Pregnancy is scary, and it is scarier when you don’t know much about it. Don’t worry! Pregnancy is easy when you are well informed with the facts on what to anticipate, what to do, how to do what you need to do, and also what not to do. So, if you are a first-time mom and looking forward to a healthy outcome of pregnancy, read on.
Stop being anxious
It is natural for any woman to get anxious the moment she knows that she is pregnant. Though you feel happy, anxiousness usually overrules every other emotion of yours. So, if you are an anxious first-time mom, just relax and take a deep breath.
What to anticipate?
Pregnancy is a physically, emotionally and cognitively demanding phase which requires careful attention to details. You need to understand that you are no longer alone but with a fetus developing rampantly. The developing fetus consumes your energy, attention, and nutrition, leaving you tired and fatigued. The fetus also presses on the abdominal organs leading to morning sickness, characterized by nausea and vomiting. This is known as hyperemesis gravidarum. You can also expect bloating and lower back ache.
There might be mild swelling of legs, which is normal if other clinical parameters are normal. Your weight will increase, and this is attributed to the fetus and the amniotic fluid. Don’t worry, the weight will come back to normal after childbirth.
Pregnancy also exerts an influence on the cognition and emotion, sometimes leading to anxiety and emotional imbalances. This is quite normal and requires medical attention only if the symptoms become too hard to handle.
How to handle your pregnancy?
The moment you miss your monthly menstrual flow, you must do a urine test to ascertain pregnancy. Then a confirmatory test is required to corroborate your pregnancy. An ultrasound scan is the gold standard test for this purpose. Visit your obstetrician for planning out your pregnancy. The pregnancy phase is divided into three phases – the first, second third trimesters. Due dates have to be found out for adequate planning. The dates are determined by using the last menstrual period and the ultrasound.
The first trimester is the most important as organogenesis takes place in the fetus. This phase requires careful monitoring of the growth of the fetus in addition to taking care of maternal health. If you have the habit of smoking or drinking alcohol, then you must stop to ensure healthy organogenesis.
Regularly keep checking your weight and other vital signs. A mandatory blood test to check blood glucose levels is necessary. This would help to identify gestational diabetes mellitus. Look for pedal edema which may be a marker for preeclampsia and eclampsia. Urine protein values should also be monitored. Blood should be tested for Pregnancy-associated plasma protein screening (PAPP-A), Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin), Estriol, and Inhibin. If required, higher tests like amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling can be done.
Never miss an ultrasound
The gold standard test in pregnancy is the ultrasound, which uses high-frequency waves to visualize the internal organs. Usually, a gel is applied on the abdominal wall, and a probe is used. This is called abdominal ultrasound. The same probe can be inserted into the vagina in transvaginal ultrasounds. The images are recorded as a video and 2D photos. These are used for reference in future to see if the fetal growth is in accordance with the standard guidelines. An ultrasound is used to monitor fetal growth, amniotic fluid volume, placental position, uterus and supporting structures, spinal cord abnormalities, neural tube defects, aids in amniocentesis, observes blood flow patterns, etc.
Considering the uses of ultrasound, you must ensure that you regularly visit your doctor for an ultrasound. Apart from an ultrasound, you need to monitor your eating habits, take adequate nutrition, especially omega-3 fatty acids, and prepare yourself for delivery. Also, take the help of a physical trainer or yoga instructor for regular exercises to ensure the strength and stability of your pelvic muscles. Remember that you are not alone in this journey of becoming a mother; you have the support of your loved ones, your physicians, and other support staff, who care for you and will share your burden to deliver a healthy baby.