Pregnancy & Birth – General Information.
Pregnancy is the time during which a baby (or babies) develops inside a woman. Pregnancy usually lasts around 40 weeks and ends in childbirth.
During the first 8 weeks after conception the developing offspring is normally referred to as an embryo and from 8 weeks until birth it is often referred to as a foetus.
Pregnancy is normally divided into 3 trimesters…
1st trimester (runs from weeks 1 to 12)
During the 1st trimester commons signs and symptoms of pregnancy like nausea and tender breasts appear. The womb will grow to the size of a lemon by eight weeks. The first trimester also carries the highest risk of miscarriage.
2nd trimester (runs from weeks 13 to 28)
During the 2nd trimester most women feel more energized compared to the 1st trimmest and for most women the symptoms of morning sickness subside and eventually disappear. In this period most women begin to put on weight and around half way through the 2nd trimester movement of the foetus may be felt. At 28 weeks, with good medical care, more than 90% of babies can survive outside of the uterus.
3rd trimester (runs from weeks 29 to 40)
During the 3rd trimmest many women feel discomfort and tiredness as it is during this period most of the pregnancy weight gain takes place and their bodies prepare for childbirth. The abdomen will transform in shape as it ‘drops’ ready for the birth and their ligaments loosen to prepare for labour. The foetus begins to move regularly in this trimester and movement can become quite strong and disruptive.
Term pregnancy is 37 weeks to 41 weeks.
Preterm pregnancy is when babies are born before 37 weeks*
Early term pregnancy is 37 and 38 weeks
Full term pregnancy is 39 and 40 weeks
Late term pregnancy is 41 and 42 weeks.
Post term pregnancy is after 42 weeks.
It is recommended that delivery not be artificially started before 39 weeks unless required for other medical reasons.
*Preterm babies are at higher risk of health problems
Prenatal care is the medical / nursing care recommended for women whilst pregnant. The aim of prenatal care is to improve pregnancy outcome by identifying potential problems early on and to prevent them, where possible, and to manage them when they do appear. Complications during pregnancy may include high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, iron-deficiency anaemia, and severe nausea / vomiting.
Prenatal care includes check-ups, prenatal testing, scans, blood tests, and regular physical examinations etc.
Advice giving during prenatal care often includes information on nutrition, exercise, vitamin intake etc. (i.e. taking extra folic acid, avoiding drugs, smoking and alcohol, regular exercise etc.).
Antenatal classes are designed to help parents prepare for labour, childbirth and early parenthood. Most antenatal classes start around 8 – 10 weeks before the baby is due and are normally run in an informal, relaxed manner. Often run by midwifes the classes offer information on a an range of related topics like what to expect in labour and birth, pain relief options, breast feeding and how to look after a new born baby etc. Antenatal classes also often give local information i.e. what labour / birthing options are available in the area. They are also a good please to make new friends with people in the same situation.
Childbirth is the process whereby an infant is born. In a normal birth the labour process has 3 clear stages to it…..
1st Stage – Early / active labour – contractions begin, uterus (cervix) opens and the transitional phase is reached
2nd Stage – The baby is pushed out.
3rd Stage – The placenta is delivered.
In some circumstance childbirth may be achieved via a caesarean section.
During the time immediately after childbirth, both the mother and the baby are hormonally cued to bond. Studies show that skin-to-skin contact between them straight after birth is beneficial to them both.
The postnatal period begins straight after childbirth and is considered to last for about six weeks. During this time the mother’s body begins the return to a pre-pregnancy state which includes changes in hormone levels and uterus size.
Pregnancy & Birth on the Costa del Sol, Malaga
There are many options in regards to Pregnancy and Birth on the Costa del Sol in Sothern Spain.
Pregnancy can be covered either via the state health care system (if entitled to state medical in Spain) or via one of the many privates Doctors, Clinics or Hospitals on the Coast, or both!
Both the private and public sectors offer prenatal care as well as antenatal classes.
The standard of medical care in Spain is highly regarded and the level of maternity care is also reasonably high with more antenatal tests and scans than would happen in some other countries including the UK.
Birth in a hospital is most common in Spain. If you are entitled you may use the state-owned social security hospitals otherwise there are plenty of private birthing options to choose from.
In Spain most private health insurances will cover pregnancy and the birth with the various private doctors, clinics and hospitals which are available. However, normally you will need to have your private medical insurance in place for around 6 – 12 months before falling pregnant depending on the individual Health Insurance company.
Most hospitals and clinics in the Malaga / Costa del Sol region provide translation services but it is always a good idea to pre-book this service (if possible) before your hospital visit as the number of translators are limited.