Thursday, August 30, 2012

The signs of pregnancy and negative pregnancy test

The signs of pregnancy: for women who have a regular monthly cycle, the earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Sometimes women who are pregnant have a very light period, losing only a little blood. Other signs of pregnancy are as follows:
Feeling sick – you may feel sick, or even be sick. This is commonly known as ‘morning sickness’ but it can happen at any time of the day. If you are being sick all the time and cannot keep anything down, contact your GP.
Changes in your breasts – your breasts may become larger and feel tender, like they might do before your period. They may also tingle. The veins may show up more and the nipples may darken and stand out.
Needing to pass urine more often – you may find that you have to get up in the night.
Being constipated.
An increased vaginal discharge without any soreness or irritation.
Feeling tired.
Having a strange taste in your mouth – many women describe it as metallic.
‘Going off’ certain things, for example tea, coffee, certain smells or fatty food.
Pregnancy tests
Pregnancy tests can be carried out on a sample of urine from the first day of a missed period, which means that, if you are pregnant, you are about two weeks after conception. Some very sensitive tests can be used even before you miss a period.
You can collect urine at any time of the day. Use a clean, soap-free, well rinsed container to collect it. You can get pregnancy tests free of charge from your GP or family planning clinic.
Many pharmacists and most pregnancy advisory services also offer tests, usually for a small fee. You can buy do-it-yourself pregnancy testing kits from pharmacists. They can give you a quick result and you can do the test in private. There are a range of tests that are available. How they work varies, so check the instructions.
Results of pregnancy tests
A positive test result is almost certainly correct. A negative result is less reliable. If you still think you are pregnant, wait a week and try again or go and see a midwife or GP.
See your midwife or doctor as soon as possible if you are currently being treated for a long-term disease such as diabetes or epilepsy, or you have serious mental health problems.                                   

Twins, triplets and quads - are you pregnant with twins? and precautions

Twins, triplets and quads: Identical twins occur when one fertilized egg splits into two; each baby will have the same genes – and therefore they will be the same gender and look very alike.
Non-identical twins are more common. They are the result of two eggs being fertilized by two sperm at the same time. The babies may be of the same gender or different genders, and will probably look no more alike than any other brothers and sisters. A third of all twins will be identical and two-thirds non-identical.
Twins happen in about 1 in every 65 pregnancies. A couple is more likely to have twins if there are twins in the woman’s family.
Triplets occur naturally in 1 in 10,000 pregnancies and quads are even rarer. Nowadays, the use of drugs in the treatment of infertility has made multiple births more common.
Are you pregnant with twins?
You might suspect that you are carrying more than one baby if:
You are very sick in early pregnancy
You seem bigger than you should be for your ‘dates’
Twins run in your family, or
You have had fertility treatment.
It is usually possible to find out through your dating ultrasound scan, which happens between eight and 14 weeks.
You should be told at this point whether the babies share a placenta (are identical) or if they have two separate placentas, in which case they can be either identical or no identical. If this cannot be determined, you should be offered a further scan. A third of identical twins have two separate placentas. This happens when the fertilized egg splits in the first 3–4 days after conception and before it implants in the uterus.
Precautions during twins’ pregnancy
All multiple pregnancies have a higher risk of complications – particularly premature birth.
If your babies share a placenta (identical twins) it is recommended that you are scanned every two weeks from 16 weeks onwards, and every four weeks if your babies have separate placentas. You may be advised to have a caesarean section. You should discuss this with your doctor, but it is your choice. It is possible to breastfeed twins and triplets and there is more information about how you can do this. You may find that a combination of breast and formula feeding is best for you – particularly if you have triplets or more.

Hormones and fetus gender - best time to get pregnant

Pregnancy hormones: Both men and women have hormones, which are chemicals that circulate in the bloodstream. They carry messages to different parts of the body and result in certain changes taking place. Female hormones, which include estrogen and progesterone, control many of the events of a woman’s monthly cycle, such as the release of eggs from her ovaries and the thickening of her uterus lining.
During pregnancy, your hormone levels change. As soon as you have conceived, the amount of estrogen and progesterone in your blood increases. This causes the uterus lining to build up, the blood supply to your uterus and breasts to increase and the muscles of your uterus to relax to make room for the growing baby.
The increase in hormone levels can affect how you feel. You may have mood swings, feel tearful or be easily irritated. For a while you may feel that you cannot control your emotions, but these symptoms should ease after the first three months of your pregnancy.
Getting pregnant with a boy or girl?
Every normal human cell contains 46 chromosomes, except for male sperm and female eggs. These contain 23 chromosomes each. When a sperm fertilizes an egg, the 23 chromosomes from the father pair with the 23 from the mother, making 46 in all.
Chromosomes are tiny, thread-like structures which each carry about 2,000 genes. Genes determine a baby’s inherited characteristics, such as hair and eye color, blood group, height and build. A fertilized egg contains one gender chromosome from its mother and one from its father. The gender chromosome from the mother’s egg is always the same and is known as the X chromosome.
But the gender chromosome from the father’s sperm can be an X or a Y chromosome.
If the egg is fertilized by a sperm containing an X chromosome, the baby will be a girl (XX). If the sperm contains a Y chromosome, the baby will be a boy (XY).
Sperm is about 1/25th of a millimeter long and has a head, neck and tail.
The tail moves from side to side so that the sperm can swim up the cervix into the uterus and fallopian tubes.
One egg or ovum (occasionally two or more) is released from the woman’s ovaries every month. It moves down into the fallopian tube where it may be fertilized by a man’s sperm.
The best time to get pregnant
You are most likely to get pregnant if the egg is fertilized within a day or so of ovulation. This is usually about 14 days after the first day of your last period.
An egg lives for about 12–24 hours after it is released. For you to get pregnant, the egg must be fertilized by a sperm within this time. Sperm can live for up to seven days inside a woman’s body. So during seven days before ovulation, the sperm will have had time to travel up the fallopian tubes to ‘wait’ for the egg to be released.

The ovulation cycle - from egg to implantation

The ovulation cycle: Ovulation occurs each month when an egg (ovum) is released from one of the ovaries. Occasionally, more than one egg is released, usually within 24 hours of the first egg. The ‘fingers’ at the end of the fallopian tubes help to direct the egg down into the tube. At the same time, the lining of the uterus begins to thicken and the mucus in the cervix becomes thinner so that sperm can swim through it more easily.
Egg moves through fallopian tubes
The egg begins to travel down the fallopian tube. If the egg is fertilized, then the lining of the uterus is now thick enough for the fertilized egg to be implanted.
Uterus lining shed during menstruation
If the egg is not fertilized, it will pass out of the body during the woman’s monthly period along with the lining of the uterus, which is also shed. The egg is so small that it cannot be seen.
Conception is the process that begins with the fertilization of an egg and ends with the implantation of an egg into a woman’s uterus.
A woman conceives around the time when she is ovulating; that is, when an egg has been released from one of her ovaries into one of her fallopian tubes.
When a woman is ovulating, the mucus in the cervix is thinner than usual to let sperm pass through more easily. Sperm swim into the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. Fertilization takes place if a sperm joins with an egg and fertilizes it.
During the week after fertilization, the fertilized egg (which is now an embryo) moves slowly down the fallopian tube and into the uterus. It is already growing. The embryo attaches itself firmly to the specially thickened uterus lining. This is called implantation. Hormones released by the embryonic tissue prevent the uterus lining from being shed. This is why women miss their periods when they are pregnant.

36 to 41 weeks of pregnancy

36 weeks pregnant: Make sure you have all your important telephone numbers handy in case labor starts.
Your midwife or doctor should give you information about:
feeding your baby
caring for your newborn baby
Vitamin K and screening tests for your newborn baby
The ‘baby blues’ and postnatal depression.
Your midwife or doctor should:
measure the size of your uterus
check the position of your baby
measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein.
Sleeping may be increasingly difficult.
38 weeks pregnant
Most women will go into labor spontaneously between 38 and 42 weeks. Your midwife or doctor should give you information about your options if your pregnancy lasts longer than 41 weeks.
Your midwife or doctor should:
Measure the size of your uterus
measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein.
Call your hospital or midwife at any time if you have any worries about your baby or about labor and birth.
40 weeks pregnant   
If this is your first baby, then your midwife or doctor should give you more information about what happens if your pregnancy lasts longer than 41 weeks.
Your midwife or doctor should:
measure the size of your uterus
measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein.
41 weeks pregnant
If your pregnancy lasts longer than 41 weeks, you may be induced. Your midwife or doctor will explain what this means and what the risks are.
Your midwife or doctor should:
measure the size of your uterus
measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein
offer a membrane sweep.
Discuss options and choices for induction of labor.
Call your hospital or midwife if you have any worries about your baby or about labor and birth.

31 to 34 weeks of pregnancy

31 weeks pregnant: If this is your first baby, your midwife or doctor should:
Review, discuss and record the results of any screening tests from the last appointment
measure the size of your uterus and check which way up the baby is
measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein.
34 weeks pregnant
Your midwife or doctor will give you information about preparing for labor and birth, including how to recognize active labor, ways of coping with pain in labor and developing your birth plan.
They should also:
review, discuss and record the results of any screening tests from the last appointment
Measure the size of your uterus
measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein
offer your second anti-D t treatment if your blood type is rhesus negative.
Make arrangements for the birth. You can give birth at home, in a midwifery unit or in hospital. If you have children already, you may want to make childcare arrangements for when you go into labor.
You may want to ask about whether tours of maternity facilities for birth are available.
Think about who you would like to have with you during labor.
Get your bag ready if you are planning to give birth in hospital or in a midwifery unit.
You will probably be attending antenatal classes now.
You may be more aware of your uterus tightening from time to time. These are mild contractions known as Braxton Hicks contractions.
You may feel quite tired. Make sure you get plenty of rest.

20 to 28 weeks of pregnancy

20 to 25 weeks of pregnancy: Your uterus will begin to get bigger more quickly and you will really begin to look pregnant.    
You may feel hungrier than before. Stick to a sensible balanced diet.
Ask your midwife about antenatal education.
You will begin to feel your baby move.
Get your maternity certificate (form MAT B1) from your doctor or midwife.
25 weeks pregnant
Your baby is now moving around vigorously and responds to touch and sound.
If this is your first baby, your midwife or doctor should:
check the size of your uterus
measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein.
If you are taking maternity leave, inform your employer in writing 15 weeks before the week your baby is due. You can claim for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and the Health in Pregnancy Grant at the same time.
If you are entitled to Maternity Allowance, you can claim from when you are 26 weeks pregnant.
If your partner plans to take paternity leave, they will need to inform their employer.
28 weeks of pregnancy    
Your baby will be perfectly formed by now, but still quite small.
You may find that you are getting more tired.
Your midwife or doctor should:
use a tape to measure the size of your uterus
measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein
offer more blood screening tests
offer your first anti-D treatment if your blood type is rhesus negative.
If you are claiming Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), you must inform your employer at least 28 days before you stop work.
You can claim a lump sum Sure Start Maternity Grant to help buy things for your new baby if you get one of the following:
Income Support
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Pension Credit
Working Tax Credit where the disability or severe disability element is included in the award
 Child Tax Credit payable at a rate higher than the family element.
Think about what you need for the baby.
If you have young children, it’s good to talk to them about the new baby.
Make sure your shoes are comfortable. If you get tired, try to rest with your feet up.

12 to 20 weeks pregnant

12 to 16 weeks of pregnancy: Find out about antenatal education.      
Start to think about how you want to feed your baby.
Make sure you are wearing a supportive bra. Your breasts will probably increase in size during pregnancy so you need to make sure you are wearing the right sized bra.
If you have been feeling sick and tired, you will probably start to feel better around this time.
At 14 weeks, your baby‘s heartbeat is strong and can be heard using an ultrasound detector.
Your pregnancy may just be beginning to show. This varies a lot from woman to woman.
16 to 20 weeks pregnant  
You may start to feel your baby move.
Your tummy will begin to get bigger and you will need looser clothes.
You may feel a surge of energy.
Try to do your pregnancy exercises regularly.
Your midwife or doctor should:
 review, discuss and record the results of any screening tests
 measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein
consider an iron supplement if you are anemic.
Your midwife or doctor should give you information about the anomaly scan you will be offered at 18–20 weeks and answer any questions you have.
Your baby is now growing quickly. Their face becomes much more defined and their hair, eyebrows and eyelashes are beginning to grow.
Ask your doctor or midwife to let you hear your baby’s heartbeat.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First 12 weeks of pregnancy

Pregnancy first eight weeks: You can take a pregnancy test from the first day that you miss your period.
As soon as you know you are pregnant, get in touch with a midwife or your GP to organize your antenatal care. Begin to think about where you want your baby to be born.
Some pregnant women start to feel sick or tired or have other minor physical problems for a few weeks.
Take 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day, which is in Healthy Start vitamin supplements or other supplements recommended by your midwife. You should continue to take vitamin D throughout your pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding.
8 to12 weeks of pregnancy
You will usually attend your first appointment by 10 weeks and your booking appointment by 12 weeks.
At the booking appointment, your weight, height and body mass index will be measured. You will be asked about your health and family history as well as about your baby’s father’s family history. This is to find out if you are at risk of certain inherited conditions.
Your hand-held notes and plan of care will be completed.
Your midwife will discuss various tests you will be offered during your pregnancy, one of which is an ultrasound scan to check for abnormalities in your baby. You will be offered information about what to expect during pregnancy and how to have a healthy pregnancy. Ask if you are unsure about anything.
You can ask your midwife about your rights at work and the benefits available.
You will usually be offered an ultrasound scan between eight and 14 weeks. This will check the baby’s measurements and give an accurate due date. The scan can also detect abnormalities and check if you are carrying more than one baby. Your partner can come along to the scan.
If you get Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance or are on a low income and receive Child Tax Credit, you should complete a Healthy Start application form. This is to claim vouchers to spend on milk, fruit and vegetables. Healthy Start vitamin supplements (containing vitamin D) are free without prescription for any pregnant woman, new mother or child who gets Healthy Start vouchers.
Make a dental appointment. NHS dental care is free during pregnancy and for a year after the birth of your baby.
Just 12 weeks after conception, your baby is fully formed. It has all its organs, muscles, limbs and bones, and they’re developed.
Your baby is already moving about but you cannot feel the movements yet.