Feature Articles

Welcome to this week's feature stories. The stories are from various Papua New Guinean writers. The main highlight this week is the story on .....

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The pregnancy experience continues

By WATSON GABANA

"THE pregnancy experience - an all-expenses-paid holiday" article published two weeks back stimulated a lot of interest amongst many readers.  More than 200 people reacted to the story by email asking a lot of personal and interesting questions and requests.

I have ve tried my best replying to most of the questions but for those about the symptoms and signs of early pregnancies, I have reserved the answers to this follow-up article.  This article wishes also to illustrate two important features of the pregnancy experience.  Firstly the signs and symptoms of the pregnancy experience.  Secondly, we should know as husbands and wives the physical changes happening inside a mother's womb during pregnancy.  Keeping records or track of what's going on inside that comfortable villa of our wives' wombs is important. 

Let me begin with an email I received.

"My friend's girlfriend did not have her menstrual period last month.  We are not sure if she is pregnant or not.  If she is really pregnant, they are not ready yet for a child.  Can you give us some tips how she can do abortion?" Well my dear friends.  Abortion in PNG is illegal.  Therefore I don't have a clue or advice as to how you can execute this act. But the reality in this country from observation is that illegal things are legal and vice-versa.  People are selling smoke and buai at places where they shouldn't be trading these things.  Sex is a thriving business although it is illegal here in the country. As indicated in the Post Courier 10 abortion cases are reported every month in Bougainville (Post Courier March 19 2010).   This is for one province. What about other 19 provinces in this country?  What is happening to this type of unintended and unwanted pregnancies?  Someone in authority can shed some light on this. 

The confusing thing is that we normally do not think of the outcomes when two loving couples cuddle each other in a loving sexual affair.   When the female partner starts sharing her feelings some weeks or a month later like my friend above, we start searching our pockets for ideas and even excuses.  To avoid that, I wish to introduce you to some practical analysis of the pregnancy experience. 

Pregnancy symptoms differ from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy; however, one of the most significant pregnancy symptoms is a delayed or missed menstrual cycle.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of pregnancy is important because each symptom may be related to something other than pregnancy. Some women experience signs or symptoms of pregnancy within a week of conception. For other women, pregnancy symptoms may develop over a few weeks or may not be present at all.

Below is a listing of some of the most common pregnancy symptoms. If you have been sexually active and experiencing any of the following symptoms it is important to take a pregnancy test.

Implantation bleeding: Implantation bleeding can be one of the earliest pregnancy symptoms. About 6-12 days after conception, the embryo implants itself into the uterine wall. Some women will experience spotting as well as some cramping.  Actual menstruation, altered menstruation, changes in birth control pill, infection, or abrasion from intercourse can also occur then Delay/difference in menstruation: A delayed or missed menstruation is the most common pregnancy symptom leading a woman to test for pregnancy.

When you become pregnant, your next period should be missed. Many women can bleed while they are pregnant, but typically the bleeding will be shorter or lighter than a normal period. Excessive weight gain/loss, fatigue, hormonal problems, tension, stress, ceasing to take the birth control pill, or breast-feeding are other symptoms.

Swollen/tender breasts: Swollen or tender breasts are a pregnancy symptom which may begin as early as 1-2 weeks after conception. Women may notice changes in their breasts; they may be tender to the touch, sore, or swollen. Hormonal imbalance, birth control pills, impending menstruation (PMS) can also cause your breasts to be swollen or tender.

Fatigue/tiredness: Feeling fatigued or tired is a pregnancy symptom which can also start as early as the first week after conception. Stress, exhaustion, depression, common cold or flu, or other illnesses can also leave you feeling tired or fatigued.

Nausea/morning sickness: This well-known pregnancy symptom will often show up between 2-8 weeks after conception. Some women are fortunate to not deal with morning sickness at all, while others will feel nauseous throughout most of their pregnancy. Food poisoning, stress, or other stomach disorders can also cause you to feel queasy.

Backaches: Lower backaches may be a symptom that occurs early in pregnancy; however, it is common to experience a dull backache throughout an entire pregnancy. Impending menstruation, stress, other back problems, and physical or mental strains.

Headaches: The sudden rise of hormones in your body can cause you to have headaches early in pregnancy. Dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, impending menstruation, eye strain, or other ailments can be the source of frequent or chronic headaches.

Frequent urination: Around 6-8 weeks after conception, you may find yourself making a few extra trips to the bathroom.  Urinary tract infection, diabetes, increasing liquid intake, or taking excessive diuretics.
Darkening of Areolas: If you are pregnant, the skin around your nipples may get darker. Hormonal imbalance unrelated to pregnancy or may be a leftover effect from a previous pregnancy.

Food cravings: While you may not have a strong desire to eat pickles and ice cream, many women will feel cravings for certain foods when they are pregnant. This can last throughout your entire pregnancy. Poor diet, lack of a certain nutrient, stress, depression, or impending menstruation.

If you think you are pregnant you may purchase a home pregnancy test such as those made by Clearblue Easy, or find out more about taking a pregnancy test.

Calculating the day your baby begins to develop and keeping track of your pregnancy dates can be a challenge. The development of pregnancy is counted from the first day of the woman's last normal period, even though the development of the fetus does not begin until conception. Pregnancy is calculated from this day because each time a woman has a period, her body is preparing for pregnancy.

Healthy pregnancy development may vary due to the mother's health or a miscalculation of ovulation. Gestational age is the age of the pregnancy from the last normal menstrual period (LMP), and fetal age is the actual age of the growing baby. Most references to pregnancy are usually in gestational age rather than fetal age development, but we have included both so that it is clear what stage development is at. Measurements will be given in total length from head to toe, but each pregnancy can differ in weight and length measurements.

Pregnancy is also divided into trimesters which last about 12 - 14 weeks each. Similar to development, these can be calculated from different dates so not all trimester calculations will equal the same. The following information divides the three trimesters into a little over 3 completed months each. The first trimester is week 1 through the end of week 13. The second trimester usually ends around the 26th week and consists of the 4th, 5th and 6th completed months. The third trimester can end anywhere between the 38th - 42nd week and is the 7th, 8th and 9th completed months of pregnancy.

Vaginal bleeding can occur frequently in the first trimester of pregnancy and may not be a sign of problems. But bleeding that occurs in the second and third trimester of pregnancy can often be a sign of a possible complication. Bleeding can be caused by a number of reasons.

Some basic things to know about bleeding are:
  • If you are bleeding, you should always wear a pad or panty liner so that you can monitor how much you are bleeding and what type of bleeding you are experiencing.
  • You should never wear a tampon or introduce anything else into the vaginal area such as douche or engage in sexual intercourse if you are currently experiencing bleeding. 
  • If you are also experiencing any of the other symptoms mentioned below in connection with a possible complication, you should contact your health care provider immediately.

...... to be continued next week

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