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The Unique Pregnancy Experience

By: Susan Orakwe

Pregnancy is counted as 40 weeks starting from the first day of a woman last menstrual period. A missed menstrual period is often the first recognizable sign of a possible pregnancy. But there are other signs and symptoms of early pregnancy as well, some signs may appear in the first week and more maybe seen in the weeks before your first missed period. Note that not all women experience these symptoms the same way. Some women may experience lighter than normal periods and they may also have spotting that can occur between one to two weeks following conception.

Also, in early pregnancy, the breast may feel full or heavy and the areas around the nipple may darken. You may notice tenderness or swelling in your breast in the first or second week after pregnancy.

Another early sign of pregnancy is the morning sickness, which is nausea and vomiting that comes in the morning during early pregnancy. This usually happen between 2 and 8 weeks of pregnancy. Note that these nausea and vomiting can happen anytime not only in the mornings. There may be food cravings or aversions, women may have an unusual urge to eat a particular food even the ones she previously did not like. These food aversions mostly fade at the end of the first trimester. There are also signs of fatigue and tiredness, blotting of the belly, frequent urination, basal body temperature, pregnancy mask, mood swings, headaches, bleeding, spotting or discharge, constipation, etc.

A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period. There are stages in pregnancy which is known as trimesters and these trimesters are divided into three stages namely, the first trimester, the second trimester and the third trimester. Here the fetus undergoes many changes.

In the First Trimester which is from the first week to 12 weeks, the body undergoes many changes. These hormonal changes affect almost every organ in your body. These changes include extreme tiredness, tender and swollen breasts, morning sickness, cravings, mood swings, etc. most of these discomforts go away as the pregnancy progresses and at the same time some women might not feel any discomfort. The second trimester starts from 12 weeks to 24 weeks. In this trimester, most women find it easier than the first. They often notice symptoms like nausea and fatigue are fading away, while other new and more noticeable changes are now happening to the body.

At this stage, the abdomen will begin to expand as the baby continues to grow and before the end of this trimester, some women feel their babies begin to move. The symptoms likely to be found in this trimester includes, body aches, stretch marks on your abdomen, breasts, a thin line on the skin, running from the belly down to the pubic hair line, swollen ankles, fingers and face, itching on the abdomen, palms and soles of the feet. As you approach the third trimester, some of the same discomfort you had in your second trimester will continue. The third trimester starts from week 24 to week 40. There is difficulty in breathing and frequent urination because the baby is getting bigger and it is putting more pressure on the organs.

There are also other changes noticed such as heart burn, trouble in sleeping, the baby dropping or moving lower in your abdomen and contractions which can be a sign of a real or false labour. Also as you approach your due date, the cervix becomes thinner and softer. This is normal as it is a natural process that helps the birth canal to open during the birthing process. Note that normally, around week 34 of pregnancy, the baby’s body turns southward, settling into a heads down, bottom up position.

Your estimated date to birth is only to give you a guide. Babies come when they are ready, thus expectant mothers are advised to be patient and go through the process with all joy. The gender and inherited characteristics of babies are decided at the moment or point of delivery.

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