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Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting time in your life. You are nurturing a developing fetus that is totally dependent on you for its well being prior to birth. A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks and its three parts are often referred to as trimesters. The first trimester lasts 12 weeks, the second from 13 to the end of 27 weeks, and the third from 28 to 40 weeks. These intervals may vary somewhat, but your physician or other health care provider will probably refer to your pregnancy by the age of the fetus in weeks.

The first indication of a pregnancy is a missed period. Your pregnancy is confirmed when the hormone, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG), produced by the placenta, is detected in your urine either by a home test kit or by a laboratory.

The unborn baby's growth and development is affected by many factors including your lifestyle and habits: diet, drug use, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, age at time of pregnancy, current health status, and prenatal care.

Your physician or other health care provider will order certain laboratory tests to detect any problems that may affect you or your baby's health and to anticipate possible complications. Generally, your physician or other health care provider wants to know your blood count, blood and Rh type, if you have any sexually transmitted diseases, or have had exposure to communicable diseases (e.g., German Measles) that may be transmitted to your unborn baby. If you are at risk for gestational diabetes a blood sugar test will be ordered. Other tests, based on ethnic origin or genetic factors, may also be necessary.

Regular prenatal visits are vital to help ensure a healthy, safe pregnancy, delivery, and post partum period. During your prenatal visits you will receive information on diet, nutrition, weight control, and exercise and activity guidelines. You will also be prescribed vitamin supplements to take during your pregnancy.

Your physician or other health care provider will help you manage some of the common complaints of pregnancy such as nausea and vomiting, (often occurring during the first trimester) and constipation (which often occurs during the last trimester). Be sure to report to your physician or other health care provider any unusual aches and pains, sore, painful, and/or swollen legs, recurring headaches, any vaginal bleeding, or abdominal pain.

Having a positive attitude during your pregnancy, following a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and keeping your weight within the guidelines set by your health care provider will help you achieve a good outcome for yourself and your baby.

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