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Home Health Disease Health Labor and Delivery
About Labor and Delivery

Pregnancy is the development of one or more offspring, known as an embryo or fetus, in a woman's uterus. It is the common name for gestation in humans. A multiple pregnancy involves more than one embryo or fetus in a single pregnancy, such as with twins. Childbirth usually occurs about 38 weeks after conception; in women who have a menstrual cycle length of four weeks, this is approximately 40 weeks from the start of the last normal menstrual period (LNMP). Human pregnancy is the most studied of all mammalian pregnancies. Conception can be achieved through sexual intercourse or assisted reproductive technology.

Initiation

The most commonly used event to mark the initiation of pregnancy is the first day of the woman's last normal menstrual period, and the resulting fetal age is called the gestational age. This choice is a result of a lack of a convenient way to discern the point in time when the actual creation of the baby naturally happens. In case of in vitro fertilisation, gestational age is calculated by days from oocyte retrieval + 14 days.

Still, already at the initiation 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. Fertilization is the event where the egg cell fuses with the male gamete, spermatozoon. After the point of fertilization, the fused product of the female and male gamete is referred to as a zygote or fertilized egg.

First trimester

Minute ventilation is increased by 40% in the first trimester.The womb will grow to the size of a lemon by eight weeks. Many symptoms and discomforts of pregnancy (further described in later sections) appear in the first trimester.

By the end of the second trimester, the expanding uterus has created a visible "baby bump". Although the breasts have been developing internally since the beginning of the pregnancy, most of the visible changes appear after this point.

Weeks 13 to 28 of the pregnancy are called the second trimester. Most women feel more energized in this period, and begin to put on weight as the symptoms of morning sickness subside and eventually fade away. The uterus, the muscular organ that holds the developing fetus, can expand up to 20 times its normal size during

pregnancy.

Although the fetus begins to move and takes a recognizable human shape during the first trimester, it is not until the second trimester that movement of the fetus, often referred to as "quickening", can be felt. This typically happens in the fourth month, more specifically in the 20th to 21st week, or by the 19th week if the woman has been pregnant before. It is common for some women not to feel the fetus move until much later. During the second trimester, most women begin to wear maternity clothes.
Third trimester
The uterus expands making up a larger and larger portion of the woman's abdomen. At left anterior view with months labeled, at right lateral view labeling the last 4 weeks. During the final stages of gestation before childbirth the fetus and uterus will drop to a lower position.

Diagnosis

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. Approximately 1 in 475 women at 20 weeks, and 1 in 2500 women at delivery, refuse to acknowledge that they are pregnant, which is called denial of pregnancy.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.

Legal protection

Many countries have various legal regulations in place to protect pregnant women and their children. Maternity Protection Convention ensures that pregnant women are exempt from activities such as night shifts or carrying heavy stocks. Maternity leave typically provides paid leave from work during roughly the last trimester of pregnancy and for some time after birth. Notable extreme cases include Norway (8 months with full pay) and the United States (no paid leave at all except in some states). Moreover, many countries have laws against pregnancy discrimination.

In 2014, the American state of Kentucky passed a law which allows prosecutors to charge a woman with criminal assault if she uses illegal drugs during her pregnancy and her fetus or newborn is considered harmed as a result.

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