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What You Need to Know About Pregnancy

One of the most rewarding and exciting events in life is pregnancy. The process of creating a new life can be complex and cause many changes in the body.

Find out what you can expect in the nine months before birth – from conception to delivery.

Deepak Sethi / Getty Images

Conception

The joining of sperm with eggs, also called fertilization, is what we call conception. Most cases of conception occur in the fallopian tube within hours or days after sexual intercourse. In cases of assisted reproduction, especially in vitro fertilization (IVF), conception can take place in a laboratory.

Timeline

Although it may occur within a few hours of a couple having sex, it can also happen days later. This is because eggs can only be fertilized within a 12-hour to 24-hour period1, and sperm can live in the female reproductive tract for up five days.

Conception is the first step towards pregnancy. The sperm, egg and egg join together to create what we call a zygote.3 Over the next few days, this single-cell zygote will transform into a multi-celled embryo.

Implantation

An embryo must move successfully from the fallopian tubes to implant in the uterus. This will allow for pregnancy.

Bleeding During Implantation

Bleeding can occur during implantation . This is a common symptom and doesn’t need any medical attention.

Between 15% and 25% of pregnant women will experience bleeding during the first trimester.4

It can be difficult to identify the cause of bleeding because there are three types of bleeding that can occur depending on your pregnancy and cycle. These are the types of bleeding:

  • Implantation bleeding: A fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall (endometrium).
  • Ovulation bleeding Light bleeding that occurs after an egg is released from the eggs
  • Period bleeding A fertilized egg that does not insert in your uterus wall after ovulation will cause the lining to shed.

Timing of bleeding can give clues as to the cause.

Timing of Bleeding

Implantation Bleeding20 to 24 days

Ovulation Bleeding14 days

Period Bleeding28 days

Based on a 28-day period

Early Symptoms

Missed periods and implantation bleeding are both early signs of pregnancy. However, there are many other symptoms you should be aware of if you are trying to conceive.

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Breast tenderness
  • Frequent urination
  • Mood swings
  • Appetite changes
  • Metallic taste
  • Headaches
  • Cramping
  • Constipation
  • Nasal congestion

The symptoms of pregnancy can vary from one person to another, even if there are no signs.

How to Make Sure You’re Not Pregnant

To confirm you’re pregnant, you can:6

  • Get a home pregnancy test. When used correctly, these tests can be 97% to 99 percent accurate.
  • Have a pregnancy blood test done at your healthcare provider’s office. Pregnancy tests are accurate to 99% and can be used to confirm positive at-home pregnancy tests.

There are many symptoms that can be associated with pregnancy. However, most of them don’t appear at once. It depends on what stage you are in your pregnancy.

Healthcare Providers’ Visits

It is important to take care of your baby during pregnancy.

Your first visit to your healthcare provider is usually at the end of your first trimester if you have a natural conception. If you have conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF span>), your first visit to your healthcare provider may be sooner.

The first major checkup should be done during the first trimester (upto 13 weeks). It typically occurs between 8 and 12 weeks.

Your healthcare provider will provide the following:7

  • Go over your health history
  • Conduct a pelvic and physical exam
  • A guideline for pregnancy treatment

Make sure you have a list of questions that you want to ask your healthcare provider so you don’t forget.

Many people will have their first ultrasound to check the anatomy and heartbeat of the baby. Your healthcare provider will determine how many weeks you are pregnant and give you a due date.

Timing for Healthcare Provider’s Hospital Visits

Most pregnant women, except for exceptional circumstances, see their healthcare provider.

  • They are 28 weeks old when they become
  • Every 2 to 3 weeks, between 28 and 36 weeks of pregnancy
  • Weekly starting at 36 weeks of pregnancy and ending with delivery

Trimesters

While 40 weeks is the standard length of pregnancy, some women deliver earlier or later. The pregnancy is divided into three distinct trimesters, each lasting 13 weeks and covering different phases of the baby’s development before it ends with birth.

First Trimester (Weeks 1-6 to 13)

Your body experiences significant changes during the first trimester. These changes set the stage for your baby’s growth. Numerous early pregnancy symptoms can be triggered by hormonal changes that affect almost every organ in your body.

Although you might not notice much outside, your baby is experiencing many changes even during the first few weeks of pregnancy.

By eight weeks your baby’s:3

  • Legs and arms have become longer
  • The hands and feet of begin to shape and look little paddles
  • The brain continues its growth
  • Lungs start to form
  • The heart will continue to beat

Pregnancy: Week 8

Second Trimester (Weeks 13 to 27)

Many people feel their best in the second trimester. People often feel less fatigue and morning sickness. They also experience a decrease in appetite and energy. Other, more visible changes can also occur in your body.

As the baby grows, your abdomen and uterus will grow. A true baby bump is visible in the second trimester.

Feeling Baby Kicks

You will begin to feel your baby move during this trimester. You can feel your baby’s first movement from anywhere between 16 and 22 weeks.

Your body may change to accommodate your baby’s growing needs.

  • Thigh, back, stomach, or groin pains (please discuss these symptoms with your healthcare provider).
  • Marks on your stomach, breasts, thighs or buttocks
  • Darkening the skin around your nipples
  • A line drawn on the skin from the belly button to the pubic hairline (lineanigra).
  • Dark patches on your face (mask pregnancy)
  • Tingling or numb hands (if this happens, contact your healthcare provider).
  • Itching of the abdomen, palms and soles on the feet (itching during pregnancy can sometimes have causes that could be dangerous to the baby’s health, so tell your healthcare provider about it).
  • Severe swelling of the feet, fingers and face (if this happens, contact your healthcare provider).

By 20 weeks, your baby:3

  • Can hear
  • is more active and continues moving and floating around
  • Can swallow

Pregnancy: Week 20

Third Trimester (Weeks 27 to 40)

The discomforts you experienced in the second trimester will continue into the third. There will be additional symptoms.

You may feel a bit shorter of breath at this stage. However, your healthcare provider should be aware to ensure that it is appropriate for your pregnancy. Because your baby is growing faster, frequent trips to the toilet will increase.

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