Becoming a parent is one of life’s biggest joys and responsibilities. Doing all you can do to prepare now, before your baby is born, will make the transition to parenthood much easier. Today, with the means of contraception easily available and the number of working women on the increase, a pregnancy is often planned and not accidental.
The pre conception period (three months prior to pregnancy ) is the time to make life changes that can help boost fertility, reduce problems during pregnancy and assist in recovery from birth.
Am I Pregnant
One of the most commonly asked question by a women is “AM I PREGNANT?” Even they have not been pregnant before, most women are aware of symptoms of early pregnancy.
When To Suspect a Pregnancy
Missing a Period: This is one of the most common reason for suspecting a pregnancy. Women who have regular periods will take this as the first sign of pregnancy. Only a urine or blood pregnancy test, followed by a pelvic exam, can confirm pregnancy. Occasionally a period can be delayed to hormonal problems even in the absence of pregnancy.
Why is a period missed
Every month, signals from the brain cause the hormone Estrogen to be released from the ovary. Estrogen acts on the lining of the uterus and it responds by getting thicker and spongier in anticipation of pregnancy. Most women produce an egg around the middle of the cycle, usually between 11th and 16th day. Following this, the ovary produces the hormone progesterone. When the egg does not get fertilised in that cycle, the level of progestrone drops and the lining of the uterus is shed, leading to menstruation. When fertilisation occurs, the level of progestrone and estrogen rise dramatically and the lining of the uterus continues to get thicker to receive the embro. In this case, the period is missed.
Calculating a due date
- The due date is based on the assumption that the conception occurred exactly 2 weeks after the first day of the last period. The method used by obstetricians around the world is to add 7 days and subtract 3 months from the date of the first day of the last menstrual period. For example: if the last menstrual period began on 21st July 2016 the due date is calculated as follows: July 20 + 7 days = 27 July. July 27 – 3 months = April . Therefore, the estimated due date would be April 27, 2017.
“The first day of the last period is used to calculate the due date of the delivery.
Five most important things to boost your preconception health
Women and men should prepare for pregnancy before becoming sexually active — or at least three months before getting pregnant. Some actions, such as quitting smoking, reaching a healthy weight, or adjusting medicines you are using, should start even earlier. The five most important things you can do for preconception health are:
- Take 400 to 800 micrograms (400 to 800 mcg or 0.4 to 0.8 mg) of folic acid every day if you are planning or capable of pregnancy to lower your risk of some birth defects of the brain and spine, including spina bifida. All women need folic acid every day. Talk to your doctor about your folic acid needs. Some doctors prescribe prenatal vitamins that contain higher amounts of folic acid.
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
- If you have a medical condition, be sure it is under control. Some conditions that can affect pregnancy or be affected by it include asthma, diabetes, oral health, obesity, or epilepsy.
- Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter and prescription medicines you are using. These include dietary or herbal supplements. Be sure your vaccinations are up to date.
- Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials that could cause infection at work and at home. Stay away from chemicals and cat or rodent feces.
Stages of Pregnancy
Pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, counting firstyday of your last period. The weeks are grouped into three trimesters. Find out what’s happening with you and your baby in these three stages.
First Trimester (Week 1 To Week 12)
During the first trimester your body undergoes many changes. Hormonal changes affect almost every organ system in your body. These changes can trigger symptoms even in the very first weeks of pregnancy. Your period stopping is a clear sign that you are pregnant.
Other changes may include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Tender, swollen breasts. Your nipples might also stick out.
- Upset stomach with or without throwing up (morning sickness)
- Cravings or distaste for certain foods
- Mood swings
- Constipation (trouble having bowel movements)
- Need to pass urine more often
- Weight gain or loss
Second Trimester (Week 13 To Week 28)
Most women find the second trimester of pregnancy easier than the first. But it is just as important to stay informed about your pregnancy during these months.
You might notice that symptoms like nausea and fatigue are going away. But other new, more noticeable changes to your body are now happening. Your abdomen will expand as the baby continues to grow. And before this trimester is over, you will feel your baby beginning to move!
As your body changes to make room for your growing baby, you may have:
- Body aches, such as back, abdomen, groin, or thigh pain
- Stretch marks on your abdomen, breasts, thighs, or buttocks
- Darkening of the skin around your nipples
- A line on the skin running from belly button to pubic hairline
- Patches of darker skin, usually over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip. Patches often match on both sides of the face. This is sometimes called the mask of pregnancy.
- Numb or tingling hands, called carpal tunnel syndrome
- Itching on the abdomen, palms, and soles of the feet. (Call your doctor if you have nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice or fatigue combined with itching. These can be signs of a serious liver problem.)
- Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face.
Third Trimester (Week 29 To Week 40)
You’re in the home stretch! Some of the same discomforts you had in your second trimester will continue. Plus, many women find breathing difficult and notice they have to go to the bathroom even more often. This is because the baby is getting bigger and it is putting more pressure on your organs. Don’t worry, your baby is fine and these problems will lessen once you give birth.
Some new body changes you might notice in the third trimester include:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face. (If you notice any sudden or extreme swelling or if you gain a lot of weight really quickly, call your doctor right away. This could be a sign of preeclampsia.)
- Tender breasts, which may leak a watery pre-milk called colostrum (kuh-LOSS-struhm)
- Your belly button may stick out
- Trouble sleeping
- The baby “dropping”, or moving lower in your abdomen
- Contractions, which can be a sign of real or false labor
As you near your due date, your cervix becomes thinner and softer (called effacing). This is a normal, natural process that helps the birth canal (vagina) to open during the birthing process. Your doctor will check your progress with a vaginal exam as you near your due date. Get excited — the final countdown has begun!