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Home Economics – Pregnancy

Home Economics JSS3

Week 3



What is Pregnancy?

Stages of Pregnancy

Caring for a Pregnant Woman


Pregnancy is the result of the fertilization of the female ovum or egg by the male cell or sperm. Pregnancy is also the period from conception to birth. After the egg is fertilized by a sperm and then implanted in the lining of the uterus, it develops into the placenta and embryo, and later into a foetus. Pregnancy usually lasts 40 weeks, beginning from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period, and is divided into three trimesters, each lasting three months. Pregnancy is that state or condition when a female carries a foetus in her womb for about nine months.

  A foetus is an unborn baby. The male sex cell is called Sperm. The female sex cell is called Ovum or Egg. It is produced in the ovary. The process of producing an ovum by the ovary is called Ovulation. If there is a sexual relationship or intercourse between a man and woman at the period the ovum is produced, the sperm will fertilize the ovum, this will result in pregnancy. If there is no sexual relationship during this period, the released ovum will die off in a day or two, then menstruation occurs.

Pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, counting from the first day of your last normal period. This is just over nine lunar months, where each month is about 29½ days. When measured from conception it is about 38 weeks. An embryo is the developing offspring during the first eight weeks following conception, after which, the term foetus is used until birth.


  1. Menstruation stops
  2. Breasts become fuller and tender. Nipple become dark
  3. Back pain and tiredness/fatigue
  4. Nausea and vomiting may occur, especially in the morning (morning sickness)
  5. There may be frequent urination
  6. Regurgitation, Heart burn and Nausea
  7. The abdomen enlarges from about 3 months
  8. Cravings or distaste for certain foods
  9. Dizziness and Fainting
  10. Mood swings
  11. Constipation and Bloating
  12. As the pregnancy advances, the mother may feel the baby’s movement.

As your body changes, you might need to make changes to your daily routine, such as going to bed earlier or eating frequent, small meals. Fortunately, most of these discomforts will go away as your pregnancy progresses. And some women might not feel any discomfort at all! If you have been pregnant before, you might feel differently this time around. Just as each woman is different, so is each pregnancy.

Most women find the second trimester of pregnancy easier than the first. But it is just as important to stay informed about your pregnancy during these months.

You might notice that symptoms like nausea and fatigue are going away. But other new, more noticeable changes to your body are now happening. Your abdomen will expand as the baby continues to grow. And before this trimester is over, you will feel your baby beginning to move!

As your body changes to make room for your growing baby, you may have:

  • Body aches, such as back, abdomen, groin, or thigh pain
  • Stretch marks on your abdomen, breasts, thighs, or buttocks
  • Darkening of the skin around your nipples
  • A line on the skin running from belly button to pubic hairline
  • Patches of darker skin, usually over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip. Patches often match on both sides of the face. This is sometimes called the mask of pregnancy
  • Numb or tingling hands, called carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Itching on the abdomen, palms, and soles of the feet. (Call your doctor if you have nausea, loss of appetite,vomiting, jaundice or fatigue combined with itching. These can be signs of a serious liver problem.)
  • Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face. (If you notice any sudden or extreme swelling or if you gain a lot of weight really quickly, call your doctor right away. This could be a sign of preeclampsia.) 

Some new body changes you might notice in the third trimester include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heartburn
  • Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face. (If you notice any sudden or extreme swelling or if you gain a lot of weight really quickly, call your doctor right away. This could be a sign of preeclampsia.)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Tender breasts, which may leak a watery pre-milk called colostrum
  • Your belly button may stick out
  • Trouble sleeping
  • The baby “dropping,” or moving lower in your abdomen
  • Contractions, which can be a sign of real or false labor


Pregnancy goes through three stages. Each stage takes 3 months. These stages are referred to as Trimesters.

First Trimester: This is the first three months of pregnancy. This is a very delicate period because if anything happens to the foetus at this stage, it can lead to abortion or miscarriage. The placenta forms to provide the foetus through the umbilical cord.

Second Trimester: This is the pregnancy period between 3 and 6 months. This stage is more stable than the first trimester.

Third Trimester: This is the pregnancy period from 6 to 9 months. It requires adequate nourishment for growth. At the end of this trimester, the mother enters into labor and the child is born.


In the caring for a pregnant woman, the following aspects must be considered.

  1. Nutrition during pregnancy
  2. Hygiene
  3. Posture
  4. Exercise
  5. Special dresses


  1. Her meals must be balanced
  2. She should increase her intake of protein, mineral, iron for blood, calcium for bones
  3. Extra vitamins are necessary for good health
  4. She is required to drink enough water daily
  5. Roughage from fruits and vegetables can improve digestion and bowel movement
  6. Carbohydrates and greasy food should be reduced to prevent over-weight and digestive up-sets.


  1. Low birth weight
  2. Different forms of malformation in the child
  3. Mother’s health might be affected too


Ante-natal care is the care required by a pregnant woman before the birth of the child. The pregnant woman visits the hospital regularly to see doctors for check-up. Many tests are carried out such as urine test, blood pressure, weight, blood tests, height of uterus and heart beat of the foetus. At the clinic, the woman also learns about child care and how to care for herself.

How will my baby develop week by week?

First Trimester (week 1-week 12)

At 4 weeks:

  • Your baby’s brain and spinal cord have begun to form.
  • The heart begins to form.
  • Arm and leg buds appear.
  • Your baby is now an embryo and one-fifth of an inch long.

At 8 weeks:

  • All major organs and external body structures have begun to form.
  • Your baby’s heart beats with a regular rhythm.
  • The arms and legs grow longer, and fingers and toes have begun to form.
  • The sex organs begin to form.
  • The eyes have moved forward on the face and eyelids have formed.
  • The umbilical cord is clearly visible.
  • At the end of 8 weeks, your baby is a fetus and looks more like a human. Your baby is nearly 1 inch long and weighs less than 1/8 of an ounce.

At 12 weeks:

  • The nerves and muscles begin to work together. Your baby can make a fist.
  • Eyelids close to protect the developing eyes. They will not open again until the 28th week.
  • Head growth has slowed, and your baby is much longer. Now, at about 3 inches long, your baby weighs almost an ounce.

Second Trimester (week 13-week 28)

At 16 weeks:

  • The external sex organs show if your baby is a boy or girl. A woman who has an ultrasound in the second trimester or later might be able to find out the baby’s sex.
  • Muscle tissue and bone continue to form, creating a more complete skeleton.
  • Skin begins to form. You can nearly see through it.
  • Meconium develops in your baby’s intestinal tract. This will be your baby’s first bowel movement.
  • Your baby makes sucking motions with the mouth (sucking reflex).
  • Your baby reaches a length of about 4 to 5 inches and weighs almost 3 ounces.

At 20 weeks:

  • Your baby is more active. You might feel slight fluttering.
  • Your baby is covered by fine, downy hair called lanugo  and a waxy coating called vernix. This protects the forming skin underneath.
  • Eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails, and toenails have formed. Your baby can even scratch itself.
  • Your baby can hear and swallow.
  • Now halfway through your pregnancy, your baby is about 6 inches long and weighs about 9 ounces.

At 24 weeks:

  • Bone marrow begins to make blood cells.
  • Taste buds form on your baby’s tongue.
  • Footprints and fingerprints have formed.
  • Real hair begins to grow on your baby’s head.
  • The lungs are formed, but do not work.
  • The hand and startle reflex develop.
  • Your baby sleeps and wakes regularly.
  • If your baby is a boy, his testicles begin to move from the abdomen into the scrotum. If your baby is a girl, her uterus and ovaries are in place, and a lifetime supply of eggs have formed in the ovaries.
  • Your baby stores fat and has gained quite a bit of weight. Now at about 12 inches long, your baby weighs about 1½ pounds.

Third Trimester (week 29-week 40)

At 32 weeks:

  • Your baby’s bones are fully formed, but still soft.
  • Your baby’s kicks and jabs are forceful.
  • The eyes can open and close and sense changes in light.
  • Lungs are not fully formed, but practice “breathing” movements occur.
  • Your baby’s body begins to store vital minerals, such as iron and calcium.
  • Lanugo begins to fall off.
  • Your baby is gaining weight quickly, about one-half pound a week. Now, your baby is about 15 to 17 inches long and weighs about 3 to 334 pounds

At 36 weeks:

  • The protective waxy coating called vernix gets thicker.
  • Body fat increases. Your baby is getting bigger and bigger and has less space to move around. Movements are less forceful, but you will feel stretches and wiggles.
  • Your baby is about 16 to 19 inches long and weighs about 6 to 6½ pounds.

Weeks 37-40:

  • By the end of 37 weeks, your baby is considered full term. Your baby’s organs are ready to function on their own.
  • As you near your due date, your baby may turn into a head-down position for birth. Most babies “present” head down.
  • At birth, your baby may weigh somewhere between 6 pounds 2 ounces and 9 pounds 2 ounces and be 19 to 21 inches long. Most full-term babies fall within these ranges. But healthy babies come in many different sizes. 

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