Well…congratulations! The 9-month race (minus the few weeks before you knew you were pregnant) has begun.
Pregnancy is a journey with different phases and can be a very stressful time in your life. If you know what to expect, the journey will be easier.
You should however note that every pregnancy is a different experience altogether.
Register for antenatal care as soon as you know you are pregnant. This gives health care providers more time to anticipate and prepare for any problem that may arise. Adhere to instructions strictly and this is not the time to use drugs anyhow. In fact you should not take any drug without checking with your health care provider.
What to expect?
Early in the pregnancy :
Nausea and vomiting (morning sickness)- can occur as early as the third week of pregnancy and at any time of the day. This is caused by a heightened sense of smell in pregnant women. Eating food in small portions and frequently may help. If severe, go to a hospital.
Food aversion, heartburn and constipation- these are caused by the generally reduced movement in the digestive tract.
Dizziness,tiredness- the low blood pressure and low blood sugar during pregnancy may cause these. Eating food rich in iron and being active may reduce the severity
Emotional distress- the interplay of the different hormones may take its toll on a pregnant woman. Worry, anxiety, delight and exhaustion can take their turns in mood swings. Reassure yourself that what you are going through is normal and look to your partner for encouragement.
Growing belly- as the baby grows your belly protrudes.
Skin changes- your skin generally turns darker especially face, breasts and thighs. Stretch marks may also show up on those areas.
Breast enlargement- as the breasts prepare for milk production they may grow bigger and may become tender.
Shortness of breath- the lungs are processing more air for you and your baby so you may be breathing faster and feel slightly short of breath.
Bladder and kidney infections- there is an increased risk for both during pregnancy. If you experience a burning sensation when urinating or fever, back or abdominal pain, see a doctor.
Vaginal discharge-you may notice a thin white vaginal discharge which is normal. When the discharge becomes strong smelling, yellowish/greenish or accompanied by redness or itching, see a doctor.
Baby movements- these begin around 5months and continue throughout pregnancy. If you sense a reduction at ant time, go to the hospital.
Weight gain- as the baby grows so does the placenta with more amniotic fluid being produced. All contribute to weight gain.
Leg swelling- The growing baby compresses on pelvic veins that return blood to the legs. Raising your legs on a pillow while you sleep may help reduce leg swelling.
Heartburn- the growing baby pushes the stomach out of its position causing heartburn. taking small and frequent meals may help.
Frequent urination- this is caused by the baby compressing the urinary bladder.
Backaches-the weight gain and relaxed joints can put some pressure on your back. Massaging might be of help here.
Warm-up contractions- they are weak and go unpredictably. True contractions are stronger, more regular and closer together.
These are just some of the things to keep in mind. Please attend antenatal care regularly and ask questions about anything not clear to you (there is no foolish question) If you notice anything unusual don’t hesitate to contact your health care provider. In this case knowledge is not just power, it is life itself.