Early Signs of Pregnancy and Easy Pregnancy Test
Preparing for Pregnancy – Pregnancy Test – Fertilization and Pregnancy Testing
Here we will discuss preparing for pregnancy, early signs of pregnancy, pregnancy symptoms, and pregnancy testing. There is no such thing as a ‘good mother’. There is good enough mothering’, in pediatrician David Winnicott’s famous phrase, and there are happy mothers. Obviously, something is very wrong somewhere if you turn out to be unhappy most of the time, but to expect automatically to become a gloriously happy, efficient, and faultless mother from the moment your baby is born is unrealistic.
Such paragons do exist, but for most of us mothering is a learning process. The most valuable friends for many women in later life are women they met during pregnancy. And it is usually from other mothers, including your own and your mother-in-law. If you are married, that you begin to learn how to be a mother.
Just as ‘good enough mothering’ is the best kind, so ‘part-time mothering’ is a concept that can help to shape your ideas on the relationship between mother and baby, and all of us have a secret longing to be perfect, to provide for our babies consistently, without fatigue and without getting bored or irritable. Indeed, not so very long ago motherhood was considered a full-time job for those not well off enough to employ a nanny.
This proved enormously satisfying for some, but the vast majority of women suffered greatly from being tied so strictly to a young infant, feeling not only resentful and exhausted, but also sensing a loss of their own identity, and guilt for entertaining such ‘negative’ emotions.
Women must think of themselves as human beings first and mothers second. All mothering should be part-time, in the sense that you should maintain your sense of yourself as an individual by taking time off to pursue other interests, to see friends or go to the cinema, or just to relax and read a book. The importance of the father’s cooperation in making this possible for you is, of course, paramount.
But his role is not just as a babyminder so that you can have some free time. By considering yourself as part of a family team and not alone captain, you allow the father to establish his won bonding and relationship with the baby. This, in turn, will strengthen your own relationship with father and child, and help mitigate any confusion or resentment the father may be feeling at suddenly having to share your love and attention with a new arrival.
The concept of ‘networking’ comes to us from the USA. Applied to professional helpers. It is important to build such a support system for yourself consciously at this crucial stage in your life. Otherwise, living in large cities or rural areas as many of us do, it is all too easy to become extremely isolated.
We no longer take the extended family for granted in the West. Indeed, the emphasis is on getting away from the family home as soon as possible and ‘doing one’s own thing’. It is now considered almost shameful for a son or daughter to be living at home beyond the age of about 20.
We have gained in some ways from this independence, in defining our own personalities and developing our own interests and direction in life. But we lose in other ways, in terms of the support and understanding, we could get from those who have known us from birth and watched and helped us to grow up. Particularly when a woman has her first baby, she often feels great sympathy with, and need for, her own mother.
Differences are buried as the two women draw together in a common bond. The support a young mother can gain in this way is extremely valuable, both to her and her child. It is also beneficial for the interrelationship of the generations. For instance, a young child often finds that he or she is better understood by granny than by his or her own parents.
Granny is familiar and safe but at one remove from the intense mother/child relationship. Granny may also be at a stage in her life when she has acquired the calm to be tolerant of the demands of a young child. Of course, things are not always so ideal, and most of us rely greatly on the support of close and caring friends at this time. If for whatever reasons, you do not have this kind of support, some organizations can provide help, or direct you towards a local self-help group.
Trusting Your Own Instincts:
We live in an age of experts, and many of us become unnerved by what we see as their superior knowledge, distrusting our own instincts and our won experiences. Baby books abound so that young mothers today read avidly the wise words of the specialists, the obstetricians, and other gurus. They plan to follow this or that method of birth and this or that method of feeding and upbringing.
Although they may gain many useful tips and feel more secure with this expert knowledge to hand, ultimately only the mother herself knows what it is like to be herself – a mother for the first time, in her own particular circumstances.
Unfortunately, many of us have been educated to distrust, ignore, and suppress our instincts. (In fact, eventually – as with all faculties which are not used and cultivated – we may stop having them together.) Because Western education has for centuries been dominated by the ‘masculine’ modes of thought – that is, giving precedence to linear, objective, rational and analytical faculties over subjective, lateral, instinctual, and synthesizing faculties – it will probably be at least another generation or two before these more ‘feminine’ qualities are treated seriously and developed as part of our education.
Of course, men and women both have masculine and feminine ways of being and thinking within them, to lesser or greater degrees. And just as women are benefiting today from the expression of their ‘masculine’ side, speaking their minds more, getting responsible jobs, and developing their own voices and personalities, so men will (and some already do) benefit from paying attention to their ‘feminine’ side.
An example of how things are changing quite rapidly is that the concept of lateral thinking – for which women have a particular gift and which used to be downgraded in such cavalier throwaway lines as ‘women have grasshopper minds’ – has been made into a respectable science now by Edward de Bono.
He defined lateral thinking as a thought process in which creative imagination is allowed to have free play and thus possibly hit upon original solutions to what may initially seem difficult or impossible solutions. He does not claim, however, that lateral thinking is superior to what he terms ‘vertical’ thinking – the conventional and unimaginative logical approach. Rather, he argues, the two methods of thinking are complementary.
Of course, the right balance does need to be struck between trusting our own instincts and making use of contemporary scientific findings which can be of advantage to us, but we tend to err on the side of social conditioning and trusting the experts. So bear in mind that what feels right for you and your baby most probably is right.
Preparing for Pregnancy:
When you are planning a pregnancy, you must be aware of your own body, of the foods you eat, or when you have sex, and how you as an individual will respond to being a mother. Such awareness and consequent informed cooperation with your health-care professionals means you can ensure that you and your baby obtain the best possible care.
Planning to Conceive:
First, make sure that you and your partner are in good health, by both paying sensible attention to your diet. Both of you play your part in the creation of the baby, so you both need to be prepared well in advance for the eventual fertilization.
It is important to prepare in this way because no couple can know for sure when they are actually going to conceive: you may not realize for some weeks that you are pregnant – yet it is in those first few crucial weeks that your baby’s vital organs are being formed.
Stopping contraception: If you have been using an IUD, simply have it removed at the end of a period. You will not need to wait for any bodily adjustment before you start trying to conceive.
If you have been taking any form of contraceptive pill, however, it is best to allow your blood system time to adjust (about three months) before attempting to conceive. In the meantime, use a cap or your partner can use a sheath. Once your menstrual cycle is back to normal it will be easier to calculate exactly when you are likely to conceive and, once you are pregnant, when your baby will be due.
Likely time for conception: Do not be disappointed if you do not conceive quickly after ceasing to use contraception, particularly if you were using a contraceptive pill. It can take six months or longer; on the other hand, you may be lucky and conceive within weeks. Ninety percent of married couples with no abnormalities should achieve conception within a year, so only after this period is there and the slightest cause for concern. Remember, too, that the more anxious you become, the less easy it may be for you to conceive. Relax, and enjoy the novelty of no longer having to worry about contraception!
If, after a year of trying, you have still no symptoms of pregnancy, it is sensible for you and your partner to see your doctor together and arrange to have tests to establish any possible causes of non-conception. Even if problems are discovered, the situation is by no means dire.
This can be defined as the point when the sperm, having survived its journey through the vagina, the cervix, and the body of the uterus, meets the ripe egg and they unite, to form a single cell. The egg’s action of bursting out of its follicle in the ovary is triggered by the entry into the bloodstream of the luteinizing hormone (LH) which is released in mid-cycle.
The egg is drawn into the fallopian tube and is wafted along, aided by the tube’s rhythmic contractions; about two-thirds of the way down it meets the sperm, usually between seven and twelve hours after sex. Within 48 hours of the cell and sperm meeting a little bundle of cells has been formed which will implant itself in the endometrium – the lining of the womb – and grow into a fetus.
Cigarette smoking has been found to have a particularly deadening effect on the rhythmic action of the Fallopian tubes; one cigarette can stop this action for up to 40 minutes. If you want to conceive, it is advisable not to smoke for five days after sex as this will give the egg time to get into the uterus and begin its development before being destroyed by nicotinic acid.
The earliest, most accurate pregnancy test is a blood test which is done to establish whether or not a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin is present in the bloodstream. This is produced by the fertilized ovum and is excreted in the urine. The pregnancy test – called the beta HCG – can be done privately or some hospitals will perform one but they may only offer to do so if you are one of their patients.
The next most accurate pregnancy tests come in the form of special kits which can be bought from chemists for a small sum. The kit provides two pregnancy tests and will give a positive reading – if you are pregnant – at the point at which your period is between five and seven days late. If the pregnancy test is negative you should repeat it three to four days later.
Quite often anxiety delays your period, and the reassurance of a negative pregnancy test is enough to bring it on. If you really want to know whether or not you are pregnant you should find out using one of the methods outlined above; following the advice of some older doctors, who will tell you to wait until after you have missed your second period, can be catastrophic: by this time the contents of your uterus will have quadrupled in size, your bloodstream will contain a high level of hormones and any decision-making, about the outcome, will be that much more difficult.
- The Ripe Ovum bursts out of its follicle in the ovary and is wafted into the Fallopian tube. The luteinizing hormone (LH) triggers this process at ovulation, midway in the female cycle.
- Fertilization: millions of sperm enter the woman’s body upon ejaculation, but most do not survive the long journey of the uterus. Some 7 to 12 hours after sex the survivors meet up with the ripe ovum. One will manage to break through the zona pellucida’ or ring of jelly-like cells which surround the ovum. The two sets of chromosomes – 23 each from the ovum and sperm – unite in a single cell, establishing the characteristics of the new child.
- The fertilized egg grows by the chromosomes integrating and duplicating themselves, a process that will continue until every new cell contains the same set of genetic instructions.
- Cell division begins on the day after fertilization. At this stage the egg is about 0.2mm in diameter: with each division – or cleavage – it will enlarge.
- The fertilized egg is wafted down the Fallopian tube by cilia – the mass of tiny hairs that line the tube.
- A week after fertilization the little bundle of cells implants itself in the endometrium, the lining of the womb. These cells – called the ‘blastocyst’ – will become the embryo (the developing baby), the yolk sac (a reservoir of food), the placenta, the amniotic fluid, and the umbilical cord.
The Stages Of Pregnancy:
The first seven weeks of pregnancy. When the fertilized egg, has implanted itself in the nourishing wall of the womb, has grown to around half a million cells, specific substances called ‘auxins’ can be detected. These organized the development of the embryo into the various parts of the body – backbone, arms, legs, and internal organs.
This is the most vulnerable time in the whole of human existence, so a mother-to-be must be particularly attentive to her health care during this period. In the early 1960s, there was an appalling epidemic of babies born with either deformed arms and legs or none at all following the use of the drug Thalidomide in a sleeping pill prescribed to insomniac pregnant women.
The drug was withdrawn, but it is especially important not to take any drugs or medicines of any kind during these first seven-and-a-half weeks: common cold remedies, herbal medications, and smoking have all been implicated in birth defects.
Other serious problems can arise if at this time, the mother is deficient in folic acid or other essential vitamins and minerals, or if the mother contracts German measles during this period. However, on the subject of vitamins, we do not know what mega-doses or even small additional doses of vitamins may do to a growing fetus so try to follow your instincts and advice you really trust.
Eight to fourteen weeks: During this very early stage of pregnancy the majority of women experience malaise and nausea. Although biologically a woman’s body is ‘programmed’ to carry and give birth to a baby, there is a very real sense in which her body is greatly upset by the rapid hormonal changes which take place during pregnancy.
She may experience either ‘morning sickness’ (which can in fact last all day), ‘emotional lability’ (sitting on the bathroom floor dissolved in tears), clumsiness, lack of appetite, cravings for specific foods, or a combination of all of these reactions.
Fortunately, vitamin B6 supplements can do much to alleviate these symptoms. Check this possibility with your clinic or doctor. A positive attitude in the knowledge that these symptoms are signs of a healthy pregnancy and a property growing baby can help a mother to get reminding you that you are pregnant and should take care of yourself and, far from being a source of worry, are perfectly normal.
From twelve to thirty-two weeks: After 12 weeks, and up to 32 weeks, although your abdomen becomes increasingly large the chances are you will probably feel absolutely marvelous. Most women experience an increase in energy at this time and find themselves enjoying all the ‘nesting’ activities of preparation for the baby’s arrival – shopping, decorating, and so on.
From thirty-two to forty weeks: These last two months should be a relaxing time while you await delivery. If you have been working you should have given up by now; if you feel energetic enough to carry on do so, but don’t push yourself too hard. It is particularly important to continue to eat well; don’t worry about gaining weight as you will lose this once the baby is born.
Some women may be affected by high blood pressure throughout pregnancy; if this has been the case it is during these last two months that weekly – or even twice-weekly – visits to the hospital for it to be checked may be necessary. If the problem is particularly severe short or longer stays in hospital may be requested.
Some women claim that this ‘toeing and froing’ from the hospital exacerbates the problem! Relaxation should help and, as high blood pressure can be brought on by anxiety, talking over your worries – with the medical staff, other mothers, or your antenatal teacher, should be reassuring.
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