Facts about pregnancy and pregnancy tests

Stopping birth control and getting pregnant are major decisions in a woman's life, and it's important that you educate yourself on what to expect during pregnancy. This will help you distinguish natural changes in your body from potentially troubling symptoms, which will make the entire pregnancy a smoother, less worrisome process and allow you to enjoy the many rewards of this special time in your life.

During pregnancy, your body goes through a series of natural changes which help you nourish and care for your growing baby. Each trimester comes with specific pregnancy symptoms that you should learn about with the help of your doctor.

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Getting a Pregnancy Test

The first step is to confirm your pregnancy. If you're sexually active, not using birth control and you've missed your period, you should get a pregnancy test.

Pregnancy tests look for the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone, which is released by a woman's body when she has conceived a child. There are two ways you can test for HCG: through a blood test administered in your doctor's office, or by using a home pregnancy test that checks your urine for the presence of HCG. Blood tests have superior accuracy, but home pregnancy tests are more convenient and private.

Pregnancy Symptoms by Trimester

A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, and there are specific symptoms you can expect to encounter from week to week. However, it's also useful to know what to expect, generally speaking, from each of the three trimesters that make up this 40-week period:

During your pregnancy, you should get several ultrasounds, including a 3D ultrasound, to make sure the baby is developing normally. Many health insurance plans cover this procedure, entitling you to a specified number of free ultrasounds over the course of your pregnancy.

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