Pregnancy is the result of a sperm fertilising an egg, coming out from the ovary of a woman during ovulation period. The fertilised egg then comes into the implantation chamber, known as the uterus. When the implantation gets successful, the female becomes pregnant.
A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, but there are several factors that may tamper with the pregnancy. Generally, when the pregnancy is diagnosed early and the female receives prenatal care, she experiences a healthy pregnancy and gives birth to a healthy baby.
Knowing every aspect of the pregnancy is very critical to make sure the mother and the baby stay healthy. Additionally, if you are not ready for pregnancy, there are multiple ways of birth control you can choose from.
There are plenty of pregnancy signals a woman's body sends even before she has to take a pregnancy test. Some of them may appear after a few weeks as the hormone levels change during pregnancy.
As already described, for pregnancy to happen, sperm needs to meet with an egg released from the ovary during the ovulation period. Subsequently, the fertilized egg implants on the wall, also known as the lining, of the uterus. It takes around 2-3 weeks after intercourse between a male and a female for the pregnancy to take place.
For a medically unaware person, pregnancy is the outcome of unprotected intercourse between a male and a female. Although it is true, there are several other factors that play a crucial role in the multi-step process.
Sperm is made in the testicals. It combines with other fluids to prepare semen that releases from the penis when men ejaculate. In every ejaculation, men release millions of sperms, but only one of them meets with the egg released from the ovaries of a woman to impregnate her.
The hormones in women's bodies that are responsible for controlling the menstrual cycle mature a few eggs every month. Once the egg gets matured, it becomes ready for being fertilised by a sperm cell. These hormones are also responsible for creating a thick and spongy lining of your uterus, which prepares the woman's body for pregnancy.
About midway through the menstrual cycle of a woman, one mature egg leaves the ovary and reaches to the uterus coming through a fallopian tube.
The mature egg slowly moves through the fallopian tube, hanging out for about 12-24 hours to check for the availability of any sperm cells.
Once the semen gets inside the vagina of a woman, sperm cells swim through the cervix. Then, the sperm and the uterus work in collaboration to ensure sperm reaches the fallopian tubes. When an egg moves through the fallopian tubes during the same period, the sperm fertilises the egg. Sperm lives up to six days inside the woman's body to join with an egg before dying.
Meeting of a sperm cell and an egg is known as fertilisation. It, however, does not happen immediately. As the sperm has a lifespan of six days in the conducive environment of uterus and fallopian tubes, the fertilisation can occur in up to six days after intercourse.
Once the sperm cell and egg combine together, the fertilised egg travels via fallopian tube and reaches the uterus. The fertilised egg starts to divide into more cells creating a ball as it grows. The ball of cells, also called blastocyst, reaches the uterus in about 3 to 4 days after fertilisation. The blastocyst keeps floating inside the uterus for another two to three days. Once this ball attaches to the wall of the uterus, it is known as implantation. This is the time when the pregnancy starts officially.
The inside of the blastocyst starts developing the embryo, while the outside of the ball develops the placenta.
Once the implantation is complete, the uterus releases pregnancy hormones preventing the uterus lining from falling off. This is the reason women stop getting periods once they get pregnant.
If the egg fails to meet the sperm, or after fertilisation, the egg does not implant in the uterus, the thick lining of the uterus is no longer required and it leaves the body during the period. About half of the fertilised eggs fail to implant in the uterus and get flushed out when the woman has her periods.
Getting pregnant is not always easy, but maintaining a healthy pregnancy is an even tougher task. You may have to completely change a lot of your long-standing habits to ensure the good health of your fetus. Poorly managed pregnancy can lead to several complications like premature birth, birth with low body weight, and even miscarriage.
Hence, every parent should be extra careful about their daily activities to keep their body safe and healthy. Here are a few preventive measures every mother should take:
There are certain conditions which can affect the health or can pass on to the developing baby during pregnancy. Have a look:
If you are pregnant and in the influence of any of the above-mentioned factors, you should immediately see your doctor to know the measures you can take to safeguard your baby.
If the home pregnancy test shows a positive result, you should immediately book an appointment with your doctor. The doctor will carry out an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and the date of conception.
Doctors check for the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to ascertain pregnancy. hCG is also known as pregnancy hormone which is released upon implantation of the fertilised egg. It may not appear in the tests until the woman misses her period.
The hCG levels rapidly rise once the woman misses her period. It is detected through a urine or a blood test.
Urine tests can be carried out either at the doctor's clinic or at home, while the blood tests are performed at a laboratory. Home pregnancy tests and hCG blood tests are both of the same accuracy. The only difference is that blood tests can be taken as soon as six days after ovulation.
The sooner the pregnancy is diagnosed, the better it is for both, the mother and the child. It gives you enough time to arrange better care for the mother and the baby.
Generally, most of the pregnancies remain uneventful, but few women experience some serious complications. Here are some of the most common complications women may experience during pregnancy:
Accumulation of big or small quantities of amniotic acid in the sac around the fetus is considered a serious complication. Too much fluid can put a lot of pressure on the uterus, causing preterm labour. It can also put pressure on the woman's diaphragm, causing breathing difficulty.
Excessive fluid accumulation can result from multiple pregnancies, uncontrolled diabetes, birth defects or incompatible blood types. Less fluid accumulation may indicate growth retardation, birth defects or stillbirth.
If a woman experiences bleeding in late pregnancy, it may be the result of vaginal or cervical infections, placental complications, or preterm labour. Women experiencing bleeding in the later stages of the pregnancy are at a bigger risk of losing the fetus and eventually, bleeding too much. Experts recommend women must report bleeding at any stage during the pregnancy to their doctor.
In Ectopic pregnancy, the fetus develops outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes, pelvic, cervical canal or belly. Presence of scar tissue in the fallopian tube owing to some disease of an infection has been found to be the main reason behind an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy risk increases in women who undergo tubal sterilisation procedures. Women who had undergone the procedure before they turned 30, are at even bigger risk.
Almost 1 out of 50 pregnancies turn out to be Ectopic pregnancy. It is very dangerous for the mother. The longer the pregnancy stays, the bigger the chances of a ruptured fallopian tube. Doctors diagnose this condition through an ultrasound or blood tests. Doctors either terminate the pregnancy through medicines or surgery.
Miscarriage is a medical term for pregnancy loss. It usually occurs within 20 weeks of gestation. Mostly, miscarriages happen before the gestation period completes 12 weeks. About 15 percent of all pregnancies end up in miscarriages, and the main causes behind it are genetic or chromosomal abnormalities.
Women usually experience spotting and intense cramping before a miscarriage. To confirm it, doctors carry out blood tests and an ultrasound. The fetus and other contents from inside the uterus drain out naturally, but sometimes, doctors have to carry out a procedure called dilation and curettage (D&C) to evacuate the uterus. A few special tools are used in the procedure to remove the abnormal pregnancy.
Some women experience miscarriage in the second trimester. It may happen because of a weak cervix which opens too early. This is known as incompetent cervix. In some cases of incompetent cervix, the doctor may stitch the cervix closed until the day of delivery to prevent fetal loss.
Normally, the placenta automatically attaches to the uterine wall. Still, there are two types of placental complications that may arise. Have a look:
Preeclampsia, earlier known as toxemia, is diagnosed by high blood pressure caused due to pregnancy. In this condition, women also experience protein in the urine. Sometimes, there is swelling owing to fluid accumulation. The more severe form of preeclampsia is called eclampsia. This can cause coma, seizures and in some cases, death.
There is not enough research to ascertain the cause of preeclampsia, but women usually face this condition in their first pregnancy. About 5-8 percent of all pregnant women suffer from this condition. Other risk enhancing factors of preeclampsia are:
The treatment methods for this condition may vary depending upon the condition of the woman and the stage of pregnancy she is in. The patient may have to get hospitalised, take medicines for high blood pressure, bed rest, and close monitoring of both the baby and the mother.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a very dangerous condition. In this condition, a blood clot crops up in a deep vein of the body. It usually happens in the leg of the pregnant woman.
You should immediately call your doctor if you experience any of the following signs:
DVT generally happens in only one leg but it may occur in both legs too.
The situation worsens when the clot bursts into the bloodstream, blocking one blood vessel in the lungs. This condition is called pulmonary embolism (PE), and requires immediate medical intervention. Here are the symptoms to PE:
Pulmonary Embolism is a deadly condition, but the chances of developing this condition are very rare if DVT is diagnosed and treated on time.
DVT is not very common in pregnancy and does not always present symptoms. Pregnant women commonly experience swelling or discomfort in their legs. Hence, it does not always mean that it is a serious problem.
Doctors treat DVT through injections of a medicine which does not let the clot get any bigger so that the patient's body can dissolve it. The medicine, heparin, is known not to affect the unborn baby.
These injections also eliminate the possibility of pulmonary embolism and development of another clot.
You may have to keep taking the injections for the remaining weeks of the pregnancy and up until at least six weeks after giving birth.
Medical treatment of DVT is extremely important but there are some activities you can do to enhance the performance of the injections. Have a look:
High blood pressure doesn't always make you feel sick, but in pregnancy, it may cause a lot of complications. This is the reason why your doctor checks your blood pressure on every pregnancy appointment.
Hypertension has three different levels:
If you are planning to have a baby and are always taking medicines to control your blood pressure, you should consult with your doctor first as you may require a change in the medications before getting pregnant.
If you have been taking BP medicines and have gotten pregnant, you should see your doctor immediately to see if any change in the medications is required.
Some BP medicines are not safe for the woman or her fetus. They can potentially reduce the flow of blood to the placenta and the fetus that can affect the pregnancy.
Doctors advise pregnant women to keep a close watch on their blood pressure levels to keep themselves and their baby safe and healthy. The doctor may also prescribe the pregnant woman to the Placental Growth Factor (PIGF) test to see if you are suffering from preeclampsia or not. Meanwhile, the doctor will keep a check on protein in the urine.
There is not enough evidence to prove that dietary supplements like magnesium, folic acid or fish oils can help the patient in controlling high blood pressure.
Doctors recommend women, who have been taking blood pressure medications throughout pregnancy, should keep taking it during labour too.
Women who suffer from mild to moderate hypertension, are recommended to keep checking their BP every hour during labour. If your blood pressure remains within the safe levels, you should be able to give normal vaginal birth.
In case of severe hypertension, doctors will monitor your blood pressure every 15-30 minutes during labour. The doctor may also recommend delivering the baby through forceps or ventouse or by cesarean section.
As the baby bump grows, the skin of the abdomen gets stretched which may also cause itching.
Despite usually being a normal condition, sometimes, itching could be the symptom of a liver condition known as intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP). It is also called obstetric cholestasis (OC).
The condition requires immediate medical help, and it affects about 1 out of 140 pregnant women.
The primary symptom of ICP is itching which doesn't leave a rash on the skin. Most of the pregnant women experience the following symptoms:
Other symptoms may include:
Generally, women experience the symptoms of ICP from around the 30th week of pregnancy, but it can also occur within 8 weeks of pregnancy too.
ICP is a very dangerous liver condition that women may develop during pregnancy. In normal condition, bile acids flow from the liver to the gut of the person to digest food. But in ICP, bile acids do not flow as they are supposed to and get accumulated in the body.
There is no particular cure for ICP but in most of the women, the condition goes away as soon as the baby is born.
Women usually inherit ICP, but it can also happen to a woman whose family had no such history. It is found more among south Asian women, with about one in every 70-80 pregnancies being diagnosed with ICP.
Some studies suggest that women who develop ICP have a higher chance of delivering the baby prematurely. ICP patients are mostly advised to deliver the baby in a hospital under the supervision of a medical team.
For the diagnosis of ICP, the doctor first excludes other causes behind the itch. Your doctor may also question you about the medical and family history, and suggest some blood tests too.
These tests will include liver function test (LFT) and the test to ascertain the bile acid levels (BA).
Morning sickness is a very common occurrence among pregnant women. About 8 out of every 10 women feel nausea, vomiting or both during pregnancy. Contrary to its name, morning sickness can occur at any time throughout the day.
Most of the women stop experiencing this problem by week 16 to 20, but for some, it may last longer. Some women experience severe cases of nausea and vomiting. They get sick multiple times a day and find it almost impossible to keep food or drink inside. This completely spoils their daily life.
This severe condition of nausea and vomiting is called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which requires medical intervention.
The exact number of how many women suffer from HG is still not known but it is believed that about one to three in every 100 women suffer from this condition.
If you experience extreme nausea and vomiting and have been unable to keep food in your system for long, you should immediately talk to your doctor. It may lead to dehydration which is harmful for both the mother and the child.
Less common symptoms of HG include:
HG is not like normal morning sickness which goes away on its own by 16 to 20 weeks. It takes the entire pregnancy to completely clear up. The symptoms, however, subside a little bit after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Hence, you must see your doctor immediately if you are experiencing severe episodes of nausea and vomiting. Your doctor will run some tests to rule out other conditions and then give you a plan to prevent dehydration and unintended weight loss.
The actual cause of HG is still not known but some experts believe that it crops up because of hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy. There is some evidence claiming that this is a hereditary problem, hence, if your mother or sister suffered from HG, you are more prone to suffer from it too.
Moreover, women who suffered from HG in their previous pregnancy are more prone to have this condition again.
There are a few medications which a pregnant woman can take even during the first 12 weeks to alleviate the symptoms of HG. These options include anti-sickness drugs, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 and steroids. Your doctor can also suggest a combination of earlier-discussed medications too.
If none of the medications are working, your doctor may ask you to get admitted at the hospital, so that the doctor can diagnose your problem accurately and prescribe the right treatment for you to protect you and your unborn baby.
HG is not normally harmful for the health of the baby, but if you are losing weight, it may increase the risk of your baby being born with low birth weight.
Who doesn't know that pregnancy is not an easy phase in any woman's life! There are plenty of problems a woman goes through even in a normal pregnancy. The most common issues they face include:
These problems, however, can be alleviated through some simple lifestyle and dietary changes. Some of the solutions include:
Morning sickness crops up very early in the pregnancy and completely destroys the first 16 to 20 weeks of the woman's life. It is really hard to alleviate but there are a few steps that can help you. Have a look:
It is also a very common problem among pregnant women, and everyone gives a different option to prevent this issue. Have a look at some sure shot and safe measures to prevent this problem:
Having these things in moderate quantities during pregnancy can help you prevent heartburn.
Progesterone, a hormone released in the woman's body during pregnancy, slows down digestion, and including iron supplements in the diet only worsens constipation. It should not be avoided as it may lead to more troubling health conditions like piles. Hence, you should make some alterations to your dietary regime. Here are some of the suggestions:
Pregnant women must include a nap in their daily schedule and ensure to sleep for at least 8-9 hours at night. This is the amount of sleep every pregnant woman should be having, but it is not possible for all. Keeping your eating habits in check is also a good idea when you can not simply add a couple of more sleeping hours to your schedule. Have a look at some of the options:
These home remedies for pregnancy can help you grow a cute and healthy little human being inside you. Additionally, do not take a lot of stress about anything as nothing can be as important as giving birth to a baby.
Women tend to get hungry a lot during pregnancy. Some things they liked all their life become unbearable all of a sudden and some things they hated, start feeling delicious for no obvious reason.
It is important to understand that not all the foods you crave for are going to be healthy for you and your baby. Hence, preparing a diet plan according to your needs holds utmost importance. Your diet must have the following ingredients:
Here are some of the examples which you can include in your daily diet:
These foods provide you and your baby with all the nutrients needed for a healthy and happy nine months. You just have to understand that binge eating is not going to serve you any benefits. The ingredients mentioned above can help you in preparing all types of healthy foods and snacks to keep you healthy and sooth your taste buds at the same time.
Now you know what you can consume during pregnancy, but it is equally important to know what you should be avoiding to keep yourself and your baby healthy. Have a look at the foods you should be avoiding:
These foods are known to harm your child during pregnancy. Moreover, some of these may also trigger nausea and vomiting. Hence, avoiding these completely can help you greatly in maintaining good health of yours and your fetus.
Vaginal delivery is the most common and preferred method of delivery across the world. There, however, are some other ways of delivery too to help in complicated situations. Have a look at the methods:
Labour is a very straightforward and uncomplicated process but sometimes, it requires the help of medical staff to be induced. The assistance can include use of medication to emergency delivery procedures.
Depending upon the condition of the pregnant woman, the doctor may pick one out of numerous delivery procedures available in the market. Have a look at the options the medical professional chooses from:
In this procedure, the doctor makes an incision on the perineum, the skin between the vagina and the anus to expand the opening for the baby's head to pass more easily and to avoid tearing of the mother's skin. Most pregnant women do not require this procedure but doctors may have to use it under special circumstances.
In amniotomy, the doctor artificially ruptures the amniotic membranes , also known as sac, that consists fluids surrounding the fetus. The doctor can carry out this procedure before or during labour. This procedure is usually done to:
Induced labour means the doctor had to start the labour to avoid some complication. Usually, doctors intravenously give Pitocin, which is a synthetic form of oxytocin drug, to induce labour.
The reasons why doctor may have to induce labour include:
In this procedure, the doctors use external and internal methods to monitor the baby's heart rate.
In the external fetal monitoring, doctors put an ultrasound device on the abdomen of the pregnant woman to gather information about the baby's heart rate and the frequency of the contractions. Sometimes, it is used continuously and sometimes, intermittently.
Internal fetal monitoring is a more accurate way of monitoring the vitals of the baby, but it requires the membranes to be ruptured before the process can begin. Doctors use a small electrode to measure the baby’s heart rate. It is put on the scalp of the baby to obtain accurate information. Doctors may also place a pressure sensor to ascertain the strength of contractions.
Forceps delivery uses a tool called forceps which resembles two conjoined spoons. Doctors insert this tool inside the vagina of the woman to gently extract the head of the baby. The rest of the delivery is done in a normal way.
If you have watched the Bollywood film "3 Idiots", understanding how a vacuum extractor works is going to be a cakewalk for you. Do you remember when Rancho delivered Pia's sister's baby in an engineering lab when the entire city had flooded due to heavy rains? Yes, he had created a vacuum extraction device to pull the baby.
The vacuum extractor looks like a small suction cup which is placed on the head of the baby to pull it out of the birth canal. It creates vacuum using a pump and the pregnant woman's contractions play an important role in the process. This process sometimes leaves a bruise on the head of the baby, but it heals within a couple of days.
Cesarean section, more popularly known as c-section, is without a doubt the most used technique to deliver babies. This procedure is opted when the vaginal delivery becomes impossible. In this procedure, the doctors make surgical incisions on the abdomen and the uterus of the pregnant woman to deliver the baby.
Cesarean section is one of the safest and most advanced ways of delivering a baby in today's age. Some people plan it in advance because of a few medical conditions and others might need it on an urgent basis because of some complications that occurred during the labour.
Here are some of the complications that me force you to go for a cesarean section:
During the course of labour, some babies develop heart rate patterns which may cause a problem. In this situation, the doctor may decide that the baby is incapable of going through the labour and a cesarean section is the only possible way of a successful delivery.
The recovery does not complete within a few days. It may take months for a woman to fully recover from childbirth. Most of the women start feeling fully recovered in about 6-8 weeks, it may take more time for a few women to feel like before.
Sometimes, women feel like their body has turned against them. In such situations, the experts recommend women not to get frustrated and understand that your body is going to take its time to get back to normal. The best practice is to take ample amounts of rest, eat healthy and give yourself a break from all the tension around you.
During this period, your body goes through several hormonal changes. It makes you unable to think clearly and get emotional more frequently. Again, you just have to give yourself some time to adjust to the changes and regain normalcy. In case you feel like hurting yourself or the baby, you should immediately seek medical help.
The average cost of c-section in India is about Rs. 70,000. The cost may differ from condition to condition, city to city and hospital to hospital. Normally, private hospitals in India charge between Rs 60,000 and Rs 85,000 for cesarean section.
Pristyn Care provides the most affordable C-Section treatment across India. With the presence of some of the best C-Section experts, Pristyn Care provides safe delivery at the most affordable prices.
Generally, women have to stay at the hospital for 2 to 4 days.
Once you go home after getting discharged, you may experience the following symptoms:
You will be required to change the dressing at least once a day. You may be required to change the dressing more often if it gets wet or dirty. Here are some other ways to take care of the cut:
If the doctor had used Steri-Strips to close the incision:
Walking around the house helps in the healing process and also prevents blood clots from forming. You should be able to start doing the regular activities within the next 4 to 8 weeks. Before that period, you are advised the following activities:
Just like other big surgeries, cesarean section also carries some risk factors. These risks can be divided into two categories - Risk to the Baby and the Risk to the mother.
Pregnancy is very complicated in its own way. The more you know about it, the better it is for you. Every woman goes through her own journey during pregnancy. Even the second pregnancy is not the same as the previous one for a woman. Hence, it is very important not to panic and keep in touch with your healthcare provider to clear your doubts. Wish you all aspiring mothers a very happy and healthy pregnancy.