OMG! I think I’m Pregnant!
Whether you have been trying to get pregnant for years and finally succeeded or you just received the surprise of your life, obtaining prenatal care needs to be the top item on your to-do list. Early prenatal care allows you to discuss harmful habits to cease and helpful habits to begin. Regardless of your situation, you can relax in the fact that most pregnancies go off without a hitch.
How do I know if I am pregnant?
To find out if you are pregnant, get a pregnancy test. All urine and blood pregnancy tests rely on the detection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) that is produced by the placenta. These levels rise shortly after implantation and double every 48 hours or so until they reach a peak around day 50 to 75. Pregnancy also produces several common symptom:
- No menstrual period
- Breast tenderness or tingling
- Urinary frequency
- Weight gain
If you have any of the above symptoms, you should visit your doctor.
First Trimester: Conception- Week 12
So the pregnancy test confirmed that you are pregnant, and now it’s time to visit your doctor for the first time. Once you have made the appointment, you can expect to see your doctor, midwife, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. This appointment might take up to an hour, and you can expect the following:
- Thorough history and physical examination, including height and weight and breast exam
- Blood tests to evaluate for various genetic disorders and to evaluate blood group and Rh type
- Pap smear with cervical cultures to evaluate for infections
- Checking for fetal heart tones if you are 12-13 weeks along
- If you are 35 or older, you might be counseled on genetics, as well as offered an amniocentesis to evaluate for congenital abnormalities.
Eating for two
Your health care provider may spend some time discussing your diet as well. Taking a prenatal vitamin with iron and folic acid is essential, as well as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoiding fish that may contain mercury, such as tuna. There has not been a safe level of alcohol intake established. Alcohol intake during pregnancy may lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. Along with alcohol, recreational drugs and cigarettes should be avoided. Cigarette smoking can lead to placenta abruption and placenta previa, preterm delivery, low birth weight and possibly an ectopic pregnancy.
While you are pregnant, you will be expending a lot of energy, and your body will need a lot of rest. Take advantage the opportunity to nap! These may be some of the last naps you get for some time to come. You also should avoid strenuous exercise and activity such as heavy lifting. That’s right ladies….ask your man for help! Regular exercise may be continued but should be discussed with your doctor first.
Second Trimester: Weeks 13-26
The second trimester brings a renewed sense of tranquility and serenity. If you are feeling really good, take advantage of it! This may be the time to get the baby’s room ready. Hopefully, the worst of the nausea has passed and your baby isn’t quite big enough to crowd your breathing or eating. You might notice larger breasts and a growing belly. Normal weight gain at this point is approximately 3-4 pounds per month, from the second trimester until delivery. The following are some changes that you might notice during this trimester. Despite this list, this phase really is a blissful time!
- Braxton Hicks contractions: these are mini, unpredictable contractions to get ready for the big day
- Skin changes: increased circulation may cause certain areas of your body to darken, such as the nipples, face and navel to pubic bone
- Stretch marks: common areas for stretch marks are breast tissue, arms, buttocks, thighs and abdomen
- Leg cramps
- Shortness of breath
- Vaginal discharge
Attending childbirth classes is a must. Once you have decided upon the location of your baby’s birth, you may ask that facility if they offer childbirth classes.
Third Trimester: Weeks 27-40…and Beyond
The third trimester may be physically and emotionally challenging. It will be more difficult to get comfortable because of the baby’s increased movement, weight gain and continued Braxton Hicks contractions. Hang in there! You are in the home s-tre-t-ch (no pun intended). If you are experiencing backaches, you might want to try applying heat, getting a massage and sitting in a chair with good support. Planning ahead is important, especially if this is your first baby. Here are some important items to place on the to-do list:
- Journal your feelings or write a letter to your baby.
- Make a time capsule for your child.
- Take photos of yourself pregnant! Your child will enjoy them someday, even if you don’t think you will.
- Read to your baby.
- Find a pediatrician.
- Discuss circumcision if you are having a boy.
- Define your birth plan with your doctor.
- Gather supplies, whether you are breastfeeding, bottle feeding or both.
When to seek medical care
- Labor begins or a rupture of membranes (leaking fluid)
- Abdominal or vaginal pain
- Bright red vaginal bleeding
- Vomiting more than three times a day or vomiting blood\
- Severely elevated blood pressure (greater than 140/90)
- Sudden and rapid weight gain
- Severe headache or changes in vision
- Severe leg or chest pain
To learn more about pregnancy and childbirth, please talk with your doctor. You may also want to visit the local library or bookstore for more information. Enjoy this wonderful time!
Melanie Yunger, a local nurse practitioner, has been pregnant twice.