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Things to consider when pregnant

Monday, September 23, 2013

Things to consider when pregnant

There are few occasions in life as special as realising you are pregnant for the first time, hitting you with the sudden realisation that one day you are going to be a mother.

Despite it being one of the most natural things in the world, the idea of being pregnant can nevertheless leave you feeling nervous, scared and concerned about your lack of knowledge in this area.

Worry not. This short guide will give you an overview of some of the main things to be aware of during this special time, as you ready yourself for the magical miracle of a single cell growing into fully functional human being that you will share most of your life with.

Diet

While a healthy diet is advised regardless of your disposition or age, during pregnancy it is vitally important that you eat as well as you can to ensure that your baby develops to its full potential.

Do not confuse pregnancy with having to adopt a special way of eating and drinking. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to address the foods you usually eat and where you feel like you are lacking – in terms of consuming a balanced amount of nutrients – to make positive changes.

There are definitely items to avoid. According to the NHS, it is best to stay away from certain cheeses (Danish Blue, Gorgonzola and Roquefort), all types of pâté, raw or partially cooked eggs and even vitamin and fish oil supplements.

Ultrasound scans

You should undergo an ultrasound at least twice during your pregnancy. The first takes place when you are around eight to 14 weeks pregnant. Known as the 'dating scan', this gives you an estimated date for when your baby is due.

The second scan occurs when you are between 18 and 21 weeks. The 'anomaly scan' examines whether there are any 'structural abnormalities' in your baby, which can help identify early on any possible complications that could arise.

Painless, the ultrasound generates an image of your baby using sound waves (gel is placed on belly and a sonographer moves the scanner on top of this) and represents the first 'official photo' of your unborn child.

Week by week

During the first zero to 8 weeks, your fertilised egg will begin moving along the fallopian tube to the womb where it will settle. Then, during your 9th and 12th week, things speed up significantly.

The face will begin to form with the eyes even having some colour in them. You will probably feel tired and nauseous much more than you did early on.

Between weeks 13 and 16, your baby will be around 85mm long from head to toe. Things start to perk up for you as the fatigue and sickly feeling you underwent the previous weeks will reduce in severity.

The growth of your baby speeds up rapidly when you reach the 17 to 20 week stage, with facial features looking more life-like. At this point your unborn child can grip his/her hand while finger and toenails are beginning to grow.

Between weeks 21 and 24, you will look noticeably pregnant and, because the baby is growing, feeling hungrier than ever before. At the 25 to 28 point, there will be a lot more movement in your womb and the baby will respond to sound and touch.

This activity continues during weeks 29 and 32 and because a lot is going on during this period, you can often feel breathless. The position of the baby alters, as it readies itself for the latter part of pregnancy.

At weeks 33 to 36, the baby's brain and nervous system is now fully developed and it tends to be curled up in the uterus. With the extra weight, every little task can feel doubly hard, so mothers to be are advised to take it as easy as they can.

The final part of the pregnancy, usually weeks 37 to 40 – you can of course end up being overdue – is described as being full-term. In other words, your baby is ready to enter into the world and with it begins a whole new and exciting chapter in you life


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