Signs of pregnancy
Once pregnancy occurs, different effects take place in the body of the woman. Development of the baby in the womb produces many biochemical changes.
There are signs associated with pregnancy. Most common is a missed menstrual period, but since all women do not have regular menstrual cycles it is important to watch for other pregnancy signs such as: breast tenderness, nausea, heartburn, extreme tiredness and frequent urination.
Even if a woman has some or all symptoms it is important to reconfirm the diagnosis with a pregnancy test.
This test will detect the presence of a hormone called chorionic gonadotropin, which is produced by the placenta and it is present in the blood and urine of the expecting woman.
Prenatal Care: Objective
The objective of prenatal care is to monitor the health of the pregnant mother and fetus.
It is important to visit the doctor as soon as you suspect you are pregnant. At each visit the doctor will examine you. This examination includes: monitoring weight gain or loss, blood pressure, circumference of the abdomen, position of the fetus and fetal heartbeat. Such variables are going to be closely followed during the course of your pregnancy.
Other tests your doctor may recommend are: Ultrasound and Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring.
Frequency of Visits to the Doctor
Your doctor may schedule your visits monthly during the first two trimesters (from week one to week 28 of pregnancy), every two weeks from 28 to week 36 of pregnancy and weekly after week 36 (until the day of delivery that could be between week 38 and 40 weeks).
Pregnancy associated discomforts
As the fetus grows, the uterus increases in size effecting other parts of your body. Some changes are triggered by the hormones your body secretes for nurturing the fetus to prepare both you and your child for birth.
During your pregnancy you will expect some discomforts such as:
Constipation and hemorrhoids: One of the reasons for constipation may be changes produced in the digestive tract due to hormones slowing down the movement of food. Added to this, during the last trimester of pregnancy there is more pressure on your rectum from your uterus. To avoid these try to drink plenty of liquids and eat fruit and vegetables with a high fiber content. Some pregnant women experience relief drinking a glass of tepid water before breakfast.
Nausea: As well as constipation, it is due to metabolic changes. In the morning before getting up try eating crackers and stand up very slowly. Try to eat in small quantities every three hours (fractionated diet). During your pregnancy it is good to eat proteins (meat, eggs, cheese) before going to bed at night.
Heartburn: This can occur when stomach acid from digesting food is pushed into your esophagus. As stated before, during pregnancy all digestive process is slowed down and in addition, the engrossed uterus presses up on your stomach. To avoid heartburn, eat in small quantities, several times a day. Avoid spicy and greasy foods and do not eat at least one hour before going bed. Some pregnant women experience relief resting at night by elevating their heads with two or three pillows.
Fatigue: Your body is doing a big job while you are pregnant. Try to sleep 8 hours daily and if you can take a nap during the day. Avoid hard work and eat a balanced diet throughout your pregnancy.
Headaches: You may have headaches during your pregnancy. Possibly because you are tense or in some cases it is cased by the higher level of blood in your body now that you are pregnant. Lay down and try to relax. Some women experience relief walking outside. Do not take medication while you are pregnant unless directed by your doctor.
Frequent Urination: During your pregnancy, your uterus is pressing down on your bladder and even if your bladder is almost empty this pressure produces the same sensation as if it were full. Do not avoid the urge of urinate.
Cramps: They are due to circulatory problems associated with the weight gain as you progress in your pregnancy. Ask your doctor to recommend some exercises to alleviate these discomforts
Chloasma: These are obscure marks in the skin caused by the hormones secreted during pregnancy and tend to disappear after delivery. Avoiding sunlight can help prevent them.
Stretch Marks: Skin tissue that has to support extra weight causes these marks. They appear on the abdomen and breasts and in most cases slowly disappear after delivery.
Varicose Veins: They are produced by the pressure of the uterus to the lower part of the abdomen that causes difficulty in circulation during the 9 months of pregnancy. They usually appear in legs especially if you must stand or sit for long periods of time. If you do need to stand or sit for long periods, move frequently to improve your circulation. Elevate your legs when possible or lie in bed with a pillow under your feet. While you are sitting try to keep your feet up. Do not wear tight clothing. Your doctor may recommends support stockings for you.
Breathing Difficulties: This happens during the third trimester of pregnancy because the fetus is occupying more space in your abdomen. Breath deeply several times a day (you can ask your childbirth instructor to teach you the correct way) but avoid hyperventilation. Sleep propped up and avoid crowded places and smoggy environments.
Backaches: This is a consequence of the growing of your abdomen and your weight increase. If you are suffering from backaches wear low-heeled shoes, try to keep your back straight and avoid lifting heavy weights. It is good to practice some relaxation exercises that will help to lower the tension in your muscles. Remember to stay as calm and serene as possible during your pregnancy.
Swelling: Due to the retention of water in your tissues, swelling has a high occurrence in your feet. Try to elevate your legs whenever you can and avoid tight clothes that bind your legs. It is important to notify the doctor if you notice that swelling is taking place in uncommon areas or if you register a sudden rise of your weight.