Motherhood is a dream that almost every woman wants fulfilled. When a woman sees that tiny plus sign on her home pregnancy test, she is suddenly overcome by all the emotions that start surging through her body. Pregnancy and childbirth go hand in hand they are two of the most special events that a woman can experience in her lifetime. Both pregnancy and childbirth are a combination of different events going on in a woman’s body.
Pregnancy is the consequence of several complex events that include the final maturation of spermatozoa and oocyte and the transportation of the gametes into the female genital tract. Pregnancy causes marked changes in the homeostatic equilibria of the mother, which leads to fluid retention increase in heart rate and renal blood flow, increase in bicarbonate excretion with insulin resistance.
Assessment of fetal well-being during pregnancy is done by imaging via ultrasound; this includes measuring amniotic fluid volume, Doppler ultrasound and fetal heart rate monitoring. The schedules of clinical visits during pregnancy are as follows;
- Pre-conception clinical visit.
- At 8-14 weeks.
- 20-24 weeks.
- 36-38 weeks.
- 41-42 weeks.
Pregnancy is basically divided into trimesters, the mother and baby’s health is closely monitored during each of these trimesters. The first trimester (1-12 weeks) remains a critical period in determining the outcome of a pregnancy as miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy. The main purpose of the clinical visit during the first trimester is to get a comprehensive history, establish pregnancy age and identify maternal and fetal risk factors.
The second or mid trimester risk assessment visit should take place at 20-24 weeks the results of tests performed or scanned in the first trimester are revised. And if it is required a Doppler ultrasound screening is also performed. Any incidental maternal symptoms are dealt with at this stage. This trimester is also important in ensuring the education of women regarding the rest of their pregnancy and childbirth.
The third trimester visit is placed around 36-38 weeks, the primary objective of this trimester is to help the mother in any problems she might have about her pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnancy and childbirth, no doubt are two of the most important events in a woman’s life.
Labor and childbirth are the focus and climax of a woman’s reproductive process and pregnancy. It is both a physical and emotional change for the mother, it can also be a hazardous journey for the baby if proper care is not taken during pregnancy and childbirth. Childbirth is basically interplay between the power of the uterus, the passages of the birth canal and the passenger (the baby). In historical documents and literature, there is ample reference to death of the mother in childbirth but these childbirths are usually medically unattended. Women are in varying frames of mind in late pregnancy; anxious, poorly supported women may present several problems because of painful contractions in late pregnancy and not in labor, this condition is known as false labor. The final stage of pregnancy and childbirth is limited from the diagnosis of onset of labor to full dilation of the cervix.
If the labor has been normal, the first sign is the urge to push which is displayed by the mother. The woman undergoing normal pregnancy and childbirth will get an expulsive reflex with each pain and will finally take a deep breath, hold it and strain down. The progress of the descent of the head during pregnancy and child birth can be judged by watching the perineum. If pregnancy and childbirth are left entirely to nature then there are higher chances of lacerations on the perineum to occur. The head of the baby must be delivered carefully by applying pressure only on the forehead. The final stage of pregnancy and childbirth is cutting of the umbilical cord. The last stages of pregnancy and childbirth are the delivery of the baby and the expulsion of the placenta and membranes, this takes approximately 5-10 minutes.Pain relief can be provided to the mother during pregnancy and childbirth by urging her to relax and do breathing exercises. Although straining, pregnancy and childbirth are no doubt two of the most cherished events that a woman has privilege to experience.