Body Changes in Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a natural process involving changes in a woman's body. Most women have uncomplicated pregnancies and their daily routines may not change until the last few weeks before delivery. Other women have difficult pregnancies that change their daily lives right from the start.
Most women experience emotional shifts and mood swings. It's natural to feel doubt, anxiety, and fear about pregnancy and childbirth, as well as happiness, excitement, and anticipation. Keeping an online pregnancy journal can help you keep track of your emotions. Plus, it will serve as a wonderful keepsake of your pregnancy in the years to come.
Have You Considered Preconception Care?
We know as a fact that at least 50% of pregnancies are actually unplanned. But for those of couples out there trying for a baby, preconception care and preconception genetic testing might be a good idea. Preconception care is part of the prenatal care experience whereby you receive a thorough health evaluation of you and your partner. You will be given some basic guidelines to follow like taking folic acid supplements to reduce the chances of the baby suffering from a neural tube defect. You will also learn what foods to eat and which foods to avoid.
Preconception care also entails what is known as genetic counseling. In other words, both you and your partner will be asked about their family medical history to determine whether there are any genetic diseases in the family which could affect the child. Conditions such as single gene disorders (for example sickle cell anemia) or certain chromosomal abnormalities (diseases which affect the shape or number of chromosomes) may be present in your genetic makeup and may pose certain implications. It may be worth assessing whether the child is likely to inherit the genetic disease by studying the inheritance patterns and potential health risks.
Doctors might recommend you undergo a simple DNA test to determine whether you have a high or low predisposition to a certain hereditary illness. Genetic tests can help get a better overall picture by for example confirming whether both you and your partner carry the genetic mutation responsible for the disease. Preconception genetic counseling and care can help avoid complications in your pregnancy. These DNA tests can save stress and anxiety later during the pregnancy as knowing the chances beforehand mean doctors can tailor your prenatal care accordingly and you will not be in for any “surprises” later.
As soon as you think you might be pregnant, you should visit a pregnancy help center or clinic right away for a pregnancy test. If you are pregnant it is important to learn more about what to expect from pregnancy and how to care for yourself and your growing baby. If you smoke or drink, you should stop immediately -- tobacco and alcohol can harm your unborn child. Certain medications can also harm your child.
Pregnancy typically lasts 40 weeks, or 9 months. That time is divided into three periods called trimesters (three-month intervals), during which different things happen to your body and to the baby. Below is a list of some of the normal things a pregnant woman may experience during each trimester. The changes described here may happen earlier or later than they appear on this list, and some may continue throughout the pregnancy.
The Second Trimester
(Week 13 - Week 26)
Eighteen Weeks: By this time eyebrows, eyelashes, and fine hair appear. The child can grasp with his hands, kick, or even somersault.
More about the Second Trimester
- You gain weight.
- You can feel the fetus moving.
- The skin on your stomach stretches and may get dry. (Use lotion to lessen the chance of stretch marks.)
- Your breasts get bigger. It helps to wear a supportive bra.
- A small amount of thin fluid (called colostrum) may come out of your nipples.
- You may experience ongoing heartburn, indigestion, and constipation.
- You may get nosebleeds.
- Your feet, hands, ankles and face may swell (this is called edema).
- A dark line develops on your skin between your navel and your pubic area.
- A "mask" or darker area or pigmentation may develop on your face. (It disappears after the pregnancy ends.)
- You may begin to develop varicose veins. Varicose vein relief is available if you are suffering.
The Third Trimester
(Week 27 - 40)
- You can see the fetus move from the outside.
- Your navel pushes out.
- You begin to get backaches.
- You begin to walk differently to accommodate the weight of the fetus.
- You experience painless "practice" contractions.
- You have shortness of breath.
- Finally, labor and delivery!
In our pregnancy forum you can get more information about pregnancy symptoms.
Pregnant and need some advice? Chat with other new moms in our online forum.