Pregnancy, which lasts an average of 39 to 40 weeks, begins after a woman’s egg is fertilized upon conception. According to UCLA Health, roughly 15 percent of couples deal with some form of infertility. If a couple is unable to achieve pregnancy within one year of trying, they may have a fertility issue. When it comes to infertility, advanced maternal age can play a huge role. A woman’s childbearing years typically span from her 20s to her 40s, however women over the age of 35 are at an increased risk for pregnancy issues like miscarriage and birth defects. For example, the likelihood of a 28-year-old woman having a child with Down syndrome is about one in 1,000. But mothers over the age of 35 have a one in 350 chance.
Weight gain, nausea and fatigue are the most common pregnancy symptoms. Other symptoms are:
- Spotting: Once an egg has been fertilized, it attaches to wall of the uterus. This can lead to spotting and cramping.
- Breast Changes: When a woman has become pregnant, the hormone levels change significantly while a fetus is starting to grow. One effect is that the woman's breasts get swollen, tender and/or sore.
- Fatigue: Tiredness is very common during pregnancy as the body is constantly changing and a lot of energy is going towards the baby's development
In 2013, the FDA approved a morning sickness pill called Diclegis, which the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says is perfectly safe to use during pregnancy. When it comes to childbirth, a 2014 study from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation found that maternal death rates in childbirth are on the rise in the United States. In fact, the study found that over 18 percent of U.S. mothers died for every 100,000 births in 2013. This translates to nearly 800 fatalities.
Following a live birth, experts highly recommend that mothers breastfeed their infants. Breastfeeding is associated with a wide range of health benefits. When compared to formula-fed babies, infants who are strictly breastfed may even be at a developmental advantage. According to a 2013 study from Brown University, additional growth in the areas of the brain linked to motor function, language and social function have been observed in breastfed babies. Researchers from this study are unsure if the observed benefits are due to the breast milk itself, or the skin-to-skin maternal bonding associated with the act of breastfeeding.