safe motherhood

Finding out you are pregnant

Some women seem to conceive almost without effort. For others, it may be the end of a long and frustrating struggle. However, when it happens, it can be hard at first to believe that you really are pregnant. You may be feeling a whole mixture of emotions - excitement, fear, delight, anxiety, pride or perhaps just 'so what?'

During the next 40 weeks, your body is going to go through the most extraordinary changes as your baby grows inside you. Nine months probably seems a very long way away. This is good, because it gives you a generous amount of time to get adjusted to the idea of becoming a mother.

It's in these first few weeks that your baby's body and all his or her organs are formed. Growth is miraculous and speedy. The brain, spinal cord, vital organs and circulation develop in a matter of a few weeks (see: How your baby grows week by week). No wonder you're feeling tired. From single fertilised cell to fully formed fetus takes less than 12 weeks.

After that your baby just needs to grow and mature in the warmth and security of your body.

Points to remember:

• If you're not already taking folic acid tablets, research shows you would be wise to start now (see: Looking after yourself/what to eat).
• Try to stop smoking. If you really can't stop, it's worth cutting down.
• During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, most women prefer to stop drinking alcohol completely. (See: Looking after yourself/alcohol, smoking and drugs for research that's been done in this area).
• Avoid over-the-counter medications if you can, and both conventional and complementary remedies. If you are having any kind of medical treatment, tell your doctor or therapist that you are expecting a baby. (See: Looking after yourself/medicines/vaccinations).
• If you practise any strenuous sports too, think about stopping for a while. You may prefer to take things easy for the first 12 weeks.

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