Pregnancy Tests, Symptoms & Prenatal development

Pregnancy Tests, Symptoms & Prenatal development:

Lets understand the initial pregnancy stage which is the 1st day of a woman's last normal menstrual period. Resulting fetal age is known as the gestational age. 
After the point of fertilization, the fused product of the female and male gamete is referred to as a zygote or fertilized egg. The fusion of male and female gametes usually occurs following the act of sexual intercourse, resulting in spontaneous pregnancy. It can also occur by assisted reproductive technology such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilisation, which may be undertaken as a voluntary choice or due to infertility. At the initiation stage of the preceding menstrual period, the female body goes through changes to prepare for an upcoming conception, including a rise in follicle stimulating hormone that stimulates folliculogenesis and subsequently oogenesis in order to give rise to a mature egg cell, which is the female gamete. In case of in vitro fertilisation, gestational age is calculated by adding 14 days to the oocyte retrieval's day. Fertilization usually occurs about two weeks before woman's next expected menstrual period, and if either date is unknown in an individual case it is a frequent practice to add 14 days to the fertilization age to get the gestational age and vice versa. The average duration of pregnancy is actually about 42 weeks.

The beginning of pregnancy may be detected either based on symptoms by the pregnant woman herself, or by using medical tests with or without the assistance of a medical professional. Some non-pregnant women have a very strong belief that they are pregnant along with some of the physical changes. This condition is known as pseudocyesis or false pregnancy.

Physical Symptoms / signs of a pregnancy:

Most pregnant women experience a number of symptoms, which can signify pregnancy. The symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, excessive tiredness and fatigue, cravings for certain foods that are not normally sought out, and frequent urination particularly during the night.

A number of early medical signs are associated with pregnancy. These signs may appear within the first few weeks after conception. These signs include
- The presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the blood and urine, 
- Missed menstrual period, implantation bleeding that occurs at implantation of the embryo in the uterus during the third or fourth week after last menstrual period, 
- Increased basal body temperature sustained for over 2 weeks after ovulation, darkening of the cervix, vagina, and vulva,
- Softening of the vaginal portion of the cervix
- Softening of the uterus isthmus and pigmentation of linea alba, 
- Darkening of the skin in a midline of the abdomen, caused by hyperpigmentation resulting from hormonal changes, usually appearing around the middle of pregnancy. 
- Breast tenderness is common during the first trimester, and is more common in women who are pregnant at a young age. Shortly after conception, the nipples and areolas begin to darken due to a temporary increase in hormones. This process continues throughout the pregnancy.

Despite all the Symptoms / signs, some women may not realize they are pregnant. In some cases, a few have not been aware of their pregnancy until they begin labour. This may cause because of irregular periods, certain medications and obesity in women who disregard their weight gain.

Pregnancy test:

Pregnancy detection can be accomplished using one or more various pregnancy tests. Blood and urine tests can detect pregnancy 12 days after implantation. Blood pregnancy tests are more sensitive than urine tests. Home pregnancy tests are urine tests, and normally detect a pregnancy 12 to 15 days after fertilization. A quantitative blood test can determine approximately the date the embryo was conceived. Testing 48 hours apart can provide useful information regarding how the pregnancy is doing. A single test of progesterone levels can also help determine how likely a fetus will survive in those with a threatened bleeding in early pregnancy.

Prenatal development and Fetus:

The sperm and the egg cell, which has been released from woman's ovaries get unite in one of the two fallopian tubes. The fertilized egg which is known as a zygote then moves toward the uterus & it could take up to 7 days to complete. Cell division initiates in 1 or 2 days after the male and female cells get unite which further continues at rapid pace a blastocyst develops. Now the implantation process executes where the blastocyst arrives at the uterus and finally attaches to the uterine wall.

During the initial 10 weeks of gestation, an embryogenesis process occurs where the development of the mass of cells executes which finally become the infant. This is the time where cells begin to structure the basic outlines of the organ, body, and nervous systems. Almost at the end of embryonic stage, the development of body impressions like fingers, eyes, mouth, and ears become visible. Simultaneously there going development of supporting structures for the embryo, including the placenta and umbilical cord. The placenta connects the developing embryo to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother's blood supply. The umbilical cord is the connecting cord from the embryo or fetus to the placenta.

The embryo becomes fetus after about 10 weeks of gestational age. When the fetal stage commences, the heart beating can be visulised via ultrasound. The fetus starts motions at this stage. Sex organs begin to appear during the third month of gestation. The fetus continues to grow in both weight and length, although the majority of the physical growth occurs in the last weeks of pregnancy.
Rimitive neural/brain activity begins between the 5th and 6th week of gestation. Synapses begin forming at 17 weeks and at about week 28 begin to multiply at a rapid pace which continues until 3 to 4 months after birth.

Prenatal care and pre conception counseling:

Prenatal medical care is the medical and nursing care recommended for women before and during pregnancy. The aim of good prenatal care is to identify any potential problems early, to prevent them if possible by means of adequate nutrition, exercise, vitamin intake etc. Counseling should be done to manage problems, possibly by directing the woman to appropriate specialists, hospitals, etc. if necessary.

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