Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
The simplest way of knowing that you are pregnant is the missed period. Along with a missed period a woman may feel nauseous, may need to urinate more frequently and feel tenderness in the breasts. The doctor will confirm the pregnancy either by Urine/ Blood test or by way of Physical examination. The doctor checks for an enlarged Uterus, softening of genital organs and during internal vaginal examination the cervix will be seen to have taken on a purplish velvety look, the typical symptom of pregnancy.
Stages of Pregnancy
This can be otherwise termed as development of the baby in the womb. The stages of pregnancy can be divided into three specific periods of three months each, together making nine months.
The First Trimester (1-3 months)
By the end of the first three months the baby is about 3.5 inches long. The vital organs and the limbs are fully formed but not sufficiently developed. The amniotic sac contains about 3.5 ounces of amniotic fluid and the fetus and has plenty of room to move about, although the movements will not yet be felt by the mother. The heart is beating; the eyes though closed are in position. The facial features are properly formed and the ears are in place on the sides of the head. The sex organs are developed so that the baby has a male or female identity.
The fetus swallows the amniotic fluid, most of which is used by its body and it produces drops of sterile urine. The amniotic fluid is constantly refreshed by the amniotic sac. As the baby is not breathing, it does not choke. It gets its oxygen from the mother’s blood stream through the umbilical cord.
The Second Trimester (4-6 months)
By the end of the second trimester the baby is about 14 inches long, roughly the length of his mother’s fist and forearm and weighs about 2 pounds, or little less than 1 kilogram.
At the start of the second trimester or from the fourth month onwards, mother begins to fee movements of the fetus, and she begins “to show”. The fetus can now smile and suck its thumb. The ends of the fingers and toes ridges develop, giving the baby a unique identity of the finger prints.
The trunk and the legs of the fetus lengthen and the head no longer looks too large for the rest of its body. Eyelashes and eye brows appear, although the eyes remain closed until the end of this trimester.
The skin begins to grow a coat of fine downy hair called Lanugo, which is shed before or shortly after birth. During this period the baby develops a whitish greasy coating called Vernix from the oil secreted from its skin and dead skin cells.
The fetus now swallows a pint of amniotic fluid daily and returns it back to the amniotic sac through urination. The amniotic fluid is recycled every hour, when one-third of it is absorbed into the mother’s bloodstream and replaced by fresh fluid secreted from the amniotic sac.
The Third Trimester (7-9 months)
During the last three months the baby gains weight, and slowly grows to reach right up to the mother’s breast bone. As the fetus becomes large it can no longer mover freely as before, since it gets cramped for space. Now instead of movements of the fetus the mother feels its kicks and pokes.
During this trimester the baby stores up protein to build muscles, calcium for its bones, iron for its red blood cells, fat to insulate it against the temperature changes after birth.
By the end of the seventh month the fetus’s brain matures to be able to cope with breathing and swallowing. Thumb sucking is now restored to more frequently. If born at this stage the baby has a 90% chance of surviving.
By the end of the eighth month the fetus looks quite like what it will look at birth. Although the lungs not yet fully operational. The baby has a 95% chance of surviving if born at this stage.
During the last trimester that the fetus’s eyes open. The senses undergo their greatest development at this stage. The hair on the head grows and finger nails and toe nails develop.
Sometime during the ninth month the fetus generally, turns head down in the womb. About two weeks before birth, it descends about 2 inches, settling in the mother’s pelvic bone. This is called lightening, engagement or ‘fixing’ of the head.
The mother feels lighter as the pressure of the fetus pushing on her diaphragm and lungs reduced so that she can breathe more easily. Mild contractions of the muscles of the womb may be felt in the ninth month as the womb prepares itself for delivery.