Pregnancy can cause your body to change in a lot of ways, especially if you decide to carry the pregnancy and give birth. Carrying a fetus until you give birth is called carrying it “to term.” Most pregnancies take around 9 months. Not everyone who gets pregnant chooses to give birth, but if you do, there’s lots to know about it! Even if you don’t want to give birth, it’s can still help to be informed about things that can affect your body.
If you’re pregnant, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a doctor. You can call InfoSanté at 8-1-1 to find a clinic near you. A doctor can give you more information about your options as well as help you take care of your health during pregnancy.
What happens to your body during pregnancy?
When someone becomes pregnant, it’s the result of sperm reaching and fertilizing an egg. The egg then develops in their uterus. One of the most recognizable signs of pregnancy is the “baby bump” – the way a person’s stomach grows when they’re pregnant. But there are other physical symptoms of pregnancy, too!
Pregnancies are usually broken up into three periods called “trimesters”. Each trimester marks a period of development for the fetus. This development can affect the pregnant person in a number of ways.
The first trimester is weeks 1 to 13 of pregnancy. During this time, someone who’s pregnant may notice their breasts getting larger or feeling sore. They stop having their period. They might also start feeling nauseous, especially in the morning. This is often called “morning sickness”, but it can also happen during the day or evening.
The second trimester is weeks 14 to 27 of pregnancy. During this time, nausea usually stops and is replaced with more energy. This is usually when a pregnancy becomes visible, and when the person who is pregnant starts to feel the fetus move.
The third trimester is weeks 28 to 40 of pregnancy. During this time, it’s common for a pregnant person to gain weight. They might also have difficulty sleeping. This is when the fetus starts to move into a position that’s ideal for childbirth.
Taking care of yourself while pregnant
Pregnancy can be a complicated time in a lot of peoples’ lives. Whether or not you’re carrying the fetus to term, it’s important to take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you care about for help if you need it. You can also give yourself permission to feel how you feel – whether that’s happy, confused, exhausted, sick, frustrated, or anything else.
Keeping a regular sleep schedule and eating nutritious meals can also help you feel better when you’re pregnant. If you might bring the pregnancy to term, it’s a good idea to take a vitamin that has folic acid in it every day. It helps to make sure your diet is complete and has everything you and the fetus need.
Potential health concerns for pregnancy
People who get pregnant can experience a wide range of side effects or complications. These can be relatively mild, like the occasional restless night, or they can be more serious. Common symptoms include:
These are usually nothing to worry about. If these symptoms feel severe, it can help to talk to a doctor about them. You can also talk to a pharmacist. They can prescribe or recommend medication that is safe to use during pregnancy and that can help you deal with the symptoms.
Pregnancy can mean a number of specific health risks or concerns. Some people can have conditions that only affect pregnant individuals, like gestational diabetes. Some people have health conditions before they get pregnant that can affect a pregnancy. Anemia, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and other STIs can all impact a pregnancy. However, the effects of these conditions can usually be managed, just like they can be managed if you’re not pregnant. It’s helpful to have consistent follow-ups with a doctor throughout your pregnancy.
Even if you aren’t carrying a pregnancy to term, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor about the effects a pregnancy could have on your health. You can experience some side-effects of pregnancy early on. It’s also important to have as much information as possible so you can make informed decisions! For example, you may need to choose between a medical or surgical abortion. In cases like this, it helps to understand what’s going on with your body.
What to avoid when you’re pregnant
A lot of the health advice around pregnancy is given to protect the fetus. If you are 100% certain that you will end the pregnancy, you might feel like these recommendations aren’t relevant to you. If you’re not sure about whether or not you will continue the pregnancy, it can be good to keep those in mind to be on the safe side! Doctors recommend that people who want to carry a pregnancy to term avoid:
- Alcohol. If you’re carrying the pregnancy to term, alcohol can cause a number of health issues for the fetus once it’s born. This is usually referred to as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD.
- Raw fish, shellfish, and deli meats. They can contain bacteria that could make you or the fetus sick.
- Some drugs and medication. You can check with a pharmacist or a doctor to see what is safe during pregnancy and what’s not.
You may also want to avoid certain strenuous physical activity. Lots of doctors will caution people against moving heavy objects, like furniture, when they’re pregnant. Doctors also recommending avoiding hot tubs and saunas. Activities like this can put you at risk for miscarriage or giving birth early.
From Tiny Tot to Toddler – Official Quebec Health Guide
This guide offers up-to-date info on pregnancy, delivery, and caring for a baby.
All about Pregnancy – Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood website that talks about how pregnancy happens, what to do if you think you are pregnant (how to take a test), and emergency contraception.
*Please note that in Quebec we have different laws about accessing emergency contraception without a prescription from what is on this website*
- I think I might be pregnant – What should I do?
Ectopic Pregnancy – Mayo Clinic
This in-depth article looks at what an ectopic pregnancy is, what causes it, how it’s treated, and how to reduce your risk.
Misconception Mayhem: Separating Pregnancy and Pregnancy Risk Myths from Facts – Scarleteen
Sex myths, including anal sex, pregnancy, sperm count, ejaculation, etc.
“You can have a healthy pregnancy if you’re positive” – CATIE
More information on having a baby if you are HIV positive.