pregnancy and maternal health in Zimbabwe

Pregnancy and Maternal Health in Zimbabwe

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In this article, we will look into pregnancy and maternal health in Zimbabwe. What do you need to know about it from conception all the way to birth?

Children are gifts from God. A gift which everyone desire to have, it might be today or later in life. There is always that time when you feel that you are due to be a parent.

However, these gifts do not just come as we want but its God’s will and time. You have to know that no matter what circumstances, a child is a gift from God and it comes in due course.

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Pregnancy and Maternal Health Stats

In Zimbabwe, almost 75% of girls drop out of school due to pregnancy every year. About 45% of pregnant girls die during illegal termination. About 30% of married couples are struggling to conceive. About 25% of married couples have unwanted pregnancy every year of which 10% of them will be on family planning method.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PREGNANCY

Missed period

A missed period is one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy although it is not always that when you miss your period you are pregnant especially when your cycle is irregular.

Weight gain

You will notice changes in body weight in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Weight gain becomes more noticeable toward the beginning of your second trimester. There are many ways to notice that you have gained weight which includes struggling to fit in your usual favourite dress, and also people surrounding you will be commenting you.

Vomiting

You will vomit or feel like you want to vomit especially in the morning, or when you come across the smell of food. Vomiting is a component of morning sickness which is a common symptom that usually appears within the first four months. Morning sickness is often the first sign that you’re pregnant. Increased hormones during early pregnancy are the main cause.

Diarrhoea and Constipation

Due to hormones, there will be changes in diet and eating times which affect the digestive system and hence can cause diarrhoea or constipation. If diarrhoea lasts more than a few days, contact your doctor to make sure you don’t become dehydrated.

Lower Abdominal Cramps

You may feel a pulling sensation same as menstrual cramps which occurs due to stretching and expansion of muscles of the uterus. If spotting or bleeding occurs alongside your cramps, it could signal a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.

Change in Breast size

Breasts may begin to feel tenderswollen, and generally heavy or full. Your nipples may also become larger and more sensitive, and the areolas may darken.

Heartburn

Hormones released during pregnancy can sometimes relax the valve between your stomach and oesophagus. When stomach acid leaks out this can result in heartburn.

Spotting

It is normal for some women to experience light bleeding and spotting in early pregnancy which is usually caused by implantation (occurs one to two weeks after fertilization). Infections or irritation may also cause spotting in early pregnancy.

If spotting is excessive it might be bleeding which can also sometimes signal a serious pregnancy complication, such as miscarriageectopic pregnancy, or placenta previa. Always contact your doctor if you’re concerned.

Mood Swings

You may start having emotional changes, disliking someone or start liking others. You can easily get upset over silly issues. It is normal in pregnancy.

Cravings

This is the time when you get obsessed with a certain type of food. You may want to it something over and over again.

Headache

Headaches are common in early pregnancy. They’re usually caused by altered hormone levels and increased blood volume. Contact your doctor if your headaches don’t go away or are especially painful.

Sleepy feeling

In early pregnancy, you will often feel like you want to sleep, even during the day. You will find yourself in bed more often than before.

Acne

Because of increased androgen hormones, many women experience acne in early pregnancy. These hormones can make your skin oilier, which can clog pores. Pregnancy acne is usually temporary and clears up after the baby is born.

Pregnancy-induced hypertension

In some women, there may be a rise in blood pressure which can occur due to being overweight or obese, smoking and having a prior history or a family history of hypertension.

Pregnancy tests

Pregnancy is diagnosed by measuring the body’s levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). hCG is produced upon implantation however it may not be detected until after you miss a period and is detected through urine and blood test.

Home pregnancy tests are very accurate if done correctly. If you get a positive test you need to see a doctor.

Urine tests may be provided at a doctor’s office, and they’re the same as the tests you can take at home.

Blood tests can be performed in a laboratory. hCG blood tests are about as accurate as home pregnancy tests. The difference is that blood tests may be ordered as soon as six days after ovulation.

An ultrasound will be used to confirm and date your pregnancy.

The sooner you know the better. An early diagnosis will allow you to take better care of your baby’s health

STAGES OF PREGNANCY

First trimester

pregnancy in Zimbabwe first trimesterA baby grows rapidly during weeks 1 to 12. The fetus begins developing their brain, spinal cord, and organs. The baby’s heart will also begin to beat. During the first trimester, the probability of a miscarriage is relatively high.

Second trimester

Pregnacy in Zimbabwe - Second Trimester
Image Credit pregmed.org

Weeks 13 to 27 is the second trimester and healthcare provider will perform an anatomy scan ultrasound.

This test checks the fetus’s body for any developmental abnormalities. The test results can also reveal the sex of your baby if you wish to find out before the baby is born.

You’ll probably begin to feel your baby move, kick, and punch inside of your uterus. After 23 weeks, a baby in utero is considered viable. This means that it could survive living outside of your womb (preterm).

Third trimester

pregnancy in Zimbabwe third trimesterThird trimester (weeks 28 to 40), weight gain will accelerate, and you start feeling more tired.

Your baby can now sense light as well as open and close their eyes. Their bones are also formed. As labour approaches, you may feel pelvic discomfort, and your feet may swell. Contractions that don’t lead to labour, known as Braxton-Hicks contractions, may start to occur in the weeks before you deliver.

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