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PREGNANCY

 

Formation of Ovum and sperm
            The ovum is a specialized cell much larger than the ordinary cells of the body.  Like all cells it consists of a nucleus  and cytoplasm and the cell membrane.  All cells multiply by dividing, and  this division is called mitotic division.  In this type of division  in the nucleus breaks into its component  chromosomes, forty-six in the human anatomy being.  They are paired, i.e. there are twenty-three pairs of chromosomes. The threadlike chromosomes contain genes which determine the different  characteristics of the body, such as height, colouring, shape, nature, and  so on.  One pair of chromosomes are the sex  chromosomes called XY, X stand  for the female component and Y for the male component and Y for the male component. The other chromosomes,  which do not  concern us here, are numbered with Roman numerical I, II, III, IV etc. In ordinary mitotic division which every cell of the body undergoes, the forty-six  chromosomes split into two down their length.  Thus forty-six pairs are produced  from the original twenty- three absolutely similar chromosomes.  One set goes  to one cell and the other  to the other cell.  The cytoplasm also divides itself between  the two  cells, and the nucleus is reformed.  Thus two cells are formed.
            For the production of the ovum or sperm a special reduction division takes  place.  The nucleus breaks into the  component chromosomes, as usual of twenty-two pairs, XY in the male and  XY in the female.  The chromosomes do not split into half; instead, one from each pair goes to the daughter cells.  Hence, in the male one cell contains X and another Y, and in the female both cells contain X.

Conception
            Conception  usually occurs in the fallopian tube.  The average discharge of semen contains two hundred to four hundred  million sperms, which are  deposited in the vagina during sexual relationships.  Only one is needed for fertilization.  They enter  the  uterus and  travel  up the tube, in the middle of which they meet the ovum.  Many sperms perish on this long journey.  A large  number get  attached  to the outside  of the ovum but only one is able to enter the ovum.  It sheds its tail and then its nucleus units  with that of the ovum, and the full complement of chromosomes is thus  completed.
            If the sperm bearing an  X is successful, then on uniting with the ovum it becomes XX, in other words it will develop into a girl.  If the  successful sperm has a Y chromosome then the resultant fertilized ovum becomes XY, a boy.  Thus, it is the sperm which determines sex.

Development
            The fertilized ovum slowly gravitates down  the tube where it remains for three days.  As it goes down, mitotic cell division takes place.  Thus, the first two cells are formed, then four, then eight, then sixteen and so on.  The ovum  now reaches  the uterus where it will get embedded in the lining.  The fertilized egg remains in the uterine cavity for eight  to twelve days nourished by the cells of the Graffian follicle.  At this   stage  the  egg has developed a little cavity within it and its outer cells have become specialized for the  purpose  of burrowing into  the lining of the  uterus.

Early Symptoms of Pregnancy
            Amenorrhoea, which means not having a menstrual period, is the  first symptom of pregnancy.  For women who have regular menstruation this is a positive  sign of pregnancy.
            Sometimes the first period  is scanty instead of being  absent, a doctor can help resolve the confusion if the patient is examined early in pregnancy, for once the pregnancy is advanced  it is difficult to be accurate about the size.
            Morning sickness is traditionally associated with pregnancy.  Sometimes you might feel  sick during other parts of the day, and some are regularly sick in the  evening.  Some  only go off food, some feel sick occasionally  while others bring out whatever they eat  or drink.  Morning  sickness usually starts one or two seeks after the first missed period.  Usually,  at the end of three months  this feeling disappears completely or, at least, diminishes  considerably.  It is probably due to the high level of hormones in the blood.
             The first  symptom to appear  soon after the first missed period is a heaviness and  tightness of the breasts.  The nipples, with the surrounding areola, become dark, and the areola increases in are.  The superficial veins over the  breast  become prominent.
            The body weight  increases  slowly.  The maximum gain in weight occurs during the middle  of pregnancy till the end of the seventh month.
            The  fertilized ovum grows into a baby.  The foetus   develops new tissues and the liquor is produced in which the baby floats.
            From the  third or fourth month, dark patches appear on the  cheeks and nose.  Strong sunlight on the face should be avoided by carrying an umbrella.
            Some people  claim  to be able to tell whether a person is carrying a boy or a girl by looking at the shape of the abdomen.  Such observation are usually wrong for there  is no scientific basis for such observations.
            The internal  changes the uterus gradually grows in size, and at twelve weeks it is felt just  above the pubes, at twenty weeks it reaches the umbilicus, and at  thirty  six weeks  it reaches the highest point, xiphistenum.  The walls  of the   uterus become thick and spongy.
            The vagina  becomes  more moist and bluish.
            The ovaries  usually look the same,  but their  blood supply is seen to be  dilated.
            The mother's  blood  volume usually increases substantially.  It is  still very  high when the  delivery of the child is completed.  Immediately after the expulsion of the placenta there is  a sharp rise in the blood volume.  This is so because  the uterus contracts and propels and blood from the  placental  circulation into the main maternal blood  stream.
            The heart has greater burden  to deal with.  It copes with this burden by stronger and quicker contractions.
            Like the  hearts the  lungs have an increased work load. The oxygen  is extracted from the blood  and replaced by carbon dioxide, and the "used" blood is brought  back to the  heart throbbing positions. The same cycle is continuously repeated.
            There are a larger number of chemical  actions, called metabolic actions, going on  because of the new tissues  developing.  The liver is the  master of these as it is factory  for all of them at some time or another.  A liver  has such vast reserves that it copes with this  effortlessly.
            The kidneys  and the  urinary excretory system are affected in some way or another throughout pregnancy.  Obviously, it has to filter a larger volume  of blood.  The pregnant  woman  passes larger amounts of urine more frequently.  In addition, however, there is a stasis which means stagnation along the channels carrying urine to the  bladder. This is because  of two reasons.  Firstly, the heavy pregnant uterus blocks these  channels.   Secondly, the high level  of hormones in the blood make these channels dilate and so the column of urine moves more slowly down the relatively wider channel.  The stagnation of urine   causes bacteria  to grow, and  urinary infection  dogs a pregnant woman throughout pregnancy .
            The bowel action slows down and, thus, food stays in the gut longer at every stage.  The pregnant  woman thinks she is constipated. However, this has no harmful results.
           

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