So you’ve decided to have a baby? Or maybe you’re already pregnant? That’s so exciting! Pregnancy is an incredible journey – it’s a fantastic period of your passage into motherhood. Your body will change; you’ll always be hungry, visit the bathroom more often, and sleep more. Once you embrace these with joy, you would sail through this time, armed with the right information.
How Does It Happen?
Pregnancy, or gestation, is the period when a baby develops inside the mother’s womb. It takes place after an intercourse when the sperm from the man’s semen joins with the egg released by the woman’s ovary. If the egg fertilizes, it will attach itself to the lining of your uterus, and you will get pregnant.
Checking If You Are Pregnant
Some of the early symptoms are similar to pre-menopausal symptoms (PMS), and you might ignore them till you miss your period. These common signs could be:
Missing your period
Nausea (especially in the mornings)
Tenderness in your breasts
The urge to pee more than usual
Take a home pregnancy test, or visit your doctor, to confirm if you are expecting a baby. The home pregnancy test is a urine test you can do in the privacy of your home. It checks for a hormone called human chrionic gonadotropin (hCG). This is the pregnancy hormone and its presence confirms pregnancy. Home pregnancy tests these days claim to be 99% accurate, and can be taken 5-6 days before your period date.
The test at your doctor’s will be a blood or a urine test, which will also test the presence of hCG. The blood test can be taken within a week of ovulation, and is more accurate. The doctor will also do a pelvic examination.
Tips To Getting Pregnant
Once you’ve decided to start your family, here are a few things you can do to prepare your body for the next 9 months.
Get a thorough check-up – your doctor will prescribe prenatal vitamins and folic acid, which help protect against birth defects. She will also insure that your immunisations are up-to-date.
Track your cycle – it helps to know when you are most fertile and chances of ovulation are greatest. However, don’t have sex just to have a baby. Enjoy regular, unprotected sex throughout the month with your partner, and you will get pregnant.
Stay fit and maintain a healthy weight – adopt a healthy lifestyle. Eat well-balanced meals and exercise regularly.
Don’t stress – relax and de-stress. Stress can interfere with ovulation, and may delay your getting pregnant.
Stop smoking – apart from having negative health effects, smoking also decreases fertility.
Say ‘no’ to alcohol – drinking during pregnancy may not be safe for your baby, and it is better to stop before conceiving.
Keep your sperm healthy – tight clothes and prolonged exposure to heat from saunas or cell phones may affect sperm quality. Avoid these.
A woman’s fertility is at its peak in her early 20s, and chances of getting pregnant easily are greater before she turns 35. However, if you’re fit and healthy, you can have a baby in your 40s too.
How Many Weeks Are There In The Pregnancy Calendar?
The pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last menstrual period (called LMP), and lasts about 38-42 weeks. This date is just an estimate, and most babies are born before their due date. The foetus, or the unborn baby, develops in the womb (the uterus) for about 37 weeks. A baby born before this is premature, while a baby is born after Week 42 is overdue.
There are three trimesters in a pregnancy:
First trimester – Week 1 – 12
Second trimester – Week 13 – 26
Third trimester – Week 27 – end of the pregnancy
Types Of Pregnancies
Every woman’s pregnancy is different. Most are normal, though some may come with their own complications. The various types of pregnancies are –
Intrauterine or normal – foetus grows inside the uterus.
Ectopic or tubal – the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus or in the fallopian tubes. The body usually aborts the foetus on its own.
Intra-abdominal – the foetus may slip into the abdominal cavity, usually after a previous C-section.
Singlet – there is a single baby.
Multiple – multiple eggs are fertilized resulting in two or more babies.
High-risk – age and health conditions of the mother may lead to complications.
What Is Normal In A Pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a happy phase. But it does come with a lot of anxiety, and some annoying symptoms. Your body goes through a lot of changes, as well as discomfort -with backaches, swollen ankles, indigestion, morning sickness, high blood-pressure, leaking nipples, vaginal discharge, and tiredness. These are all normal symptoms. However, you need to watch out for these signs, which may lead to complications:
Unusual vaginal discharge
Excessive dampness on your panties or sheets
Low amniotic fluid
High blood pressure
Excessive weight gain
Contact your obstetrician/gynaecologist if you notice any of these symptoms – she will help you manage them.
Pregnancy can be different for each of us, and even from one baby to the other. If you’re healthy and fit, it should be a smooth and problem-free period. Cherish this time – help from your doctor, and support from family and friends can make it delightful and fun. Enjoy time with your partner, do things that relax you, and look forward to the new phase of your life.