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4 WEEKS, 5 DAYS

247 days to go...

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Your baby today

The embryo, still less than 3 mm long, now has a deep and narrow groove extending along its entire length. This groove will soon become so deep and its edges will curl over so much that it forms into a tube running along the length of the embryo.

Although there's lots of information to take in, try to enjoy this time and remember pregnancy is a natural process.

No sooner than you found out you were pregnant, like most expectant women, you may have begun to worry about all aspects of your lifestyle and your unborn baby's health. To put things in perspective, remember that in generations gone by pregnancy was considered to be a natural event, and few women made lifestyle changes to accommodate the condition. So in the past, pregnant women were likely to continue eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol, and smoking.

Furthermore, pregnancy tests tended to be much less accurate or sensitive, meaning that many pregnancies ended in early miscarriage without anyone being aware. For this reason, many of the problems now known to be risk factors for pregnancy complications or miscarriage were not analyzed or addressed, or worried about.

Today, with the benefit of a great deal of research, and precise monitoring of ovulation, conception, and pregnancy, women are very aware of what is happening inside their bodies, and are informed about the potential pitfalls. This is a mixed blessing: while it is important to avoid anything known to adversely affect your unborn baby, it is equally important to relax and enjoy the pregnancy, because stress is not good for you or your baby.

As A Matter Of Fact

Pregnant women used to be advised to drink dark beer because it's a good source of iron.

Sadly, this is an old wives' tale as the iron content of beer is negligible. So, even though they're not as interesting, stick to your leafy green vegetables!

As an older expectant mom, you are likely to have more prenatal checkups. High blood pressure can be a sign of preeclampsia, which is a more significant risk for first-time pregnant women over 40.

Ask A... Doctor

I'm 40 and in great shape. Will the doctors still see my pregnancy as potentially high-risk?

Yes, any woman over age 35 is categorized as high risk, regardless of her health status. Although this can be frustrating, the reason for the close monitoring is that, statistically, women over 35 are more likely to suffer from complications during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, miscarriage, and gestational diabetes; there is also an increased risk of having a baby with a genetic disorder, such as Down syndrome.

Your doctor will simply want to keep an eye on you to be sure that your pregnancy progresses normally, and that both you and your baby remain healthy. By having regular monitoring, any potential problems can be addressed and hopefully rectified at an early stage.

Try not to see it as an intrusion. It's great that you're in good shape already, and if you continue to take care of your health and exercise regularly, you will reduce the risks of complications from occurring.

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Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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