pregnant women

What are the signs of a healthy pregnancy?

Being healthy in your pregnancy is of the utmost importance. If you are not taking care of your health during pregnancy, chances of your child developing various health conditions grow multiple folds. So, if you are planning a pregnancy or are already pregnant, you must make sure that you are healthy and so is your child.

There are many tell-tale signs of a healthy pregnancy. Of course, the first way to tell if your baby will be healthy or not is by knowing about your health. If you want the baby to be healthy, you must be healthy. Besides this, there are many signs you can look out for if you want to make sure that your pregnancy is going all hale and hearty.

Pregnancy may cause you some amount of anxiety, especially if this is your first child. Make sure you keep all of your appointments with your obstetrician.

This will not only give you and your child the best care, but these appointments will allow you to ask questions or voice any concerns you have about your pregnancy. As well, knowing the signs of a healthy pregnancy may also ease some of your fears.

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First Trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy measures from the first day of your last period to 13 weeks later. In these weeks, you may find that your breasts feel tender, and some women find this tenderness painful.

You may have morning sickness that forces you to eat small, low-fat meals throughout the day to help ease nausea. General fatigue is normal during this trimester, as well as dizziness, frequent urination and constipation, 

Some women do not gain much weight during the first trimester, and this may result from morning sickness. Your doctor will discuss your weight during your visits, and you can express any concerns she may have.

If you experience severe nausea, vomiting blood, have dark urine, faint or have any other worrisome symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

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Second Trimester

The second trimester goes from week 14 to week 26. During these weeks, you will gain between 1 to 2 lbs per week.

Around the fifth month, you may start feeling movement, similar to a flutter, says Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Your breasts will continue to grow larger, as well as your stomach.

Some women begin having Braxton Hicks contractions in the lower part of the abdomen, and this helps strengthen the muscles for labour. You may feel short of breath as your lungs work harder to bring in more air. A white vaginal discharge may occur, and this may work toward preventing bacterial infection.

If you experience painful contractions that come at regular intervals, this may indicate preterm labour, and you should contact your obstetrician immediately. As well, if a vaginal discharge has a colour, odour or appears bloody, inform your doctor right away.

Third Trimester

In the third trimester, you may gain around 12 lbs. You may experience swelling of your feet and ankles, varicose veins, hemorrhoids and leg cramps, says the Tennessee Department of Health. The changes to your body may make sleep difficult, and you may need to position pillows to help you feel comfortable. Take extra naps during the day if possible, and this may help with fatigue. You should feel the baby frequently moving throughout the day, and some movement, especially hard kicks, may feel slightly painful.

Contact your doctor if you have bleeding or a water-like flow from your vagina. If you experience unusual swelling, pain, rapid weight gain or cramping, call your doctor immediately.

What are the Symptoms of a Healthy Baby During Pregnancy?

Every parent wants to have a healthy baby and goes to great lengths for the same. But, lack of information may, sometimes, lead to an unexpected outcome. Therefore, understanding the signs of a healthy foetus becomes crucial. Below are the signs of a healthy baby during the early stages of pregnancy:

Normal Growth

There are several ways to measure the growth and development of a foetus. Your doctor will perform an ultrasound to keep track of your baby’s health and development. Generally, a foetus grows by 2 inches every month. So, by the seventh month, your baby should be 14 inches long. In the third trimester, a healthy foetus grows heavier by 700 grams every week. Generally, by the ninth month, a foetus weighs about 3 kilograms and is 18-20 inches long. All these are signs of a healthy foetus in the womb.

Heartbeat

A baby’s heart starts to beat at around the fifth week of pregnancy. However, its detection is a lot easier towards the end of the first trimester through electronic foetal monitoring. To confirm your baby’s heart health, your doctor may conduct a non-stress test. This test monitors the heart rate of a foetus and provides insight about potential threats if any. Alternatively, some doctors may even count the heartbeat by just touching your stomach. A healthy heartbeat ranges between 110 to 160 beats per minute.

Position At the Time of Pre-Labour

During the ninth month, the movement of a baby comes to an end or becomes minimal. A healthy baby adopts a head-first position and starts moving towards the birth canal.

Weight Gain and Belly of Expecting Mom

Weight gain during pregnancy is a surefire sign of a healthy pregnancy. Expecting moms gain around 12–15 weeks when they’re pregnant. You can ask your doctor to check your weight regularly and give you an update on whether your pregnancy is progressing normally or not. Your belly should also grow in size as the months go by.

The right blood pressure and blood sugar levels

The first way to make sure that your pregnancy is healthy is by keeping your blood pressure and blood sugar levels in check. The decision to get pregnant should be immediately followed by checking your blood pressure and the levels of sugar in your blood.

You should follow up on these in all the trimesters. This is because, during pregnancy, the levels fluctuate. It is very common for pregnant women to experience high blood pressure during pregnancy. However, if the spike in level is sudden and very high, it can lead to a condition called preeclampsia. This is a severe condition and may even arise the need to go for preterm labour.

The placenta’s position

For a pregnancy to be successful and not end in the serious condition of miscarriage, the placenta needs to stay inside the uterus and attached to it till the end of pregnancy. This is very crucial because if the placenta is detached prematurely, it can lead to termination of the pregnancy. For this, the uterus as well the placenta of the mother should be healthy.

The right growth of the foetus

As the month’s progress in pregnancy, so does the weight of the mother. If your foetus is growing right, it will reflect in an increase in your weight or through an ultrasound. If there’s any hurdle in the process, the foetus will not grow properly and hence, and it can cause a disruption in your pregnancy.

Gaining the right weight

If you weighed within your normal range when you were not pregnant, then the increase in weight during pregnancy should be around 13 to 15 kilos. However, if you were always on the higher side of your weight and were overweight or obese, the doctors would advise you a comparatively lesser weight gain.

The levels of progesterone and oestrogen

These two are the vital hormones of pregnancy. Their optimal amount in your body will determine if you have a healthy pregnancy or not. The role of both these hormones are as follows:

Progesterone: When a woman is pregnant, she produces twenty times more progesterone than a healthy non-pregnant woman. That is, in pregnancy, your body produces 400 mg of progesterone, as compared to 20 mg which a healthy, non-pregnant woman produces. The hormone is required to keep the menstruation away by setting up the endometrium.

Oestrogen: This hormone is needed for the growth of the uterus from 60 grams before pregnancy to 1200 grams during the pregnancy.

Signs of an Unhealthy Foetus

During the fifth month, a foetus becomes more reactive towards sound, light, and pain. This is a period when they are also exposed to various threats that may affect growth and development, directly or indirectly.

If problems are visible externally, corrective measures can be taken to deal with them. But how do you recognize an unhealthy foetus inside your womb? The answer is simple, and you need to watch out for these warning signs.

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Abnormal Fundal Height

Fundal height helps the doctor evaluate whether a woman’s uterus is growing or not. To measure fundal height, you will be asked to lie down and to use a tape measure, the length from the top of the uterus to the pubic bone is measured. Usually, after the 16-week mark, fundal height matches the progress of the pregnancy.

If the height of your uterus is not what it should be; it indicates a problem with your pregnancy. The reason may be too much or too less of amniotic fluid or a breech baby, in the worst-case scenario. It could also mean that the foetus is not developing properly.

Lack of or No Heartbeat

Although a baby’s heart starts beating after the fifth week, it’s only around the tenth week that detection becomes easy. A foetal heartbeat can be detected through electronic foetal monitoring or in some cases, by just touching your stomach and counting the number of beats per minute (bpm).

At times, detecting the heartbeat may not be possible due to a change in the baby’s position or placental issues. In such a case, your doctor might ask you to try again during your next visit. However, if she still can’t detect the foetal heartbeat, then an ultrasound test might be recommended to dig out the reason behind the undetectable heartbeat. In some cases, lack of heartbeat signals a hindrance in foetal development or worst cases, a lifeless foetus.

Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)

Intrauterine growth restriction interferes with the growth of the foetus. If you test positive for IUGR, it implies that your foetus measures 10% smaller than its gestational age. If you’re suffering from IUGR, complications such as difficulty in breathing, high blood sugar, and high body temperature can arise and continue even after delivery. Therefore, there is a need to observe this condition closely. This could happen in the case of multiples as well, where one of the babies suffers from IUGR, but the other one remains unaffected.

This problem happens due to abnormal functioning of the placenta, which in normal conditions ensures the baby gets all the necessary nutrients. Other reasons include kidney issues, anaemia and diabetes.

Low hCG Level

hCG is a type of hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy. hCG levels tend to fluctuate throughout pregnancy, depending on the trimester. Generally, hCG levels are extremely high during nine-week – 16 week of pregnancy. The normal levels vary from individual to individual, so a low hCG level is not a reason for you to panic. However, miscarriage, a blighted ovum, or ectopic pregnancy may induce a low level of hCG and raise a red flag for your pregnancy.

Excess Cramping During Pregnancy

Pregnancy comes with its share of pain and aches. However, extreme pain which feels like menstrual cramps is another warning sign. In early pregnancy, it may be caused due to poor blood flow, but if it persists, you might need to consult your doctor.

Bleeding During Pregnancy

Women tend to experience spotting during pregnancy, which is quite normal. However, bleeding is still a matter of concern without a doubt and needs to be evaluated by a doctor. It might be a sign of miscarriage, hormonal bleeding or implantation bleeding.

Extreme Back Pain

Experiencing back pain is common during pregnancy as the growing baby puts a lot of strain on the spine and lower back. This feeling worsens when you’re expecting multiples. Well, look out for back pain which becomes severe as opposed to a dull ache in the back. Also, if it starts from the front of your body and makes its way to the back, it’s not a good sign. It would help if you visited your doctor immediately.

Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy

Vaginal discharge is a common condition experienced by women when they’re pregnant, and it increases as the pregnancy progresses. Usually, the vaginal discharge of a pregnant woman is clear, transparent, whitish odourless. However, if you notice yellowish or greenish discharge with a strong smell, then it’s time to consult your doctor without any further delay. The unusual discharge might be caused by cervical inflammation, indicating a sign of miscarriage.

Sudden Discontinuation of Morning Sickness

Morning sickness and pregnancy are correlated. Usually, morning sickness resolves itself by the end of the first trimester or even earlier, without affecting the foetus. However, for some pregnant women, sudden discontinuation of morning sickness might be because of low hCG levels, pointing to a miscarriage. It’s advised to seek an expert’s opinion and make sure there’s no threat to your baby.

Fever During Pregnancy

Fever during pregnancy should not be ignored. A fever might pose the threat of a bacterial or viral infection to the foetus.

Contraction Of Breast Size

During pregnancy, the body of a woman goes through a multitude of hormonal changes. Breasts go through a transformation and become more sensitive. They also feel heavier and fuller as the pregnancy progresses. However, a sudden decrease in the size of breasts may signal a miscarriage.

No Foetal Movement

Foetal movement can be felt around the 18-week mark as the foetus starts reacting to sound, light and pain. Experts say that a pregnant woman should experience around ten kicks every two hours during this period. If the foetus is in distress, the count declines. It’s a clear sign to consult your doctor for proper treatment. Any delay in seeking medical help might cause an unfortunate event.

Sudden Spike in Blood Sugar Levels

It’s normal for blood sugar and blood pressure levels to rise during pregnancy. You should keep these levels throughout the three trimesters. However, a sudden and high spike in blood sugar levels can lead to preeclampsia and may induce preterm labour.

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Changes in Placental Position

A change in the placental position is also one of the signs of an unhealthy pregnancy. When the placenta detaches prematurely from the uterus, the pregnancy gets terminated. So, always get your placental position checked.

Pay attention to what the signs say. Consult your doctor even if you have a minor doubt or feel something is off. Your concern might be futile, but it’s always good to be safe than sorry.

Talk to your health care providers about concerns. Your personal beliefs, experiences, family, and culture will affect what pregnancy, labour, and delivery are like for you. Talk to us about your hopes and fears. Our goal is to provide a safe and supportive environment for all our moms-to-be.

Take a childbirth class and tour your hospital or birth centre. We encourage you to get ready for childbirth by understanding the birth process and being familiar with where you’ll be giving birth. This will help you relax during labour.

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