Frequently Asked Questions about Pregnancy

One of the most asked questions since the dawn of history has been “where do babies come from?” This is often explained away with euphemisms like ‘the stork,’ or ‘immaculate conception.’ These frequently asked questions about pregnancy, however, deal with the real article.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pregnancy

1.       What is pregnancy?

This is the period during which a woman carries a fetus inside of her uterus. Pregnancy generally lasts 9 months (or 40 weeks) usually divided in three trimesters.

2.       How does pregnancy occur?

In very lay terms, pregnancy generally occurs when a man and a woman have unprotected sexual relations; if the former ejaculates inside the latter, the one of a number of spermatozoids contained in his semen may reach and fertilize egg cell, or ovum produced by the woman’s ovaries. External ejaculation without copulation, or copulation shortly after ovulation are also possible. Furthermore, artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization are examples of assisted reproductive technology. Many – if not most – pregnancies are planned.

3.       What are the signs of pregnancy?

·         Missing a menstrual period or two or more consecutive periods.

·         Slight bleeding or spotting that is lighter in color than normal menstrual blood.

·         Tender, swollen breasts or nipples. 

·         Fatigue.

·         Headaches.

·         Nausea.

·         Vomiting.

·         Food cravings.

·         Food aversions.

·         Mood swings.

·         Frequent urination.

4.       How can you tell if you’re pregnant?

·         Home pregnancy test.

·         Lab urine tests.

·         Ultrasound imaging test.

5.       What are some common complications of pregnancy?

  • High blood pressure.
  • Gestational diabetes.
  • Preeclampsia.
  • Preterm labor.
  • Pregnancy loss.
  • Depression.
  • Anemia.
  • Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
  • Placenta previa.
  • Placental abruption.
  • Maternal mortality.
  • Having a baby.

6.       What is a high risk pregnancy?

This is a pregnancy that endangers the health of mother and fetus more than a normal pregnancy does.

7.       What are the risk factors for a high risk pregnancy?

·         Existing medical conditions (high blood pressure, polycystic ovary syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, infertility, obesity, HIV/AIDS).

·         Age (pregnancy during adolescence or after 35 years of age).

·         Alcohol use (which is coincidentally what causes many pregnancies).

·         Smoking.

·         Multiple gestation.

·         Gestational diabetes.

·         Preeclampsia.

·         Eclampsia.

·         Problems in previous pregnancies.

8.       How can a high risk pregnancy be prevented?

  • Taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before and during pregnancy.
  • Getting proper immunizations.
  • Keeping a healthy weight.
  • Eating a good diet.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Avoiding smoking, alcohol, caffeine, or drug use.
  • Avoiding exposure to toxic substances like lead, radiation, and solvents.
  • Getting regular dental checkups.
  • Getting preconception care.
  • Starting prenatal care appointments early during pregnancy and visit a healthcare provider for regularly scheduled appointments throughout the pregnancy.

9.       What is preconception care?

This is the care that women and men get during their reproductive years focused on the parts of health that increase the chance of having a healthy baby. In other words, when they can have a baby but aren’t necessarily expecting one, though they may be planning it.

10.   What can couples do to promote preconception health?

  • Develop a plan for their reproductive life.
  • Increase their daily intake of folic acid to at least 400 micrograms.
  • Make sure their immunizations are up to date.
  • Control diabetes and other medical conditions.
  • Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs.
  • Attain a healthy weight.
  • Learn about their family health history.
  • Seek help for depression or anxiety.

11.   What is prenatal care?

This is the care that a woman receives while she is pregnant, preferably starting as soon as the woman suspects that she is with child. Prenatal care promotes a healthy pregnancy, prevent low birth weight, and reduce the risk of infant death.

12.   What happens during prenatal care visits?

On the first visit (after the 8th week of pregnancy) the doctor may:

  • Answer the patient’s questions.
  • Check urine samples for infection and to confirm pregnancy.
  • Check blood pressure, weight, and height.
  • Calculate due date based on last menstrual cycle and ultrasound exam.
  • Ask about previous conditions, surgeries, or pregnancies.
  • Ask about family health and genetic history.
  • Ask about lifestyle.
  • Ask about stress level.
  • Perform prenatal blood tests.
  • Do a complete physical exam, including a pelvic exam, gonorrhea and chlamydia cultures, and Pap test to screen for cervical cancer.
  • Do an ultrasound test, depending on the week of pregnancy.
  • Offer genetic testing.

On later visits the doctor may:

  • Check blood pressure.
  • Measure weight gain.
  • Measure abdomen to check developing infant's growth.
  • Check the fetal heart rate.
  • Check hands and feet for swelling.
  • Feel abdomen to find the fetus's position.
  • Do tests, such as blood tests or an ultrasound exam.
  • Talk about questions or concerns.

13.   Which tests may be performed during pregnancy?

·         Glucose challenge screening.

·         Group B streptococcus infection screening.

·         Ultrasound exam.

·         Urine test. 

·         Nuchal translucency screening. 

·         First trimester screen.

·         Maternal serum screen.

·         Chorionic villus.

·         Amniocentesis.

·         Cell free fetal DNA. 

·         Carrier screening for cystic fibrosis.

·         Glucose tolerance test. 

·         Non-stress test.

·         Biophysical profile.

14.   How can stress affect pregnancy?

Too much stress can cause trouble sleeping, headaches, loss of appetite, or a tendency to overeat; all of which can be harmful to the mother and the developing baby. Additionally, a pregnant woman may experience a severe form of stress called post-traumatic stress disorder, which can cause anxiety, upsetting flashbacks and memories, nightmares, guilt, and more.

15.   What is labor?

Labor is process through which a fetus is delivered, either vaginally or by way of a caesarean section. Labor may start even weeks before the delivery with the first contractions until the cervix is fully dilated (4 inches), at which point the pregnant woman pushes downward to release the fetus, complete with the placenta and afterbirth.

16.   What is a caesarean section?

This is a surgical procedure where an incision is made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus through which the fetus is delivered.

17.   Why is a caesarean section performed?

·         A woman is carrying more than one fetus.

·         Complications during labor.

·         The infant's health is in danger.

·         The fetus is too large.

·         The infant is upside down.

·         The mother has an infection.

·         There are problems with the placenta. 

18.   What is infertility?

This is defined as the inability to become pregnant after one year of trying – or 6 months if a woman is aged 35 or older.

19.   What other conditions can result in failure to get pregnant?

·         Bleeding and clotting disorders.

·         Sexually transmitted diseases.

·         Exposure to diethylstilbestrol.

20.   What us unintended pregnancy?

This is a pregnancy that is unwanted or unplanned.

21.   How to avoid pregnancy?

·         Copper T intrauterine devices.

·         Levonorgestrel intrauterine systems.

·         Implants.

·         Injections.

·         Oral contraceptives (birth control pills).

·         Progestin-only pills.

·         Skin patches.

·         Hormonal vaginal contraceptive rings.

·         Emergency contraception.

·         Diaphragm or cervical caps.

·         Male condoms.

·         Female condoms.

·         Spermicides.

·         Natural family planning or fertility awareness.

·         Abstinence.

·         Fe3male sterilization.

·         Transcervical sterilization.

·         Vasectomy.


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