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Am I Pregnant?
While a missed period is one of the biggest clues that a woman is pregnant, it's usually not the first sign. Some women suspect they are pregnant before their menstrual cycle is late.
Symptoms that might indicate you are pregnant include:
- Tenderness of the breasts and nipples
- Fatigue (1-6 weeks after conception)
- Frequent urination (6-8 weeks after conception)
- Nausea, queasiness, vomiting (first half of pregnancy)
- Food cravings (entire pregnancy)
When a woman suspects that she is pregnant, she should visit a doctor to confirm her condition as soon as possible.
- Laboratory blood tests can verify pregnancy as soon as 6 or 7 days after conception.
- A urine test may detect pregnancy as early as 10 days after conception.
The blood and urine test both measure the level human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone that is only produced in a woman's body when she has placental tissue growing there. The
The Importance Of Prenatal Care
One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your baby is to seek proper prenatal care. Prenatal care consists of:
- Regular appointments starting early and continuing throughout the pregnancy
- Laboratory testing for potential problems with the developing baby or yourself
- Monitoring for problems such as abnormal changes in blood pressure, blood chemistry, urine chemistry, and weight
- Getting plenty of exercise and eating properly
- Giving up bad habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or using street drugs.
It is also important for a woman to alert her doctor immediately if anything unusual occurs during pregnancy, such as:
- The baby's movement is greatly reduced or stops.
- She experiences vaginal bleeding or cramping.
- She develops swelling of her hands and face, or persistent headaches.
- She leaks
amniotic fluidfrom her vagina.
- She develops pain in her abdomen.
Improved technologies and more accurate prenatal tests now make it possible to spot complications earlier and take appropriate action in time to save the fetus and/or the mother.
Things To Avoid During Pregnancy
A woman's habits greatly influence the health of her unborn child. When pregnant, a woman should avoid the following:
- Alcohol. Consuming alcohol while pregnant can cause birth defects and other problems. Consistent alcohol use during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, a permanent and lifelong condition.
- Cigarettes. Smoking is linked to low birth weight, premature birth,
miscarriageand other complications. Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict. That means the baby won't get the proper oxygen and nourishment it needs to grow.
- Medications. Many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescribed medications can harm an unborn child. Your physician can give you a list of which medications you can take safely during pregnancy.
- Narcotics. Illegal drugs, such as cocaine, can deprive developing babies of vital oxygen and nourishment. This can lead to birth defects, or cause addictions in newborns.
- Caffeine. Discuss with your doctor how much caffeine, if any, you can have during your pregnancy. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, colas, and other products
- Contact with cat feces. A serious disease that can be contracted from cleaning cat litter boxes is toxoplasmosis), which is spread by a microbe that causes lymph-node and nervous-system problems. In pregnant women, this parasite can cause birth defects, stillbirths and miscarriages.
Facts About Pregnancy