Oct 8, 2008, 7:14 AM
Most little girls begin dreaming early on of being mummies and role-play for long periods of time with dolls. They dress them, change them, feed them and even burp them! They are always happy and smiling with their dolls and generally just showing love! It’s really a no wonder that when you first think of having a baby, you being to think of how wonderful if it will be when you are actually pregnant.
Dr Azadeh, our health adviser, a senior lecturer at the Medical School of the UTG and a senior Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist is this week focusing on pregnancy as a healthy and also a joyful condition for pregnant woman.
The Point: What do you actually mean by the joy of pregnancy?
Dr Azadeh: The anticipation of pregnancy usually begins well before women are really pregnant. The joy of being pregnant really starts when she decide that the time is right to have a baby. As you begin to plan and think that this could be it, you actually skip that menstrual cycle, your heart does a little flutter and the hope within begins to grow. You start to get excited and usually can’t wait to take that first pregnancy test. Most women are anxious and nervous all at the same time. As the test confirms your pregnancy, you swell with pleasure and delight. Now you get to share the news with the one you love.
There is no greater feeling of love for your spouse or significant other, as you look them tenderly in the eye and say, “We’re pregnant!” There is such an immense feeling of joy and love and you feel closer than you have any other moment in time. There is such a wonderful bond being woven between the two of you that not only encompasses you both, but also this new child that you are creating together. Although the woman will carry this child, both of you are connected to this child as no other person in the world is and this enhances the feelings of intimacy and affection that you share. A husband looks at his wife with warmth and closeness and he sees her as the mother of his children.
Although the first few months, or even after, can be rough physically for the woman, there are many beautiful changes that are occurring. During this time you will hear your baby’s heartbeat for the very first time! This is a moment that you will want to share together. It will be a time that you will find extreme pleasure in. It will bring smiles and joy to both of you and the anticipation of the child growing in you will also grow. This is one of those times during your pregnancy that you are filled with delight for the life that is beating and growing inside of you. Most mothers tend to want to hear that sound over and over again and fathers are in awe over the sound of that strong beating heart.
You both are filled with happiness as the first few months pass and you are ready to go the next milestone doctor’s visit. You’ve seen other ultrasound pictures, and you’ve waited for weeks to have yours. You wonder, “What will this child look like?” “How big will this child be now?” You have never had an ultrasound, or maybe you have had one with a previous child, but each time you have one is a totally different experience. Each child looks different. Each child will be doing different things when the ultrasound is being done. Many babies put their hands in front of their face, many are already sucking their thumbs and some will be kicking their feet up and down. No matter what your baby will be doing while that ultrasound is being done, you and your mate will be filled with a love that is incomprehensible. You will both see that bundle of joy, and be overwhelmed with another wave of eagerness to enjoy this child.
Usually around the time of the first ultrasound, you will begin to feel some slight fluttering in your abdomen. You may not even feel it the first few time, and you might even think it is nothing or just some butterflies in your stomach. This is the first time you feel your baby move. At first it is gentle and light. You may feel this tender flutter frequently or just a few times, but each time you do feel it, the sensation gets stronger and stronger. Before you know it this small quiver begins to feel more like a kick, or an elbow. It is truly the most magical moment you have experienced yet in your pregnancy. You can’t wait to feel it again. You can’t wait for it to get stronger and more deliberate. This is a time when you want to share this feeling with all those you love. There will be times when you grab your husband’s hand and put it to your belly so that he can feel it too! No one can truly understand that magnificent feeling that is truly coming from inside, but it is something you and your husband will want to share together. Many husbands really love the feel of their child getting stronger and stronger in the womb. It helps them to connect with the child, and with their wives.
You have gone from the exhilarating feeling of learning of your pregnancy, through the first few months of morning sickness, to the awesomeness of hearing the heartbeat and seeing your child through ultrasound, now is the time to actually hold and see your child. Although there can be aches and pains throughout pregnancy and during delivery, seeing your child will make all of those memories fade until they are in the distant past. You and your mate will gaze at that child, count his or her fingers, check out every little toe and peek and prod at every inch of that child in an effort to know this baby. You will revel in the joy that you have, not only with this child, but also for each other. Pregnancy is a joyful experienced that can be shared at every stage with both mother and father. Each parent can enjoy every aspect of pregnancy and if they do, it will bring them closer to each other and their newborn child.
Some women “know” they are pregnant from the moment of conception. For most women, though, the first sign of pregnancy is a missed period. For days, you may wonder if perhaps you got the dates wrong. A few more days go by, and the reality sets in that you might be pregnant. Should you wait a bit longer before buying a pregnancy test? Should you see a doctor right away?
It is imperative to take that pregnancy test as soon as possible after you have missed one period. Your baby’s most important organs and structures develop in the first few weeks of pregnancy. The earlier you confirm the pregnancy, the sooner you can take the steps to properly care for yourself, to ensure your baby’s health. If you are taking any medications or working with chemicals, some of them may be hazardous to your baby. The sooner you know that you are pregnant, the earlier you can avoid using these substances.
Home pregnancy tests
Pregnancy can be diagnosed using a home pregnancy test as early as two weeks after conception. This is around the time that you would normally expect your period. Shortly after you become pregnant, a hormone (HCG) starts to appear in your blood. The levels of HCG increase dramatically over the next few days, and get excreted in your urine. The presence of this hormone in your urine on a home pregnancy test means that you are pregnant.
There are a variety of home pregnancy tests available, and they are much more accurate than in the past. Most of these tests involve running a few drops of urine over a dipstick containing certain chemicals. Some pregnancy tests recommend that you retest three to five days later. This is because a negative result could just mean that you haven’t built up enough HCG yet to show up on the test. The chances of a false result are higher if your periods are irregular.
The advantages of using a home pregnancy test are that they offer you privacy and almost immediate results. The major drawback is that a false negative result would cause you to postpone seeing your health care provider. Even if the result is positive, you may still put off seeing your health care provider, thinking that the only reason for a medical visit is to diagnose the pregnancy. After using a home pregnancy test, always make sure to confirm the result at a medical visit.
Pregnancy tests at your medical visit
During your medical visit, you can have either a urine or blood test done to confirm the pregnancy. Like the home pregnancy test, the urine test at your health care provider’s office checks for the level of HCG in your urine. If you have the test done at your health care provider’s office, you will receive the results within minutes. If you have it done at a laboratory, the lab will call the doctor’s office with the result shortly after. A blood test measures the exact level of HCG in your blood, and thus can be used to track the development of the pregnancy.
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy
In addition to missing your period, there are a few signs and symptoms of pregnancy in the first trimester:
•Fatigue: This is a frequent, tell-tale sign of early pregnancy.
• Nausea or vomiting: Also called “morning sickness,” nausea or vomiting may last throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. Usually the nausea occurs in the morning, but it can happen at any time of the day. The cause of morning sickness is unknown but it appears to be associated with the increased levels of the HCG hormone circulating in your body. Morning sickness usually goes away after the first trimester, although sometimes it can linger. If it is severe, there are medications that are safe for the baby that can be used to control the nausea and vomiting.
• Frequent urination: As the uterus grows during the first trimester, it puts pressure on the bladder, causing you to urinate more often.
• Breast changes: Your breasts may feel tender and heavy. They may increase in size. The brown or pink circles around your nipples, called the areola, may become darker and the little bumps in them may become more visible. You may notice a lacy map of blue veins appearing all over your breasts.
Other possible signs of pregnancy may include a metallic taste in your mouth, headaches, mood swings, and cravings or aversions to certain foods.
Don’t worry if you do not have all the signs and symptoms of pregnancy. In fact, you could have none of the signs and symptoms, and still be pregnant. Alternatively, you could have some or all of the signs and symptoms, and not be pregnant. The best way to determine if you are pregnant is to confirm the pregnancy with your health care provider. However, if you have confirmed the pregnancy and have symptoms that suddenly disappear, it may mean that your pregnancy is not progressing normally.
Dating the pregnancy
Pregnancy is dated from the first day of your last menstrual period, which is usually about two weeks before the date of conception. The average baby takes 266 days or 38 weeks to fully develop from conception to birth. Add two weeks to account for the time between your last menstrual period and the date of conception, and you come up with a grand total of 40 weeks. Therefore, you can estimate your baby’s date of birth by adding 40 weeks to the date of your last menstrual period. Most women give birth within two weeks before or after this date.
Ultrasound is the best way to determine the estimated date of delivery. The earlier an ultrasound is done, the more accurate the dating. Your estimated date of delivery is the one determined from your first ultrasound, and the date does not change if another ultrasound is done.
For further information visit RVTH and any other Government Hospitals and Clinics throughout the country, in particular Ante-natal clinics, number of NGO and Private clinics, call on DR AZADEH and PETER GOMEZ live health show West Coast Radio every Tuesdays from 6-pm, “ THE POINT HEALTH SECTION”, E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 7774469 working hours between 3-pm.