Pregnancy - What happens from conception to birth

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It’s a common misconception when people say you are pregnant for 9 months, in reality it is 10 months or 40 weeks. The pregnancy is broken up into three trimesters the first trimester is weeks 1-12, the second trimester is weeks 13-28 and the third trimester is weeks 29-40. In most first pregnancies the baby will not be born before or on the due date, in fact most first pregnancies result in the baby going overdue. No health care provider will ever let you go over by more than 12 days; you will be offered ways to help move things along.

Pregnancy is a tough time for both the mother and father to be as the woman’s hormones will be all over the place. It’s very common for women to experience bouts of crying for no reason and losing their temper often, all men should be aware that this happens and will usually settle down after a few months into the pregnancy or last until the child is born. It’s also very common for a woman to experience sickness and nausea especially in the first trimester; this usually subsides after 14 weeks but may return in the last trimester before the baby is born.

Old wives tales for gender prediction

The sex of a foetus is determined at conception and will usually be confirmed in the second trimester between weeks 16-22, though you can choose not to find if you wish. The guessing game is fun for many but there are couples who also prefer to know what the gender of their unborn child is before they arrive. There are many old wives tales that women used to rely on in the days when ultrasounds were not available, of course they are not to be taken seriously but many women have found that they were accurate in predicting the gender of their unborn child.

What happens when you are pregnant

Depending on what your weight was before pregnancy, women on average should gain around 35lbs or up to 16kgs and if you are underweight you should gain more and if you are overweight you should gain less. This is only a guide and should not be taken seriously, as long as your midwife or obstetrician is happy with your weight gain then don’t worry. All women put on weight during pregnancy, it's losing the weight that proves hard for most women. Along with expected weight gain you may also experience stretch marks; they can appear on the stomach, thighs, bum and breasts. There is not much you can do about them other than applying cream daily to help keep the skin moisturised so when the skin stretches, stretch marks do not appear. Many women get them so don’t feel bad, they will fade over time and laser treatment can help minimize their appearance if you are still unhappy about them.

Most women will also experience cravings for certain foods and aversions to others, unless the cravings are unreasonable then indulge, this is the only time in a woman’s life that she should not feel bad for eating what she wants. Just remember to eat in moderation and keep a balanced diet, some women find that their sense of smell also increases, this is just down to hormones and should settle after the first trimester. Some health professionals believe that food cravings are a way of the body letting you know that you lack something but this is not always true if you are craving sweets every day, if certain foods make you feel sick avoid them for a while, you’ll find that your body will ask for them after your hormones settle down.

Many women who suffer from sickness and nausea suffer in silence but it’s perfectly normal to throw up everyday even after you’ve eaten your favourite meal. Some women even lose weight due to extreme sickness, do not suffer in silence and seek help, there are medicines that can help and are safe to take during pregnancy. If you prefer not to take medicine then there are natural herbal supplements that you can take and other homemade remedies.

Tiredness is also common throughout pregnancy and can come and go, you may find that towards the end of pregnancy you get short bursts of energy, and this is also called nesting. Nesting is when your motherly instincts take over and you start preparing for the arrival of your baby. Usually you will clean the house until it’s spotless and sort out and buy everything you need for the baby. Not all women experience this so don’t be alarmed if you don’t, take the time to rest and catch up with sleep as you will no doubt need it when the baby arrives.

It is helpful to buy a pregnancy book that will detail what to expect when you are pregnant but in Mauritius you may find it hard to get a decent book but with the internet available so widely you can get all the information regarding pregnancy for free. Trust your instincts, surround yourself with loved ones and have a healthy pregnancy. Good luck!

yonne Published 22 Nov 2011

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