Published on Jan 07, 2019 and last reviewed on Mar 10, 2023 - 8 min read
Pregnancy is the time taken for a fetus to develop inside a woman’s womb. Sometimes, if more than one embryo develops inside the uterus at the same time, it is known as a multiple pregnancy.
Pregnancy is the time taken for a fetus to develop inside a woman’s womb. Sometimes, if more than one embryo develops inside the uterus at the same time, it is known as a multiple pregnancy. It typically lasts for 40 weeks from the last menstrual period (LMP). A woman can get pregnant through sexual intercourse or by Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).
A few symptoms of pregnancy are noticeable early on, these symptoms include:
If you develop any of the above symptoms, it is best you get a pregnancy test done. Pregnancy tests usually detect the presence of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone in the blood and urine. This hormone is produced after implantation.
The various pregnancy tests available are:
Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters, the first, second, and the third trimesters.
Weeks 1 to 12 is the first trimester. It includes the process of fertilization, that is the process of sperm and ova forming an embryo in the fallopian tube. This embryo then travels down and reaches the uterus and gets attached to the wall of the uterus (implantation). This is the period where the embryo and placenta start to grow in the womb.By around 4 to 5 weeks, your baby’s heart, brain, and spinal cord start forming. Arm and leg buds can be seen. By 8 weeks, all major organs and external body structures start forming. The developing heart begins to beat in a regular rhythm. The umbilical cord is clearly visible, and the fetus is an inch long and looks more like a human. And by the 12th week, the nerves and muscles form and work together. The external sex organs start developing, and the eyelids close to protect the developing eyes. At the end of 12 weeks, the fetus is approximately 3 inches long.
Your body undergoes many changes, and hormonal changes affect almost all the organs of your body. The first sign of pregnancy is your periods stopping. The symptoms of pregnancy can start from the first week itself, but some women might not feel any discomfort at all.
The signs are:
Weeks 13 to 28 is the second trimester. Majority of pregnant women find this trimester easier than the first. The baby starts growing, and your abdomen and uterus expand with it. By the end of this trimester, you can feel your baby move inside you.Generally, by the end of the 16th week, muscle and bone grow and form a complete skeleton, and transparent skin begins to form. The baby’s first bowel movement (meconium) develops in their intestinal tract. By the 20th week, the developing fetus is covered with fine hair (lanugo). The baby becomes more active, and you can feel slight fluttering movements. Eyebrows, eyelashes, and nails form. At 24 weeks, the bone marrow starts making blood cells. Fingerprints, footprints, and taste buds develop. Hair starts growing, and the sex organs develop. By the end of the second trimester, the fetus is approximately 12 inches long.
Weeks 29 to 40 is the third trimester. It is the final stage of pregnancy. As the baby grows, it might put more pressure on your internal organs. You might have difficulty breathing and might urinate frequently. These problems should go away after you give birth.By the 32nd week, your baby’s bones are soft but fully formed. As a result, their kicks and jabs are more forceful. The fine hair covering their body falls off. The eyes open and close and can sense changes in light. At 36 weeks, the body fat increases and protective wax coating (vernix) gets thicker. Your baby is about 16 to 19 inches long. At 39 weeks, your baby is considered full-term. The baby’s organs are fully formed and can function on their own.
The discomforts felt during the second trimester may continue, also the following symptoms may be present:
Due Date: The due date or estimated date of delivery (EDD) is the expected date of delivery for pregnant women. A normal pregnancy lasts for 280 days, and it is calculated from the last menstrual period (LMP).
Normal labor starts as early as three weeks before or two weeks after the due date. The following are the signs of labor:
Some of the difficulties seen during pregnancy are:
Pregnancy is a significant time during a woman's life. It is crucial to take care of yourself during these 9 months, as any changes in the health will have a direct effect on the developing fetus. Always take medicines under medical supervision, as many drugs can cause side effects to the baby. Go for regular checkups and eat healthily!
Typical childbirth occurs between 37 to 42 weeks. When a woman gives birth to a child before 37 weeks, it is considered preterm. On the other hand, it should also not be more than 42 weeks. Babies born at the 40th week are considered to be immune, strong, and with fewer complications.
Fertilization happens when the sperm from a male meets the egg in the woman's ovaries. Later, the fused sperm and egg form or develop into a zygote with two genetic materials. The formed zygote gets implanted in the woman's uterus to develop as a fetus. Hence, a woman is considered pregnant when the implantation occurs in the uterus.
The following features may occur to indicate the labor is nearing:
- Contraction or cramps in the back.
- Feeling tired.
- Pain near the pelvis.
- Changes in vaginal discharge.
Yes, giving birth to a baby is painful and bearable. The pain occurs because the uterus starts to contract at intervals to aid in childbirth. Women who give birth may feel cramps in the back, abdomen, and groin. In addition, excess pressure will be exerted over the bladder and intestine, thus aiding in the stretching of the vaginal opening.
There is no data or research to prove that babies born first have arrived soon, that is, before 40 weeks of pregnancy. However, most of the first babies are delivered on the exact due date, or rarely, they may be premature also (before 37 weeks). However, childbirth between the weeks of 37 to 42 is considered safe.
In the case of cesarean section delivery, the specialist may use an epidural injection to offer a pain-free surgical procedure while you stay alert during the procedure. On the other hand, in vaginal delivery, relaxation techniques and massage may help relieve the pain to a certain extent.
Delivery is classified into two different types as follows:
- Cesarean section - A surgical procedure carried out under anesthesia. The surgeon surgically accesses the uterus to deliver the baby.
- Vaginal or natural - Safe procedure that does not necessarily require any kind of anesthesia. The procedure may sometimes be assisted with a vacuum or forceps.
The different kinds of pregnancy are listed below:
- Ectopic - Abnormal location of the fetus apart from the uterus, and the complications are high with ectopic pregnancy.
- Intrauterine - The classic type of pregnancy, where the fetus is positioned exactly in the uterus with placental attachment.
- Multiple - Presence of two or more fetuses in the uterus.
- Singlet - One fetus is present or developing in the womb.
- Tubal - When the fetus is implanted in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus, then it is known as tubal pregnancy.
Giving birth to the baby via the vagina or vaginal delivery is good. In addition, infection and other risks associated with a vaginal delivery are less. The woman who delivers a baby through the vagina is said to recover faster and can breastfeed their babies more quickly than with a cesarean section. In addition, the babies may have good immunity.
The sudden loss of a fetus during the initial weeks of pregnancy is considered a miscarriage. It may happen due to various reasons. However, using hot water (extremely hot) to take a bath may also lead to miscarriage. In addition, it may also lead to severe complications in pregnant women, such as low blood pressure, which gradually affects the baby.
Miscarriage or sudden loss of fetus after six weeks may occur due to the following reasons:
- Severe systemic condition of the mother.
- Placental problems.
- Any fetal infection.
- Fetal abnormalities.
There is no actual time for labor, but commonly childbirth occurs within 1 to 2 hours. Pushing a baby out is painful; women find it hard for the first time. It involves contractions at intervals followed by the dilation of the cervix. During labor, pain and pressure may be felt on the legs, back, abdomen, and pelvis. Sometimes, pushing a baby out may take more than 4 hours.
Childbirth may be either vaginal or through cesarean section. In addition, giving birth via vagina is said to be safe with lesser complications. Babies born through vaginal delivery have a better immune system and are less prone to respiratory problems. Both mother and the baby may have a better postpartum life with vaginal delivery. Breastfeeding and childcare becomes easy with vaginal delivery.
When you cross the due date of pregnancy, and still there are no signs of labor, it may be overdue. It may happen in your first pregnancy, if you are obese, or, interestingly, if you have a boy baby in your womb. There are no facts or studies to justify the reason behind this, but genetics rarely may play a role. Therefore, it is vital to have regular check-ups with your gynecologist to know better.
Last reviewed at:
10 Mar 2023 - 8 min read
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