One of the periods considered very special in a woman’s life are the forty or so weeks leading up to the birth of a child. Even before conception happens, a woman’s body goes through normal, monthly changes to get ready for birth. Starting at the commencement of puberty and for the succeeding thirty or so years, she undergoes ovulation, the monthly process in which the ovaries release an ovum (egg cell) for fertilization.
At the same time, the hormonal system prepares the uterus for the prospect of pregnancy.
During early pregnancy, a woman is often doubtful as to whether conception has taken place. As a matter of fact, she may be unaware up to the time that the situation is made apparent by her enlarging abdomen. There are three common pieces of evidence of early pregnancy: the missing of a regular menstrual period, morning sickness, and tenderness and beginning enlargement of the breasts.
The usual initial evidence of early pregnancy is the missing of a regular menstrual period. Menstruation consists of the shedding of the uterus’ lining each month, except during pregnancy. This natural process rids the uterus of its decadent lining in order that new tissue can develop in preparation for conception if it should take place the following month. When conception does occur, the developing child finds lodgment within the uterus and stays there for the next nine months. The reason for some uncertainty about whether a woman is pregnant, despite missing a menstrual period, is that certain conditions (not pregnancy) can account for a missed period. Factors such as an excessive emotional strain or a serious illness can interfere with menstruation.
Morning sickness is another common evidence of early pregnancy. This condition is a combination of nausea and some vomiting which are experienced by about half of pregnant women soon after pregnancy begins. This condition, which usually goes away after the third month of pregnancy, is primarily due to diverse changes in hormone production. While it occurs typically in the morning (as its name suggests), morning sickness may also take place at other times of the day. A pregnant woman may be able to check morning sickness by making some simple modifications in her diet. For example, she can lessen her gastric discomfort by eating boiled sweets, dried fruit, or crackers in the early morning; or she can have small but frequent meals.
A condition called ptyalism (an increase in saliva) may add to the feeling of nausea a pregnant woman may already have. Vomiting and nausea may be so severe in some cases of early pregnancy, and these are reasons enough for an expectant mother to consult her doctor.
The third common clue of pregnancy is tenderness and beginning enlargement of the breasts. This condition is a natural response to the hormones that control the occurrence of pregnancy. The breasts’ gland tissue must develop gradually in readiness for producing milk after birth.
If it is necessary to be certain about a suspected pregnancy, a woman’s doctor can arrange reliable tests. These pregnancy tests, which make use of the woman’s urine, become dependable about a couple of weeks after the first missed menstrual period.