Your pregnancy questions answered

What you need to know about falling pregnant, your baby's gender, and more.

11 July 2011
by The Clicks health team

Fertilisation occurs when the sperm from a male meets the egg of a woman. Penetration of the sperm into the egg usually occurs in the fallopian tube. The sperm's body and tail then breaks off. The next stage is when the head of the sperm joins fuses with the nucleus of the egg – each contains half the number of chromosomes normally found in the human cell, which totals 46. The 23 sperm chromosomes and the 23 egg chromosomes then pair up. This tiny cell now contains every piece of genetic information that your baby will need to develop into a baby /child and then into a fully developed adult.

What determines the gender? 

An amazing fact to know is: Whether you're having a boy or a girl is determined at the fertilization period, before you find out you are pregnant.

Each and every egg that a woman produces contains what they refer to as "X" chromosomes. Sperm from a male can contain either "X" or "Y" chromosomes.

The genetic make-up of a female is XX. Therefore one "X" chromosome from a female and one "X" chromosome from a male is required to create a girl.

Depending on the chromosome of the sperm, you will have either a girl or a boy. Therefore, "X" sperm (which, when combined with an egg, will make a baby girl) and Y sperm (which, when combined with an egg, will make a boy).

It is definitely a science and NOT determined by the "stronger" gene, "the time of the month" etc. as often told by our family and friends who offer advice. Be careful of this as it often conflicts with the professional person’s advice such as your paediatrician and or doctor.

Discovering that you are pregnant 

As with most women finding out that you are pregnant always seem surreal. Although this wonderful miracle happens to thousands of people with each and every new day, you probably feel that deep down you hadn't really believed that this would be happening to you. The amazing news that you have conceived can often leave both you and your partner feeling rather uncertain. This truly is an amazing time in anyone's life.

The thought that deep inside you there is a complex of cells changing, growing and moving is rather remarkable.

When can you tell? 

Some women simply "know" or have a "gut" feeling that they're pregnant, but the majority of women will only know about 14 days after the fertilization has taken place. One of the first tell tale signs is noticing that your period is late and that you're probably pregnant.

Although your period may be late, there are some cases where women continue to experience bleeding. This is often a lot scantier than usual. It is advisable to take a pregnancy test to confirm. If after taking a pregnancy test and finding that it is positive, and you are still bleeding, it is advisable for you to see you doctor.

Pregnancy tests 101

When you expect that you may be pregnant, women often purchase a "pregnancy test". This may be purchased from your local Clicks Store and the test may be taken at home. An alternative to the home pregnancy test is to make an appointment with your doctor.

How does a pregnancy test work?

  • The basic pregnancy test will check your urine for a hormone called HCG - human chorionic gonadotrophin.
  • You would need to urinate onto a stick (provided in the pregnancy test box).
  • Within a few minutes you should be able to see a colour change in the window, indicating you are pregnant.
  • If there is no change in colour, the test will indicate that the result is negative i.e. you are not pregnant.
  • Should for some reason only a faint colour change occurs (this is often if you are testing on the day that your period is due, this can still be deemed a positive test, although you may want to repeat the test in a few days to be certain).
  • If the test is negative but you still feel that you might be pregnant, try and repeat the test in a few days time again.
  • Should you still have doubt, consult your doctor and get him/her to do a serum (blood) pregnancy test.

Are there other signs of pregnancy?

A lot of woman do not experience much of a change in the early stages of pregnancy however this is not to say that there are a vast amount of women that do. What are some of these signs?

  • Feeling more tired during the day, especially by evening time
  • Needing to urinate more frequently
  • A strange taste in the mouth. Some women describe this taste as a metallic taste
  • Breasts become tender, especially the nipples
  • The nipples seem to change colour - they become darker than usual
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Lightheaded – especially when standing up too quickly

Calculating your delivery date 

On average a woman's pregnancy lasts for 266 days. This is measured from conception. It is often rather difficult to know exactly on what day and date conception occurred, the delivery date is usually calculated from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). This means that your estimated due date (EDD) will be 280 days from your last menstrual period (LMP).

It is important to remember that this is merely an estimated date. Your EDD often fluctuates each time that you visit your doctor. Your doctor will consider anything between 38 and 42 weeks to be a normal-length pregnancy.

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