What is pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a state of being pregnant. A woman is considered pregnant when a mature egg released from the ovary during ovulation. The Egg meets and fertilized by sperm and then implanted into the linings of the uterus. It develops into the placenta. Then one or more embryo starts to form in the mother’s womb and later into a fetus. This process results in pregnancy.
An easy way to understand pregnancy – (Conception – which is the union of a single egg and a sperm-> fertilization -> implantation in the uterus ->pregnancy)
Usually, to compute the total duration of pregnancy, the health people use the concept of lunar months. It is 28 days or 4 weeks, so the normal pregnancy lasts about ten lunar months or 40 weeks (280days). The total length of pregnancy calculated from the first day of LMP (last menstrual period) until the day of delivery. On average, a full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks and 9 calendar months.
Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters or three-month periods. The first trimester starts from weeks 1 through 13 weeks, the second weeks from 14 weeks to 26 weeks. And the last and third trimester from weeks 27 through full term 38 to 40 weeks. Thus, it is important for every mother to find early prenatal care for healthy childbearing and a healthy baby.
Your role during this time can be a complex process of cognitive and social learning. It may be stressful but also rewarding as you prepare for a new level of caring and responsibility. Your self-concept changes in readiness for parenthood as you prepare for your new role.
What signs and symptoms pregnant women have?
Every pregnancy is different from another. Sometimes to diagnose the pregnancy may be unknown or unsure. Here some physiologic changes are considered as signs and symptoms of pregnancy. Usually, there are 3 common used categories for signs and symptoms.
Presumptive signs- those changes felt by the women e.g. missed periods, tiredness, changes in breast size, nausea and vomiting.
Probable signs – changes noticed by the health care professional or the examiner e.g. Laboratory tests or pregnancy test
Positive signs – only when the fetus is present e.g. audible fetal heart rate, fetal visualization in ultrasound, fetal movements.
How do you feel during pregnancy?
You may notice symptoms before a pregnancy test. However, sometimes after doing a pregnancy test at home, you may realize weeks later. As your hormone level changes, you may find that you are pregnant. But how can you be sure? Most of the women try home strip tests to make sure. But these tests are more likely to be accurate when used 7 days after a women’s last menstrual period.
Despite that, if you take the test before less than a week prior to the last period, the result may be false. Incase home pregnancy test is negative, there could be more chances the test is wrong. But if the test is positive it is more likely that you may be pregnant. You can consult with your family doctor so they could perform more diagnostic tests and the blood test to confirm.
21 Common Early pregnancy symptoms
Look out for these very early signs and pregnancy symptoms you could be pregnant. (Week 3 to week 20)
The initial sign you may be pregnant is a missed period this can be the most classic symptom. But if any unusual scanty bleeding lasting for the shorter duration you should not be confused with any other health condition. So it is important if you noticed missed periods longer than usual you should consult your doctor.
It is a very common pregnancy symptom usually appears in about 70% cases more often in the first time pregnant moms. This is due to an increase in the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG-hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy). It usually happens soon after the missed period and may last for 16 weeks. Nausea and vomiting in the early morning can be a difficult time for new moms. This happens commonly when you get up from bed, but it does not interfere with your health status.
Increased need to urinate
It is quite a troublesome symptom during the 8-12 week of pregnancy. You will find yourself making more toilet trips and rushing to the toilet. It is due to the resting of the bulky uterus on the fundus of the bladder. Anteverted position of the uterus may be the reason for frequent peeing. But that will be fine after 12 weeks and you don’t need to rush to the toilet.
Breast discomfort and breast changes
It is one of the noticeable signs in early pregnancy. You will notice the breast will be sore, tender, swollen, generally heavy and full and pricking sensation as early as a 6-8th week, especially in the first pregnancy. The breast will start getting bigger and nipple and areola will become dark in colour.
This is a quite common pregnancy symptom. Due to the high progesterone levels and low iron level can make you feel exhausted and weak. So to ease tiredness you should take little rest, meditate and eat healthy.
You may experience a headache because of the altered level of hormones. Increased blood volume and increased blood pressure can be the cause. It may vary with age, activity level, alcohol, smoking and pain. You should contact your physician if it aggravates or causes you any other trouble.
Food cravings or increased hunger
Most of the mothers crave for sweet; chalk or any kind of food may be your favourites. Cravings are quite common during pregnancy due to the hormonal changes. You may rush to eat food all of sudden because you feel so hungry and can’t wait for anything. Isn’t quite strange? But be sure that you are eating healthy food.
Changes in sense of smell and taste
During early pregnancy, your senses to smell can increase. You may be sensitive to some particular smell or fragrances. If some kind of smell is intolerable for you instantly this could be a sign that you might be expecting. Your taste buds may be giving you metallic taste. Changes in the hormone estrogen can make it more reacting.
Your body weight will start increasing this time. The changes in breast size, tummy and total body physical changes and growing fetus will add to your body weight. A healthy gain for most women is between 25-30 pounds. If you are underweight then you should gain more weight but if over-weight then should gain less. Generally, you will gain 3 to 5 pounds in the first trimester. 1 to 2 pounds a week until your baby is born. You can discuss with your doctor if you seem to gain extra weight.
This might sound confusing and strange. But around 20% of women complaints that experience spotting during 1-12 weeks of pregnancy. This is due to the implantation of the fetus in the uterine linings. This can cause a little amount of blood and may happen 7-12 days after you conceive. It’s usually lighter as compare to the menstruation flow. But if it is serious consult with your doctor.
While you are pregnant, the changes in hormonal levels can alter the activity of your digestive system and slow down its function. This can lead to hard stool or constipation. Different dietary habits and hormonal changes can cause diarrhoea and constipation during this time. so if it remains for a few days and more call your doctor.
Heartburn or acidity
It is little fussy having acidity and heartburn in pregnancy. Your hormonal changes make your oesophagus (Food pipe) and stomach more relaxed and calm and decrease its function. If you feel bloated or constipated, don’t go embarrassed. It might be important to see your physician and for taking a pregnancy test.
Due to the uterus muscles contractions (relaxation or stretching) and expanding makes you feel like your period’s cramps. But if you notice any spotting alongside your cramps it could be an indicator of an ectopic pregnancy. Any sort of fresh bleeding can be a warning sign of miscarriage or any other pregnancy-related medical condition. It is better to ask your doctor.
This is generally common to have mild anaemia after you conceive. Low iron and vitamins levels or any other causes can make your skin colour little pale. A low haemoglobin level can leave you more tired and exhausted. If you suffering severely from anaemia, then make sure get it treated as soon as you can. It can prevent any further complication to your baby. Low blood level in pregnancy may become the reason for premature birth and low birth weight. You should go under prenatal care screening for anaemia.
Backache and lower legs pain
Many pregnant women complaints about back pain and muscle ache. The increasing level of stress, worry and hormonal changes can give you backaches. The shifted centre of gravity and weight gain during gestation may increase the stress on your back. Deficiency of vitamins and poor diet make your lower legs cramps. A good diet and healthy posture can reduce pain to some extent.
This is actually high blood pressure, which develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy or if you have hypertension before conceiving. But this will disappear after delivery.
About 7 to 10 % of First-time moms or women carrying multiples may be on the risk of gestational hypertension. Women have a family history and younger than 20 or older than 40 may increase the chances of high blood pressure. Overweight women and who Smokes and drink alcohol may be on risk. High blood pressure can be harmful to your baby so it is crucial to talk to your doctor always.
Pain in the hip or back can be more likely in later pregnancy. It is due to a heavy uterus, increased pressure on the muscles and ligaments and change in your posture.
Lack of sleep
Most of the preggers experience increased stress due to hormonal changes and physical discomfort. Nausea and vomiting will affect your appetite and tend to be the cause of less sleep. You can help yourself by taking a balanced diet and good sleep routine. Listing to music, meditation and yoga can help you to get a sound goodnight sleep.
Acne or pimples
Altered hormonal levels especially increased level of androgen and progesterone hormone can make your skin oily and clogged pores when you pregnant. Melasma, which is skin pigmentation or brown or grey patches on the cheeks, forehead nose and chin. This is due to hormonal changes and it often fades on its own after the baby is born.
Emotional and psychological changes are common in new parents. There are numerous factors can cause anxiety, depression in new moms especially with the single moms or in teenage pregnancies. Moreover, fear of social, economical and other external or internal reasons can be the leading cause. Between 14 to 24% of all pregnant women develop depression during pregnancy. But getting emotional, crying and feeling lonely due to hormonal changes.
Body temperature changes
You feel extra hot or cold? Or your body makes you sweatier or super chilly? It could be an early symptom you might pregnant. Hormonal changes and increased blood volume in order to support the growing baby can make your body work even harder.
If you are pregnant along with most of those symptoms confirmed it by taking a home pregnancy test. Consult your doctor for laboratory testing, which will be the final confirmation and will help in diagnosing pregnancy. Keep an eye on the appearance of the pregnancy symptoms after you missed your periods. This is the time to go and buy a pregnancy test kit.
Getting pregnant is usually a happy time for you and family. A baby means a big change in your body, your personal relationship and finances. It is natural to be excited and worried both while you pregnant. You are now a mom to be and carrying a new life. You are busy in all the preparation and busy in thinking about how you going to welcome your little one.
Your life is about to change that is great and joyful. However, at the same time, you will be experiencing various physical and emotional changes. Yes, few things are not really fun like morning sickness, nausea and food aversion, cravings and mood swing.
Your health is precious whether it is your first or third pregnancy. Here are a few important things that you should know about conceiving and the initial possible symptom of getting pregnant.
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I am experienced health professional (B.Sc. Nursing, P.GD Nursing). I am passionate to provide valuable information about Maternal and child Health. My goal is to provide the right and trustworthy information about pregnancy and baby care.