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Pregnancy: From conception to delivery

  1. There is a lot of information about pregnancy. The entire pregnancy takes 40 weeks, from conception to delivery. In the meantime, a lot is happening and changing to the pregnant woman. The unborn child, the fetus, grows from a few cells into a full-grown baby. The pregnant woman's body changes continuously throughout the pregnancy. A lot also happens hormonally, which can also change the behavior and psyche of the woman during pregnancy.


  1. Pregnant Signs of pregnancy Subjective phenomena in pregnancy Objective changes during pregnancy Hormone production Skin Uterus Blood circulation Urinary tract Respiratory tract Metabolism Establishing the pregnancy HCG production Yolk sac The placenta Placenta functions The umbilical cord Fleeces The birth Afterbirth


  1. With successful fertilization, the pregnancy period also begins, which in fact lasts 38 weeks from the moment of fertilization itself. Because the moment of fertilization cannot be determined exactly, the calculation of the duration of the pregnancy is based on a moment two weeks earlier: the first day of the last menstruation. This describes the pregnancy as a period that lasts an average of 40 weeks. The delivery date is calculated by adding one week to the first day of the last menstruation, and then 9 months (counting 39 weeks later). If the first day of the last menstruation fell on August 14, then a week should be added. (August 21) and then nine months, so that the delivery is calculated on May 21 of the following year. It is also referred to as the 'à terme date'.

Signs of pregnancy

  1. All kinds of bodily functions of the woman are affected by pregnancy. Sometimes the woman herself notices, sometimes not. Changes include hormone production, circulation, genitalia themselves, skin and urinary tract.

Subjective symptoms during pregnancy

  1. Certain symptoms that can be observed by the woman herself may indicate pregnancy. Because as a rule other causes for the mentioned symptoms are also possible, they are referred to as probable pregnancy signs. The first signs are a lack of menstruation (amenorrhea). In addition to pregnancy, hormonal disorders can lead to the absence of menstruation, as can disturbances in the functioning of the uterus or ovaries. An early phenomenon is also the onset of fatigue, with a great need for sleep.

Objective changes during pregnancy

  1. Hormone production The absence of menstruation is determined hormonally. The hormone progesterone in particular prevents the occurrence of new ovulation and subsequent menstruation. This hormone production mainly takes place in the ovary. After each ovulation, a hormone-producing structure, the yellow body or corpus luteum, develops in the ovary at the location of the follicle that produced the egg. If fertilization does not occur, this corpus luteum will collapse after about nine days. If fertilization does occur, this corpus luteum remains and develops further. This is done under the influence of a controlling hormone secreted by the fruit, the HGC or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. It is similar in structure and function to LH (luteinizing hormone) produced by the pituitary gland. The HGC ensures that the corpus luteum develops into a corpus luteum graviditatis. This reaches a considerable size, around the third month of pregnancy it can make up a third of the total size of the ovary. The corpus luteum takes care of the production of the hormone progesterone under the influence of the HGC.


  1. Skin changes primarily concern the aforementioned strengthening of the skin pigment. In addition, there are regular occurrences of stretch marks, stretch marks. Stretch marks are localized slackening of the skin, as if a tear runs through the skin. They arise from tearing of the elastic fibers in the affected area of ​​the skin. When they develop, stretch marks are blue-red in color, later they become smaller and bleached. They no longer disappear, a scar remains. They are seen on the abdomen, buttocks, thighs and breasts, usually from the fourth to fifth month of pregnancy. Although the swelling of the abdomen could play a role in pregnancy, it is mainly pregnancy that leads to the development of stretch marks. Younger pregnant women in particular appear to be susceptible to the development of stretch marks. In addition, hair growth may increase during pregnancy. After delivery, this is compensated by increased hair loss.


  1. The uterus (uterus) is the organ that is directly involved in pregnancy. During pregnancy, the uterus undergoes strong growth. Its length increases from 8 cm to 30 cm. The weight increases from 50 grams to 1000 grams. This increase in weight can be attributed to a thickening of the muscle fibers present there. (myometrium).

Circulatory system

  1. Pregnancy leads to an extra burden on the blood circulation. In the first place, this has to do with the enormous amount of blood that flows to the uterus. In addition, significantly more blood flows to the kidneys (see below). The fetus needs a good amount of oxygen and nutrition from the blood at the end of the pregnancy. By the end of pregnancy, the uterine flow is about 700 ml / minute, compared to normally no more than 50 ml. This requires an increase in the amount of blood the heart pumps per minute, the cardiac output. This increase is brought about by a faster heart rate (increase of about 15 beats per minute) and a slightly greater amount of blood pumped out per beat. Due to a widening of the vascular bed, the blood pressure will not have to rise, at most if there is a pathology. However, an increase in the pressure in the veins of the legs may occur as a result of the pressure of the uterus on the veins in the abdomen. This increased pressure can lead to edema in the legs. Moreover, there is a greater risk of developing varicose veins (varices).

Urinary tract

  1. Due to the increase in size of the uterus, the bladder is somewhat oppressed. This means that the bladder can hold less urine, which in turn leads to more frequent urge and urination. In addition, it can happen that when pushing, laughing, etc., some urine leakage occurs (stress incontinence). These symptoms are partly caused by a somewhat increased irritability of the bladder.


  1. During pregnancy there is an increase in minute volume of about 40% to cover the increased need for oxygen. This is achieved by increasing the amount of air to be breathed in per breath. As a rule, the frequency of breathing remains practically unchanged.


  1. In principle, body weight will increase during pregnancy. This can be attributed to several factors:

Determination of pregnancy

  1. HCG production Measurement of HCG production by a hormonal test with the morning urine: pregnosticon. Many women now perform this reliable test themselves. From about the tenth to the fourteenth day after the absence of menstruation, the fruit produces enough hormone to make this test positive. The test is very reliable. Only non-standard sources of HCG can throw a spanner in the works.

Yolk bag

  1. Observation of a yolk sac or embryo by ultrasound. In doing so, attention is paid to the position of the fruit, the fetal heart tones and the presence of any multiple births. It is also checked whether the size of the fetus is in accordance with the duration of the pregnancy. Today, such an examination can be carried out periodically to determine whether the development of the pregnancy is undisturbed. Ultrasound can be used for diagnostics and follow-up examinations from almost the very beginning of pregnancy. The use of ultrasound has no negative consequences for the fetus or the mother.

The placenta

  1. The placenta or placenta originates from the layer of cells surrounding the blastula (trophoblast) at the beginning of pregnancy. At the end of pregnancy, the placenta is a disc-shaped structure with a diameter of 18 cm, a thickness of more than 2 cm and a weight of 500 grams.

Placenta functions

  1. The placenta has two main functions:

The umbilical cord

  1. The blood supplied with oxygen and nutrients reaches the fetus through the umbilical cord. Carbon dioxide and waste products go the other way in the same way. The umbilical cord is over 60 cm long and 1 cm thick. It contains two arteries, which carry the blood from the fetus towards the placenta, and a vein that carries the blood in the opposite direction. Due to its special structure and length, the umbilical cord allows the fetus to move freely in the amniotic fluid without compromising nutrition.


  1. Fetus and amniotic fluid are surrounded by two membranes that lie against each other. On the inside is the amnion, a thin, soft, elastic and transparent membrane. The amnion is covered on the outside by the chorion, which is somewhat stiffer and firmer. The function of the membranes is to hold and protect the fetus and amniotic fluid, especially on the side where the placenta is located. Premature rupture of the membranes, with loss of amniotic fluid, can lead to infection or even premature delivery of the baby.

The birth

  1. Birth or delivery starts when the uterus starts to contract through contractions, and the cervix (cervix) opens. The contractions during this period are characterized by a higher frequency (approximately every five minutes) and by a painful character.


  1. The placenta, umbilical cord and membranes are together called the afterbirth. After the birth of the child, these structures remain in the uterus. The umbilical cord is tied off immediately when the child is born. The uterus contracts forcefully, becomes much smaller, causing the placenta to separate from the wall. After a few dozen minutes, the afterbirth can also be born by gently pulling the umbilical cord. However, one must be aware of complications such as a part of the placenta remaining attached or a piece of placenta remaining.

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