The signs of a healthy pregnancy vary between women and not all women experience all the symptoms of pregnancy. The best way to ensure a healthy pregnancy is to make sure you receive good antenatal care and take care of yourself. Generally speaking a healthy mother is more likely to have a healthy baby, and this can best be achieved by working with general practitioners and/or midwives during your pregnancy.
The Importance Of A Healthy Pregnancy For A Healthy Baby
Statistically, a mother’s chance of miscarrying a foetus is highest before the 20th week of pregnancy so it is good counsel to consult with your healthcare practitioner at the first sign you think you may be pregnant.
The earliest signs of a healthy pregnancy differ between women. Some women may experience a combination of signs while others may not present with any so if you are unsure it is always best to err on the side of caution and consult with your healthcare practitioner. The first or earliest signs of pregnancy may include
- A missed period
- Nausea or vomiting, often early in the morning and thus referred to as ‘morning sickness’ (although it can occur at any time during the day)
- Tiredness, headaches or fatigue
- Enlargement or sensitivity of the breasts
- An enhanced sense of smell or avoidance of foods you previously used to like
- Food cravings, sometimes for unusual foods or food combinations
- Frequent urination
Because some of these symptoms may present because of other conditions, a pregnancy test will confirm if you are pregnant. Your healthcare practitioner may administer a blood test, a urine test or an ultrasound to confirm your pregnancy.
What Are The Signs Of A Healthy Pregnancy?
As mentioned above, a healthy mother is more likely to have a healthy baby and taking good care of your body is a good way to give birth to a healthy baby. If you are pregnant you must secure good antenatal care to preserve your health and that of your developing baby.
Consistent Growth Patterns
Good growth and development is the surest manner to keep track that your foetus is developing into a healthy baby. Having regular antenatal care helps your healthcare practitioner to plot your baby’s development and ensure that growth milestones are being achieved. On average a foetus can be expected to grow at a rate of about two inches per month. Generally, the average baby weighs around 3kg at the time of birth, but this figure is very dependent on the baby’s genetics.
Maternal Weight Gain
Attached to the development of the foetus is the weight gain and belly growth of the mother. At each antenatal appointment, your general practitioners will take your weight and measure the growth of your belly.
Your baby’s movements can usually be felt from about 5 months or 20 weeks and after some time you will start to notice a pattern to the movement. Your baby’s first movements are referred to medically as foetal quickening.
By the age of six months your baby will respond to sound by movement and by the time he or she is seven months old, he or she will respond to other stimuli such as light, pain or sound. By the time the baby has reached eight months of age he or she will have moved position and will be kicking much more actively. As your pregnancy approaches full term and the space in the womb is more restricted your baby will move less – simply because he is running out of room to do it.
Another measure of a healthy pregnancy that will be taken consistently at your antenatal appointments is your baby’s heartbeat. Foetal heartbeats can be heard from the fifth week of pregnancy and will range from approximately 100 to 160 beats a minute. Your healthcare practitioner may perform a non stress test to evaluate whether your baby has a healthy heartbeat at a later stage of your pregnancy.
During the last month of pregnancy your baby moves into a head first position as he or she gets ready for labour and delivery.
Warning Signs To Be Careful Of During Pregnancy
It is advisable to contact your healthcare practitioner immediately if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms during your pregnancy
- Vaginal bleeding. Even though up to one in four women may experience a normal amount of vaginal spotting in a healthy pregnancy, any bleeding should be reported to your healthcare practitioner for investigation.
- Reduced movement of your baby. You will get used to your baby’s rhythms and responses so any reduction in movement should be investigated, especially if it is prior to the eighth or ninth month.
- Vaginal infections. While your vaginal discharge will increase as a result of pregnancy, if it is accompanied by itchiness or a strong odour, it should be referred to your healthcare practitioner. Any vaginal infection or inflammation should be treated as soon as possible.
- Leaking of your amniotic fluid
- Persistent or severe stomach pain that doesn’t improve
- Unexplained vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Persistent headache
- A high temperature
- Swelling or oedema in your hands, feet or face
- Unexplained itching
While heartburn or acid reflux may be experienced frequently during your pregnancy you should consult your general practitioners before taking any antacid to ensure it is safe to use during pregnancy.
Frequent urination is to be expected during pregnancy as your bladder is under more pressure from your developing baby. However it could also be a sign of gestational diabetes and your healthcare practitioner may do some tests to ensure that you are not developing it between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.
Don’t speculate about the signs of a healthy pregnancy; get professional healthcare for a healthy pregnancy. Please contact us: (02) 9884 9300.