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Pregnancy is a time in a women's life when it is important for her to be aware of her own health, as well as the health of the developing child that awaits birth.  Knowing what to expect during pregnancy, such as signs and symptoms, nutrition, when to see a doctor, types of birth defects, and knowing the physical development of the child contribute to the well being of your child.

Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy

Pregnancy symptom Time of appearance Other Possible Causes
delay of menstruation entire pregnancy excessive weight gain or loss, fatigue, hormonal problems, tension, stress, going off the birth control pill or breast feeding
nausea and vomiting 2-8 weeks after conception food poisoning, stress and variety of other stomach disorders.
tender or swollen breasts 1-2 weeks after conception hormone imbalance, birth control pills, impending menstruation
feeling exhausted or "sleepy" 1-6 weeks after conception stress, fatigue, depression and other physical and mental strains;  can also be the common cold or flu
backaches during entire pregnancy a variety of back problems or physical or mental strains.
frequent headaches sometimes during entire pregnancy dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, eye strain and other ailments.
food cravings entire pregnancy poor diet, stress, depression and impending menstruation.
darkening of areola (breast nipple) first signs 1-14 weeks after conception and throughout pregnancy hormonal imbalance
fetal movements 16-22 weeks after conception gas, lower gastrointestinal bowel contractions
frequent urination 6-8 weeks after conception diabetes, urinary tract infection, taking excessive diuretics causing urination
fetal heart beat 10-20 weeks and then throughout pregnancy. Early detection using sensitive microphones, (Doppler) none

Pregnancy Changes


Heartburn is caused when the extra hormones your body is producing relax smooth muscle tissue, including the muscle that separates your esophagus from your stomach.  food and digestive juices from your stomach come back up into your esophagus. The stomach acids that cause the 'burning" feeling as they irritate the lining of you esophagus.

How to avoid / relieve it:

  • Try not to gain too much weight
  • Eat several smaller meals rather than two or three large meals
  • Avoid the foods that aggravate your heartburn, like greasy or highly seasoned foods, processed foods, chocolate, and even carbonated drinks.
  • Sleep with your head slightly elevated

Morning sickness

You can experience morning sickness at any point of the day, into the the afternoon or the evening. Morning sickness usually disappears by the third month. All pregnant women experience some type of morning sickness... from a moment of nausea, to vomiting all day long.  This may be caused from changing hormone levels, stress, and even fatigue.  

How to avoid / relieve it

  • Eat a good diet, with plenty of fluids, and eat often...before you're hungry.
  • Stay away from foods whose smells (or mere thought of eating) make you feel nauseous.
  • Try eating a little something (crackers, for instance) before you get out of bed in the morning.  You may even want to try a snack before you go to bed.
  • Take prenatal vitamin to make up for vitamins  lost during vomiting
  • Get plenty  of rest  and eliminate as much stress as possible.

Aches & Pains

As the baby and the uterus expands, it causes the muscles to stretch, causing aching in you lower abdomen.  In addition to that, the weight of your growing belly  also puts a strain on the back.

How to avoid/ relieve it:

  • Keep good posture at all times. whether you're sitting, standing, or lying down.
  • Ask your health care provider to recommend exercises...especially stretching exercises.
  • Rest whenever possible, preferably lying on your side.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Lift with you legs and arms instead of your back.
  • Back massages.

Frequent urination

Frequent urination during pregnancy is primarily  caused by  the expanding uterus pressing on your bladder.

How to avoid/ relieve it

  • To help empty your bladder completely, lean forward as far as possible when you urinate.
  • If you're waking up often during the night, reduce fluids before bedtime. Increased frequency of urination should not be accompanied by urgency, pain, or burning....that could mean a urinary tract infection, and should be reported to you health care provider right away.

Skin Changes

As hormone changes increases during pregnancy, it causes the body to secrete more oils, that are prone to more breakouts.  In the middle of pregnancy, the extra blood flow to your skin can cause tiny  blood vessels near the surface of the skin to swell, resulting in spidery looking red lines of the face, neck, arms, and chest. These usually fade after pregnancy.  Some women also develop dark blotches on their cheeks, forehead, or nose.  These blotches, called chloasma, or mask of pregnancy, also fade after pregnancy.

How to avoid/ relieve it:

  • Hide them with a makeup foundation or cover-up cream
  • Avoid sunbathing, which can worsen them, or use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
  • Eat healthy foods, drink plenty of fluids, and wash you face several times a day.

Breast Changes

Increased amounts of estrogen and progesterone are increasing the size of you breasts.  You may have also noticed that the area around the nipple is darkening and even spreading, and a network of blue veins is appearing across your chest.  These areas return to normal after delivery or nursing.

How to relieve it:

  • Wear a good, supportive bra throughout your pregnancy to prevent sagging, even at night.
  • Buy any nursing bras (if you're planning to breastfeed) late in pregnancy.

Vaginal Discharge

A thin, whitish discharge is normal during pregnancy. These secretions begin early in pregnancy, continue to increase, and can cause minor itching.

How to avoid / relieve it:

  • Wash daily with water.
  • Wear panty liners (tampons are not recommended) or cotton crotch underwear.

Varicose Veins

These swollen veins that appear in your legs are the result of decreased blood circulation, heredity, weight gain, or the weight of the baby in the pelvic area. These veins may be painful, or just achy.

How to avoid / relieve it:

  • Wear support hose to increase your circulation
  • Change your position if you're sitting for long periods of time.
  • Keep your feet elevated while you're sitting
  • Keep your legs (and ankles) uncrossed
  • Rotate your feet at the ankles, or contracting your leg muscles, if you must stand for long periods.
  • Get off your feet for about 15 minutes every two hours.
  • Exercise regularly.


Constipation is common in pregnancy, mostly because the high levels of hormones in your body are slowing down your bowel muscles, and because your uterus is pressuring your bowels, too.

How to avoid/ relieve it:

  • Eat generous amounts of fiber, like bran cereal, fruits, and whole grain breads.
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water a day.
  • Exercise regularly, such as walking daily.


Fatigue during pregnancy is caused by the increasing levels of hormones in your body, and by the huge amount of energy needed to prepare your body to support the baby.  Many women find that once their bodies have adjusted to the demands of pregnancy, and the baby;s placenta is complete (about 4 months), they have a little more energy. Others continue to feel tired throughout their pregnancy ,especially if they're working, of have other children to care for. And most notice that fatigue returns in the last trimester.

How to avoid:

  • Get as much rest as possible, as soon as you find out you're pregnant.  Going to bed earlier is a good idea.
  • Squeeze in a short nap during the day.  If you're working, relax  for a few minutes after lunch.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Accept friends' and family members' offers to help


Hemorrhoids are painful, swollen veins around the rectum that can itch and bleed.  They can be aggravated by constipation, or by the weight of your uterus and baby.  The best way to avoid hemorrhoids is to stay as regular as possible.

How to avoid/ relieve it:

  • Eat plenty of fiber, drink plenty of water, and get plenty of rest and exercise.
  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.
  • Take frequent warm baths
  • Talk with your health care provider if your hemorrhoids bleed.

Development of the Baby

explains the development of the baby in the three trimesters.

firsttri1_bpabo.jpg (13166 bytes)

The First  Month 

(Conception to six weeks)

-known as an embryo; baby is only about the size of a grain of rice.

-neural tube that becomes the brain and the spinal cord develop

-heart develops and begins to beat around the 25th day

-digestive tract develops

-arms and legs are beginning to form

-the umbilical cord which carries nourishment to and waste away from your baby, is developing.

twomos_bpabo.jpg (13545 bytes)

Second Month (7-10 weeks)


-heart is beating

-fingers and toes are forming

-organs like the stomach and liver are developing

-ears and nose are forming 


threemos.jpg (14048 bytes)

Third Month (11-14 weeks)

-baby is about three inches long and weighs about one ounce

-sex organs are developing (although the physical structures of being male or female are not apparent)

-circulatory system is working

-mouth starts opening and closing

-kidneys are functioning, producing urine that's passed into the amniotic fluid and eventually removed through the placenta

-lifelong eyecolor is present and eyelids grow over them

-baby starts moving in utero (cannot be felt yet)

fourmos_bpabo.jpg (14603 bytes)

Fourth Month (Beginning of Second Trimester)

-baby is about five inches in length and weighs three to four ounces  (enough to cradle in hand)

-develops sucking and swallowing reflexes

-fingers and toes are becoming defined

-begins to flew arms and legs

-bones make blood cells

-teeth form under gums (although they do not appear until several months after birth)

-sex organs become distinct (sex becomes determinable at this point)

fivemos_bp.jpg (14666 bytes)

Fifth month (19- 22 weeks)

-baby is about eight to ten inches long and weighs 10-12 ounces

-frequent movement,  since bones are harder and muscles are stronger, actual movements are -beginning to be felt.

-soft, downy hair called lanugo covers baby's body

-a coating called vernix protects the baby's skin from its constant exposure to amniotic fluid

-hair may be growing on the head

-if the baby is female, eggs have begin to form in her ovaries awaiting to begin the cycle of life years later

sixmos_bp.jpg (17604 bytes)

Sixth Months (23-26 weeks)

-by the end of the month, baby is about 13 inches long and weighs about 1 3/4 lbs.

-has no body fat and skin is wrinkled

-can suck his thumb

-bones are hardening through deposits of calcium

-lungs begin to stretch, preparing to breathe after birth

-miniature version of how the baby will be at birth

sevenmos-bp.jpg (18381 bytes)

Seventh Month Beginning of Third Trimester (27-30 weeks)

-baby is about 15 inches long and weighs about 3 pounds

-becoming very active --maybe able to see -movement on belly

-may suck thumb or hiccup

-the eyelids, which have been closed since about -the fourth month, slowly open --  eyes respond to changes in light and dark within the womb

-can make grasping motions with hands

-if baby is male, testicles begin to descend from the abdomen (where they developed) into his scrotum

eightmos-bp.jpg (18938 bytes)

Eighth month (31-34 weeks)

-baby is now about 18 inches long and weighs about five pounds

-can see and hear

-brain and nerves are growing rapidly, directing bodily functions

-arms and legs are smooth and plumb and skin is a healthy color

-lungs are still immature, but other organs are well developed.

-acquired immunity to many infections as protective antibodies are passed through the placenta, into the blood stream

-baby shifts into a position that will remain until birth

ninemos-bp.jpg (20569 bytes)

Ninth month (35 weeks to delivery)

-baby is about 20 inches long and weighs six to seven pounds

-continues to gain about half a pound a week until delivery

l-ungs are mature

-lanugo and much of the vernix is gone

-baby gets into position for delivery settling down further into the pelvis; since baby is confined in this position, it may seem less active -- but movement is still felt.


  1998 Mead Johnson & Company

Additional Information on Pregnancy





1996-1999 BabyZone, Inc.
1998 Mead Johnson & Company
1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 Family Web <http://www.familyweb.com/>
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