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Week #7 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 7

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

Your Baby
           Your little miracle has experienced a huge growth spurt and has doubled in size this week!  Last week your little peppercorn was only 1/20th of an inch and he is now nearly 1/2 an inch long. His leg buds have begun forming and his arm buds have now divided themselves more distinctly into sections that can be identified as hand and arm-to-shoulder segments.  Your sweet one's heart, which can be seen as a large bulge in the front of his body, has also divided itself into the two main right and left chambers. The cerebral hemispheres which make up the brain are growing, as are his intestines.  By this week your little one's appendix and insulin producing pancreas are also present.  Meanwhile, the very beginning of your sweet one's face is in place.  There is a bit of pigmentation for his eyes and a small perforation that will soon become his mouth.  Two tiny nostrils have even appeared!  Whew!  I am tired just writing about all that your baby has been up to.  You must be exhausted creating the perfect environment for all of this to take place!


Your Body
           By this stage in your pregnancy, the once firm wall of your uterus has softened to allow your little one to firmly implant within the lining.  Your cervical mucus has also begun changing.  It will thicken to form a plug that will lodge within the cervical canal.  This plug will help to protect your uterus and growing baby from the world around it by preventing anything from going in or coming out until the perfect day (and your baby!) arrives.  As your body begins to prepare itself for labor and delivery and your cervix begins to dilate, the plug will dislodge in what is referred to as a "bloody show."  This is often one of the first "official" signs that your labor and delivery date is approaching.


  You're Wondering. . .
           I am starting to worry about my pregnancy.  What if I miscarry?

       I will never forget the pure euphoria I felt the first time I saw the second little line turn blue on my home pregnancy test.  It was as if all of my lifelong hopes and dreams had just been confirmed thanks to a $7.99 urine stick I had purchased at the drug store.  What shocked me was the immediate worry that plagued me almost as instantaneously as my joy.  My train of thought sounded something like this, "Wow!  I'm pregnant!  I can't believe I am finally pregnant.  I am so excited!  Oh, no!  I'm pregnant!  What if something is wrong?  What if I miscarry?"  It was then that I realized that the privilege of motherhood brings with it an unexpected, often undesired gift; worry.  I realized that from the moment that second line turned blue that I would worry about my child until the day that I died.  My worries were first centered on the pregnancy itself.  Is she healthy?  Is she moving too much?  Is she not moving enough?  Am I eating all of the right things?  Once she was born I worried about her health.  Are babies supposed to spit up this much?  Is she sick or just teething? She hasn't rolled over yet.  Is she developmentally delayed?  Now as my sweet, and by the way healthy, daughter continues to grow, I realize that my worrying about her teachers (will they be nice to her?), friends (will they be nice to her?) and lifelong ambitions are really just a way that my heart shows the depth of love that I feel for her.  What I have learned, however, is that short of providing her with the best possible environment for growth and development, there is very little that I can do to protect her.

       I would encourage you to view your worry about miscarrying in the same way.  The fact that you are worried about something happening during your pregnancy is a beautiful expression of the deep love that you already feel for your unborn child.  However, short of taking great care of yourself, and therefore your little one, there is relatively little that you can do to prevent Mother Nature from running its course.  Approximately 15-20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage and 80% of those occur during the first trimester.  Medical experts believe that 50% of first trimester miscarriages are caused by some type of chromosomal abnormality.  This may be due to a defective egg or sperm or by abnormal cell division once the egg is fertilized.  Other miscarriages can be caused by hormonal abnormalities, uncontrolled diabetes, vaginal infections, or lupus.

       If the unthinkable occurs, and you do miscarry, allow yourself time to grieve. Look to your friends, family members and possibly a support group to help you during your loss. It is normal to feel great joy at the news of your pregnancy, and therefore normal to struggle with deep grief.  The fact that your little one was still so small does not negate the fact that he or she was your child and therefore deeply loved.  When you are ready to begin trying for another baby, remember that miscarrying once does not necessarily increase your chances of miscarrying again.  Most doctors recommend allowing your body to complete one normal menstrual cycle before trying to conceive again, but there is no evidence which suggests that getting pregnant immediately following a miscarriage would cause harm to your new baby.  If you find that you are still really worried about miscarrying, speak to your health care provider as they may be able to offer some insight as to specific ways that you can help alleviate your anxiety.


  Your "To-Do" List
           Take a moment this week and call your dentist to set-up an appointment for your routine cleaning and check-up appointment.  Professionals in the dental community not only believe that it is safe for a pregnant woman to receive routine dental care, they recommend it.  Studies have found that women who suffer from gum disease during their pregnancies are more likely to develop gestational diabetes than those with healthy gums.  They have also found that women who suffer from periodontal disease while pregnant are seven times more likely to deliver pre-term, low birth weight babies.  So taking care of your pearly whites is not only good for you, it is good for your baby too!

       When you schedule your dental appointment, be sure to let the staff know that you are expecting.  They may want to make some special accommodations for you during your visit.  Your dentist may decide to hold off on taking a full set of x-rays of your teeth unless you are experiencing a particular problem that requires an x-ray in order to be diagnosed.  If your dentist decides that x-rays are necessary, rest assured that your little one will be well protected.  Experts believe that a complete set of dental x-rays exposes your baby to less radiation than a 10 minute walk outside on a bright, sunny day.  Your sweet one will also be protected by the heavy lead apron placed across your body.


Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           As a young child do you remember sitting around the campfire listening to your grandfather tell tall tales about his childhood?  How about your father?  Did he have to walk to school, up-hill both ways in the snow every day?  What about your one crazy relative.  You know the one I'm talking about.  She's the one that no one wanted to be kissed or squeezed by when she arrived for the family reunion but without whom the reunion would have been incomplete because her zaniness was often the life of the party.  What stories do you remember about her?  This week as you prepare yourself for parenthood, consider the great heritage that will make up the carefully woven quilt of your child's life.  As you think about the many family members and the great history that they represent, begin the process of creating a "Treasury of Tales" for your baby.  Write down the many different stories that you remember being told by those you love and then invite other family members to do the same.  Send out a request to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and others inviting them to record their life story for your sweet one to someday enjoy.  You can then compile the book into a keepsake that is sure to be enjoyed by you and your child as you celebrate the great diversity and history that makes up the precious and unique gift that is your baby.


  My Experience
           When I was pregnant with my first child, I found it overwhelming to look at how my life had been shaped by the lives of my many family members.  It was the choices that they had made, at some point in their life, that had ultimately provided me with the opportunity to grow up in the United States and experience all that I had.  Blame it on the hormones, but the realization that those same people and their same choices were now creating a legacy for my little one left me in awe and a bit teary.  I decided that there was no time like the present to record some of my favorite memories of my great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents for my child to someday enjoy.  My grandfather flew fighter jets in World War II, was shot down three times, and lived to tell us all about it.  My other grandfather was widowed at the age of 25 and left with a five-year-old, a three-year-old, and a nine-month-old to raise on his own.  My father-in-law was raised on a farm and would get up early every morning to milk the cows and then sell the milk to save up "date" money so that he could afford to take my mother-in-law out on the weekends.  All the while, he dreamed of becoming a neurosurgeon and let nothing stand in the way of him seeing his lifelong dream fulfilled.  My father spent most of his adult life as an undercover FBI agent.  Talk about stories!    These amazing people and their amazing life stories are an integral part of who my children are and the family that we have created.  I am so thankful that I chose to create a Treasury of Tales not only for my children, but for myself as well.  Their stories remind me of the heritage from which I come.  The many hardships that they have endured encourage me to face the future, unknowns and all, with grace and confidence, two characteristics that I believe are crucial for every parent to possess.


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