January 12, 2011 in Signs of Being Pregnant
Pregnancy is a wonderful state of being. Through it, women are able to nurture a completely new life nine months before it makes its official entrance into the world. However, for new mothers, pregnancy might bring about a completely new set of fears. Some of these concerns might seem justified, but most are overreaching. In any case, knowledge is the best way to ease these worries. By knowing the basics behind pregnancy, expecting mothers will not be surprised when certain things happen. In fact, they will understand that these changes are a natural part of the pregnancy experience.
With that being said, you might be wondering when these changes actually begin. Well, the symptoms associated with being pregnant actually begin around 3 weeks after conception. While most pregnancy tests will not register a positive result during this time, expectant mothers may still encounter changes in their body. They will feel nauseous, extremely tired and bloated. They may develop an aversion to certain foods, especially if they are high in fat. As their early pregnancy continues, they may experience spotting. This is very slight bleeding that occurs as the egg burrows itself in the uterus. Many women mistake it for a period, but unlike normal menstruation, spotting lasts for a couple of days. From that point forward, the woman’s body will cease menstruation. A woman will recognize this cessation at around 2 months. At this time, she should get a positive result from an over-the-counter pregnancy test. If she still remains unsure, she can get a blood test from her doctor.
Now if a woman’s pregnancy test is positive, her body will develop even more rapid changes throughout her three trimesters. Towards the end of her first trimester, (when she is about 4 weeks), her fetus will look more human. In addition, her morning sickness will subside, and she will start to notice a “baby bump.” She should also be gaining weight rapidly. Assuming she is not obese, she will need to gain 2 pounds each week during her first trimester. Afterwards, she will need to gain one pound per week. Obese women will have to do things differently, as they can gain no more than 15 pounds during their pregnancy.
Anyway, as a woman progresses into her second trimester, she may experience a sense of euphoria. While the fetus is still growing, it is not large enough to make her feel uncomfortable. At most, she may feel quickening, which is the sensation women experience as the fetus starts to kick. To many this feeling is pleasant; for others it feels like a nervous twitch. Regardless, it is not extremely bothersome for most women.
What will be more troublesome is the woman’s appetite. Hormonal changes and along with the fetus itself put more demands on the body. A woman may feel hungry even after eating a full meal. To combat these urges, pregnant women should consume fruits, vegetables and other healthy snacks. Carbs and fatty foods should be limited in between meals, as too much weight gain is undesirable. If a woman is of average weight, she should gain no more than 40 pounds throughout her whole pregnancy. Should she gain more, she may put herself at risk for pre-eclampsia and/or gestational diabetes. She may also experience a more arduous labor, as the baby is much bigger than normal.
In the third trimester, which encompasses the last three months of pregnancy, the fetus will be fully developed. The mother’s belly will grow quadruple its original size, especially in the eighth and ninth months. As a result, she will probably have some discomfort. Bending down becomes harder, and even if the mother is sedentary, she may experience back pain. Leg swelling is another concern, as the growing uterus limits the woman’s blood flow. However, if the swelling is severe, a woman should get tested for pre-eclampsia, a type of high blood pressure. This will be one of the main concerns for her gynecologist, whom she should be seeing at least once a week at this stage.
At the ninth month, the mother will go into labor. It can be as early as 37 weeks, or as late as 42; both timeframes are completely normal. Either way, the process is the same. A woman will start to feel cramps in her lower back. During very early labor, these pains might feel so minor that a woman mistakes it for gas. As it continues, it becomes clearer that the woman is in labor, as she experience intense pain or “contractions” at specific intervals. When these intervals are around 4 minutes or so apart, a woman should get ready for birthing. Most will do this at the hospital, though there are a few that will give birth with a midwife or at a specialized center.
During the actual birthing, the contractions become very painful but not psychologically unbearable. The pushing sensation actually lessens the contractions a bit, though they are not too pleasant either. This is why some women use Lamaze to help get their focus off of the pain. Others may use an epidural, though be aware that epidurals may prolong labor. This is because they lessen the intensity of the contractions, which are needed to push the baby out.
The final stage of labor ends when the baby exits the uterus. If the baby’s water, (or amniotic sac), was not broken or popped before this point, it is possible that the child is actually birthed in the fluid. This is known as being born in a caul. It is harmless to the child, but may still be alarming to those witnessing the birth.
Another source of alarm might be the vaginal tearing that occurs as the baby is finally pushed out. The moment this happens, the woman will experience an intense, yet very quick burning sensation. The doctor will numb the area and sew it up immediately. In most cases, the stitches will not have to be removed, as the body will absorb them.
Congratulations! You now know the basics behind pregnancy. Hopefully, this information will put you at ease the next time you feel anxious. Remember, despite what some might say, pregnancy is an experience that is natural and beautiful. Even with all its pain and discomforts, it brings you the greatest blessing of all: a new life that is a part of you.