9 Months of Journey
Becoming a Pregnant
Pregnancy is one of the important stages in women’s life. The 9 months of journey is so precious not only to the mother but for the entire family. It starts from conception and ends with delivering a baby. There were days when woman used to deliver 9-10 babies without help of medical field! But equally the maternal and fetal mortality was extremely high during those days. Now the trend has changed, every one prefers to have small family norms and there is very high expectation. Majority of the time the journey is smooth but on occasions there can be problems in this journey. It is equally important understand physiology of pregnancy, problems which can occur during pregnancy and to know when to seek help from medical professionals.
In woman Ovulation occurs once every month (usually around 14th day in 28 days cycle) when an egg (ovum) is released from one of her ovaries. The released egg travels to uterus through fallopian tube. Woman conceives around the time when she is ovulating. At the time of ovulation the mucus in the cervix (neck of womb) becomes thinner so that sperm can swim through easily. If a man and woman have recently had sex, the egg might be fertilised at fallopian tube by the man’s sperm. The lining of the womb (uterus) at this time is thick enough for the fertilised egg to be implanted.
If the egg is not fertilised, it will pass out of the body during woman’s monthly period along with the outer lining of womb. The egg is too small to be visible to naked eye.
Boy or Girl?
A fertilised egg contains one sex chromosomes from mother and father. The sex chromosome from the mother’s egg is always the same and it is known as X chromosome. The sex chromosome from father can be either X or Y .If egg fertilised by father’s X chromosome then baby girl (XX) is formed and if sperm contains Y chromosome, then baby will be boy (XY).Therefore women has nothing to do in determining sex of the foetus and it is the father’s chromosome which decides the sex of baby. The paradox is woman will always takes the blame if female baby is born!!
If two eggs are released during ovulation and are fertilised by 2 sperms at the same time then two separate embryos are formed. The babies look different here and therefore called as non-identical twins (this is commonest type).If after fertilisation the embryo splits into two then 2 identical babies formed (identical twins) and therefore they will be the same sex and look similar. Two-thirds of all twins will be non-identical and one third identical.
The signs of Early Pregnancy
✓ Missed period – the earliest and most reliable sign.Ocationally there may be a very light bleeding (because of implantation of embryo)
✓ Nausea/Morning Sickness-About 3 in 4 pregnant women have morning sickness during their first trimester (first 3 months). Despite being called “morning” sickness, the nausea or vomiting can happen at any time of day.
✓ Swollen/Tender Breasts
✓ Frequent urination, feeling urgency to go to toilet
✓ increased vaginal secretion
✓ altered taste in the mouth (metallic taste)
✓ Food cravings and aversions – going off for certain things e.g.: coffee, tea or some strange things such as clay, chalk, ice, ash, dirt, tooth paste, plaster etc.!! This phenomenon is called pica (which is Latin for magpie, a bird that will eat almost anything).But foods that you’ve always loved might also suddenly become repulsive to you.
The mood can be fluctuating during this time. Woman cannot control emotions and sometimes feel tearful or easily irritated.
All these are because of hormonal changes during pregnancy and majority should ease after first three months of pregnancy.
Finding out that you are pregnant
Pregnancy test can be positive as early as first day of missed period. Which means that, if result is positive (2 dark lines) you are about 2 weeks after conception. When you have found out that you are pregnant the reactions may be different. You may feel happy, excited, shocked, confused and even upset. You should not worry if you are not feeling as happy as you have expected. As mentioned above some of these feelings could be secondary to hormonal changes.
Your health during Pregnancy
✓ The majority of the woman can be reassured that it is safe to continue working during pregnancy.
✓ Dietary supplementation with folic acid (one type of vitamin tablet) before conception and up to 12 weeks gestation reduces the risk of having a baby with neural tube defects (anencephaly, spine bifida)
✓ Vitamin A supplementation (in high dose) may be teratogenic (cause malformation of foetus) and therefore should be avoided. As Liver and Liver products may contain high levels of vitamin A these should be avoided.
✓ Beginning or continuing moderate exercise in pregnancy is not associated with adverse outcome.
✓ Sexual intercourse during pregnancy is not known to be associated with any adverse outcome.
Eating healthy diet is so important. Base your meals with rice, chapatti, bread, and other cereals. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eat moderate amounts of meat, dairy products. Eat foods containing fats and sugar sparingly. Liquid is vital for health and therefor drink plenty of fluids (at least 6-8 cups) such as water, milk or fruit juice. This will also help to prevent constipation.
Food safety is very important. Always wash your hands and make sure you cook food thoroughly. Soft cheeses, raw eggs and liver should be avoided. Daily drinking high levels of caffeine (more than 200mg a day) should be avoided e.g.: excessive coffee, energy drinks, coke, excessive chocolates etc.
✓ Smoking (even passive smoking) and alcohol is harmful to you and unborn baby’s development.
✓ Some medicines can cause harm to your baby.therfore always double check with your doctor.
✓ There is no reason why you can’t travel during pregnancy, unless your doctor advises so.
✓ Wearing a seat belt while you are pregnant may not always be comfortable but it is important for the safety of you and your baby. The seat belt should be worn with the lower strap as low as possible beneath your bump over the pelvic bones (NOT over the top of your bump or across your bump).The diagonal strap should be worn between your breasts following a normal line.
✓ Flying is not harmful for you or your baby, but most airlines will not let you fly towards the end of pregnancy. Long distance travel (longer than 5 hrs.) carries a small risk of thrombosis (blood clots) in pregnancy. If you fly, drink plenty of fluids to keep you hydrated and do recommended calf exercises.
✓ Avoid exposure to radiation (X-rays)
✓ Don’t get stressed out. Stress is not good for you and to your baby so try to find ways to relieve it. You could simply count to ten and take some deep breaths. Talk through your problems with your doctor, close members.