What is pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a condition in which a woman carries a developing baby, called a fetus, in her uterus. Pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks or a little more than nine months, and is divided into three 13-week trimesters. Most pregnancies involve one fetus, but pregnancies involving multiple fetuses, such as twins or triplets, can occur as well.

Pregnancy is a common condition of everyday life. There are about six million pregnancies per year in the United States, according to the American Pregnancy Association (Source: APA).

The first symptom of pregnancy is often a missed menstrual period. Other early symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, back pain, and fatigue. Symptoms can vary greatly between women and from one woman’s pregnancy to her next. Regular prenatal care can help alleviate many uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy and ensure a healthy pregnancy and birth.

In some cases, pregnancy can lead to serious or life-threatening complications for mothers and fetuses, such as miscarriage and eclampsia. Seek prompt medical care as soon as you decide you want to have a baby or as early in your pregnancy as possible tohelp reduce the risk of complications. It is also important to continue your prenatal care as recommended by your licensed health care provider during and after your pregnancy.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms during pregnancy, such as high fever, severe and sudden pelvic or abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, or a change in consciousness or alertness.


What are the symptoms of pregnancy?

Pregnancy usually lasts about 40 weeks or a little more than nine months, and women often experience different combinations of symptoms throughout the course of a pregnancy. Some women may experience many symptoms, and other women have very few symptoms. You might experience certain symptoms in one pregnancy and different symptoms in another pregnancy. Symptoms can also vary greatly in severity... Read more about pregnancysymptoms


What causes pregnancy?

Pregnancy is the result of conception, which occurs when a man’s sperm fertilizes a woman’s egg, creating a zygote. Throughout the course of pregnancy, the zygote develops into an embryo. After eight weeks gestation, the embryo is called a fetus.

Conception most often occurs due to vaginal sexual intercourse. When a couple cannot conceive naturally through intercourse, they may co... Read more about pregnancycauses


How is pregnancy treated?

Pregnancy is treated through prenatal care, which the mother receives from her obstetrical medical provider through regular visits during pregnancy. The goal of prenatal care includes ensuring the health of the mother and the fetus and preparing the mother for birth. You may receive prenatal care from an obstetrician-gynecologist, a certified nurse-midwife (CNM), or other licensed pregnancy hea... Read more about pregnancytreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.