Pregnancy may be the most exciting time of a woman’s life, but it could also be the scariest. Most women often go through a roller coaster ride of elation, fear, excitement and even insecurity. This is because there are so many bodily changes that a pregnant woman undergoes. It is crucial that you understand the basic facts of pregnancy in order to be more prepared for this very important time in your life.
Ease your Fears with Basic Facts on Pregnancy
In the first trimester, you may not look pregnant yet, but you will certainly undergo various bodily changes that may differ from woman to woman.
A woman’s pregnancy usually lasts about 40 weeks and the growth of the baby is monitored every 3 months or trimester. The first trimester is a very delicate period for not only will your baby undergo rapid development, but your body is also adjusting to the changes that pregnancy hormones bring. Hence, in the first trimester, many expectant mothers experience various bodily changes:
- Morning sickness
It is not always in the morning that you will be reaching for this could be an “anytime” occasion. Vomiting may occur after eating or in response to a certain smell. To reduce this symptom, nibble on saltine crackers or have some dry cereal. Cold juice and hard candies may also work. For many, this symptom ceases after the 12th week. However, you may need medication prescribed by your doctor for severe symptoms.
- Frequent urination
Pregnancy hormones lead to more blood reaching the kidney and filling up the bladder. To avoid spending a sleepless night, limit your intake of water during the evenings.
- Swollen breasts
The breasts are enlarged by an increase in the body fluid, but this may be aggravated by dietary choices especially by foods with high caffeine and sodium content. To reduce swelling, use a supportive bra specifically for pregnant women.
- Heartburn and Constipation
Hormones relax the muscles that push food down to reach your stomach so that it takes longer to process. In this way, vital nutrients can be absorbed by your body to feed the baby. You get constipated because the food is not easily broken down and you experience heartburn because the valve separating the esophagus from the stomach is also relaxed thereby letting gas escape. This is why you should avoid spicy foods and go for a more fiber-rich diet instead.
You would often feel sleepy due to the high level of progesterone hormone. You feel easily drained because of a lower blood sugar and blood pressure with higher blood production. Make sure you go for a diet with sufficient iron and protein. Throw in physical activity like walking into your routine to get that burst of energy you need.
It is crucial to have a thorough check-up with your OB including a series of tests like urinalysis, Pap smear, and blood analysis to ascertain your health, which can affect the growth of your baby.
In the second trimester, your belly will start to swell noticeably and there may be relief from the discomforts of the early stages of pregnancy.
While the baby is busy growing hair, eyes and ears, moms get relief from the early discomforts and have more energy to enjoy the pregnancy. However, some symptoms may still prevail like heartburn and constipation while new ones may come out. Pregnant women at this stage may suffer from swollen ankles and feet, leg cramps, sensitive gums, nausea and increased appetite.
Doctor check up will be routine at this stage. Your doctor will monitor your weight, how big your uterus is and the height of your fundus, which pertains to the top of your uterus. You will be due for a second ultrasound at this stage and may even get to know your baby’s gender. At this point, your doctor will be able to detect any abnormalities on the baby like Down syndrome.
In the third trimester, your belly is almost swollen with your baby still busy with growing.
Your baby continues to grow in leaps and bounds; getting ready for the big day. This is why at this stage you will feel a lot of fetal activity including the poking and kicking. Abdominal pain is also common as well as a couple of Braxton Hicks contractions. Though the stretch marks may have become noticeable, consider it as a sign that you are at the last hurdle and pretty soon, you will see your baby whom you have been anticipating for the last 9 months. Even before you get to the 40-week mark, you may be leaking milk and anytime now, your water may break and the severe contractions will start.
At this stage, doctor visits will become more frequent as your doctor thoroughly checks you and your baby. In the last month, you will undergo an internal examination to check your cervix.