Pregnancy is the set of phenomena occurring between fertilization and birth, during which the embryo/fetus develops in the womb.
Pregnancy lasts an average of nine (9) months, grouped between 3 quarters, or 273 days from the date of fertilization to birth. But, as it is difficult to assess, except in cases of artificial insemination (in vitro fertilization), obstetricians often count weeks of amenorrhea (complete absence of a menstrual period). The beginning of pregnancy is set in the first days of the last normal menstruation and continues throughout its duration of 41 weeks of gestation period.
However, most often, this figure varies: 17% of women gave birth during the 41st week of their pregnancy; 25% deliver the baby between the end of the 38th and the end of the 40th week; and 29% go into labor during the 42nd week or beyond.
In addition, there are ethnic variations. Black women tend to give birth one or two weeks earlier than other women; it is not yet a preterm delivery. A birth is considered premature if it is done before 37 weeks of gestation; after 41 weeks and 3 days, scientists use the term postdate pregnancy or post-term pregnancy.
Majority of women are lucky to have a normal pregnancy and delivery. Unfortunately, about 20 percent of women experience some complications during their pregnancy. No matter what category you fall in, you need to have a healthy diet and lifestyle during your pregnancy to assure a good health to your baby.
Diet of a pregnant woman must be balanced: eat lot of vegetables and fruits to obtain enough vitamin C; calcium can be obtained by eating low fat dairy products. Sometimes, iron and folic acid supplements can be necessary. Wash vegetables and fruits, and well cook your meat to avoid contamination with toxoplasmosis (a parasitic disease) or listeriosis (a serious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes), two diseases dangerous to the fetus. In addition, raw milk and products made from raw milk should be avoided. The amount of your food intake should be monitored so that your weight does not exceed 12 to 13 kilograms; the ideal weight is 9 or 10 kilograms.
Pregnant women have special nutritional needs. It is very important if you are an expectant mother to get enough vitamins and minerals your body needs; they are vital to your health and the unborn child. The developing baby gets all of his / her nutrition through the mother, therefore, care must be exercised for what you eat and drink, even what vitamins you take. Before taking any supplement, remedy or drug, you should consult your physician.
Some routine problems that tend to occur during pregnancy
- Pica – Persistent craving and compulsive eating of nonfood substances such as dirt and clay
- Edema – Swelling caused by fluid in your body’s tissues. It most commonly occurs in the feet, ankles and legs,
- Anemia – deficiency (lower than normal) of hemoglobin in the blood
- Back pain – Common, particularly in the third trimester when the patient’s center of gravity has shifted
- Dehydration – Your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should
- Constipation – Having three or fewer bowel movement in a week
- Hemorrhoids – Painful and swollen veins in the lower portion of the rectum or anus
- Varicose veins – Enlarged and twisted veins that are raised above the surface of the skin
- Abdominal separation – Excessive stretching of the abdominal muscles
- Lower abdominal pain – Rapid expansion of the uterus and stretching of ligaments such as the round ligament
- Braxton Hicks Contraction – The muscles of your uterus tighten for approximately 30 to 60 seconds or as long as 2 minutes
- Increased urinary frequency – Urgent urination
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – A condition in which the liquid content of the stomach regurgitates into the esophagus
Other pregnancy complications that require immediate medical care
- Preeclampsia – A medical condition that develops after the 20th week of pregnancy where hypertension arises in association with significant amounts of protein in the urine
- Placenta previa – The implantation of the placenta over or near the internal os of the cervix
- Placental abruption – The separation of the placenta from the uterine lining
- Maternal blood loss – Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
- Gestational diabetes – A type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy that often disappear after delivery
- Hyperemesis gravidarum – A form of morning sickness in pregnancy characterized by severe nausea and vomiting
- Preterm labor – Any labor that begins before 37 weeks of pregnancy
- Ectopic pregnancy – A major health problem in which the fertilized ovum is implanted in any tissue other than the uterine wall
- Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM) – Rupture of membranes (ROM) prior to the onset of labor
- Incompetent cervix – A condition in which a pregnant woman’s cervix begins to dilate and efface before her pregnancy has reached term.