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As a woman’s body gets ready to take on the responsibility of growing a whole new life inside it, Mother Nature provides it with many ways to take better care of the needs of both the mother and child. This results in the body adapting itself to protect and provide nourishment for the baby.
While many of these changes are not only visible but rather well known too, there are several bodily changes during pregnancy that are not spoken about much. The visible changes include the pregnancy “glow”, the baby bump, increased breast size and swelling in hands and feet. The overload of hormones also leads to a lot of mood swings and morning sickness among other things. Now let’s look at some of the not-so-well-known changes.
Those hormones affect your digestive system in many more ways than nausea. There’s a possibility of having constipation, indigestion, hemorrhoids, heartburn, acid reflux, gas and bloating. The process of digestion slows down during pregnancy causing all of these and other problems. These conditions become more common and pronounced around the third trimester. It is advisable not to take any over-the-counter medicine for them without consulting your doctor.
The much talked about pregnancy cravings and aversions are also the direct result of hormonal changes in the body. While some women develop taste for foods they didn’t particularly like before becoming pregnant, others find themselves being repelled by their favourite foods. The sense of smell becomes much sharper with an increased sensitivity that can result in reactions like vomiting from some of them. One theory is that this is a part of some kind of protectivemechanism in which the body creates aversion to things it perceives as being harmful to the mother or child.
Due to the need to support the oxygen and nutrient requirements of the baby, the volume of blood in a pregnant woman’s body increases by as much as 50%. This means that the organs in your circulatory system including heart and kidneys are putting in a lot of extra work. In order to support them, an iron-rich diet is recommended to eliminate the chances of developing gestational anemia. The increased blood volume can also lead to a rise in pulse rate and a gradual decrease in blood pressure. Another uncomfortable outcome of a high blood volume is congested or runny nose.
In order to make the birthing process easier, the joints loosen and ligaments soften during pregnancy. This causes frequent aches and pains in various body parts including the back, hip and legs. Doctors usually prescribe the use of a maternity support belt, massaging the affected area and heat treatments over medication. Increasing the consumption of calcium and regular light exercises can also help ease some of the pain.
It may seem a very random and disconnected topic. However, pregnancy can often lead to bleeding gums, increased sensitivity in the teeth and bad breath. Some women even complain about a metallic taste in their mouths. All this happens when the body tries to fulfill the increased calcium requirements by redirecting that which would otherwise be directed towards the teeth. It is often advised to undergo a thorough dental check-up in early stage of pregnancy, generally follow good oral health practices and ensure sufficient intake of calcium through diet or supplements.
Let’s revisit the pregnancy glow; it is caused by the cocktail of hormones and increased blood flow in the body. The same things also lead to a lot of other changes in your skin that may not be as flattering. As your breasts expand, there would be changes in their appearance, with the possibility of the veins “popping”. In some cases, a dark line appears that runs from the bellybutton to the pubic area. There is also the possibility of dark patches and stretchmarks anywhere on the body.
The excessive presence of hormones and all the additional vitamins being consumed during pregnancy leads to the growth of much thicker and shinier hair, sometimes even in unwanted places. Nails also tend to grow faster due to these very reasons. However, this also means excessive hair loss soon after the delivery as the hair goes back to its usual volume.
All these bodily changes are directly tied to the chemical and hormonal changes going on inside the body of a pregnant woman’s body. While many of them might be uncomfortable to go through, it is generally a good idea to avoid medicines to relieve them, especially without discussing them with a doctor first.
Some of the issues one faces during pregnancy are more difficult to go through than others. They are necessary for the healthy growth of your baby. The good thing is that they are all temporary changes, and they would all feel worthwhile when you hold your baby.
From the moment a pregnancy is confirmed, an expectant mother is handed a list of medical tests to undergo, ranging from the regular check-ups to track the progress of the foetus through ultrasounds to the various health screenings to check blood sugar levels and blood pressure of the mother-to-be. There’s a whole lot that goes on to ensure that mother and child enjoy a healthy gestation.
Did you know, however, that more and more parents are adding genetic health consultation to the list of tasks to be accomplished before the birth of their child? Yes, the genetic composition of the child can be analysed much before it’s born. This is useful in assessing any genetic conditions that the child is likely to have.
Genetic science has advanced to the extent that some of these conditions can actually be addressed, even corrected before birth. One of the youngest branches of surgery, in fact, is fetal medicine which is only as old as some of the older millennials! Let’s try to understand what exactly genetic counseling is, and what it offers.
Prenatal genetic counseling involves understanding the genetic make up of both the parents, and their families, with the intention of arriving at the likelihood of the child inheriting any hereditary conditions that may be detrimental to its health. It takes into consideration factors like the medical history of both sides of the family, ensuring parents are not carriers of common genetic conditions and screening parents for any acquired health issues. This can be done through oral history taking, checking past medical records, ordering specific tests based on findings or concern areas, and evaluating the best solutions if a problem is detected.
While you are at this, also ask the counselor about umbilical cord blood banking. It could be another way to safeguard the health of the child if certain health conditions were to develop in the future.
All expecting couples could undergo the prenatal counseling as it could make them aware of hitherto unknown underlying health conditions. However, there are certain situations that warrant genetic counseling more than others. Some of them include:
The one obvious reason for a couple to undergo prenatal genetic counseling if certain hereditary conditions run in the family. Sometimes, one of the parents could be a carrier of genes related to it despite not having the said condition. This becomes an even more pressing need if the couple already has a child with some genetic disorder.
In case the age of either or both of the parents is over 35 at the time of pregnancy, there are higher chances of certain health conditions to develop in the foetus. It makes sense in such cases to ascertain how high these chances are.
In some cases, the primary obstetrician might refer a couple to a genetic counselor on the basis of observations during the regular check-ups. This is usually a result of a concerning anomaly that may indicate a developmental delay for the foetus.
If the couple has experienced a miscarriage or lost a child soon after birth, genetic counseling is in order. The counselor can help you understand the risk factors for current as well as future pregnancies.
People from certain ethic groups are more likely to inherit diseases like sickle cell anemia, thalassemia and hypothyroidism. Depending on the background of both parents, the child may be predisposed to certain conditions that genetic counseling can help detect.
Other than their own genetics, the environment of the parents and the resulting health complications impact the genetic makeup of the child. This becomes especially concerning if they have been exposed to radiation, consume alcohol, drugs or smoke.
Once the assessment is done, the parents can be prepared for planning and making the appropriate adjustments required or even chalk out a treatment plan on the basis of what they learn from their counselor ‘s assessment. It gives them time to accept the situation, and go through various scenarios that can crop up. All this helps them make an informed decision that is tailor-made for their situation and family.
Pregnancy and childbirth are processes that are full of uncertainties. Prenatal genetic counseling can be a very empowering exercise that can equip the parents with the knowledge of different options they have in case of many of these uncertain scenarios. Remember, the young science of foetal surgery? That could also be pressed into duty in case of a bleak outcome, and can correct several birth defects in-utero (in the womb) even before the child is born.
So go right ahead, take advantage of the leaps taken by technology in the best interest of your family.
Interested in finding out more about cord blood banking in Singapore? Contact us now through the form on this page or WhatsApp us on +65- 83398482 and let our customer service consultants address your queries.
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