Helpful advice to get you through this challenging, yet beautiful time in your life
Congratulations, you’re pregnant! There are so many thoughts going through your head right now…from health concerns to what you need to buy for your baby, to whether or not you should breastfeed…you probably feel extremely overwhelmed. You are probably wondering about morning sickness, what kind of diet you should be following, how much exercise you need, as well as what symptoms you will experience during pregnancy…we are sure you have dozens of questions.
In this section, we will discuss everything from when to schedule your first prenatal visit to what different types of breast pumps to what you need to do to take care of you and your baby while you are expecting. Relax and enjoy this special time. The following articles will help ease your worries and offer you some helpful advice to get you through this challenging, yet beautiful time in your life!
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From pregnancy to childbirth – prepare yourself for this ecstatic journey
The best feeling is to sense the movement of life within you. The whole process of conceiving to developing to getting the bundle of joy in your arms is an ecstatic experience of womanhood to motherhood. However, to ensure safety and good health of both the mother and the new-born, understanding the entire process of pregnancy to childbirth is extremely important.
In the language of science: Also known as gestation, it is a state when a woman carries a fertilized egg; and an offspring or two develops in her body.
Sneak peek at the process of conceiving
A woman conceives after having sexual intercourse with her male partner when the sperm meets the egg in the ovary. While millions of sperms come out with every ejaculation, only one cell successfully meets up with the egg. However, the condition is – both should meet at the right time when the egg remains matured. Once the flawless sperms and the perfect eggs come in contact, the incredible phase begins.
The stages of this new journey
Starting from the 1st date of your Last Menstrual Period (LMP), childbirth happens at around 40 weeks (9 lunar months). These weeks have been categorized into 3 stages or trimesters –
- 1st trimester: From 1st week to 12th week
- 2nd trimester: From 13th week to 28th week
- 3rd trimester: From 29th week to 40th week
It’s good news!
Signs and symptoms
The best way to identify whether it’s good news or not is to undergo a test. However, there are certain early signs of this phase.
Women experience this symptom within 6 to 12 days of egg fertilization. Once she has conceived, the fertilized eggs get attached to the uterus wall which causes spotting and cramping (implantation bleeding). Most people often mistake this slight bleeding as their periods.
Apart from that, they may also experience the secretion of milky white discharge which results from the thickening of the vaginal walls. This white discharge is harmless and continues to flow throughout the entire phase. Along with these, be ready for the frequent urination.
Nausea and fatigue
One of the most common early symptoms, a woman can experience nausea any time of the day or maybe all day. It happens due to pregnancy hormones. Again, while you might not vomit at all, you would certainly experience exhaustion. It occurs mainly during the 1st and 3rd trimester. Take rest, consult the GYN and you’ll be fine.
Missed periods are an indication that encourages most women to have a test done for confirmation. However, not always does it specify good news; on the contrary, you might also experience bleeding during your gestation period.
Changes in breasts
Breast changes are obvious and start occurring from the very initial stages; it’s because of the hormone levels of a female change rapidly.
- They become heavier, swollen and painful
- Breasts also become very sensitive
- They might appear full
- The areola (area around the nipple) will darken
Some other common symptoms include –
- Back pain and other body aches
- Pelvic girdle pain
- Newfound food cravings or even dislikes
- Mood swings
- Extreme tiredness
- Heartburn and headache
- Patches of skin darkening
- Belly button sticking out
- Trouble in sleeping
- Baby dropping/ moving to the abdomen’s lower section, etc.
Note: Every woman is different, and so are their bodily conditions and symptoms. If you experience none of these signs, you might still be expecting. It’s the doctor who can finally give you the confirmation.
Scheduling your 1st pre-natal visit
You should schedule your 1st pre-natal visit after 8 weeks from LMP or Last Menstrual Period. To simplify it, visit the doctor immediately as you come to know you are expecting. As every time the condition is different, pre-natal visits are important even when it’s not the first childbirth.
Be ready to face the series of essential questions your doctor is going to ask about your medical history.
- Height, weight and blood pressure
- Hemoglobin count
- Accurate date of your LMP and other gynecological details
- History of abortion and miscarriage
- Any birth control methods applied before
- Cases of hospitalizations or other medical history
- Family’s medical history, etc.
Also, you and your partner can ask any question regarding this new phase you are going to experience. Do not hesitate to clear your doubts, as this will help you to prepare for both expected as well as unexpected surprises.
Why is prenatal care so important for the would-be mother?
At the very initial stage when a couple visits a doctor, they are counseled with a pre-conception to discuss everything regarding gestation and recommendations. But why is it important?
It is because prenatal care is not just about monitoring the health of the mother, but also about the unborn child’s health. Certain possible issues like high blood pressure, insufficient weight gain, diabetes (due to gestation) can be harmful to the fetus if left untreated.
The doctor further checks weight, heartbeat and position of the fetus in the uterus. Early detection of any problem or risk factor can be cured safely, if monitored in due time.
Some of the benefits of proper prenatal care (or say, more reasons) are –
- Monitoring and assessment can give accurate nutritional information.
- Keep constant track of the baby’s development through USG or other examinations.
- Both of your health conditions depend completely on proper pre-natal care.
- Helps learn the accurate date of labor and delivery.
Now, what else should you do to take care of your baby?
Would-be-mothers should consider the following things for taking care of their baby.
- Avoid these habits during this period
During this gestation period, make sure to quit these following habits.
- Drinking alcohol
- Drug usage of any kind
- Watching television while having your meal
- Not sharing your stress with the doctor
- Eating junk food
- Shifting duty
- Ensure to cut down on caffeine
- Avoid hot baths
Engaging in sexual activity
During gestation, engaging in sexual activity is considered as a low-risk factor. However, sexual intercourse should be strictly avoided if the doctor recommends to, for any specific medical reason.
According to research, the frequency of sexual engagement and desire reduces while a woman is expecting. However, studies also indicate an increase in sexual desire during the 2nd trimester.
Doctors, in normal conditions, recommend exercises that are safe for the particular individual. Some of those are – walking, running, yoga (specifically prenatal), swimming, etc. Besides these, you should follow a healthy diet to avoid any complications.
Apart from those your gynecologist has prescribed, make sure the other medicines you are taking (if any) are safe for your child. For instance:
- Herbal supplements
- Medicines for acne treatment
- Regular vitamins and amino acids
- Medicines for skin disease
- Specific antidepressants
- Medicines for asthma, etc.
These are not safe for a would-be mother; ensure to consult with your gynecologist before continuing or stopping abruptly. Both can have harmful effects on the body.
Few other things to do to take care of your unborn
- Increase your intake of folic acid. It helps in the development of the central nervous system.
- Consume iron supplements.
- Do not eat red meat frequently.
- Avoid cleaning your cat’s litter or getting exposed to other toxic substances.
- Never lift any weight or do any heavy work.
- Take proper rest and sleep early.
- Avoid using the stairs in the last month (Or it may result in immature birth).
- Exposure to bright light at night can be harmful.
- Putting on excessive weight can also adversely affect.
So, after a long, exciting 40 weeks, you would finally be welcoming your baby. But when exactly?
Delivery between the 39th and 41st week ensures better outcomes and hence, it is known as a full term. During this period, one must wait for the labor to happen naturally as its best for both the mother’s and the baby’s health.
If the baby has a pre-matured birth (before week 39) or post-term birth (after week 42), the risk of complications significantly increases.
In this context; what complications may arise?
Complications during gestation may occur mainly due to health problems of the mother, child or both. Again, in some cases, complications may arise due to the mother’s health issues before conceiving. Some of the common difficulties are –
- Thromboembolic disorders
- PIPPP (it’s a skin disease)
- Postpartum psychosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Multiple gestation
- Certain other infections, etc.
Besides those mentioned above, there are possibilities that a woman who is expecting can suffer from certain incurrent diseases including –
- Thyroid disease in gestation
- Diabetes mellitus
- Vertically transmitted diseases
It’s the gynecologist who will guide you throughout this journey.
While your body prepares itself, are you prepared emotionally?
Along with your body, you must also be prepared both mentally and emotionally for the childbirth and labor. Here’s how you can.
- Encourage yourself with strong, positive thoughts. Believe in yourself
- Eliminate negativity completely
- Understand the whole process thoroughly
- Fear always increases pain; so, make sure to eliminate it
- Try some mental visualization
- Read some positive stories to fight anxiety
- Most importantly, you must stay true and honest to yourself during pregnancy and childbirth.
Take deep breathe, stay calm and congratulate yourself on embarking on this new jubilant adventure of womanhood to motherhood.