Many people wonder, what is the process of pregnancy? How does it take place and the science behind it? How does the fetus grow and the progression of the trimester? What are the signs of conceiving and the changes that occur as the pregnancy advances? What happens when there is an unwanted pregnancy and what you can do about it? In the post below, we will answer all these queries so that you are aware of the facts in detail.
The Process of a Pregnancy and Early Signs
In a pregnancy, there is the involvement of sperm and a mature egg. Only 1 sperm cell is enough to fertilize the egg and get implanted in the uterine line. The zygote forms, which then develops into a fetus. The eggs are released from the ovaries and the ovulation causes few eggs to mature as per the menstrual cycle. Female sex hormones prepare the uterus lining to get spongy and thicket to keep the traveled egg from the fallopian tube on mating the sperm, intact, and attached to the womb’s wall.
Implantation usually begins after 6 days of fertilization and the process consumes about 3 to 4 days. The pregnancy hormones do not let the endometrial lining shed. And that’s when the pregnancy begins. Now here are some of the early pregnancy symptoms to keep an eye for:
- Missed period
- Feeling tired
- Tender or swollen breasts
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Vomiting or nausea
- Frequent urination
- Mood swings
In case of an unplanned pregnancy, you can either continue with it to full-term, opt for pregnancy termination in the first trimester (early up to 9 gestational weeks) through pills, The decision is yours and personal. Some even carry the pregnancy once they have changed their mind.
Types of Pregnancy and Pregnancy Testing
The early signs of pregnancy are similar to Premenstrual syndrome. So, to know for sure if you have conceived or not, it is advisable to get a valid pregnancy test through a blood or urine test to see for Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). Or, you can get a test kit at home to check for the pregnancy status. The best method is to get an ultrasound of the abdomen. The scan will tell you not just if you have conceived or not, but the pregnancy location as well.
It can inform if the pregnancy is inside the uterus, or if you have an ectopic pregnancy (implantation outside the uterus). In the case of the latter, you need to get the pregnancy termination as soon as possible through a surgical method. Because it is unsafe to carry on an extrauterine pregnancy, or it can lead to health issues and life-threatening incidents by rupturing the vital organs and leading to profuse internal bleeding.
A full-term pregnancy consists of 40 weeks and is categorized into three trimesters. You can use a pregnancy calculator to note the number of gestational weeks that have passed by. Start counting from the first day of the last menstrual period. The fetus meets certain developmental parameters in each trimester. And by the time it is around 40 weeks, it is time for the birth. Late birth is considered up to 42 weeks and early as 37 weeks.
Pregnancy: First Trimester, Second Trimester, and Third Trimester
The first trimester of pregnancy is between 1 and 12 weeks. The second and third trimesters last between 13 and 28 weeks, and 29 and 40 weeks, respectively. Then there is also a perception of the fourth trimester, which is like a transitional period of 3 months after delivery. Fetal development is in the most crucial stage in the first stage where the egg and sperm combine and become a zygote. Then after implantation the embryo forms where the cells divide and grow.
1. First Trimester Pregnancy
In the first trimester which is up to 12 weeks, the major structures and organs of the body start to develop. The toes and fingers form, and the heart beats regularly. The muscles and nerves work together so that the fetus can make a first. It weighs about an ounce and gets around 3 inches long. The eyelids take shape but remain closed till about 28 weeks to safeguard the eyes. The pregnant woman experiences indigestion, fatigue, headaches, mood changes, cravings for certain foods, constipation, breast tenderness, morning sickness, weight changes, and urgency to urinate.
2. Second Trimester Pregnancy
Between 13 and 28 weeks, the fetus goes through several changes and grows to be about a foot long. It can hear, see, scratch itself, and make a sucking motion. Also, it can weigh about 1.5 pounds. The first bowel movement (Meconium) develops in the intestines, and skin, nails, and hair also form. The fetus also walks and sleeps regularly. The lungs form but they are not functional yet. Lanugo, a fine kind of hair then covers the body and the taste buds also form.
If it is a female, then the eggs will get produced in the ovaries, and if it’s a male, the testicles move to the scrotum. Bone marrow also makes the blood cells. For the pregnant female, the abdomen grows as the fetus also grows. This leads to stretch marks on the breasts, buttocks, thighs, and abdomen. There is a probability of dark patches on the face and skin. The skin around the nipples (areola) gets darker. And the face, fingers, or ankles may swell.
3. Third Trimester Pregnancy
From 29 and 40 weeks is the stage for the third-trimester pregnancy where the movements of the fetus are more noticeable. By now almost every body system and organ functions properly as they mature and grow. The bones also harden, and one can sense light as the eyes open. The Lanugo disappears leaving vernix (a waxy coating), and lung formation completes. If all goes well, then at the time of delivery, the fetus lowers in the woman’s abdomen and is in a position with its head down.
For the pregnant woman, the symptoms include shortness of breath, mood changes, shortness of breath, hemorrhoids, insomnia, frequent urination, leaking milk from breasts, real contractions indicating labor, nipple and breast changes, and swelling in the fingers/ankles/face.
4. Fourth Trimester Pregnancy
The transitional period of 3 months after the baby’s birth is termed the fourth trimester. And it involves environmental and hormonal changes in both the mother and baby and for some, it is a challenging phase. It deals with adjusting to parenthood, managing the release of tissue and blood continuing for weeks together, learning new skills, and cramping especially at the time of breastfeeding.
Fatigue because of several factors like loss of sleep, changed lifestyle, and increased responsibilities for the baby. Sore breasts because of nursing the baby, and for some, tackling postpartum depression. To cope with the add-on effects and changes, it is best to divide the tasks among other people you are with or get help from housekeeping professionals and housemaids.
From the time of conceiving to delivery and thereafter, a woman as well as the fetus/baby goes through several changes. It is important to know what to expect in each stage of pregnancy to prepare better and take care of health before and post-birthing.