Introduction to Pregnancy

This category aims to help women feel less overwhelmed regarding early pregnancy information, while still providing all necessary detail to feel more confident regarding the health of their pregnancy right from the start.

Women should take their time, read what they are interested in, learn more about their bodies during this process, and make sure to keep track of anything they wish to ask their health care provider at their next appointment (or even before).

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The Latest
This pages serves to highlight the latest objective research, news, and professional guidance and recommendations regarding pregnancy-related health.
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Early Development

Vitamin B9 (Folate/Folic Acid)
Supplementation of folic acid is recommended (even before pregnancy) for the prevention of neural tube defects. Folic acid may also play a role in successful implantation and placental development.
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Fertilization and Implantation
Fertilization, or conception, occurs within 12 to 24 hours after ovulation; the blastocyst implants around 6 to 7 days later. Another 24 to 48 hours for HCG to circulate in the blood, and a pregnancy test will become positive.
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Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)
HCG levels are important in determining the health of the fetus in early pregnancy. Higher or lower than expected levels at certain points during pregnancy can be associated with certain complications.
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Hormones
Hormones affect almost every aspect of pregnancy, from ensuring its success, to causing a limitless number of symptoms, and from initiating labor and delivery to eventually producing colostrum and breast milk.
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Earliest Symptoms and Changes

Earliest Signs and Symptoms
Pregnancy (at implantation) causes a rapid release of reproductive hormones. These hormones tell the body what to do and how to change. This results in a wide range of possible early signs and symptoms.
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"Morning Sickness" Introduction
Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy (NVP) or "morning sickness”, is the most common complication during pregnancy. It is recommended women learn as much as possible about NVP prior to becoming pregnant or immediately after learning they are pregnant.
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Cardiovascular System
The cardiovascular system is the first major organ system to change during pregnancy and is one of the most important in ensuring the success of the health of both mother and baby.
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Fatigue and Exhaustion
Fatigue is a real and potentially debilitating symptom of pregnancy that has true physiological causes, starting very early in the first trimester.  It is important that women understand how to manage and combat it.
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Bleeding (Vaginal)
Vaginal bleeding is very common in pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. However, bleeding does not always indicate a serious problem and does not always lead to pregnancy loss.
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Medical Care

Types of Health Care Providers
Women may encounter many different types of health care providers during the course of their pregnancy. Women should familiarize themselves with the different types so they can be more comfortable with their health team.
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Appointments
Prenatal care involves all aspects of monitoring and improving the health of both mother and baby during pregnancy, and is critical to ensuring a positive pregnancy outcome.
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Due Date and Gestation
Current evidence-based information indicates women should focus more on a delivery range that equates to 14 days on either side of their given due date, or 28 days in total, in which almost all women are expected to deliver.
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Ultrasound
Ultrasounds are commonly used in obstetrics. Most women will receive two to three of these examinations during their pregnancy, sometimes more if monitoring is required. 
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Screening Tests
Various screening tests are recommended during the first and second trimesters that normally include ultrasound examinations and lab/blood work. These tests, taken together, can evaluate a fetus’ risk for one or more birth defects.
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Support Resources
Women should call their HCP anytime they have questions regarding any aspect of their physical, social, emotional, and mental health during pregnancy.
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Fear of Pregnancy and Childbirth
Women who are experiencing an intense fear of pregnancy or childbirth need to find a health care provider they are comfortable with so they can express their questions, fears, and concerns in a safe and nonjudgmental place.
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Fear of Needles
Women with a moderate to severe level of needle fear need to find a health care provider who understands, appreciates, and empathizes with their concerns.
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Research and Pregnancy
It is important for women to understand how research is conducted in the field of obstetrics which can help explain why answers are sometimes hard to find and interpret.
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Risks and Benefits
For many women, pregnancy will be a routine exercise in risks and benefits analysis – making mostly minor (and some major) decisions throughout their day that could potentially positively or negatively affect their pregnancy.
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