Being PregnantPregnancy

Pregnancy: From A to Z


Newborn baby booties in parents hands. Close up.

Pregnancy: From A to Z

Along with the experience of pregnancy, comes a new vocabulary. Words like “heartburn” and “safety” take on entirely different meanings. Getting the right pregnancy-related definitions can help you feel on top of the experience you’re going through.


Abdominal pain

Some women experience pain during pregnancy that resembles menstrual cramps. These occur when the ligaments supporting the uterus stretch. You don’t have to worry about them, but a hot water bottle might relieve cramping



Because the expanding uterus pushes up against the diaphragm, your lungs can no longer expand fully and thus after minimum exertion of effort you may find yourself breathless. You might even find yourself short of breath when you are lying in bed. Raising your head and shoulders with extra pillows may help you breathe easier.



Cravings are quite common in pregnancy, especially during the first three months. People often say that they are the body’s response to a deficiency of certain minerals and trace elements, but the theory hasn’t been proven. You can probably rest assured that this you’re craving pickles or chips, it isn’t for the nutritional value. Try not to give in to cravings for high calorie foods that are low on nutrition, but if you just can’t resist, let yourself go and enjoy indulging every once in a while.



Pregnancy diaries can be a lot of fun to keep. You can record anything and everything week by week such as trips and how you felt on them, weight gain, your first ultrasound experience, the first time you heard your baby’s heartbeat, the first time the baby moved. They capture wonderful memories that you can share with your child as he grows.


Emotional changes

Most pregnant women go through rapidly fluctuating moods. You may find yourself very happy one moment and then crying the next. Changes in hormones, in your body shape, as well as anticipation of the delivery all contribute to these fluctuations. Occupy your mind with pleasant pastime like reading, listening to music, painting or even dancing gently.


Folic acid

If you’re thinking about conceiving, it might be a good idea to start taking a folic acid supplement before you do. Research suggests that taking a folic acid supplement before conception and for the first few months of pregnancy can reduce the risk of your baby being born with a neural tube defect. Foods that naturally contain folic acid include green leafy vegetables, fresh orange juice and legumes.


Getting up

If you have been lying down on your back and you get up suddenly, you put a lot of pressure on your stomach and muscles especially late in pregnancy. The best way to get out of bed it to roll onto your side and push yourself up with your arm while contracting your buttocks and swinging your legs over the edge of the bed.



Heartburn is very common in pregnancy and you might hear wild explanations for it like: “The baby’s hair is burning you.” Heartburn is caused by acid from digestive tract in the stomach bubbling up into the esophagus. Pregnant women suffer from this more than others because the baby pushes against the stomach and progesterone relaxes the valve at the upper end of the stomach, which allows the acid to escape. A lot of women have trouble with foods that are spicy or high in fat or contain onion or garlic. If you find that certain foods irritate your stomach, avoid them. Your doctor may be able to prescribe an antacid that is safe during pregnancy.



Almost all doctors prescribe iron supplements to pregnant women to prevent anemia. It is also a good idea to get iron through natural sources such as green leafy vegetables, dried fruits and nuts and lean red meat.



When should you take your maternity leave? Many women find that they are able to continue working right up until the delivery and they take their three month leave after that. The best thing to do is to let your body talk to you and tell you when it has had enough. If your job involves a lot of standing or is physically strenuous, you might need to stay home earlier than you’d like or at least ask for a cut back in hours before delivery.


Kegel floor exercises

Kegel floor exercises are very important to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. It is important to keep exercises as a part of your daily routine for life. These exercises involve tightening the muscles around your vagina for a count of 10 and repeating a few times in a row. Do these exercises throughout the day.



During pregnancy, changes might occur in your sexual urges. Some women lose all interest while other women just can’t get enough. You might also find that you go through alternating stages during your pregnancy. Don’t worry. It’s all normal and you will most likely go back to your normal self after birth.


Mask of Pregnancy

These dark blotches on the face and neck do not appear on all women, but they can be very disturbing to those who suffer from them. Bleaching patches is not a good idea but you can try to camouflage them by using cover-up cosmetics. These brown patches fade within three months of labor.



It may be hard to believe but pregnancy can give you a bloody nose! The high levels of pregnancy hormones circulating through your body can give you a stuffy nose through most of pregnancy, which can result in occasional nosebleeds. Even if you experience nasal congestion, try to stay away from cold and allergy medications unless your doctor prescribes them.



All through pregnancy, your body naturally produces this hormone, which may play a role in getting natural labor started. If you are late going into labor, your obstetrician might decide to give you an artificial dose of it to get your labor started – a process called induction.



You’ve delivered your baby and think that it’s all over. But don’t forget that your body has to deliver the placenta, or afterbirth, that nourished your baby all through pregnancy. With all the excitement of a new baby, however, you might not even notice the mild contractions that will help your body deliver it.



It’s what you’ve been waiting for – those first definite signs of the life that’s developing in your uterus. When your baby starts kicking, or wiggling or more likely just fluttering anywhere from the 14th to the 26th week, you’ll be sure to celebrate.


Rh factor

An early blood test to type your blood should be conducted during one of your first obstetric visits. If your blood type is negative and your husband’s is positive, you have a chance of having a baby who has a positive blood type, which can cause antibodies in your body to attack the fetus. This sort of reaction is usually only set off in a second pregnancy. Medication during and after each pregnancy (including your first) can prevent most severe reactions. In some cases, if the fetus suffers severe anemia, doctors may decide to give an intrauterine transfusion.



Pregnant women don’t break if they stumble, but avoiding falls and unnecessary ricks is a good idea. So, while you can still get behind the driver’s seat of your car, staying off unsteady chairs and even dangerously high heels is a good idea.



There are two kinds of twins: fraternal and identical. Fraternal twins are conceived from two separate eggs. They don’t look alike and may be either the same or different sex. Identical twins occur when the fertilized egg splits after conception. These twins share physical features and are always the same sex.


Umbilical cord

This amazing cord is the pathway from you to the placenta. All the nutrition that the fetus needs, comes from your body to his through the umbilical cord and then the fetus’s waste products travel back using the same path.


Varicose veins

These unsightly bulgy veins often occur for the first time during pregnancy because of the pressure your extra weight puts on your legs. Most sufferers of varicose veins have an inherited tendency to them but you can try to prevent them by avoiding excess weight gain, getting enough exercise and avoiding standing for long periods.



It’s one of the classic pieces of advice for all pregnant women – take a daily walk! Walking throughout pregnancy is a great way to keep in shape and get ready for labor.



Although doctors aren’t sure what effect x-rays can have on your fetus, the best advice is to avoid them if you can. So, if you’re thinking about getting pregnant, have your routine dental x-rays before you conceive and inform any doctor considering an x-ray that you are pregnant.



During pregnancy you should treat yourself right and make it a priority. Pamper yourself and let anyone who wants to pamper you do it too!



Getting enough sleep when you’re pregnant may seem like it shouldn’t be a problem, but between finding a comfortable sleeping position and getting up half a dozen times to go to the bathroom, you may feel like you’re not sleeping at all. If you like to sleep on your back or stomach, you’ll have to find a new sleeping position. As your pregnancy progresses, sleeping on your stomach becomes more and more impossible and sleeping on your back puts too much pressure on your back and intestines as well as inhibiting blood flow. Sleeping on your left is preferable to your right because it promotes blood flow.

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Our extensive collection of articles spans the efforts of over 20 years of work and covers a wide range of topics having to do with family and child care. Our articles are all developed and updated with the assistance and support of leaders in the fields of medicine, nutrition and parenting, among others.

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