Learn about pregnancy and the care you need to take
Carrying a child in the womb is akin to partnering in God’s greatest creation! Pregnancy brings about a number of changes in a woman. The earliest symptoms of pregnancy can appear in the first few weeks after conception. What you experience may range from nausea and tender breasts to dizziness and mood swings. It is important to understand these symptoms because if you do, you can easily avoid unnecessary anxieties.
The most obvious early symptom of pregnancy is a missed period (or, menstrual cycle) that prompts most women to rush for a pregnancy test. A missed period can also be a false alarm or abnormal hormonal behaviour, but when your body reacts in a certain manner to the changes in the uterus, it is a sign that you are carrying.
Your body shows some other key signs. Your breasts become fuller; and they also become tender. Very early on in pregnancy, you may experience nausea and vomiting; you may also get fatigued easily. Some women have increased frequency of urination, while some others develop aversions for certain kinds of food or have cravings. All these symptoms suggest you are pregnant.
Nausea and vomiting during the early stages of pregnancy is called morning sickness, although this can happen anytime during the day and even at night. Morning sickness begins as early as three weeks after conception. While the cause of nausea during pregnancy isn't quite clear till now, it’s quite likely that pregnancy-related hormones play a role. Pregnant women might also find that smells that never bothered them before now cause nausea.
Exhaustion and fatigue are also among the early symptoms of pregnancy. Moreover, hormonal changes during pregnancy tend to make you dizzy.
To sum up, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, perform a pregnancy test or visit a doctor to find out if a piece of good news is waiting for you.
A healthy lifestyle is what doctors always prescribe and preach. This becomes very important when a woman starts thinking about motherhood. A well-balanced diet constituting whole grains, fruit and vegetables every day is extremely important. Any unhealthy fat intake should be reduced. Consumption of foods rich in iron and calcium is encouraged as it would positively tell on the baby. A multi-vitamin supplement may be required but should be taken after consultation with your doctor.
Excess intake of Vitamins A or D could be detrimental. One of the most important ingredients in your multi-vitamin supplement is folic acid. This prevents neural tube defects in babies. Make sure you take the required dosage regularly.
Being physically active when you're pregnant makes you psychologically fit. It boosts your stamina and helps deal with the burdensome vague body aches that continue throughout pregnancy. In case you already have a fitness regime, it should be continued but not in excess.
In a nutshell, relax and lead a balanced active lifestyle. Reduce stress and get plenty of sleep. It goes a long way in making a healthy mother and a healthy baby.
Pregnancy is a precious gift, so it should be cherished and carried very carefully through all trimesters. However, there are a few precautions that every mother-to-be should take.
Women who are smokers should stop smoking completely the moment they learn they have conceived. There are plenty of studies co-relating smoking with miscarriage, still-births and babies with birth defects. In fact, passive smoking has been found to be equally dangerous. So, you should avoid people who smoke around you throughout your pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.
Alcohol has been associated with complications and terminations of pregnancy. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a clinical entity leading to severe retardation and other abnormalities. It is associated with a number of congenital birth defects.
Drugs that are usually considered safe to take when not pregnant can actually play havoc with a developing foetus. If you are a casual pill popper, you should discuss the use of any drugs you currently take with your doctor beforehand. For some women with chronic health ailments like epilepsy, cardiac conditions or tuberculosis, medication may need to be continued throughout pregnancy. Keep in touch with your doctor. Vitamin A supplements should be avoided, even more so in the first three months of pregnancy. About 10 percent of foetal defects result from drug exposure during pregnancy. Gather information about the established pregnancy risk categories of A, B, C, D or X. Category A is associated with the least risk in pregnancy, while category X is contraindicated (do not use).
A healthy diet during pregnancy is probably what all the elders in your family advocate. However, certain kinds of foods should be avoided or taken in small portions when you're pregnant, because they might make you ill or harm your baby. It is imperative that you know this important list. Your doctor will probably provide you with one such list or you can search for it on Google. It includes raw or undercooked meat, certain kinds of fish, soft varieties of cheese, sushi and many more. According to your diet, you can modify and eat healthy.
Your body talks to you through symptoms. Pregnancy causes a lot of physiological changes which are usually ignored during the initial days. Hence, many women fail to recognise the early signs. Generally, when your body reacts in a certain manner to changes in the uterus, it is a sign that you are carrying. However, not every woman might experience the same symptoms. Educating yourself ahead of time can prevent you from being blindsided. You might experience nausea, tender breasts, dizziness, mood swings, odd food cravings and maddeningly frequent bathroom trips. If you happen to notice any of these changes in your body, you should take a home pregnancy test which you can buy over-the-counter from any chemist.
The diagnosis of pregnancy is a three-pronged approach using three main diagnostic tools. These are history and physical examination, laboratory evaluation, and ultrasonography. After the initial anticipation which takes you to your doctor, the doctor orders tests from the laboratory. There are certain markers secreted in your body that suggest pregnancy. Think of these as signals given out by your body. Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is one such marker used extensively in the diagnosis of pregnancy. It was discovered in 1930. It is produced by the special cells of your fertilized eggs. While HCG is a reliable marker of pregnancy, it cannot be detected until after the foetus is firmly implanted in the uterus. This results in false negatives if the test is performed during the very early stages of pregnancy.
Laboratory tests include taking urine and blood samples. Such samples can be collected at any place and tested at a pathology lab. These days, convenient, easy to use home pregnancy kits are readily available in the market. Clear instructions given on the pack make it easy to use. The tests usually confirm if you are pregnant. A doctor however, can confirm it with more tests and examinations.
While blood tests take longer than the home tests to confirm pregnancy, they are more accurate.
There are two types of blood pregnancy tests available - qualitative and quantitative.
Blood test simply checks the level of HCG and gives clear results. HCG is detectable in the blood of approximately 5% of patients 8 days after conception and in more than 98% of patients after 11 days. The initial rate of rise, measured by serial quantitative HCG testing, is important in the monitoring of early complicated pregnancies.
Like all laboratory tests, pregnancy tests can also give wrong results, i.e. a false positive or a false negative. It is always best to be well informed. While urine tests can be performed at home, blood tests are done at labs. While both the tests confirm pregnancy, blood tests are generally more accurate. It has been documented that many users misunderstand or fail to follow the instructions in the home pregnancy test kits. Improper usage may cause both false negatives and false positives. So, the first move should be to follow the steps correctly.
False negative readings can occur when testing is done too early. Most doctors recommend that you wait until the first day of your missed period before taking a urine pregnancy test. This is usually about two weeks after conception.
False positive test results may occur due to incorrect application, use of certain drugs containing the HCG molecule, and non-pregnant production of the HCG molecule which occurs in some tumours. A woman who has been given an HCG injection due to infertility treatment will also test positive on pregnancy tests, regardless of her actual pregnancy status.
Close coordination with your doctor will help you sail effortlessly through these tests and help you enjoy your pregnancy.
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