Child care begins even before you conceive. The mother is the most important person in a child's life. If you are not ready then you will not be able to enjoy your baby nor would the baby be happy. If you are ready both physically and mentally to go through your pregnancy then the rest of the path becomes much easier. A baby is very demanding. So unless you enjoy being a mother you will find it very tough to cope with the unavoidable stress that accompanies the arrival of your little one.
Pregnancy is a unique experience. You and your partner are going to become parents. Your life takes on a new dimension when you start a family. Let's have a brief idea about how pregnancy occurs. Males and females have their separate reproductive organs. The female reproductive organs include the two ovaries, fallopian tubes and the uterus. The eggs (ova) are produced in the ovaries. At the time of puberty, lots of hormonal changes take place in a girl's body. With the result, the ovaries begin to release an egg (ovum) each month. This egg travels to the uterus through fallopian tubes each month. During copulation when the sperm manages to penetrate the egg while still in the fallopian tube, fertilization occurs. If the fertilization does not occur, the egg and the tissues lining the womb are shed periodically every month. This is called menstruation. If fertilization occurs, pregnancy is established. The fertilized egg reaches the uterus and establishes itself there. New hormones are produced and new tissues are built up in the uterus to sustain the new life. A simple urine test performed six weeks after the first day of the last menstrual test may be done to confirm the pregnancy.
The cell formed by the union of egg and sperm is called zygote. After travelling from the fallopian tube to the womb, this cell gets attached to the lining of the uterus. With time, this zygote multiplies, matures and differentiates into various organs of the baby. The baby connects with the uterus through the placenta. Later on the placenta enlarges and is connected to the developing baby by means of the umbilical cord. The baby gets oxygen and all the nutrition from the placenta and sends its waste products to the placenta via this umbilical cord. When the baby is born, this umbilical cord is cut and clamped around two inches from the baby's end. The placenta along with the rest of the umbilical cord is expelled from the womb. The baby's umbilical cord dries up and gets shed a few days later leaving behind the belly button on baby's tummy.
Formation of a zygote
Tests and Checkups
The missed periods are the first and most reliable sign for women to suspect the pregnancy. Consult your doctor as soon as possible who would confirm the pregnancy with a simple urine test.
After this, a physical examination by your doctor will be done to ensure your heart, lungs and other body systems are in perfect shape to bear the pregnancy. Throughout the pregnancy your blood pressure, heart condition and urinary status will be maintained under regular supervision for early detection of any complications. If not detected and controlled in time, they can seriously harm your baby and you.
Symptoms of Pregnancy
Here are certain features and symptoms of pregnancy which occur due to the hormonal changes and increase in the size of the womb. They are:
The size of the breasts changes. There may be tingling and throbbing in the breasts. The veins on the surface of the breast may become more prominent. The size of the nipples increases and the surrounding area becomes darker and more prominent.
Morning sickness in the first trimester is more common. However in some women, nausea with or without vomiting may go one further than the first trimester.
There is a tendency of increased frequency of passing urine, especially at night.
The bowel habits undergo change. There may be constipation.
Your taste changes. You may develop a distaste of things which you always liked to eat and drink like tea, coffee, milk, flour, etc. There may be increased craving for things like clay, chalk or sour things.
Some women feel emotionally drained and anxious. This occurs due to hormonal changes and it goes away on its own once the baby is born and the body reverts back to its normal form.
Development of the Baby
It is an accepted fact that the physical and mental health of the mother during pregnancy is related to the child's development, both before and after birth.
The nine months of pregnancy are divided into three parts of three months, each called trimesters.
Exercising during pregnancy
The first trimester is the most critical in terms of the formation of the baby's organs, brain, heart, kidneys, face, nose, eyes, limbs and other organs. It is during this period that most hormonal changes take place. Mild nausea and vomiting in the morning are fairly common during this trimester. To get rid of this morning sickness, avoid sudden movements and rise slowly in the morning from the lying position. It also helps to eat a dry toast or drink a cup of tea with lemon juice soon after waking up in the morning. Avoid fatty foods. Eat small but regular meals.
During the second trimester, the pregnancy settles down and by the fifth month, you will feel the baby kicking. At first, it may not be like a pronounced kick but just a flutter or a tickle. As the months pass, you will find that the baby is more active and the frequency of movement increases.
The third trimester is generally uneventful. Your bulge begins to show considerably. Simple yoga exercises should be done during this period for easy delivery.
Development of the embryo
Care during Pregnancy
It is important to have regular antenatal checkups during the nine months of pregnancy.
Do not take any drugs during this period, especially during the first trimester. If it is essential then take it with the consent of your doctor because some drugs taken by you can go across the placenta to your baby. This may be harmful and damage his developing organs leading to various defects in his heart, brain, eyes, ears, etc.
Eat a healthy, nutritious diet consisting of food items of all food groups so as to provide nutrition to you as well as to the baby. Calcium, vitamin D, folic acid and iron are very important for the formation of baby's bones and teeth and to keep your haemoglobin levels high. Deficiency of folic acid in the first trimester of pregnancy is closely associated with the development of neural tube defects in the baby.
Avoid smoking and alcohol completely during pregnancy. It is also advisable to not to expose yourself to cigarette smoke released by other smokers at home or at work.
The process by which the baby and the placenta are expelled from the mother's uterus is known as labour. These symptoms indicate the onset of labour:
During pregnancy, a protective plug of mucus blocks the cervix. When the labour begins, this mucus plug loosens and is discharged through the vagina with a little blood. This phenomenon is called the ‘show’ and it indicates the onset of labour.
At the beginning of the labour when the cervix dilates, the amniotic sac or the water bag surrounding the baby in the womb comes down and breaks leading out a sudden gush of watery fluid coming out of the vagina.
Then regular frequent uterine contractions occur which begin as mild and brief lasting for half a minute or so. They progressively become more frequent, strong and painful lasting for a longer period.
When the onset of labour is established then the actual process of birth begins. In the first stage, the mother gets regular uterine contractions every 3 to 5 minutes and the lower portion of the uterus and the cervix dilate in order to allow easy passage for the baby.
In the second stage, strong uterine contractions begin which result in baby's head presentation. The baby's head is the first part of his body to appear and emerge out of the vagina during labour. After delivery, the baby's cord is clamped and cut. Mucus is sucked out of the baby's nose and mouth and his body is dried and he/she is wrapped in a towel.
In the third stage, which is the stage of afterbirth, the placenta and the membranes are expelled soon after the baby comes out.
Normal, Forceps or Caesarian
In normal labour, the contractions of the mother's uterus push the baby through her passage and deliver the baby out without any external aid. In case the contractions are not strong enough or the baby gets stuck in a difficult position and begins to show signs of distress, then the baby is delivered by forceps or vacuum extraction. The forceps’ blades or the rubber cups of the vacuum extractor are applied to the baby's head. Then the baby is gently pulled out by an experienced doctor.
Also to avoid ragged perineal tears and damage to the mother during delivery, the doctor may make a small cut in the perineum. This is also called episiotomy. This cut is later stitched and it heals quite easily.
In cases when normal delivery is harmful to the baby or the mother, the doctor may decide to perform a caesarian operation and deliver the baby. In this case, a small cut is made in the lower abdominal wall and the uterus of the mother. After the baby is taken out, the cut parts are stitched back.
Pregnancy is not an illness. Each pregnancy is unique yet it is a perfectly normal occurrence. Regular medical advice should be taken to ensure that the pregnancy runs smoothly. There may be ups and lows in your mood, but this is not unusual.Keep your mind occupied and look after your health.
Methods of child birth