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Pregnancy occurs when an egg that has been fertilized by a sperm cell via sexual intercourse or otherwise implants itself in the endometrium (the inner lining of a woman’s uterus). Once implanted, the fertilized egg develops into an embryo, then a fetus, then a baby. After approximately 9 months of development the baby will be born. Pregnancy occurs in 3 stages called trimesters and each trimester involves many changes in both the developing baby and the woman carrying the baby.

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How Does Pregnancy Happen?

Pregnancy is said to have happened when a fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tubes and implants into the endometrium. Click here to see a diagram.

Eggs are stored in a woman’s ovaries. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. After a girl goes through puberty she will begin ovulating on a regular cycle. Ovulation is when the ovary releases an egg. After ovulation, the egg moves through the fallopian tubes awaiting a sperm. If the egg is never fertilized by a sperm, the egg continues down the fallopian tube and into the uterus where it will be expelled during menstruation. If the egg is fertilized it begins dividing into multiple cells (now called a Zygote) and moves down the fallopian tubes towards the uterus. Once inside the uterus the zygote implants (or attaches) itself into the inner lining of the uterus called the Endometrium. Once implanted, the embryo begins to develop. Sometimes a fertilized egg will implant itself somewhere other than the endometrium. When this occurs it is called an Ectopic Pregnancy and can be very dangerous

Pregnancy can occur naturally as a product of sexual intercourse between a man, able to produce viable sperm, and a fertile woman. Pregnancy can also happen “artificially” through a process known as In Vitro Fertilization (or IVF).

The pregnancy process from conception to birth is divided into three periods of development called Trimesters. Each trimester lasts about 3 months and is marked by specific fetal development changes.

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How Do I Know If I’m Pregnant?

One of the first signs of a possible pregnancy is a missed period. The bleeding associated with a woman’s period is the inner lining of her uterus sloughing away if conception has not occurred. If a pregnancy has begun there is no menstrual bleeding as the uterus requires that tissue to feed and support the developing egg. However, a missed period does not always mean a pregnancy has occurred. Women can miss periods for many reasons and a pregnant woman may experience some spotting or light bleeding that she may confuse as a period. Another way to tell if you are pregnant is by a home pregnancy test. These tests are relatively inexpensive and can be found at most pharmacies, drug stores, and grocery stores. You can also pay to have a confirmatory test at a family planning clinic or family healthcare provider. To make an appointment at our clinic to get a pregnancy test click Here.

Some women have some physical symptoms with early pregnancy including nausea, breast tenderness and fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these abnormal symptoms, have missed a period, or have had unprotected sex recently it may be a good idea to get a pregnancy test.

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I Just Found Out I’m Pregnant, Now What?

In the state of Idaho there are three legal options available to women when they find out they are pregnant.

These options include:

1) Continue the pregnancy with the intent to give birth and raise the child.

2) Continue the pregnancy with the intent to give birth and place the child for adoption.

3) Terminate the pregnancy (Abortion).

Here at the Health Department we have trained staff who can talk objectively with you about these options and refer you to agencies that provide the necessary services. If you decide that you would like to carry your pregnancy to term, be sure to make an appointment at the health dept. to determine if you qualify for presumptive eligibility for Medicaid, to get some helpful prenatal education, and to get a referral for prenatal care.

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How Can I Be Sure That Both Me and The Baby Are Healthy?

If you become pregnant, and decide to carry the pregnancy to term, there are some important things to keep in mind to make sure that both you and the baby stay healthy.

Eating healthy regular meals and getting plenty of exercise will help you and the baby stay healthy. Taking prenatal vitamins containing Folic Acid is a great way to help make sure that you and the baby are getting the necessary vitamins and nutrients and are widely available at grocery stores and pharmacies.

It’s important also to not smoke or be around smoke while pregnant as this may cause low birth weight or premature birth. Also avoid drinking alcohol as this may cause birth defects, mental problems, and even death to your baby. Avoid any illegal drugs, hazardous chemicals, and other substances that could be toxic or harmful.

Some STDs are able to be passed from mother to child so it is important to get tested and treated for them to be sure both baby and mom are staying healthy. For more information on STDs click HERE.

Here at the health dept. we have trained staff who can help you and your baby stay healthy. We can provide education on staying healthy, refer you to prenatal care providers, determine if you qualify for presumptive eligibility, and test/treat you for STDs. To make an appointment or to talk more with someone about our services click HERE.

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How Can I Prevent Pregnancy From Happening?

There are lots of options available to help women from becoming pregnant. Different methods of birth control work better for different women with different lifestyles. Check out our Birth Control Page for more information. If you would like to make an appointment to get a prescription for birth control or to talk with someone about your birth control options click HERE.

Trimester: The three developmental stages of pregnancy, lasting about three months each
Zygote: The cell created by the union of two Gametes. Gametes are sex cells, female gametes are called eggs and male gametes are called sperm
Endometrium: The inner membrane lining of the uterus
Embryo: term used to describe a developing human from the time of implantation to the eighth week of pregnancy
Viable: Capable of living and functioning properly
Fertile: Capable of reproducing
In Vitro Fertilization: Fertilizing an egg outside of a woman’s body in a lab and then reinserting one or more of the fertilized eggs into the uterus for implantation
Conception: becoming pregnant. Involving both the fertilization of an egg and/or implantation
Sloughing: Shedding, getting rid of
Fatigue: A condition of general physical or mental tiredness in which a person’s mind or body are unable to function at the level of normal ability
Abortion: Termination of a pregnancy; induced expulsion of a human fetus
Folic Acid: A B vitamin (B9) that is often found in leafy green vegetables. Women who have enough Folic Acid reduce the chances that their baby will be born with a neural tube defect which can cause incomplete development of the brain and spinal chord
Hazardous Chemicals: Any chemical that has the potential to cause physical harm or is a hazard to one’s health
Drugs: A substance (legal or illegal) intended to affect the structure or function of the body
Presumptive Eligibility: Pregnant women who are of a certain income level are presumed eligible for Medicaid (a government funded health care program for low income individuals and families)
Ectopic pregnancy: also called a tubal pregnancy, this is a pregnancy that is not in the uterus; usually in the fallopian tubes. A life-threatening condition for both mother and baby. Click here to see an image.