Overview of Pregnancy
Pregnancy (حاملہ) is the result of the fertilization between a sperm and an egg. The egg is released from the ovary during ovulation. After fertilization, the egg travels to the uterus and implants itself on the endometrium. Successful implantation leads to pregnancy.
Pregnancy is different for every woman. Prenatal care leads to a healthy pregnancy.
Doctors Treating Pregnancy474 Doctors Available
Dr. Naheed Akhtar Rana
Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
Pregnancy symptoms can appear before you even notice that you are pregnant. For others, symptoms show themselves at a later stage, as the hormone level changes. Some of the classic pregnancy symptoms are as follows:
- No Period
The most classic sign of pregnancy is the absence of a period. For those who are never late in their cycle, a missed period is a likely sign of pregnancy. But a missed period doesn’t always mean that you are pregnant, it can also happen due to other health conditions or maybe even stress.
- Nausea and Vomiting
Morning sickness is mostly an indication of pregnancy. During the first few weeks, bouts of nausea and vomiting are high. Some women don’t get morning sickness.
Headaches usually happen in early pregnancy due to altered hormone levels. A doctor needs to be consulted for intense and painful headaches.
- Weight gain
The body gains at least one to four pounds during the first and second trimesters. You might not notice that you have gained weight until after packing a few pounds.
The expansion of the uterus can cause cramps-like feelings. Spotting or bleeding when you have cramps may be an indication of complications in the pregnancy, a miscarriage, or an ectopic pregnancy.
During the initial stages of pregnancy, breast changes are a big indication of being pregnant. The breast feels tender, swollen, and heavy. Nipples become larger and highly sensitive.
Other signs include:
Stages of Pregnancy
Pregnancy usually lasts over 40 weeks. The 1st week starts from the first day of the normal period. Weeks are divided into three trimesters.
The first trimester comprises Week 1 to Week 12. This is when the changes in the body occur. Hormonal changes are usually triggered first, which can cause changes even in the initial weeks of pregnancy. The period stops is considered to be the first sign of pregnancy. The changes the body goes through include:
- Extreme fatigue, tiredness
- Morning sickness
- Tender, swollen breasts
- Mood swings
- Strong emotional changes
- Distaste for certain foods
- Weight gain or weight loss
Every woman feels these changes in a different way, some are greatly affected while some are hardly affected. It is a more crucial time as chances of miscarriages are usually high in the first trimester.
- 1-5 weeks: The zygote develops into an embryo. The heart, brain, and spinal cord start forming. Arm and leg buds also appear.
- 6-8 weeks: Heart starts beating. All major organs start to form, and the legs and arms grow longer. The embryo converts into a fetus, resembling more like a human.
- 9-12 weeks: Babygrows and the organ develops more. Sex organs are developed indicating gender. Nerves and muscles start to work together.
The second trimester comprises Week 13 to Week 28. The second trimester is relatively much easier than the first trimester. Symptoms such as morning sickness and fatigue usually go away. Other physical changes make their appearance, such as the abdomen expanding as the baby grows. More usual symptoms in these weeks include:
- Stretch marks on the abdomen
- Body ache
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Itching in the palms and soles and abdomen
- Darkening of the areolae
- Swelling of fingers, ankles, and face
Before the second trimester is over, the baby’s movement can be felt and the sex of the baby can be known via ultrasound.
- 16 weeks: Skin begins to form, the skeleton continues to form and the baby can now make a sucking motion. Baby makes his first bowel movement during this time.
- 20 weeks: Baby’s eyelashes, eyebrows, and nails are formed. The baby starts to move and the movement is felt by the mother. Baby can now hear and swallow.
- 24 weeks: Real hair grows along with blood cells; lungs develop but do not function yet. The baby sleeps and wakes regularly. Baby starts to store fat.
This trimester includes Week 29-Week 40. The baby continues to grow, the abdomen expands more and the baby presses on the organs. This creates the urgency to urinate more. Changes during this trimester include:
- Back pain
- Swollen feet, ankles, fingers
- Shortness of breath
- Tender breasts
- The belly button sticking out
- Baby moving lower in the abdomen
- Braxton hicks
- Real contractions (a sign of labor)
After the 36th week mark, the baby can be born anytime. As the due date nears, the cervix becomes thinner and softer allowing the birth canal (vagina) to open during the birthing process. The progress is checked by a vaginal exam by the doctor in the last few weeks.
- 32 weeks: Baby can now kick forcefully, the eyes can open and close, and soft bones are formed. The baby grows more and gains weight.
- 36 weeks: Body fat increases, giving less space for the baby to move.
- Till 40 weeks: A full-term baby is considered 39 weeks. The organs are fully developed and can function on their own. Babies position themselves head down for birth.
Types of Pregnancy
There are three main types of pregnancy:
- Single pregnancy: This is the most common type of pregnancy, in which a woman is carrying one fetus.
- Multiple pregnancies: This type of pregnancy occurs when a woman is carrying two or more fetuses. Multiple pregnancies can be further classified as:
- Twins: Two fetuses are present.
- Triplets: Three fetuses are present.
- Quadruplets: Four fetuses are present.
- Quintuplets: Five fetuses are present.
- Sextuplets: Six fetuses are present.
- Ectopic pregnancy: This is a type of pregnancy where the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies can be dangerous for the mother and require medical intervention.
It's important to note that there are also different classifications for pregnancies based on their duration or outcome. For example, a term pregnancy is one that lasts for 37-42 weeks, while a preterm pregnancy is one that ends before 37 weeks. A viable pregnancy is one that has a chance of surviving outside of the womb, while a nonviable pregnancy is one that is not expected to result in a live birth.
Causes of Pregnancy
Pregnancy occurs when a sperm fertilizes an egg and the resulting fertilized egg implants in the lining of the uterus. The fertilization of the egg can occur when a man's sperm is able to penetrate a woman's egg during intercourse.
Risk Factors of Pregnancy
Diagnosis of pregnancy can be done at home or the clinic.
Home pregnancy kits are very accurate. A positive result is an indication of pregnancy but a doctor’s appointment is still necessary.
An ultrasound can clearly show if there is a pregnancy and any other news regarding the pregnancy whether it is a healthy pregnancy or ectopic.
hCG hormone is measured to confirm the pregnancy. High hCG levels are a clear indication of pregnancy.
Sometimes women can experience false labor pains known as Braxton-Hicks contractions. They are normal and feel exactly like real labor pain. These contractions don’t increase in intensity and stop after a while.
Early labor contractions or active labor contractions last usually between 30 to 45 seconds. Contractions are far apart in the beginning and by the end are only five minutes apart. The water bag might break early during labor or delivery.
Active labor is when the cervix dilates and contractions get closer. A doctor or healthcare provider will see you through the whole process of labor.
Active labor is very very painful. Now, drugs can be taken to deal with the pain or drug-free methods can also opt. Anesthetics such as an epidural completely block the pain and numb the region.
A healthy diet needs to be taken along with prenatal vitamins to ensure a healthy pregnancy. High mercury foods, raw meat, smoking, and alcohol need to be avoided at all costs.
Treatment of Pregnancy | When to Consult a Doctor
While pregnancy is not a disease or an illness, proper medical care is essential to ensure the health and well-being of both the mother and the developing baby.
The treatment of pregnancy involves regular prenatal care, which includes visits to a healthcare provider, such as an obstetrician or midwife, for check-ups, monitoring, and screening for any potential complications.
During prenatal visits, the healthcare provider will monitor the mother's health, check the growth and development of the fetus, and provide guidance on nutrition, exercise, and overall wellness. The healthcare provider may also prescribe medications or supplements, as needed, to address any health issues that arise during pregnancy.
In addition to prenatal care, childbirth education classes can help expectant mothers prepare for labor and delivery, and postpartum care can help women recover after childbirth.
It's important to note that every pregnancy is different, and the treatment may vary depending on the individual needs of the mother and the baby. Therefore, it's crucial to work closely with a gynecologist throughout pregnancy to ensure a safe and healthy outcome for both the mother and the baby.