticing your bump!

This one falls into the same category of being more exciting for some women than others, but some women get super excited and proud when their bump becomes noticeable to others. 

I was sort of hesitant to even put this one on the list because I’m definitely of the mindset that it’s never appropriate to comment on or touch a pregnant woman’s belly. With that being said, some women are very proud of their bump and it makes them happy when people notice it. 

I’m definitely not giving anyone permission to go around commenting on every pregnant bump they see, just saying that having other people notice your bump is a milestone for some pregnant mamas!

13. Viability

Are you familiar with viability and what it means for pregnancy? Viability, which is typically 24 weeks, is when your baby has a chance of survival outside of the womb. 

This doesn’t guarantee they will survive outside the womb or that they will be without any long-term complications, but most higher-level neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) have equipment small enough to attempt resuscitation on infants born at 24 weeks or above. 

I honestly don’t expect a lot of you to be familiar with this one or even have it on your radar. I promise, had I not been a labor and delivery nurse during both of my pregnancies then I wouldn’t have known to give this one much thought.

I bring this milestone to your attention not to scare you but because I think, from a medical perspective, it’s an important and one that should be celebrated!

14. Partner feeling baby move

Awww, this is one of my favorite milestones! It can be difficult for the partner, the one not carrying baby, to connect with the pregnancy, especially early on. 

Being able to feel baby move from the outside gives the partner a way to connect with the pregnancy and is such an exciting milestone for both parents!

15. Completing your second trimester

And just like that, you have completed your second trimester. Hold on tight mama, things typically tend to go pretty fast from here until the finish line…except for maybe the last month of pregnancy, which seriously feels like it drags on for an eternity!

Your second trimester officially comes to a close once you complete 27 weeks and 6 days. The third trimester is a busy but exciting one and an important pregnancy milestone!

Third trimester pregnancy milestones

16. Completing baby’s nursery 

If you’re anything like me then you probably have (or will) spend lots of hours on your baby’s nursery. Setting up a nursery is one of the most fun parts of pregnancy, at least it was for me! And while I did find it to be exciting, I was also happy when it was finished. It was a labor of love for sure, so it felt good to be able to check it off the to-do list.

And if you are struggling with space or a theme, I’ve got you covered! Not only did I have a teeny tiny nursery space for my second, but I also didn’t know the sex. I felt like both of these things were working against me when planning the nursery…to the point that I almost didn’t even put one together. 

But boy am I glad I did! I ended up loving the way it turned out and even put together a little guide full of gender-neutral and small nursery tips and ideas. You can check it out below!

Related Reading: Fun and Affordable Small Nursery Ideas + Gender Neutral Nursery Tips

17. Nesting

Nesting: the overwhelming desire to get your house ready for baby! It’s a real thing, you guys!! And it looks different for everyone. 

Some women don’t get that nesting urge, but I would say the majority of pregnant women do at some point during their pregnancy. 

Typically, the nesting urge is at its peak towards the end of pregnancy, but some women experience it throughout their entire pregnancy as well.

18. Switching to weekly prenatal appointments

Once you hit 36 weeks, the frequency of your prenatal visits increases to once a week until you deliver. This is an exciting milestone for a lot of pregnant mamas because it means you are super close to meeting your little one! 

This is typically the case for low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancies. If you have any medical conditions or anything going on that makes your pregnancy high-risk then you might have switched to weekly appointments prior to the 36-week mark. 

19. Packing your hospital bag

This was one that definitely snuck on me, especially the first time around. I recommend having your bag packed by 37 weeks at the latest. Ideally, it would be packed by week 35/36, but if you happen to be a procrastinator, like me, then 37 weeks should be fine! 

I’m a knock-it-out-in-one-go kind of gal, so I carved out a few hours one night and just packed everything. I know not everyone rolls that way though, so totally fine if you prefer to pack smaller amounts over the course of several days or weeks.

The most important thing is that it’s packed before “go” time. The last thing you want to be doing when you are huffing and puffing through contractions is to be packing your hospital bag.

Related Reading: Hospital Bag Must-Haves

20. Due date!

A milestone that some women are excited to reach while others are a little less than thrilled about. As a mama that went past her due date with both of my pregnancies, I can tell you from experience that being 40+ weeks pregnant is not something I care to ever experience again.

With that being said, hitting your due date is probably the last big milestone you will experience during pregnancy. And it means you will be meeting your baby super soon – hooray! 

Wrapping up

I hope this article makes you excited about all the fun and exciting things you can expect to experience during your pregnancy!!

Like I said, I could have probably come up with 100 or more things to put on this list, but these are the 20 big pregnancy milestones you don’t want to miss! 

Cheers to an even better birth, mama!

Other important pregnancy resources:

Baby Registry Guide
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

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