Pregnancy is the time in a woman's life when she awaits the arrival of her newborn baby with joyful anticipation. Yet, pregnancy can also be a time of morning sickness, strange food cravings, shifting hormones and many other bodily changes. Knowing what to expect during each stage of pregnancy can help alleviate unnecessary worry. It can also help an expectant mother to prepare for birth, delivery and bringing her newborn home.
A woman first suspects she may be pregnant when she misses a menstrual period. There are other early signs of pregnancy also which may include nausea, vomiting, bloating, spotting, cramping, fatigue, dizziness and headache. Symptoms may vary according to the individual woman. Symptoms may also vary with each subsequent pregnancy. Symptoms of pregnancy may appear anywhere from one to six weeks following conception. Once pregnancy is suspected many women will purchase a home pregnancy test to confirm whether or not they are pregnant. If the test results are positive confirming the pregnancy the next step is to make an appointment with a gynecologist/obstetrician for an examination. Once the diagnosis has been made the physician will begin prenatal care and monitor all stages of the pregnancy.
Pregnancy is divided into three stages known as trimesters, each lasting three months. The first trimester begins with the onset of conception. This is the period of pregnancy best known for morning sickness. During the second trimester the morning sickness generally subsides and the expectant mother begins to gain weight. It is during the second trimester when women tend to feel the most healthy and energetic. During this period the first movements of the fetus may be felt. The third trimester is the final period in preparation for the birth. This is also the period in which the most weight is gained. Women may experience some discomfort during the third trimester such as backache and difficulty sleeping. There may also be an increase in the frequency of urination.
It is important to get proper prenatal care while you are pregnant to ensure the good health of the mother and her unborn child. Prenatal care enables your doctor to monitor your pregnancy and be alerted to any potential problems. Pregnant teens may suffer from inadequate or lack of prenatal care when they try to keep their pregnancy a secret because they don't want their parents to know. A pregnant teen may not receive any prenatal care until midway through the pregnancy or later. The health of both mother and child may suffer when prenatal care is lacking. It is important to schedule an appointment as soon as pregnancy is suspected and to keep all scheduled appointments thereafter. It is also important to eat healthily and take prescribed vitamins to ensure the developing fetus is receiving the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy growth.
Although most pregnancies progress without issues, sometimes complications can occur. Such complications could include miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, placenta previa or placenta abruptio. Miscarriage is the natural termination of pregnancy. Spontaneous abortion, otherwise referred to as miscarriage occurs before the 20th week of pregnancy when the developing fetus would not be able to sustain viability outside of the womb. A miscarriage can occur very early in the pregnancy and sometimes even before the pregnancy has been confirmed. There are several reasons why a miscarriage may occur such as a genetic abnormality, physical injury or other medical conditions. If a woman has had a previous miscarriage she may be at risk for miscarriage in subsequent pregnancies.
Placenta previa is a term that refers to a low-lying placenta which may or may not cover the cervix. Placenta previa may cause bleeding and the need for a cesarean section birth. Placenta abruptio is a condition in which the placenta prematurely separates from the uterine wall. The condition can be critical to both the mother and fetus. Heavy bleeding can occur and the fetus must be delivered resulting in a premature birth if placenta previa occurs before completion of the gestation period. The infant is usually delivered by emergency cesarean section. Pre-eclampsia is a condition in which hypertension results. If untreated the condition may progress to what is termed eclampsia which could be potentially fatal. Pre-eclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure, unusual swelling of the hands, face, feet and protein in the urine. There is no cure for pre-eclampsia other than abortion of the pregnancy or premature delivery.
Some women may be at risk for a premature delivery. A fetus delivered before 37 weeks of pregnancy is usually considered premature. Risk factors for premature birth include:
Previous premature birth Abnormalities of the cervix or uterus Pregnant with multiple fetuses Drug or alcohol use Smoking Diabetes High blood pressure Previous abortion
Lower your risk of premature delivery by getting proper prenatal care. Don't smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs. Limit caffeine intake and take steps to alleviate unnecessary stress. Eat healthily and discuss any concerns you may have with your physician. Pregnancy is a time of happiness and contentment and also challenge as the body changes dramatically. It is a time to be busy decorating a nursery and choosing the perfect name. It is a time of preparation and anticipation while you count the days away until your beautiful little one makes his/her eagerly awaited entrance into the world and your arms.