The average human pregnancy - from the time the egg is fertilized to the moment of delivery - lasts about 280 days. While the most obvious changes are physical, pregnancy impacts every aspect of a woman's life.
For most women, the clearest sign of pregnancy is a missed menstrual period. Many women will have symptoms earlier, such as nausea, fatigue, or swollen and tender breasts, but these can have many other causes and are not in themselves a reliable indicator of pregnancy. Even a missed period can have other causes. If you suspect you're pregnant, call your doctor and have a urine or blood test done so you can begin taking the best care of your baby as soon as possible.
The changes in your body can be surprising. Everyone knows that your tummy grows dramatically, but who would suspect that pregnancy could lead to acne, a constant stuffed nose, or nine months of bad hair days? Pregnancy impacts every system in your body and has far-reaching emotional implications as well. Mood swings and depression are common. If you feel like you're living on an emotional roller coaster, you're not alone - but if your mood swings are severe or your pre-baby blues are too deep for your comfort level, talk about it with your medical practitioner.
The good news is that recent studies have shown that pregnancy tends to enhance women's perception, efficiency, resiliency, motivation, and emotional intelligence. Pregnancy can also lead to better physical health. Women who have borne children have lower rates of certain cancers (breast, endometrial, and ovarian). Pregnancy can be the first step to recovery from endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and polycystic ovaries. And being a mom can give women new motivation to make healthier, safer choices in areas from nutrition to smoking to driving habits.
But the changes going on in your body and emotions are nothing compared to those going on with your baby. In just 280 short days, she grows from a fertilized egg to a fully functioning human being. Her journey is accompanied by periods of rapid cell division and differentiation. Growth happens at an almost unbelievable rate. It takes only a couple of months for your baby to have the beginnings of a brain and liver, only 50 days for her embryonic heart to start beating. The weeks of pregnancy sometimes feel never-ending, but each one brings new developments for you and your baby.
What is a Pregnancy Diary
When you first find out that you’re pregnant it’s a good idea to keep a pregnancy diary with information about doctors, medications, dates of progress, and milestones. Also, keep track of how you’re feeling or anything that seems out of the ordinary. These are some things that you could include in your pregnancy diary:
- Doctor’s information (name, address, phone number, email address)
- Hospital’s information (address, phone number)
- Medications (medications taken, dose, date started, date ended)
- Vitals (first day of last menstrual period, date of first positive pregnancy test result at home, pre-pregnancy weight, date of first prenatal check-up, symptoms of pregnancy, questions for doctor)
- Childbirth Education (educator, address of classes, telephone, email, first class date, last class date)
- First Signs (first heard baby’s heartbeat, first felt baby move)
- Special Tests (procedure, findings)
- For Each Prenatal Visit (date, weeks along, weight, blood pressure, uterus height, questions/comments)
- Labor and Delivery (due date, when labor began, date baby was born, time of delivery, baby’s weight, baby’s length, hospital where baby was born)
- Postpartum Visits (date, weight, blood pressure, comments/questions)
A Guide to Pregnancy Forums
Pregnancy forums can help any mom-to-be through this exciting and life-changing time. They offer an outlet for pregnant women to vent their frustrations, concerns and questions. Pregnancy forums can offer information from other moms-to-be or new moms so that other moms-to-be know that people who have had the experience are answering their questions. Joining and participating in pregnancy forums can be fun and easy as long as you follow these simple steps.
What is a forum?
A forum is a type of message board on the Internet where people make themselves available for dialog. You can post messages and reply to other people's messages. You may even find someone who lives in your area, in which case you may be able to meet with them face-to-face. It is a place where people who share similar interests can have a place to communicate with one another. A forum can even serve as a type of support group.
How to Find the Right Forum for You
The best way to start looking for a pregnancy forum is to search the Internet. Choose a search engine and type in the phrase "pregnancy forum." You can search the results and then decide which site holds your interest the most. There are some pregnancy forums that deal with all different topics in pregnancy, such as tips during your pregnancy, pregnancy complications, and how to make a birth plan. If you feel like making your own topic, many forums have a place for that also.
How to Join a Forum
Usually in order to join a forum you must have an e-mail address. This is so the site can confirm your registration and send you messages. Your e-mail address may even help the site contact you if another person in the forum has sent you a message. You will be asked to create a user name which is a nickname that you will use when you sign in to the forum. People will identify and contact you by this user name. You will create a password, just like you would for your e-mail, so that no one else can sign on under your user name. Some forums will ask you for information to help match you with people who have similar interests or concerns. Some forums will post this for others on the forum to see. The information will be connected only with your user name unless you choose to have your real name displayed with it.
Each forum has its own rules, but general forum etiquette is simple. Do not use abusive or profane language. Pregnancy forums are not a place to tell people what they are doing wrong or why you think a choice they made is wrong. For example, if there is a topic on the forum site about women who have chosen not to breastfeed, this is not a place to post a message telling them your opinions about why they should never use formula or a bottle - and vice versa. Forums are also not a place for advertising. You can post any kind of messages you want referring to the topic you choose, but if you do not follow the rules your privileges may be revoked by the site owner(s).
There are many advantages to joining a pregnancy forum. First of all, it is nice to have other people to talk to who are in the same situation as you. Perhaps you are going to be a single parent and you find a forum for other single parents. This forum may offer you advice that you couldn't get somewhere else. Second, it may be a place for you to get your questions answered. Perhaps your doctor is talking about performing tests and you would rather talk to someone who has had them before. A pregnancy forum would be a great place for you to ask that question. In addition, there is a possibility that you could find other mothers-to-be in your area and maybe you will form your own support group. You might even make such good friends that you form a play group once your babies are born. Some forums even offer health care providers' advice.
Unless you happen to join a forum where people begin harassing you or sending you unsolicited e-mail, there probably aren't any disadvantages to joining a forum. Remember that if any of the above does happen to report it immediately to the site owner(s).
Now that you have adequate information about pregnancy forums, go ahead and decide if it is right for you.
Is That Really True?
There are a lot of myths surrounding pregnancy, some of them potentially more believable that others.
The Heartburn Myth: If you get lots of headaches during your pregnancy your baby will have lots of hair when s/he is born. False.
The Umbilical Cord Myth: If you move too much or lift your hands too high in the air the baby will choke or get tangled in the umbilical cord. False.
The Curse Myth: People that deny you a food you crave will get a sty in their eye. False, although maybe some of you may wish that were true...
The Heart Rate Myth: If the baby’s heart rate is slow, it is a boy, if it is fast, it is a girl. False.
The Ugly Stick Myth: If you see something ugly or horrible, the baby will be ugly. Definitely false.
The Java Myth: If you drink too much coffee or had unfulfilled cravings, the baby will be born with light brown birthmarks. False.
The Spicy Food Myth: If you eat really spicy food, it will induce labor. False.
The Great Sex Myth: Great sex will bring on labor. False.
The Round Face Myth: If you gain weight in your cheeks, you’ll have a girl. If you gain weight in your bottom, you’ll have a boy. False.
The Full Moon Myth: More women go into labor during the full moon. False.
The Belly Shape Myth: If your belly is round, it’s a girl. If it’s more bullet shaped, it’s a boy. False.
The Ultrasound Tells All Myth: The ultrasound can always tell the baby’s sex. False.
Just as with any other important decision in your life, you need to do some research and make a plan. When you are planning an adoption, you must consider your baby first, but also the desires that you have for this adoption.
Here are some topics to think about, which may help you make an informed decision about adoption. Talking these things over with someone you trust may be helpful, too. A supportive relative or friend, or an adoption counselor or attorney may help you think these things through while you are making your adoption plan.
Years ago almost all adoptions were conducted in secrecy with no contact between the birth parents and the adoptive parents. These are known as a closed adoption. Today, however, most birth parents meet the couple who will adopt their baby, and make arrangements for some type of ongoing contact over the years.
Semi-open adoptions involve agencies or other intermediaries who may pass correspondence between the two parties before or after the adoption, but they will not give out any contact information to either party. If you prefer not to correspond with the adoptive parents, that choice is yours.
Open adoption offers a wide variety of contact choices, but the basic understanding is that there is open communication between the birth parents and the adoptive parents, both before and after the birth. Open adoption can include the exchange of letters and photos; face-to-face, first-names-only meetings; sharing full-identifying information; and having access on an ongoing basis. The type of communication or contact, the frequency of communication, and any adjustments are worked out between the birth parents and the adoptive parents,often with the help of an intermediary, such as an adoption social worker, attorney, or adoption counselor. Be aware that choosing an open adoption does not mean that you are co-parenting the child. The adoptive parents will be your baby's legal parents and guardians.
Today, birth parents can select the parents they wants to raise her children. Often agencies and attorneys will show birth parents a selection of profiles and photos of couples.Online profiles of couples hoping to adopt, like Parent Profiles,offer introductions and photos, allowing parents or expectant parents who are making an adoption plan the opportunity to read these introductions, study their profiles and pictures, and then initiate contact by e-mail or telephone.
Adoption bestows on the adoptive parent(s) all the rights and responsibilities of a legal parent and gives the child being adopted all the social, emotional, and legal rights and responsibilities of a family member. Sometimes, court language will include the words "as if born to" to describe the new parent-child relationship. Before parental rights are assumed by adoptive parents, the court determines that biological parents have, legally and with full understanding, either voluntarily relinquished their parental rights, or that those rights have been terminated by the court. Depending on the circumstances and state laws, these two actions - the severing of biological parents' rights and the bestowing of parental rights on the adoptive parents - may be done at the same time, at finalization.
During the court finalization hearing, the judge reviews information about the child, the biological parent(s), and the adopting parent(s). This information can include:
- Homestudy and/or other evaluation of the adopting parent(s) and their suitability for the child
- Reports of pre-adoption counseling and education for both placing and adopting parents
- Case workers' notes and recommendations
- Other reports.
Those who appear at the finalization hearing (either separately or together), in addition to the Judge, may include, but are not limited to:
- Adopting parent(s)
- Their attorney
- Placing parent(s)
- Their attorney
- The child/ren
- The child's legal advocate and/or case worker
- Adoptive parents' case worker
- Placing parents' case worker
The Judge reviews all supporting information about the adopting and placing families, and may ask questions of all parties, including the child/ren if they are able to communicate their feelings and wishes. The Judge will then approve or disapprove the petition to adopt.
In most U.S. jurisdictions, at the time the adoption is finalized, the child's name is legally changed, and the court orders the issuance of a new, amended birth certificate for the adopted child. This amended birth certificate:
- replaces the name(s) of the biological parent(s) with the names of the adoptive parent(s), and
- replaces the child's birth name with his/her new name.
For international adoptions, U.S. federal and state laws must be observed, as well as the laws and regulations of each country. Depending on the country and the immigrant visa issued for the child, a finalization process may need to be completed in the adoptive parents' home state.
Back to Pregnancy
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Your Pregnancy and Birth.” Meredith Books. 2005. Stone, Joanne; Eddleman, Keith; Duenwald, Mary. “Pregnancy for Dummies.” Wiley Publishing. 2004.