A pregnancy can be the happiest and the most worrisome time in a woman’s life. The advent of a pregnancy raises many questions in the soon to be mother’s mind which can lead to unnecessary stress. The key to a smooth pregnancy is to be well informed from the beginning for whatever is in store for the next nine months. Here are some important facts that will help in doing exactly that.
FIRST TRIMESTER (1-12 Weeks) Of Pregnancy
In the first few weeks following conception, your hormone levels change significantly. Your uterus begins to support the growth of the placenta and the fetus, your body adds to its blood supply to carry oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby, and your heart rate increases. These changes accompany many of the pregnancy symptoms, such as fatigue, morning sickness, headaches, and constipation.
The first trimester is vital for the development of your baby. The fetus will develop all of its organs by the end of the third month, so this is a crucial time.
This is also the time your doctor will schedule a dating scan to confirm the age of the foetus and to check for a heart beat at (6-8 weeks). You will also be started on folic acid tablets as it is essential for the growth of the fetus.
SECOND TRIMESTER (13-27 weeks) Of Pregnancy
The second trimester (weeks 13-27) is often the most comfortable period of time for the majority of pregnant women. Most of the early pregnancy symptoms will gradually disappear. Your abdomen will start to look pregnant, as the uterus will grow rapidly in size and you will begin to feel fetal movements (at around 20 weeks). At the end of the second trimester, your baby will be almost four times as big as it was at the end of the first trimester.
During this period you’ll be started on iron and calcium supplements to aid with the changes your body is undergoing.
You will be scheduled for your next scan at around 18-20 weeks; this scan will be done to check for the following:
• Show how your baby is growing and check the fetal movements
• Make sure your baby’s internal organs are developing well
• Detect certain birth defects in your baby
• Estimate the amount of amniotic fluid
• Check the umbilical cord and position of the placenta
• Check for markers of chromosomal abnormalities.
• Check your cervix and measure the birth canal
The 20th week is also the time wherein pregnant women are susceptible for hypertension to develop, so this will also be under close watch.
24-27 week is usually when the screening test for gestational diabetes is done provided you don’t have a strong family history or any other contributing factors, if you do, the test is done much earlier. This is also the period where your hemoglobin is expected to drop (which is normal) your doctors will monitor that and treat you accordingly based on the severity.
THIRD TRIMESTER (28weeks – BIRTH) Of Pregnancy
The third trimester lasts from the 28th week through the birth of your baby. During the third trimester your doctor will regularly:
• test your urine for protein
• check your blood pressure
• listen to the fetal heart rate
• measure your fundal height (the approximate length of your uterus)
• check your hands and legs for any swelling
• Do a growth scan to check on the progress of your baby
Your doctor will also determine the baby’s position and check your cervix in order to monitor how your body is preparing for childbirth.
Pregnant women are expected to show a weight gain of at least 10-15 kgs towards the end of the pregnancy this will also be monitored.
There are many things that can raise questions and alarms in a mother during a pregnancy a lot of which maybe unprecedented, always ask your doctor about any doubts or fears you may have and keep yourself calm and well informed throughout. Here’s wishing those of you who are pregnant a happy and healthy pregnancy!
Doctor by profession, ardent animal lover by choice; she finds writing to be therapeutic. She loves meeting new people, hopes to travel the world and has karaoking with Oprah on top of her bucket list. @kirtana_ponnuswamy