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Monday, May 20, 2013
Your baby starts out as a fertilized egg, no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. The baby will change and grow almost every single day and your body will change and grow, too. It will take 280 days (9 1/3 calendar months or 40 weeks) before the baby is fully developed and is ready to live outside your uterus (womb). Pregnancy is often divided into three periods called trimesters. Each trimester is roughly three months long.
|It is important to seek medical attention as soon as you think you might be pregnant. It is best to start prenatal care before you get pregnant. By doing so, you increase the chances of having a healthy baby - your health care provider can identify problems and issues that need to be addressed prior to conception.||It is best to start prenatal care before you get pregnant|
You can also buy do-it-yourself (sometimes called home) pregnancy testing kits in the drug store. These tests also use a urine sample to determine pregnancy. It is a good idea to see your doctor regardless of the result of the do-it-yourself test. Another test done in the laboratory can double check your result and, if you are not pregnant, help the doctor find out why you missed a period.
Whatever your initial reaction, it is normal for your feelings to change many times over the course of your pregnancy. As you talk and plan and learn about pregnancy and parenting, you will be better able to deal with your concerns. Therefore, it is important to learn about pregnancy and the birth process as you are experiencing it. Join prenatal classes, share your feelings with others, and continue to do the things you enjoy. There are a number of wonderful books available dealing with the topic of pregnancy. They can help you understand what is happening to your body and assist you in maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
During the first 3 months of pregnancy, your body and your emotions will go through many changes. Your temperament will return to normal as your body adjusts to the pregnancy. However, during the last weeks of pregnancy you may feel uncomfortable, unattractive, a little nervous, and have trouble sleeping.
|Nutrition is an important factor in your pregnancy. Studies show a direct relationship between the mother's pre-pregnant weight, the amount of pregnancy weight gain, and the weight of the newborn. The Institute of Medicine - National Academy of Science has published new guidelines that show the risk of low birth weight can be decreased if the mother gains the proper amount of weight. Underweight women should try to gain 28 to 40 pounds; normal weight women, 25 to 35 pounds; and overweight women, 15 to 25 pounds. Women carrying twins or triplets should gain 40 pounds or more.||The risk of low birthweight can be decreased if the mother gains the proper amount of weight.|
Birth defects have been associated with an inadequate diet that does not include enough vitamins and minerals. Even if you are eating regular meals each day, you and your growing baby may still be inadequately nourished.
According to the U.S. Public Health Service, all women considering pregnancy should supplement their daily diet with multivitamins. To reduce the incidence of spina bifida - the number one disabling birth defect - and other neural tube defects (NTD's), take 0.4 mg of folic acid (one of the B vitamins) every day. It is recommended that folic acid supplementation be started prior to pregnancy. Nutritional considerations are part of the reason you should start prenatal care prior to conception. Such care is known as "preconception counseling".
Infections of particular concern to pregnant women include: hepatitis A and B; rubella (German measles); influenza (flu); chlamydia (the most common sexually transmitted disease in women); gonorrhea; tuberculosis; herpes simplex; varicella (Chicken pox); toxoplasmosis; syphilis and AIDS. In most cases, a simple blood test can tell you if you have an infection.
Use good hygiene. Frequent hand washing, careful handling and disposal of diapers or cat litter, and wearing gloves for gardening can reduce the risks of infection.
Only a handful of the sixty thousand chemicals used commercially are tested for their effects on pregnancy. Among those identified as causing reproductive harm are lead, mercury, iodine, ether, hydrochloride, carbon monoxide, nicotine, and ethyl alcohol.
|...smoking harms more fetuses and causes more complications than any of the above listed chemicals and household products.||Do not smoke, and encourage others not to smoke in your presence. It is important to realize that smoking harms more fetuses and causes more complications than any of the above listed chemicals and household products. Smoking during pregnancy may cause prematurity, lung disease, crib death, and other complications. Therefore, if you are a smoker it is best to stop. You should also encourage others not to smoke in your presence.|
Prolonged, intense exercise can raise body temperature; therefore exercise in moderation during pregnancy. This is not the best time to participate in vigorous, competitive sports, or to start a new exercise program unless specifically designed for pregnant women.
Dehydration is a common problem in pregnancy. Therefore, drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Report any elevated body temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It may indicate a fever, which should be investigated by your health care provider.
Pregnant women should avoid long periods of sitting in a car because this can increase the risk of forming a blood clot in the legs. Walking every 1-2 hours and doing isometric exercises with the legs, such as toe-lifts, are good ways of improving circulation in the lower body.
If at any time, even during the last trimester of pregnancy, you detect a change in the pattern or lack of fetal movement, call your health care provider.
|Don't be afraid to make a change for better care. Remember that you are the most important member of the healthcare team.|
Pregnancy can be a very exciting time of life - it is a time of new beginnings. Try to make the most of an occasion that can create so many fond memories. Accept the inconveniences and enjoy the precious moments, while they are here.
Last Reviewed: May 07, 2007
Arthur T Ollendorff, MD
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati
Thomas A deHoop, MD
Formerly Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology
Director, Medical Student Education
No longer associated