Pregnancy is the term used to describe the gestation period of humans which lasts for 280 days under normal conditions. It can be considered to be one of the most memorable and special period in the lifetime of the parents.
The period of pregnancy begins with the ending of the last menstrual cycle (LMP), which is way before the male sperm fertilizes the female ovum. The menstrual cycle prepares a woman for pregnancy every month by thickening the lining of the uterus so that it can nourish the fertilized egg. And if fertilization does not take place, then the uterine lining is discarded; but in case of fertilization, the zygote or fertilized egg embeds itself in the enriched endometrium and gets nourished to multiply and grow into a fetus.
Signs of Pregnancy
A missed menstrual cycle is one of the common signs of pregnancy. Other indications could be tenderness and swelling in breasts, nausea, increased sensitivity and response to smells, fatigue, pica, increased frequency of urination and mood swings.
During pregnancy, a female body undergoes a lot of changes in the form of hormonal upheavals, weight gain, changes in belly size and body functioning. For woman of average weight, physicians recommend a weight gain of 9 -12 kg during pregnancy.
For convenience of medical records and treatment, the 40 weeks of gestational period is divided into 3 trimesters.
Proper care of the pregnant woman regarding diet, rest, medical care, emotional support, etc. is very important during this critical period in the life of both the mother and the child. Even a small mistake caused during pregnancy can end up in life long suffering of the unborn child.
The first trimester is the most critical period in the life of the developing fetus, for the reason that the brain, limbs, internal organs and many other vital developments happen during this stage. Hence it is important for the pregnant woman to be very careful, and avoid alcohol, smoking, drugs, unnecessary medication or any other trauma to the fetus.
Most of the women go through pregnancy normally and give birth to a healthy child at the end of the term after labor. In some cases though, certain complications can arise which may lead to either abnormalities in the developing fetus or termination of the pregnancy itself.
One of the very rare but dangerous complications which can prove to be life-threatening for the woman is ectopic pregnancy. The fertilized egg normally implants inside the uterus, but in rare cases it may implant in the abdomen, fallopian tube or outside the uterus leading to complications of ectopic pregnancy.
Miscarriage is another complication which usually happens during 4-12 weeks of pregnancy. Toxemia, edema, premature birth, still birth, placenta complications, Rh incompatibility and birth defects are some of the other complications.
After the period of about 40 weeks since the LMP, a woman will go into labor which will result in childbirth, thus ending the saga of pregnancy. If the childbirth happens before the 37th week of pregnancy, then the baby is considered to be premature who will need extra care to survive.