HOW DOES PREGNANCY BEGIN?
Pregnancy begins with conception- this means a man’s sperm joining with a woman’s egg inside her uterus. Within a week, the conceptus (egg and sperm fused together) moves to the wall of the uterus and implants. When the conceptus has implanted, it begins to release a hormone that is detected by a pregnancy test and so if the woman does a test after this time, it will be positive. The conceptus goes through rapid cell division to grow all the body parts of a foetus (baby still in the womb).
The placenta acts to:
· supply oxygen to the baby
· remove harmful carbon dioxide from the baby
· supply nutrients to the baby
· supply immunoglobulins (immune cells) to the baby which help it to fight infection when it is born
HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?
When doctors work out when a baby will be born (estimated due date or EDD) they add 40 weeks to the date of conception. 40 weeks is around 9 months.
HOW DOES A PREGNANT WOMAN’S BODY CHANGE?
When a woman becomes pregnant, her body changes to help the baby survive; whatever the baby needs, the woman’s body will change to supply it.
Inside the body: the baby needs blood – the mother’s blood vessels stretch and more blood is made. The baby needs nutrition and oxygen so the mother will breathe faster, store less of the food she eats and take up more minerals for the baby. The baby produces waste so the mother’s liver and kidneys must work harder to get rid of it. All of these changes happen unconsciously, the mother does not have control over any of it, and this can lead to feeling extremely tired, especially in the later stages of pregnancy!
Outside the body: stretch marks, weight gain, anxiety, mood swings, nausea and sickness! But these are different with every woman, and often different one pregnancy to the next too.
WHAT IS AN ABORTION?
Abortion is termination of pregnancy. Abortion can be carried out by taking a pill if the foetus is less than 9 weeks old, by suctioning the foetus out (manual vacuum aspiration) when it is less than 15 weeks old, or by a D&E (dilation and evacuation) if the foetus is between 15 and 24 weeks old which is a surgical procedure. More information can be found on the website Education For Choice.
HOW CAN SOMEONE GET AN ABORTION?
You need to see your GP, a sexual health clinic or family planning clinic in order to be referred for an abortion.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END OF PREGNANCY?
Labour and birth! If people decide to continue to the end of their pregnancy they will have lots of support from doctors and midwives who can advise on what to eat, what not to do and how to have an uncomplicated pregnancy and a healthy baby.