( By Dr. Vithal Prabhu )

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Birth Of A Baby

Pregnancy During the intercourse the male ejaculates semen in the vagina of the female. Semen contains millions of sperms. The semen liquifies and sperms get activated and enter into the uterus through the os (mouth) of the cervix. They further travel through the uterus into the fallopian tubes by wagging their tale. If ovulation (release of ovum by the ovary) has taken place, and if the ovum is present in one of the fallopian tubes the sperms surround it.

Every sperm tries to enter in the ovum by hitting its head to the covering of the ovum. Only one succeeds in getting into it. The tail of the sperm is left out and its head and the body fuse into the ovum. This process of fusion is called “fertilization.” It means the pregnancy has occurred. The remaining sperms die and disintegrate.

Signs of Pregnancy

  1. The woman misses her period because the endometrial lining of the uterus is to be preserved for the growth of the already lodged fertilized ovum. This is the first sign of pregnancy. If the woman had no sexual intercourse in that month, then the missing of the period may not mean pregnancy. The delay may be due to anaemia, illness, emotional stress or hormonal imbalance.

  2. Some women start getting nausea and vomiting, more in the morning. This is known as “morning sickness.” Some do not have morning sickness. This is not a sure sign of pregnancy. Morning sickness may begin as early as a week after missing the period.

  3. The breast changes are seen after two weeks of missing the period. The breasts become heavy, the nipples enlarge and become dark.

  4. A sample of urine is examined for pregnancy test. If positive, the woman is pregnant. This test is done after two weeks of missing the period. There are more sensitive pregnancy tests which can be positive even after two days of missing the period. These tests show the presence of Human Chorionic Gonadotrophic Hormone produced by the chorion,a place of attachment of the baby to the uterus.

The fertilized ovum divides repeatedly and moves towards the cavity of the uterus where a bed is already prepared by the inner lining of the fertilized ovum. The fertilized ovum gets implanted there. The seat of attachment becomes “Chorion” and further develops into “Placenta.” The fertilization occurs on the 14th day, counted from the 1st day of the last period.

Fertilized ovum reaches the uterus on the 17th day. It grows there further for 263 days and later comes out of the uterus through the vagina. This process of childbirth is known as “Delivery.” The total duration of pregnancy is 40 weeks (nine calender months and a week).

Counting is done from the 1st day of the last period. The cells of the fertilized ovum divide, multiply and get differentiated to form an embryo. The group of cells aggregate to form tissues and organs and develop into different systems. In the 4th week of pregnancy, the spine, intestines and heart are formed. Brain and liver take shape in the 5th week of pregnacy; eyes and nose can be identified in the 7th week. In the 4th month the baby is seen floating in fluid of the “amniotic sac.”

The sex organs also develop in the 4th month of pregnancy. The gonads (testes/ovaries) are fully developed in the 7th month. The testes descend in the scrotum by the 8th month. The length of the full term baby is fifty cms and its weight is three kg. The baby lies upside down with folded hands and legs with curved back in the uterus, so as to accommodate itself in the smallest place. The “umbilical cord,” a rope like two feet long tube connects the baby to the mother. One end of the cord is connected to the placenta which is attached to the uterus and the other end is connected to the navel (umbilicus) of the baby.

The child gets nutrition and oxygen from the mother through the blood circulation in the placenta and through the umbilical cord. The unwanted products in the baby’s body are thrown out through umbilical cord and passed on to the placenta. The placenta is as big as a bun and contains the network of blood vessels from the baby and the mother. Exchange of food and gases takes place here. There is no mixing of the blood of baby and mother. The baby is surrounded by half a litre of amniotic fluid. This fluid is for protection, maintenance of the temperature and for free movements of the baby.

Can the intercourse be done during pregnancy? Yes if the woman does not get pain or bleeding and if there is no history of repeated abortions. However, due care should be taken to avoid direct pressure of the man on the belly of the woman.

Delivery The woman delivers after 280 days (40 weeks) from the 1st day of her last period. She gets pain in the abdomen. The uterus contracts. There is a slight blood stained discharge through the vagina. The cervix of the uterus dilates. The amniotic sac ruptures. This is the first stage of the labour. This stage takes about eight hours in the primipara (first delivery).

The second stage of the labour begins when the cervix is fully dilated and the baby is being pushed down by the contractions of the uterus. The uterus, the cervix and the vagina become a continuous canal. It takes about two hours at the first delivery for the baby to slide down and come out. On subsequent occasions it would take a few minutes.

First the head comes out of the vagina, then the facte, shoulder, body and legs come out along with the umbilical cord and a little amniotic fluid. The umbilical cord is ligated and cut, taking aseptic precautions and the baby is separated. The uterus continues to contract, and the third stage of the labour begins. The remaining umbilical cord along with placenta and amniotic sac come out in about 10 minutes and the delivery gets over. If a baby is born before 36 weeks, it is said to be “premature.” Babies born after 30 weeks of pregnancy can survive only if they are given special medical care. Is the delivery very painful? It is the ancestral tell tale story that creates anxiety and more pain. Delivery is a body function. Nature helps in every respect. If pregnant woman understands and learns how and when to relax and when to push down during the labour the pain will be reduced. This is taught in the special antenatal classes.

There are two types of twins. “Binovular” or fraternal and “Uniovular” or identical. Binovular twins are two children born out of two separate ova. During one cycle, if two ova are released, they get fertilised separately by two sperms (since there is no dirth of sperms). These two fertilized ova grow into two separate babies. Each is attached to a separate placenta through an umbilical cord. The two babies are dissimilar in their appearance and are of the same or different sexes. Genetically they are different.

In case of uniovular twins, the ovum gets fertilized with a sperm as usual and divides into two cells. These two cells separate from each other and grow independenly into two babies. Since their origin is from a single ovum and a single sperm, they are genetically similar and are of the same sex. They look very much alike and when in the mother’s womb, they are attached to one placenta through a separate umbilical cord for each.

Boy or Girl? The sex of the baby is determined at the tiee of the fertilization of the ovum. It depends upon the sex chromosome of the sperm that fertilizes the ovum. There are two types of sex chromosomes, X & Y. Every ovum carries ‘X’ sex chromosome. In case of sperms some carry “X” sex chromosome and some carry ‘Y’ sex chromosome. Though the semen should contain fifty-fifty ratio carrying X and Y sex chromosomes, it does not happen so. When the ovum and the sperm combine to form a baby, the combinations would be as follows: OVUM SPERM BABY X + Y XY (Boy) X + Y XX (Girl) 5) The crave for a male child and a male dominant society should be outdated with the advent of social, cultural and economic changes. The females have proved their ability in every walk of life.

Female children should be given education and equal opportunities in life. Social awakening and social changes are more important to change this wrong attitude. Happy to note that these changes are coming up, but slowly.

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