Important Steps After You Learn First Signs of Pregnancy
When you become pregnant your body will tell you the first signs and symptoms of pregnancy. It will simply give you the body clues. Dr. Laura Riley shares those signs and clues in the second edition of her book You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
The book has just been published in early 2012 and what follows is an excerpt discussing the signs of pregnancy by Dr. Laura Riley, OB/GYN.
Clues that you’re pregnant
A missed period will probably be your first physical sign of pregnancy. That’s because instead of shedding its lining, the uterus is building up its lining to prepare for the implantation of the fertilized egg. Soon after your first missed period, you may also notice that your breasts feel sore and that you’re more tired than usual.
Getting proof of pregnancy
A home pregnancy test kit, which you can buy at any drugstore, is a simple, fast, and private way to confirm that you’re expecting. It works by testing your urine for the hCG hormone that’s produced during pregnancy. If the test detects a certain level of hCG, it will show a positive result, confirming you are pregnant.
However, if the test is negative, you still could be pregnant. You may have done the test too early, before there is enough hCG in your urine. Wait a few days and repeat the test. If it is still negative and you haven’t gotten your period, something else may be happening in your body. Certain medications and illnesses can cause you to skip a period, as can excessive exercise, low body weight, early menopause, birth control pills, or stress.
After testing positive on a home pregnancy test, some women like their doctors to confirm their pregnancies. Your doctor can perform a simple blood test that can detect hCG in even smaller amounts than a home pregnancy kit can.
Important First steps
There are many months to go before you hear your baby’s sweet cry, but as soon as you know you’re pregnant—or better yet, before you start trying to conceive—it’s important to consider how your lifestyle or personal habits affect your baby’s growth. A baby’s brain and organs begin to develop very early in pregnancy, and behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and using certain medications and street drugs can cause irreparable harm to a developing fetus.
A nutrient-rich diet is also important early on, and it’s especially important that you get adequate amounts of the vitamin folic acid. Start taking folic acid supplements with at least four hundred micrograms of folic acid as soon as possible (see “Folic acid reduces birth defects,” page 24) if you’re not already taking them. Get off to the right start by calling your primary care physician or prenatal provider now to schedule a prenatal appointment. Your first visit will likely be scheduled around week 10 but if you have medical problems a visit earlier than at weeks 8 to 10 may be necessary. Good medical care during pregnancy is crucial for your health and your baby’s health—a medical provider will help you make the critical lifestyle changes important for your baby’s growth.
The fatigue factor
The good news is you’ll feel much more energetic by the start of your 2nd trimester. The bad news? You’re going to be very tired until then. Tasks that used to take you minutes seem to drag on forever. Why? Your body is concentrating on the important task of creating your baby, and that puts tremendous demands on it, especially during the 1st trimester. Because your body is working so hard, you are likely to feel fatigued. In fact, you may need as much as ten or eleven hours of sleep each night to feel refreshed.
When fatigue strikes, listen to your body. Go to bed early, sleep late, and take naps in the afternoons. If you work and can’t take naps on weekdays, set aside time for extra sleep on the weekends. You may feel like a hibernating bear, but that’s both normal and common.
Your hormones’ wild ride
You may have thought that the phrase “raging hormones” applies only to teenagers in love. Guess again. During the first few weeks and months of pregnancy, you’ll be producing hormones in ways and amounts that are new to your body. These hormones influence you in a variety of ways and cause a wide range of possible effects, including moodiness, headaches, fatigue, breast soreness, complexion problems, and changes in hair and nails. Most of these changes are relatively minor. If something starts to bother you in a major way—for example, if you develop migraines, depression, or irritating complexion changes—talk with your doctor; you may benefit from medication to treat these problems. Although some medications are dangerous during pregnancy, others can be taken safely. Always get your doctor’s approval before taking any medication, whether it’s over-the-counter or prescription.
Excerpt from You & Your Baby: Pregnancy
Dr. Laura Riley, OB/GYN
Copyright 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
ISBN 978-1-118-08411-3 (pbk)