If you’re anything like me, pregnancy is 40 weeks (more or less) of excitement, anticipation, and joy, but also stress, anxiety, and constant concern. Like many expecting-parents, I loved the ability to listen to my baby's heartbeat, or my doctor's reassuring voice, during prenatal appointments. Those visits were few and far between, though. I'd constantly be asking myself, "Is my pregnancy is going well?" especially on the days, and weeks, when visiting my OB-GYN wasn't an option. The good news is that while pregnancy is uncertain, and it's natural to worry, there are ways to check your progress.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), monitoring your pregnancy is the main reason for all of the prenatal tests and exams recommended throughout your pregnancy. What to Expect adds that some pregnant people decide to do genetic screenings and tests — including non-invasive prenatal testing like blood tests and a special ultrasound called a nuchal translucency screening — and further diagnostic tests — like chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis —to obtain as much information about the fetus as possible.
For some moms-to-be, the time between appointments, or even before that first appointment, can be nerve-wracking. The American Pregnancy Association (AAP) notes that early pregnancy symptoms — like morning sickness, sore breasts, exhaustion, and having to pee all damn day — can actually be good signs that your pregnancy is progressing as it should. Later in pregnancy, public health organization Count the Kicks recommends paying attention to the rhythm of your baby's kicks and movements during your third trimester, by tracking how often your baby kicks and letting your doctor know about any changes.
No matter how far along you are in your pregnancy, it's pretty typical to worry. Fortunately, however, if you know where to look you can gain some reassurance by paying attention to the following signs:
According to the APA, fatigue during the first trimester is normal and a early sign of pregnancy for many women. This "special" kind of exhaustion is caused by hormone, blood sugar, and blood pressure changes. As your pregnancy progresses, the APA notes that you might get some relief in the second trimester, as hormone levels stabilize, only to feel exhausted again in your third trimester. Because each person and pregnancy is different, though, there's not one version of "normal" that everyone experiences, so feeling a little — or a lot — of fatigue might let you know that your pregnancy is going well.
Your Screening Tests Are Normal
One amazing thing about being pregnant today versus even a decade ago, is that your doctor and/or midwife have access to a variety of early screenings. That's why, according to ACOG, it's so important to get recommended screening tests for things like gestational diabetes, sexually transmitted infections, chromosomal disorders, and pre-eclampsia. While pregnancy screenings are designed to assess risk and not diagnose conditions, they can give you some peace of mind about your pregnancy, and give your provider more information about how to help you and your baby stay healthy until delivery and beyond.
You Feel Hungover
According to the APA, morning sickness can be a good sign of a healthy pregnancy and that your baby's placenta is developing normally. As the Mayo Clinic reports, one study showed that morning sickness is associated with a reduced incidence of miscarriage. For some pregnant people, nausea is a sign that their pregnancy hormones are on a normal, upward climb. Moms-to-be without morning sickness should not necessarily worry, though, as the same site notes that some people's don't have as strong a reaction to changes in hormone levels, and consequently they may not spend their first trimester hugging a toilet or avoiding strong smells.
Your Boobs Hurt
According to What to Expect, breast pain is normal during early pregnancy. Other growth and other physical changes are expected, too. For example, your areolas getting darker, and your veins looking more prominent, are both signs that your body is getting ready to have a baby.
Any Diagnostic Tests You Receive Are Normal
According to What to Expect, your doctor or midwife might recommend genetic testing, like an amniocentisis or CVS, based on your medical history, pregnancy, and the results of any screening tests you've had. While the site notes that these tests are more invasive and risky than blood testing, because they collect samples of your baby's DNA, they can be 100 percent accurate when it comes to diagnosing some genetic and chromosomal conditions.
You Are Growing On Track
According to the APA, starting in the second trimester of pregnancy your provider will measure your fundal height, or the size of your uterus from bottom to top, during each prenatal appointment. This measurement surprisingly corresponds to how many weeks you are in centimeters, so it can be an important sign that your baby is growing on track, and is able to safely hang out in your uterus.
Your Baby Moves To Their Own Beat
According to the public health organization Count the Kicks, in your third trimester your baby will start moving to their own rhythm. The organization recommends taking note of your baby's version of normal and reporting any changes in their movement to your doctor or midwife right away. It not only can give you reassurance that your baby is doing well, but it can help identify problems with your pregnancy (and even save your baby's life).
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