Conception can be described as the moment the sperm cell and egg cell unite. People differ as to whether this united cell is considered to be a human life or not.
SIGNS OF PREGNANCY
Some of the early signs of pregnancy in the woman are the missed menstrual cycle, tender or soreness in the breast, being more tired than usual, frequent urination, heavier vaginal discharge than is normal, morning or evening sickness or nausea. It is good to note in class that not everyone will go through these symptoms, even to the point that there have been rare cases where a woman didn’t even know she was pregnant up to and including labor until she went to the hospital for some other reason and gave birth to a child.
TESTS FOR PREGNANCY
There aren’t many test given to women for pregnancy but some tests are:
THE RABBIT TEST
This was a test developed in the 1920’s by injecting the suspected pregnant woman’s urine into the ovaries of a female rabbit, after 48 hours the ovaries would be removed and examined, if the ovaries of the rabbit had changed in some way the woman was diagnosed as being pregnant. In most places other tests are done instead of this one.
THE URINE TEST
Urine tests are done after the woman’s menstrual cycle is two weeks late. A chemical or two chemicals are added. In the case of the at home pregnancy test if a brown ring appears the woman is pregnant. The other test places urine on a slide with two other substances; if the mixture coagulates the woman is pregnant.
THE BLOOD TEST
A sample of the woman’s blood is combined with radioactive materials. A special instrument which measures the level of a certain substance called H.C.C. can tell if the woman is pregnant. This test can detect pregnancy before most pregnancy tests, even seven to nine days after conception. Since this test involves expensive equipment it may be done for women who might have to have surgery, x-ray or drug treatment, if they are not sure they are pregnant.
THE PROGESTERONE TEST
This test shouldn’t be considered by anyone who would want to bear a child because it could have an adverse affect on the fetus. The woman is given doses of progesterone for a few days; her period would start 2-7 days after her last dose if she isn’t pregnant.
TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY
Abortion is defined as the expulsion of a fetus before it is viable. There are two general types of abortion: (1) spontaneous, when the woman’s uterus by itself expels the embryo or fetus (this is also called miscarriage); and (2) induced, when outside means are used to intentionally expel the embryo or fetus. It has been found that after two or three abortions the cervix can be damaged or scar tissue can be produced in the fallopian tubes, these events could lead to inability to have a child. The types of induced abortion that will be explained are: vacuum suction (vacuum aspiration) abortion, D & C (dilation and curettage) and induced labor abortion.
This is usually done from 7-12 weeks from the last period. It is usually done either in the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. The cervix is dilated until a vacurette can be passed into the uterus. The free end of the vacurette is attached to a flexible tube leading to the vacuum aspirator, an electric or sometimes mechanical pump. The suction of the aspirator frees the fetal tissue from the uterine wall and pulls it through the tube and out of the body into a small container within the aspirator. The procedure usually takes about 10 minutes.
D & C
This is usually done from 8-12 weeks and sometimes as late as 15 weeks from the last period. The cervix is dilated as with the suction method. The D & C requires more dilation of the cervix. After dilation the doctor uses a curette, a metal loop on the end of a long thin handle, to loosen the uterine lining, removing the fetal tissue, with forceps. This used to be the best method for the first trimester but has been basically replaced with the vacuum suction abortion.
INDUCED LABOR ABORTION
This is usually done from 16-24 weeks after the last period. An abortion causing solution or drug is injected into the amniotic sac, or bag of water which surrounds the fetus. Alternatively, a drug, prostaglandin, can be put into the vagina. Several hours later contractions cause the cervix to dilate and the fetus and placenta to be expelled.
FOR INFORMATION ON BIRTH DEFECTS BOTH ON SUBSTANCES THAT CAUSE DEFECTS AND INHERITED DEFECTS, PLEASE READ THE FRAULO AND KASSUBA UNITS.
1st MONTH—It is called an embryo, the backbone and head are formed.
2nd MONTH—The face, eyes, arms, ears, nose, legs, fingers, toes, elbows, and knees.
3rd MONTH—It is now called a fetus, 3 inches long, fingernails, toenails.
4th MONTH—The sex of the fetus can be easily distinguished, 6 inches long and weighs about 6 ounces. There is a slight movement of fetus.
5th MONTH—Fetal movements can be felt and the heartbeat detected, fetus is 12 inches long and weighs 1 lb. If born now might live a few minutes, but cannot survive.
6th MONTH—The fetus can detect certain sounds, eyelashes and eyebrows are visible, weighs 1.5 lbs. and is 12 inches long.
7th MONTH—The fetus’ eyelids are open, weighs just under 4 lbs. and is 6 inches long.
8th MONTH—The fetus has a sense of taste, its length is 18 inches and the weight something over 5 lbs. A baby born at this time has a 90% chance of survival.
9th MONTH—The weight gain is rapid, the body is plump, it is 20 inches long and weighs about 7 lbs.
NUTRITION DURING PREGNANCY
It has been found that diet does play an important part in the development of the fetus. Mothers who have an inadequate diet are more likely to deliver low birthweight babies who have a higher mortality rate. The lower the birthweight the greater their mental handicap is liable to be. A good diet during pregnancy should include:
Proteins, by providing amino acids, aid in the building of tissue, a solid placenta and a strong uterus. It keeps blood sugar at a high level.
Vitamin A builds resistance to infection, strengthens mucous membranes and also helps in giving good eyesight. Vegetables are also good in keeping the bowels regular.
B VITAMINS (there are several)
B vitamins maintain good appetite, digestion, maintain sound nerves and prevent skin problems, lack of energy, constipation, and changes of pigmentation in skin.
Vitamin C builds a strong placenta, takes care of poisonous substances produced by bacteria and viruses and takes the poisonous substances from junk food. It also helps to absorb iron and solidify urine.
Vitamin D works with calcium to strengthen bones and tissues. It also helps calcium to be absorbed from the blood into tissue and bone cells.
Vitamin E is part of the control system for how oxygen is used in your tissues. It also aids in healing and plays a part in the breakdown of vitamin A.
Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting.
Folic acid is essential for protein and nucleic acid synthesis in early pregnancy. It is also necessary for blood formation and the formation of new cells.
B vitamins are needed to properly use iron. Iron being a main component of hemoglobin and blood hemoglobin, helps to carry oxygen to cells and to the fetus. The baby also draws on the mother’s iron reserve to store iron in its liver to last for the length of time before adequate dietary iron is available after birth.
Calcium helps to prevent sleeplessness, irritability, muscle cramps, nerve pains and uterine ligament pains.
DIABETES IN PREGNANCY
The basic problem in dealing with diabetes in pregnancy is the meticulous and exact control of diabetes. Problems that arise such as stillborn babies, babies with birth defects or critically sick mothers, can be avoided if the diabetes can be strictly monitored throughout pregnancy. The insulin requirements of the mother vary during pregnancy so that a woman will have her dosage changed several times throughout pregnancy. There needs to be a careful stabilization of both drugs and diet because an uncontrolled diabetic is open to all sorts of complications.
The majority of diabetic women were delivered at the thirty-sixth or thirty-seventh week until recently because their babies tended to die in the uterus, as a result of the adverse affect of the diabetes on the placenta, or because the baby tended to grow to a very large size.
Now estimations of estriol and other hormone levels will indicate those babies which they should be delivered. Excessively large babies may be delivered by cesarean section thirty-eight or thirty-nine weeks.
Teenagers, especially those who are under 15, are at risk of very serious health problems and their children at risk of developing mental disabilities more so than when compared with the average population.
The reason why teens who are under 15 are at more risk in developing problems is that their bodies must compete with the fetus, for nutrients. Many teens diets are not good and when combined with the frequent failure to seek prenatal care when they discovered they were pregnant, the following facts have been observed about these teens:
1. Babies born to teenagers are almost three times as likely to die during the first year than babies born to mothers in their twenties.
2. Babies born to teenagers are more likely to be born with or develop childhood illnesses than infants born to mothers in their twenties.
3. Maternal death is far higher for the teenage mother than for women in their twenties.
4. Statistics show that 44% of all adolescent women who become pregnant are pregnant again within one year of their first pregnancy.