SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PREGNANCY
The individual involved is usually the first person to suspect pregnancy. (symptoms of pregnancy and pregnancy stages).....Her suspicion is often based on the fact that she has missed her period. The amenorrhoea occurs because following the implantation of the fertilized ovum, the increased secretion of oestrogen and progesterone by the ovary converts the endometrium into the decidua of pregnancy, menstruation ceases. The individual may also notice some discomfort and fullness of the breasts.
The above signs and symptoms are the only ones the individual often exhibits during the first four weeks of pregnancy. The other signs and symptoms occur at different stages of pregnancy as shown below:
- Morning sickness or nausea may be experienced by the individual; (signs and symptoms of pregnancy)
- Frequent micturition occurs because the bladder cannot fill properly due to the pressure of the growing uterus;
- The breasts continue to enlarge, the nipples become more prominent and of a darker colour; the areola in a primigravida also becomes darker.
8 -12 weeks:
- Morning sickness may abate;
- The uterus rises to the top of the symphysis pubis;
- The blue discoloration of the vulva, vagina and cervix is marked;
- Increased pulsation is felt in the lateral vagina fornices due to the increased vascularity of the pelvic organs;
- Softening of the cervix occurs from about the 10th week. (symptoms of pregnancy and pregnancy stages)
- The morning sickness ceases;
- The pressure on the bladder is relieved because the uterus has risen out of the pelvis to become an abdominal organ;
- The uterus is midway between the symphysis pubis and the umbilicus;
- Internal ballottement may be elicited
- The foetal movements (quickening) are felt by the mother about the 18th to 20th week of pregnancy;
- The breast changes are more pronounced; secretion is present in the breasts. A secondary areola may appear in some mothers. It is a mottled pigmentation surrounding the primary areola and may extend to cover half the skin of the breasts. Montgomery tubercles are prominent;
- During this period, painless uterine contractions become palpable. These are known as Braxton Hicks' contractions.
- External ballottement of the foetus is possible because at this stage, the foetus is moving freely in the liquor amnii;
- Uterine souffle is a soft blowing sound heard on auscultation. It is synchronous with and therefore has the same rate as, the maternal pulse. (symptoms of pregnancy and pregnancy stages)
20 -24 weeks:
- The fundus uteri is at the level of umbilicus;
- Foetal heart sounds may be heard;
- Foetal parts and movements are felt on palpation.
24 -28 weeks:
- The signs are the same a discussed above; the foetus becomes easily ballotable
30 -36 weeks:
- The fundal height continues to grow, rising from midway between the umbilicus and the sternum at 30th week , to the costal margin of the ribs at the 32nd week; (symptoms of pregnancy and pregnancy stages)
36 -40 weeks:
- At the 36th to 38th week, fundus uteri reaches the Xiphisternum. It remains at this level till foetal head engages at the pelvic brim. The fundus may descend slightly following the engagement of the head and the relief of pressure the mother experiences is called "lightening". However, the head may not enter the brim until the onset of labour and this is particularly common in the multigravida. With "lightening", the mother breathes with more comfort but the descent of the head may cause pressure on the bladder resulting in frequency of micturition. (symptoms of pregnancy and pregnancy stages)