9 Months of Pregnancy

Fetus - 14th Week of Pregnancy - Second Trimester
This is a baby from the 14th week of pregnancy.. Photo © A.D.A.M.

Pregnancy is such an amazing life event. It starts with an egg being released in a process called ovulation. The egg will join with the sperm in the fallopian tube. If the egg is fertilized it will journey towards the uterus an implant. This is when you are said to be pregnant.

Pregnancy Symptoms

You may also experience a pregnancy symptom or two early in your pregnancy. This may lead you to ask the question: Am I pregnant?

 While signs of pregnancy vary from woman to woman, there are some pregnancy symptoms that are fairly common, including:

The Pregnancy Test

Your body will release a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone is what home pregnancy tests will look for to see if you are pregnant. You can usually have an accurate result on a pregnancy test as soon as you miss your first period. Some pregnancy tests work before your period is late, though not all of them are that sensitive.

How Long Is Pregnancy?

Pregnancy lasts an average of 266 days from conception. This makes pregnancy about 40 weeks from the first day of your last period (LMP), or about 280 day. You may also hear people refer to trimesters in pregnancy. There are three trimesters in pregnancy.

Prenatal Care, Due Dates and Early Pregnancy Complications

You will want to try to make an appointment with a midwife or doctor as soon as you suspect you are pregnant.

You will most likely not have an appointment for several weeks, unless you are having complications like an ectopic or tubal pregnancy, miscarriage or other concern.

When you see your practitioner, they will help you calculate your due date using a special pregnancy calendar known as a gestation wheel.

This due date is an estimate of when your baby may be born. Most women will give birth within the weeks before or after this date.

You will typically see your practitioner for prenatal care every month for the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. From weeks 28 through about 32, you will most likely be seen every two weeks. After that you will see your practitioner weekly until you give birth. This cycle of prenatal care may be different if you are experiencing complications or if you are expecting twins.

Ultrasounds

Ultrasound exams can be done to find out many things about your pregnancy. It can see the source of bleeding in pregnancy, help you determine your due date, or scan for major birth defects. Many couples choose to use an ultrasound exam to determine if their baby is a girl or a boy, unless you'd prefer to hear what the old wives’ tales are about the sex of your baby.

Your Changing Pregnant Body

Just as your baby grows – so will you. Many women worry that their belly is not growing as quickly or as big as it should.

If you’re not one of these women, then you probably fall into the category of worrying that you belly is too large. Every woman grows at a different rate. Your midwife or doctor will let you know if they thing your baby isn’t growing well. Another common concern in pregnancy is stretch marks.

Many pregnant women begin to wear maternity clothes around the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy. This is also near the time when you will start to feel your baby move. Others won’t be able to feel the baby move until a bit later on in pregnancy.

Baby Names and Baby Showers

As you get further along in your pregnancy you may really start to enjoy yourself. Most couples really enjoy choosing a baby name. You may wonder how to choose a name for your baby. Some people say that unique names are best, while others will argue for tried and true baby names. Don’t let others tell you what to name your baby – just do what makes you happy!

Another form of fun is the baby shower. Some people think that a baby shower is only for a first baby, but there are also many women who believe that second showers (and more) are good too. Find some baby shower games that are fun and throw a perfect shower, with just a bit of planning.

If you are interested in an alterative to the baby shower, you might consider a blessingway or mother blessing. This is a mother centered party where positive energy surrounds the guests and you do things to commemorate the pregnancy. Sometimes you may do a belly cast, or paint your belly or even take photos of the pregnant belly.

Prenatal Tests

Some couples also choose to undergo genetic testing. They may choose to have genetic testing because of their age or because of a family history of a birth defect. Sometimes genetic testing is done because a previous test has suggested a more in depth look at what is going on. The two most common forms of genetic testing are amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS).

There are other tests that can be done during pregnancy.

This tests may or may not be routine and should be discussed with your practitioner at prenatal visits:

  • Non-stress Test
  • Stress Test
  • PUBS
  • Nuchal Fold Testing
  • Alphafetoprotein (AFP)

Pregnancy Concerns

Fortunately most pregnancies will go along smoothly. Though occasionally some pregnancies will experience complications. Some pregnancy complications can include:

Childbirth Classes and Doulas

Childbirth classes are a great place to help you learn about labor and birth. You should plan to take a childbirth class to be done by your 34th week of pregnancy. Be sure to register early because many classes fill quickly. Taking childbirth class can help increase your confidence in your body and the birth process. It can also give your husband or partner knowledge to help support you in labor and birth.

You may also talk about additional topics in your childbirth class.

Some childbirth classes cover:

  • Comfort Measures in Labor
  • Labor Positions
  • Labor Complications
  • Induction
  • Cesarean Section
  • Epidural
  • IV Medications in Labor
  • Breastfeeding
  • Postpartum Recovery

You may also have learned about doulas – trained professionals who help families through the birth process.

A doula can help you avoid an unnecessary cesarean and other intervention rates. Doulas help women and their families in a variety of settings including home birth, birth centers and hospitals. There are women who are having planned cesareans who hire a doula for the physical and emotional support.

Postpartum Recovery and Postpartum Depression

After you give birth to your baby you may experience some pain or discomfort. There may be more pain if you had an episiotomy, forceps or vaccum, or a cesarean section. There are specific pain medications available to you to help you ease the pain. You may wonder if you will experience postpartum depression. While many women will have some mild depression after the birth of a baby called the baby blues, the majority do not go on to experience postpartum depression. You may have certain risk factors for postpartum depression, which would make it more likely that you would experience it. Treatment is usually very successful.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a special way to nurture your baby.

Not only is breast milk the perfect food for your baby, but it also provides you with benefits as well. You may experience some problems as you learn to nurse your baby, these are usually short lived. Your pediatrician will recommend that you breastfeed for at least a year, though every drop of breast milk your baby gets is great for both of you. If you need help with nursing be sure to call someone like a lactation consultant or La Leche League.

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