Pregnancy is a time during which one or more fetus (offspring) develops inside a woman’s womb.
It is also known as gestation and usually occurs through sexual intercourse, but nowadays it can also occur through assisted reproductive technology procedures. The period of pregnancy is about 40 weeks.
How can One Confirm their Pregnancy?
The pregnancy can be confirmed by using a pregnancy test kit after 2 weeks of conception.
It can also be confirmed by blood or urine test. After pregnancy menstruation cycle also stops.
Signs and symptoms during Pregnancy
- Some of the common signs and symptoms are:
- Morning sickness
- Pelvic girdle pain
- Back pain
- Constipation (Hard to pass stool)
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Increase in size of the breast
- Regurgitation, heartburn, and nausea
The normal signs and symptoms of pregnancy don’t affect daily life activities but pregnancy complications can cause more severe symptoms like anemia.
Division of Pregnancy
The unborn baby spends around 38 weeks in the womb, but the average length of pregnancy is counted as 40 weeks.
This is because pregnancy is counted from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual cycle, not the date of conception, which generally occurs two weeks later.
Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters:
First trimester (0 to 13 weeks)
- The first trimester is the most crucial for the development of your baby.
- In this period, your baby’s body structure and organ systems develop. During this period, there is a high chance of miscarriage and birth defection.
- Your body undergoes major changes during this period.
- These changes often cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and frequent urination. Although these are common signs and symptoms of pregnancy every woman has a different experience.
Second trimester (14 to 26 weeks)
- During your second trimester, your doctor will start to check your and your baby’s health including monitoring the heartbeat of the fetus.
- The development of all organs and systems is completed in your fetus and it will now start to grow in length.
- This stage is physically most enjoyable to a woman as morning sickness lessens and the extreme tiredness and breast tenderness usually ease up.
- You may be able to feel the movement of the fetus in about 20 weeks and this process is called quickening.
Third trimester (27 weeks to until childbirth)
- The third trimester starts from 27 weeks and lasts until the child’s birth.
- In this phase, your baby keeps growing. By the end of the phase, the fetus is between 19 to 21 inches long and weighs between 6 to 9 pounds.
- In this phase, the fetus will be able to open its eyes and see, hear, suck on its thumb, cry, and smile. This phase is also the most challenging.
- In this phase, your baby’s brain continues to develop and its lung and kidney get matured. During this period you will feel body ache, abdominal pain, fatigue, etc.
How Often do you Need to Visit a Doctor During Pregnancy?
If your pregnancy is free of complications and your health is normal, you’re likely to have about 14 prenatal visits during your pregnancy. Your visits are scheduled closer as your pregnancy progresses.
Most women have a schedule of prenatal visits to a hospital that follows this timing:
- One visit every four weeks during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy
- One visit every two weeks during 28-36 weeks of pregnancy
- One visit every week during the last month of pregnancy
This schedule is only a guide. You might require more appointments with less time between visits if you have preexisting medical problems or other issues associated with a high risk of complications.
Ultrasound During Pregnancy
Most healthy women should receive only three ultrasound scans during pregnancy.
One during the first trimester to confirm the due date and the other during 18-22 weeks to confirm the normal anatomy and sex of the baby (but it is illegal in Nepal).
The last ultrasound scan is done to check the overall development of the fetus during 32 to 38 weeks of pregnancy.
If any abnormalities or complications are detected during any of the routine ultrasounds, you might need more.
Why is Ultrasound Necessary?
Ultrasound is used for many reasons like viewing the uterus and ovaries during pregnancy and monitoring the fetus’s health, diagnosing gallbladder disease, and evaluating blood flow.
Precautions to be Taken in Pregnancy
- Avoid drinking alcohol, smoking, eating tobacco, and other intoxicants.
- If you are suffering from any disease and you are taking medicine then you must consult with your doctor for continuation.
- You must be very careful about your diet during pregnancy and you must consult with your doctor about what to eat and what to avoid.
- You must avoid hard work but you need to perform light exercise.
- You must often visit the doctor during pregnancy and perform at least two ultrasound scans to know about the health condition of the developing baby.
- You must take medicines like folic acid (within three months), and TT injection under the supervision of a doctor for a healthy pregnancy.
Hence for giving birth to a healthy child and to save the mother from further pregnancy complications, you need to visit a gynecologist regularly.
You must avoid home delivery and you should get admitted to the hospital at least 2 days ahead of the estimated delivery date.