OVERVIEW OF PREGNANCY
What is pregnancy?
Pregnancy also known as gestation is the normal physiologic process of the female body in which foetus develops in the uterus. It occurs when the sperm released from the man fertilizes with the egg released from the woman during ovulation, in which the egg travels to the uterus and implantation occurs if successful, pregnancy occurs. It is also the time when one or more offspring develops inside a woman’s womb. It takes 9 months and sometimes more than 40 weeks starting from the last menstrual period of the mother to delivery. Pregnancy occurs in three different segments called trimesters.
STAGES OF PREGNANCY
The different stages of pregnancy are listed below;
This is the stage that occurs from beginning of conception to 12 weeks of pregnancy, in which conception occurs leading to fertilization of the egg into an embryo and development occurs throughout the rest of the 12 weeks. The hormonal changes that occur affect every system in the woman’s body leading to presentation of signs and symptoms of pregnancy.
The changes that occur during this trimester are:
- Missed period
- Tender or swollen breasts
- Frequent urination
- Weight gain/weight loss
- Throwing up of food (morning sickness) with or without stomach pain
- Mood swings
- Extreme tiredness
- Glowing skin
Most of the discomfort goes away during pregnancy, sometimes most women don’t have discomforts because each women have different body the changes could be extreme and it could be minimal.
Second trimester is the middle three months of pregnancy in which women feel that pregnancy is more real and the pregnancy begins to show well, it occurs from the 13th week to 28th week of pregnancy roughly the fourth, fifth and sixth month of pregnancy. Some women like this trimester and they feel it is better and easier than the first trimester, although this is when the pregnancy shows well and becomes pronounced. Another good thing is, during this trimester foetus movement is felt.
The changes that occur are listed below:
- Linea nigra present on the abdomen (a thick darkened line in the middle of the abdomen from the mons pubis to the navel)
- Striae (stretch marks) present on the abdomen, breast, thighs and buttocks.
- Swelling of the hands, face, nose and legs especially the feet. Extreme swelling could be signs of preeclampsia.
- Itching on the abdomen, palms and soles of the feet. Extreme itching can be a sign of liver problem.
- Body aches such as back ache, abdomen ache, groin ache and thigh ache
- Patches of dark skin all over the body sometimes called mask of pregnancy
- Darkening of the skin around the nipples
- Lightening crotch around the vagina as if you are zapped with lightening
- Round ligament pain
- Thicker hair
This last stage of pregnancy occurs from the 29th week to 40th week of pregnancy also the last 3 months of pregnancy in which the foetus fastens with growth and development ready to be conceived, in this trimester there is also positional change that occurs with the foetus.
Changes that occurs in third trimester:
- Tender breast with leakage of milk
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Braxton-Hicks contractions
- A lot of movement of the baby
- Shortness of breath
- Protruded belly button
- Trouble sleeping
DIAGNOSIS OF PREGNANCY
The Human chronic Gonadotropin (HCG) is the pregnancy hormone, used in diagnosing pregnancy which is always accurate when a period is missed.
The various ways of diagnosing pregnancy are
- Urine test: it is done with by running a urinalysis test which determines if the woman is pregnant or not, it could be done with a pregnancy test strip or a urine test strip at home.
- Blood test: Blood tests are more accurate than urine test, which is carried out in the laboratory to detect if the woman is pregnant.
- Ultrasound: it is a diagnostic tool used in diagnosing the gestational age of the pregnancy and the status of the foetus in the womb.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PREGNANCY
There are some of the symptoms of pregnancy:
- Morning sickness
- Full and round breast
- Missed period
- Frequent urination
- Light bleeding (spotting)
- Weight gain
- Hip pain
- Mood swings
COMPLICATIONS OF PREGNANCY
The complications of pregnancy are the following:
- Hypertension: it occurs when the arteries carrying blood to the placenta becomes narrowed and thinned causing the pressure of flow of blood to be high. It is very important to control your blood pressure with medications in pregnancy to avoid complications.
- Preeclampsia: it is also called toxaemia that occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is often associated with hypertension affecting the kidney function of excreting protein and toxic wastes, leading to accumulation of waste with excessive swelling of the face, upper limbs and lower limbs.
- Preterm labour: It occurs when a woman goes into labour before 37 week of pregnancy, in which the baby’s organs are yet to be fully developed properly.
- Eclampsia: it is the onset of seizures in a woman with preeclampsia, which is life threatening accompanied with convulsion. The seizures are tonic-clonic type that lasts for about one minute. The medication used is the magnesium sulphate (MgSo4). This complication occurs right after delivery and sometime leads to coma or unconsciousness.
- Miscarriage: it is the loss of pregnancy within 20 weeks of pregnancy, which sometimes can be spontaneous before the woman is aware of her pregnancy and sometimes not preventable. And loss of pregnancy after 20 weeks is called stillbirth.
- Anaemia: It is when there is fewer red blood cells in the body, making the woman feel weaker, with pale skin. It is advised that they take supplements and folic acid.
- Infection: a lot of bacteria, fungi and parasitic infection affects pregnancy and also pose a threat to the life of the mother and the baby, so its recommended pregnant women maintain personal hygiene to prevent the occurrence of infection which could be life threatening.