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PREGNANCY

PREGNANCY

Pregnancy is also termed as Gestation, the phase or process of development of a child inside the womb of a woman, between conception and birth. Pregnancy can be achieved by unprotected sexual intercourse or with ART, Assisted Reproductive Technologies (IVF, artificial insemination etc.) 

During this process, the male gamete, the sperm, fertilises the female gamete, the ovum. This results in the formation of a zygote, which grows into an embryo. This embryo starts developing distinguishable features and turns into a foetus. All these changes occur in the uterus, after the fertilised zygote gets embedded into its wall. (At different stages of pregnancy, the child growing inside the uterus is referred to as zygote, embryo or foetus depending on it's size).

The placenta and the umbilical cord are the special anatomical structures that support the pregnancy by providing nutrition to the child. They also develop in the uterus. 
 

The normal period of gestation is expressed in weeks and, in case of humans, it is an average of 40 weeks. This phase is further divided into 3 trimesters, each of 3 months. Due to the growth of the foetus/embryo in the womb of the mother, the body begins to prepare for the stages of pregnancy right after fertilisation occurs. These changes manifest in a timely fashion, with some being recurring changes and others appearing and disappearing within weeks or months. 

Pregnancy usually results in either the birth of a new life, miscarriage, or an abortion.

 

SYMPTOMS OF PREGNANCY

Early symptoms of pregnancy - nausea, headaches, food cravings, missed period, fatigue and mood swings

Most common symptoms of pregnancy are:

  • Missed episode of menstruation

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Swollen breasts

  • Strong food cravings

  • Fatigue

  • Mood swings

  • Increased urge to urinate

  • Acne

Other notable symptoms are as discussed below:

  • Missing your period is the foremost common incident which indicates pregnancy for a woman. However, it is important to note that irregular periods may also be the reason behind missing an episode of menstruation. Women with underlying conditions like PCOS also experience symptoms of irregular periods 

  • Changes in the breast is also a sign of pregnancy observed by almost all women who have conceived. The breasts become tender, heavier and it feels like they have grown in size. Areolas start becoming darker and larger

  • Headaches, back pain or an aggravation of migraines can occur in pregnant women very frequently. A painkiller for any such difficulty will be prescribed by the OB/ GYN on mentioning the symptoms

  • Increased blood pressure (BP) levels is another symptom. This can also lead to a serious condition, especially in women who have a history of hypertension (increased BP) in their family or are smokers

  • Lower abdominal cramps accompanied by back pain can occur as the muscles of the uterus continue to stretch to accommodate the growing foetus. If the cramps are accompanied with spotting or bleeding, visit the doctor immediately, as this is a sign of ectopic pregnancy

  • Heartburn can also occur as the growing foetus applies pressure on the uterus to stretch, which in turn applies pressure on the gastro-intestinal system or the stomach. This can cause acid reflux, showing up as heartburn

  • Weight gain is a more noticeable sign by the second trimester. 

  • Dizziness is yet another common symptom which occurs due to the condition of anaemia in pregnant women 

  • Stress is a familiar symptom as well as an outcome of pregnancy. This is majorly observed due to gradual yet sudden changes in the body both physically and mentally

DIAGNOSIS OF PREGNANCY AT HOME

To confirm a pregnancy, it is important to take the test at home using a pregnancy test kit. These kits are easily available at the local chemist and can be brought without any prescription.

A pregnancy test primarily checks for the levels of the pregnancy hormone known as HCG, in your urine. A positive test result along with the above-mentioned symptoms, is said to confirm the pregnancy, post which one must visit an obstetrician-gynaecologist immediately for proper treatment and guidance.