Pregnancy is the condition in a female in which an embryo or fetus is developing in the uterus. Pregnancy begins at conception and ends at childbirth. In the normal case, pregnancy lasts for nine months during which the mother should gain approximately 25 pounds including the weight of the baby.
When pregnancy is first suspected, urine, blood, and home pregnancy testing can be done to confirm the condition. Amniocentesis can identify fetuses affected by serious genetic diseases and other conditions. In this procedure, the fluid which surrounds the fetus is withdrawn. Tests can then reveal chromosomal abnormalities, sex-linked diseases, congenital metabolic disorders and spinal cord defects. These may include Tay-sachs disease, Down's syndrome, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, Huntington's chorea, and cystic fibrosis.
When a woman is pregnant, she should get proper rest, exercise, and diet. Support hosiery may be worn to prevent or give relief from varicose veins. The woman should abstain from all medications (except those prescribed by a physician), alcohol or smoking as they may lead to miscarriage or congenital disorders. It is often recommended the woman attend a prenatal care program.
In most cases impregnation occurs during sexual intercourse when the ovum is fertilized by the male's sperm. This is known as conception. The fertilized egg, now called the zygote, then attaches to the uterine wall. Other techniques of fertilization are also possible, including in vitro fertilization, popularly known as test-tube fertilization producing test-tube babies.
According to the American Medical Association, pregnancy can occur even if the male partner withdraws before ejaculation, the woman douches herself properly after intercourse, the woman was experiencing menstruation or if the woman was breast-feeding.
Signs & Symptoms
Darkening of nipples
Morning sickness; this is experienced by 80% of pregnant women, occurring at any time of day or night; morning sickness may be triggered by innocuous odors or foods, or by altered hormonal levels, particularly human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)
Changed sleep patterns, including insomnia
Intuition (some women are sensitive to biofeedback but cannot define any particular reason for knowing that they are pregnant)
Loss of taste for sour and acidic foods
Increased urge to urinate
Feeling of pressure on the bladder
Slightly flushed color of vaginal lining
Development of brown spots or splotches on skin
Increased blood volume giving rise to hypertension
Breathing more from the chest, less from the abdomen
Increased acidity in the saliva
Softening of cervical tissue
Enlargement of the uterus
Presence of human chorionic gonadotropin in the blood or urine
Anemia due to Folic acid or iron deficiency
Structure & Function: Women's Health
Adult Chlorella* Choline* EPO* Fish oils* Folic acid 800 - 2,000 mcg Iron 20 - 40 mg Methionine* Phosphatidylserine* Vitamin B-Complex hi-potency Vitamin C 500 - 1,000 mg Vitamin E 200 - 400 IU Vitamin K* Zinc 10 - 20 mg
* Please refer to the respective topic for specific nutrient amounts.
Methionine may be used in two forms: Methionine and L-methionine.
Chlorella and phosphatidylserine have each been recommended to prevent premature rupture of the membrane.
Vitamins C and K only seem to exert a beneficial effect when combined.
Note: All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.
Dietary Goals Diet, a general healthful diet, is recommended during pregnancy. Care should be taken not to gain more than four pounds during the first three months. There is a minimal increase in caloric requirements during this period, yet women tend to eat more during this time in the belief they need to eat for two. During the second and third trimester of pregnancy, the mother-to-be should eat about 300 kilocalories per day above her prepregnancy basal requirements. A weight gain of one pound a week should be the goal during the remainder of pregnancy for a total gain of 20 to 30 pounds.
There is an increased need for ingestion of vitamins and minerals such as:
Calcium Riboflavin Iron Niacin Iodine (from iodized salt) Beta-carotene Folic acid Vitamin D Thiamine
These requirements are met by the prenatal multivitamins which most physicians prescribe.
Pregnant women are advised not to take vitamin A in the retinol form as these levels may cause abnormal development in the fetus. Natural food sources of beta carotene-rich foods are generally encouraged. Megadoses of vitamin C (greater than five grams per day) are also hazardous to the fetus. Its metabolism grows dependent on extreme levels of vitamin C, resulting in "rebound scurvy" when normal levels of the vitamin are provided after birth.
Women are advised to stop smoking and avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Smoking mothers give birth to smaller babies and are more likely to have a miscarriage or premature delivery.
Mothers who drink ethanol are more likely to have miscarriages, as well as give birth to children with microcephaly, cleft palate, or fetal alcohol syndrome. As no one knows how much alcohol, if any can be safely consumed during pregnancy; most physicians recommend total abstinence to be on the safe side.
Anemia can result from insufficient intake of iron. The mother-to-be has an increased requirement for iron, as much as five to six micrograms per day over the normal one microgram per day prepregnancy requirement.
Iron-rich foods can be consumed to increase the intake of dietary iron. The following foods are good sources of iron:
Beef liver Eggs Beef Dried fruit Whole wheat breads
The increased iron requirement cannot be supplied totally through the diet, however, as the average American diet provides only one to two micrograms per day. A physician will therefore prescribe daily iron supplementation at the onset of prenatal care. Since iron intake may cause nausea, the doctor may wait until the second trimester before prescribing iron for a women experiencing extreme morning sickness.
The total red blood cell volume of a pregnant women will increase 20-30% during the last two trimesters. Folacin is necessary for this multiplication to occur. The folacin acid requirement of a pregnant woman increases 100 units to 800 micrograms per day. It is possible to attain this level in a standard diet which provides about 700 micrograms per day, however 0.5 to 1 milligram supplements are usually prescribed.
Muscle cramps may be symptomatic of a calcium deficiency or a phosphorus to calcium ratio imbalance. The Recommended Daily Allowance for calcium for pregnant women is 1,200 milligrams per day, up 400 milligrams from the RDA for non-pregnant women. This can be achieved by drinking a quart or more of milk per day, or through taking mineral supplements.
Morning sickness can be alleviated by eating a high carbohydrate food, such as toast or saltine crackers. It may be helpful to place the food on the nightstand beside the bed before retiring to sleep to quell the nausea immediately upon awakening.
Some women find relief by avoiding greasy or spicy foods, by temporarily following a Bland Diet or by eating small, frequent meals.
Heartburns can be alleviated by eating small, frequent meals, because food soaks up the digestive juices. Antacids should be avoided as they interfere with the absorption of iron.
Advanced, by symptom:
1. Daily supplement for easy delivery, last 3 weeks of labor - Caulophyllum.
2. For rapid delivery, reduced trauma - Arnica montana tinct..
3. "False" irregular, short and weak labor pains - Caulophyllum thalictroides tinct..
4. "False" labor pains with weakness and trembling - Gelsemium sempervirens.
5. Can't bear the pain, irritable - Chamomilla tinct..
6. Can't go on alone - Pulsatilla nigricans.
7. Feels exhausted, needs fanning - Carbo vegetabilis.
8. Unbearable pain, weepiness - Coffea cruda.
9. Urgency to void - Nux vomica.
1. Poor milk flow - Pulsatilla nigricans.
2. Engorgement (blocked ducts) - Silicea tinct..
3. Mastitis - Belladonna tinct..
4. Sore nipples - Chamomilla tinct..
1. Heavy and full, not thirsty - Pulsatilla nigricans.
2. Persistent nausea, not relieved by vomiting - Ipecacuanha.
3. Feels empty, better for eating - Sepia.
4. Excessive retching and straining - Nux vomica.
5. Feels empty, can't keep cold drinks down, nausea on putting hands in warm water - Phosphorus ruber.
Doses cited are to be administered on a 3X daily schedule, unless otherwise indicated. Dose usually continued for 2 weeks. Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose. Solid preps are usually 3 pellets per dose. Children use 1/2 dose.
X = 1 to 10 dilution - weak (triturition)
C = 1 to 100 dilution - weak (potency)
M = 1 to 1 million dilution (very strong)
X or C underlined means it is most useful potency
Asterisk (*) = Primary remedy. Means most necessary remedy. There may be more than one remedy - if so, use all of them.
Boericke, D.E., 1988. Homeopathic Materia Medica.
Coulter, C.R., 1986. Portraits of Homeopathic Medicines.
Kent, J.T., 1989. Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica.
Koehler, G., 1989. Handbook of Homeopathy.
Shingale, J.N., 1992. Bedside Prescriber.
Smith, Trevor, 1989. Homeopathic Medicine.
Ullman, Dana, 1991. The One Minute (or so) Healer.
Calc. Phos. useful remedy: aids normal development, weakness, weariness of the mother (during and after pregnancy); Ferr. Phos. morning sickness, vomiting undigested food; Kali Phos. nervous strain; Nat. Mur. morning sickness, frothy, watery phlegm; Nat. Phos. morning sickness, sour mucus, acidosis; Nat. Sulf. vomiting, bilious matter, bitter taste;
Milk Thistle (Silymarin)
Red raspberry plant
Morning Sickness (Hoffmann)
False Unicorn Root
Threatened miscarriage (Hoffmann)
False Unicorn Root
Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.
Ginger is probably the best-known carminative (removing gas and relaxing the intestinal tract).
Milk Thistle supports the liver, which may be having difficulty detoxifying. However, a number of studies implicate psychological problems, like the relationships and the desirability of being pregnant.
Red raspberry plant provides a "sipping" tea. Its consumption can be increased as delivery approaches, in order to help the uterus contract more effectively.
From Native America, Blue cohosh and squaw vine are also useful in preparing for an easier birth.
Fulder, S & Tenne, M: Ginger as an anti-nausea remedy in pregnancy: the issue of safety. HerbalGram, 1996, 38:47-50.
Hoffmann, D: The New Holistic Herbal. Element, 1983. Third edition 1990.
Aromatherapy - Essential Oils
Jasmine Essence, Neroli Essence, Rose Essence, Sandalwood Essence.
Cardamom Essence, Coriander Essence, Ginger Essence, Peppermint Essence.
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