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Pregnancy, Labor & The Newborn Baby

Araceli Medrano, HDFS 301 So you just found out you're pregnant. Congratulations! In the next 9 months your body will undergo amazing transformations and you'll soon be face-to-face with your wonderful newborn baby. Below is a short description of pregnancy, labor & your newborn baby.

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Conception

A sperm and egg have come together to create a beautiful little zygote. One of the first signs of early pregnancy is a missed period. A home pregnancy test can show a positive result as early as six days before your next missed period. By the time those two little pink (or blue) lines have appeared, your zygote has developed into an embryo, complete with a primitive brain, spinal cord, and tiny tail (Berk, 97).

Embryo: Week 3-8

The Embryonic period is an exciting one. During the next month and a half your little embryo will form its heart and other internal organs, as well as facial features and even teeth! Of course, the teeth will remain hidden until your infant is around 6months old. By the end of the embryo period baby will be about an inch long and moving around, though it's too soon to feel him yet (Berk, 99). This period is less fun for mom as this is usually when morning sickness is strongest during pregnancy.

Fetus: Week 9-12 (End of First Trimester)

Pictured above is my daughter Virginia at 12 weeks. She is about 3 inches in length and weighs less than an ounce. At week 12, she is in the Fetus stage of development and ready to move on to the second trimester! She can kick, suck on her thumb, and open her mouth in protest during this sonogram. By this age, her genitals have formed though it's too soon to be correctly identified through an ultrasound (Berk, 97).

Fetus: Week 13-24

By the second trimester, you've probably developed a baby bump which will just keep getting bigger. Baby is kicking and stretching and you will first feel this sometime during week 13-24. Baby is covered in vernix and lanugo, which will be present at birth, to keep its skin from chafing. At 20 weeks, baby can be stimulated by sounds (speak often even if it sounds silly) and by shining a light on your belly. By the end of the second semester, baby can even open her eyes inside the womb! (Berk, 101).

Fetus: Week 25-38

Baby is now viable outside the womb, though she is far from being fully formed and functional on her own. At the beginning of the third trimester she weighs less than 2lbs. and her lungs are too immature to work on their own. Between 22-26 week of pregnancy the fetus has a chance of survival though they will be spending time in the NICU for awhile. Between the 30th and 34th weeks baby will develop a sleeping pattern, though she probably won't be sleeping through the night anytime soon upon arrival. By the end of the third trimester baby is between 19-22inches and 5-9lbs. at birth (Berk, 100-101).

Birth! Labor, part I

You've made it through 9 months of pregnancy and are finally ready to meet baby. During the next few hours you will go through three stages of childbirth. The first is Dilation and Effacement of the Cervix, which is about 12-14 hours long. In Virginia's case, it was 8 hours. Leading up to the first stage of labor are Braxton Hicks contractions (false signs of labor), lightening (head dropping low into the cervix), bloody show (ejection of the mucus plug), and water breaking. Contractions begin 10-20 minutes apart and cause dilation and effacement of the cervix. The cervix will need to be about 10cm dilated before you can push baby out, so this might take awhile (Berk, 126-127).

Birth! Labor, part II

Most women in the U.S (about 99%) deliver at a hospital and have an OBGYN or midwife present for stage 2 of childbirth: delivery of the baby. Once the cervix has dilated enough, contractions will come on quicker and stronger than before and you're now ready to push baby out! You can opt for an epidural during the first stage of labor in order to lessen the pain here, or you can choose to have a natural (med-free) childbirth. Either way this stage will last about 50 minutes for a first-time mom before the baby's head crowns. The doctor will use an APGAR score to assess baby immediately after birth to determine whether they need medical attention (Berk, 127).

Birth! Part III: It's Not Over Yet

You are now finally holding your newborn baby and marveling at their chubby hands and tiny hands. You might think the previous 9 months are behind you now that you've given birth, but the worst is probably yet to come. If you had an episiotomy, tear or laceration during labor you're being stitched up at this moment and, well...peeing won't be fun for the next few weeks. You're now ready to deliver the placenta, the final stage of labor and delivery. This is probably the grossest part of labor and delivery, but keep in mind that the placenta provided food and oxygen for your baby in utero (Berk, 98, 128).

Newborn Basics

Baby is born with rooting and sucking reflexes and can begin breastfeeding immediately after birth. Baby will intermittently eat and sleep for 16-18 hours a day during the first few months of life. Baby's first poop will be a black stool called meconium which resembles tar; this is perfectly normal. Baby will go through about 8-12 diapers a day, so consider buying in bulk or using cloth diapers to save money. Pictured above is Virginia at 3 days old with a visible umbilical cord. This will fall off on it's own within a month (Berk, 144).

First Year

By the end of baby's first year, she will have met many milestones. She is now 50% taller than she was at birth and weighs more than twice as much. She can grasp objects, sit, stand (pictured), eat solid foods, and create a secure attachment with her mother. She might cry if you leave the room, but she's also going through less diapers and entertaining herself thanks to all her new motor skills. By her first birthday she might be walking or saying her first word, though infants can develop these skills between 9-17 months of age (Berk, 184).

Additional Resources

Get informed during your pregnancy! The more knowledge you have about pregnancy and the newborn, the healthier and happier you will both be! Here are links to some helpful pregnancy websites. TheBump.com will let you know how big is baby and send you weekly updates. What to Expect is also a great book and website which helps you track of changes in your body and baby's. Finally, there is the Pregnancy Center on WebMD with information on how to conceive and symptoms at every stage throughout your pregnancy.

http://www.thebump.com

http://www.whattoexpect.com/what-to-expect/landing-page.aspx

http://www.webmd.com/baby

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