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Pregnancy

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Preconception advice

Preconception advice Knowing the basic physiology of pregnancy can increase a woman’ chances of becoming pregnant. For those who are trying to conceive, the best time to have sexual intercourse is around the time of ovulation. This is usually on day 14 of the menstrual cycle, but it varies amongst women.

For more information on how to prepare for pregnancy, see Preconception Advice.


Female reproductive system

Reproductive system The female urogenital tract consists of all the organs involved in reproduction and the formation and release of urine. It includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, urethra, and the organs of reproduction: uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and vagina. The uterus is the major female reproductive organ.

For more information on the anatomy of the reproductive system, see Female Urogenital System and Male Urogenital System.


Menstruation

Menstruation Menstruation involves ovulation and shedding of the endometrium in a cyclical fashion in an attempt to release an unfertilised egg ready for fertilisation when in the presence of sperm. The cycle has an average duration of 28 days, but the normal range is between 21 to 35 days.

For more information, see Menstruation.  


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Pregnancy investigations

Pregnancy test 

Pregnancy test A pregnancy test is used to determine if a woman is pregnant. It is usually performed when a health professional or a woman suspects she is pregnant, or before using clinical services that may interfere with a pregnancy. This is done by analysing a sample of urine or blood for the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

For more information, see Pregnancy Test.


Obstetric ultrasound

Obstetric ultrasound Some women will realise they are pregnant if they experience symptoms such as frequent urination, nausea (morning sickness), and a late period. However, pregnancy can be confirmed using a urine test available at pharmacies. An obstetric ultrasound may also be used to diagnose pregnancy and to estimate a due date.

For more information, see Obstetric Ultrasound.

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Pregnancy Due Date

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Amniocentesis

Amniocentesis Pregnancy investigations are procedures used to diagnose complications or foetal abnormalities. Amniocentesis involves inserting a needle into the uterus to withdraw a sample of amniotic fluid. Other diagnostic procedures may be offered, including an obstetric ultrasound, and chorionic villus sampling.

For more information, see Amniocentesis. 


Stages of pregnancy

Stages of pregnancy The first trimester of pregnancy is when the major organ systems of the foetus begin the develop. By the eighth week after fertilisation, all organs are present. The second trimester is a period of rapid relative growth. The third trimester is when the foetus builds muscle and fat to increase body weight.

For more information on foetal development and maternal changes during pregnancy, see Stages of Pregnancy  


Complications of pregnancy

Pregnancy complications Pregnancy is a normal and natural event. However, it may pose risks to the mother. If implantation occurs anywhere outside the uterus, then the result is an ectopic pregnancy. Another common complication of pregnancy is preeclampsia, which increases the risk of cardiovascular problems, or of premature delivery.


Ectopic pregnancy: animation

Ectopic pregnancy Conception usually occurs inside the fallopian tube. The newly fertilised egg travels along the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it can implant and develop until birth. In some cases, however, complications may cause the egg to implant in areas other than the uterine lining. This is known as an ectopic pregnancy.

To watch the animation, see Ectopic Pregnancy.  


Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia Preeclampsia is a pregnancy induced disease associated with elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine. Preeclampsia is common and occurs in approximately 8% of all pregnancies. It has been described as a disease originating from the placenta but with widespread effects both for the mother and baby 

For more information on this condition, see Preeclampsia.  


Epilepsy and pregnancy

Epilepsy and pregnancy As much as half of the people who are treated with epilepsy are women, many of childbearing age. In these cases, the greatest concern would be whether a child will inherit epilepsy. Some women experience more treatment side effects than others during pregnancy. However, seizures can be harmful to the baby. 

For more information, see The Burden of Epilepsy: The Role of Pregnancy Registers.  


Premature labour

Premature labour Premature labour is defined as regular contractions before 37 weeks of pregnancy, that are accompanied with changes in the cervix. About 5–10% of births in developed countries are premature, often as a result of premature labour. Premature birth is the leading cause of infant death.

For more information, see Premature Labour.          


Termination of pregnancy

Abortion If a woman chooses not to pursue a pregnancy, she may terminate it by having an abortion. An abortion is a surgical procedure to remove the contents of the uterus. Late term abortions are usually not possible unless there is a risk to the woman’s health, or the foetus has a serious medical condition.

For more information, see Abortion  


Living with pregnancy

Nutrition during pregnancy

Fruit Nutrition requirements change during pregnancy. Pregnant women should eat energy-giving foods, body-building foods and protective foods. They should avoid foods that are more likely to contain harmful pathogens (e.g. processed meats). Alcohol and caffeine may affect foetal development and should also be avoided.

For more information, see Nutrition During Pregnancy. 


Sex during pregnancy

Pregnancy Sex during pregnancy is safe and enjoyable for the vast majority of couples. However, pregnancy is a time of many changes, both physical and emotional. These changes may alter a woman’s desire for sex. In addition, physical discomfort or fears of harming the baby can affect a couple’s sexual relationship.

For more information, see Sex During Pregnancy.


Plane travel during pregnancy

Flying When flying, there are a number of health risks associated with the reduced availability of oxygen in pressurised cabins, and with sitting down for extended periods of time. Pregnant women may be concerned that flying has health risks for their foetus or themselves, and may be reluctant to fly as a result.

For more information, see Staying Healthy During Plane Travel  


Yoga during pregnancy

Yoga during pregnancy Many women find that yoga is a gentle activity that improves joint flexibility and reduces muscle tension. The stretching postures involved in yoga may also help to relieve stress. Since yoga may not be suitable for all women, it is important that they are assessed before taking up the activity. 

For more information, see Yoga During Pregnancy.  


Pilates in pregnancy

Pilates in pregnancy During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles are stretched to make room for the growing baby. Pilates is an ideal exercise during pregnancy as it is designed to strengthen the deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor exercises reduce urine leakage in women with stress and urge incontinence.

For more information, see Pilates in Pregnancy.  


Birth

Labour Pregnancy comes to an end with birth, the expulsion of the foetus through the woman’s vagina. Women who are soon to give birth will experience contractions, which gradually become more frequent and regular. When the cervix has fully dilated, the woman may feel an urge to push. 


Stages of labour

Stages of labour Labour is the process of passage of the foetus and placenta from the uterus through the vagina, to be external to the mother. It is part of the process of parturition, which refers to labour, delivery and birth. Parturition requires the dilation of the cervical canal to accommodate the passage of the foetus, as well as contractions of the uterine muscle wall strong enough to expel the foetus.

For more information, see Stages of Labour.  


Birthing types

Birthing types Modern medicine has seen the introduction of new ways in which women can give birth. The traditional vaginal birth method is still widely used. However, more women are opting to undergo elective caesarean delivery. The use of a water bath during labour and/or birth is also beginning to gain popularity.

For more information, see Birthing Types.  


Pain during childbirth

Pain during childbirth Almost all women experience pain during childbirth. Pain is an expected symptom of labour and varies in severity. The majority of women experience severe labour pain, with only a small number reporting minor or no discomfort. Management of pain during childbirth falls into two categories: with or without medication.

For more information, see Pain During Childbirth.          


Life after childbirth

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding During pregnancy, the mother’s breasts develop the capacity to produce milk. Breastfeeding provides nourishment to an infant. Breastfeeding helps develop the infant’s immune system and provides perfect nutrition. At least 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding is currently recommended.

For more information, see Breastfeeding.  


Nutrition during breastfeeding

Nutrition during breastfeeding Eating a healthy diet while you are breastfeeding is important because what you eat determines the energy, protein, nutrient and vitamin content of your breast milk. Nutritional demands during lactation are high and can have a negative impact on you and your infant if they are not met. 

For more information, see Nutrition During Breastfeeding.  


Sexuality after childbirth

Sexuality after childbirth Hormone levels change after childbirth, and women experience new emotions, demands and responsibilities. This can influence how much women feel like having sex, how often they have it, and how much they enjoy it. Men experience lifestyle changes which can influence their sex drive after their partner gives birth.

For more information, see Sexuality After Childbirth.  

 

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Featured Page Dates:

calendar icon Created: 17/2/2009 calendar icon Modified: 9/7/2009