Pregnancy is a special time. By being an involved and knowledgeable partner, you’ll be able to enjoy the months leading up to the big day. This information can help you and your partner to understand this journey of nine months.
Duration of Pregnancy:
Pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks (9 months), counting from the first day of normal period. The weeks are grouped into three trimesters.
First trimester (week 1-week 12):
During the first trimester woman’s body undergoes many changes. Hormonal changes affect almost every organ system in her body. These changes can trigger symptoms even in the very first weeks of pregnancy. Women in early pregnancy also may have symptoms of nausea and vomiting commonly known as “morning sickness”.
Second trimester (week 13-week 28):
Most women find the second trimester of pregnancy easier than the first. But it is just as important to stay informed about the pregnancy during these months.
She might notice that symptoms like nausea and fatigue are going away.Her abdomen will expand as the baby continues to grow. And before this trimester is over, she will feel her baby beginning to move.
Third trimester (week 29-week 40):
During this trimester a woman may feel some discomfort as the baby grows larger and her body gets ready for the birth. She may have trouble sleeping, walking quickly, and doing routine tasks.
“Due date” of a Pregnant woman:
The due date that you are given by your partner’s health care provider is an estimate of when the baby will be born. Due date is used as a guide for checking the pregnancy’s progress and the baby’s growth and age. Doctors often use more than one method to check the age of the fetus and set the due date.
During pregnancy, regular checkups are very important. This consistent care can help keep pregnant woman and her baby healthy, spot problems if they occur, and prevent problems during delivery. Typically, routine checkups occur:
- Once each month for weeks four through 28
- Twice a month for weeks 28 through 36
- Weekly for weeks 36 to birth
Women with high-risk pregnancies need to see their doctors more often.
At her first visit your doctor will perform a full physical examination, take her blood for lab tests, and calculate her due date. Her doctor might also do a breast examination, a pelvic examination to check your uterus (womb), and a cervical examination, including a Pap test. During this first visit, doctor will ask her lots of questions about her medical history, lifestyle and health habits.
After the first visit, most prenatal visits will include:
- Checking her blood pressure and weight
- Checking the baby’s heart rate
- Measuring her abdomen to check her baby’s growth
She also will have some tests throughout the pregnancy, such as tests to look for anemia, tests to measure risk of gestational diabetes, and tests to look for harmful infections.
You’ll also be asked about your family history and origin, because certain inherited conditions are more common depending on family history. If you have a strong family history of a certain disease, you may have a gene for the disease that can be passed to your baby. Be sure that your partner knows your history if you cannot be there. When your partner is offered blood tests in early pregnancy, you may be asked to have blood tests as well. This is to check whether your baby is at risk of having an inherited or genetic condition, such as sickle cell anaemia, thalassaemia or cystic fibrosis.
Become a partner with her doctor to manage her care. Keep all the record of her appointments — each one is important. Ask questions and read to educate yourself about this exciting time.
Supporting your pregnant partner:
The closer you are to your pregnant partner, the more you’ll be able to share the experience of pregnancy and birth. If your partner is anxious, encourage her to talk about it. If you can learn to support each other now, your relationship will be stronger when the baby arrives.
- Now is the time to start sharing the housework, if you don’t already do so.You can help her eating healthy food and can assist in carrying to daily activities such as cooking and shopping. Let your partner know she is not alone and both of you should stay well informed. The health advice is just as important for you as it is for her.
- Eating well is much easier if you’re doing it together–start picking up healthy food habits you’ll want to pass on to your child.
- Cigarette smoke is dangerous for babies, so if you’re a smoker, get advice on how to stop smoking. Cigarette smoke can harm your baby before and after it is born. Babies exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of developing asthma and sudden infant death syndrome.
- Accompany your partner while she is attending prenatal visits. At one of the early visits, you and your partner will be asked about your personal and family health histories.
- You should be there if she has a pregnancy ultrasound scan and see your baby on the screen–if she needs to have extra tests, your support is especially important.
- Find out about antenatal classes for couples. The more you know about labour, the more you’ll be able to help. Most people stay with their partner during labour. If you prefer not to be present, talk to your partner and listen to how she feels. This may help both of you to be able to think of a friend or relative who could accompany her instead.
- Talk about what you both expect in labour, and talk about the birth plan. You should know what she wants and how you can help her achieve it. You can help prepare for labor and delivery by taking the following steps:
- Enroll in childbirth classes.
- Take a tour of the hospital.
- Install an infant car seat.
- Be prepared for the birth. This checklist for parents-to-be may be useful for the final weeks:
- Make sure you can be contacted at all times
- Decide how you’ll get to the hospital (if you have arranged a hospital birth)
- If you’re using your own car, make sure it works and has petrol, and do a trial run to see how long it takes to get from your house to the hospital
- Remember to pack a bag for yourself.
Information about the postpartum period:
- The postpartum period is the first 6 weeks after birth. Most women will feel tired and sore for a few days to a few weeks after childbirth. Women who have had a cesarean delivery may take longer to heal. Also, having a new baby in the house can be stressful. You, your partner, and any other children you have need to adjust to a new lifestyle.
- You should know about the condition known as “postpartum depression”. It is very common for new mothers to feel sad, upset, or anxious after childbirth. Many new mothers have mild feelings of sadness called postpartum blues or “baby blues.” When these feelings are more extreme or last longer than a week or two, it may be a sign of a more serious condition known as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression also can occur several weeks after the birth. Women with a history of depression are at greater risk of this condition. This condition needs management by health care provider.
Watching your baby coming into the world can be the most incredible experience and preparation for this precious moment can make it the most memorable one!