The most favorable time to have a baby is when you are between 18 and 35 years old. Your body has completed its own growth and with proper dietary habits is well prepared to nurture a developing baby.
Whatever your age, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as you think you might be pregnant.
Signs of Pregnancy
The most common first sign of pregnancy is a missed menstrual period, although you may miss a period because of illness, stress, or a change in your lifestyle. Other signs that you may be pregnant include sore or tender breasts, nausea and vomiting, frequent urination, and fatigue.
You may have any or all of these signs or none of them. Every woman’s body is unique and so is every pregnancy. That’s why it’s important for you to see a doctor or nurse-midwife, or go to a clinic as soon as you suspect you might be pregnant.
The sooner you know you are pregnant, the sooner you can begin proper prenatal care. Therefore, it is important to have a pregnancy test as soon as possible after you miss your first period or as soon as you think you might be pregnant. Some tests can be done as early as a few days after a single missed period. These tests are made on a sample of your urine. They are usually performed in a laboratory by technicians.
You can also buy do-it-yourself pregnancy testing kits in the drug store. These tests are also done on a urine sample. It is a good idea to see your doctor whatever the result of the do-it-yourself test. Another test done in the laboratory can double check your result and, if you are not pregnant, help the doctor find out why you missed a period.
The discovery that you are pregnant is bound to produce mixed emotions in both you and the baby’s father. You may be excited, happy, worried and concerned all at the same time. The father may feel proud or very uncertain. Everyone is different and everyone reacts differently.
Whatever your initial reaction, your feelings will change, perhaps many times, during the course of your pregnancy. This is normal. It doesn’t matter whether this pregnancy is your first pregnancy, whether it is unplanned, whether one partner is not as happy as the other, or whether both of you are happy about the coming baby.
During the first 3 months of pregnancy, both your body and your emotions go through many changes. You will be happy one day and cry the next. Some days you may be very irritable, and some days very calm. As your body adjusts to the pregnancy, your temperament will return to normal. However, during the last weeks of pregnancy, you may feel uncomfortable, unattractive, a little nervous, and you may have trouble sleeping. Some days you may feel weepy and grouchy, while on others you’ll be happy and excited. Don’t worry about it. All women go through these changes in feelings.
A Note to Fathers
It is quite normal for the father-to-be to experience mood changes during the pregnancy. At times you may feel helpless and left out, worried about her pregnancy, and concerned about your own new responsibilities. The more you can learn about pregnancy and how she feels, the easier it will be for both of you. Your support is extremely important during her pregnancy.
Talk to men who are already fathers and learn how you can help your partner. Go with her to the doctor or clinic and ask any questions you may have. Attending childbirth classes will help you get rid of much of the anxiety that comes from not knowing what to expect. Discuss how you feel about being with her in the delivery room and being her coach during labor.
You can help your partner with her exercises and breathing, remind her that smoking or drinking is not healthy, express your love, and assure her that she looks pretty to you. This pregnancy can help the two of you become closer than ever and make you a real partner in bringing your child into the world.
Brothers and Sisters
Children react in different ways when they find out that a new baby is coming into their home. It is very important, therefore, to talk to them about the baby and make them feel special and included. Let them help get the baby’s room ready and encourage them to learn, what a big brother or sister can do.
Younger children particularly need to be prepared for their mother’s absence and to know who will care for them. Your library has books to help even very young children understand as much as possible about what is going on.
Problems That Won’t Go Away
If you or the baby’s father are feeling low or anxious and cannot deal with your problems, you may want to talk to someone outside the family. Most clinics have social workers or other specially trained counselors to help you cope with problems in your relationship with the father of your baby or your family, and with other problems in your life such as housing, work, school, or money. Ask your doctor, nurse, or someone in the clinic to refer you for help.