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A photograph of a pregnant person’s abdomen
Figure 10.1 Changes during Pregnancy Pregnancy can be a time of joy, wonder, and mystery. As the fetus grows within the pregnant person’s uterus, many physiologic and emotional adaptations occur. (credit: “Ya no queda nada” by Raúl Hernández González/Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Pregnancy is considered a normal physiologic event that transforms the pregnant person and the individuals close to them. Pregnancy lasts approximately 280 days, or 40 weeks. The physiologic changes during pregnancy are not confined to the uterus. Cardiac, respiratory, gastrointestinal, renal, musculoskeletal, neurologic, and endocrine changes also occur from conception to birth and beyond. The physiologic changes support growth in the uterus, growth and functions of the placenta, and growth and development of the fetus. Psychosocial adaptations of pregnancy are related to changes in hormone production and in societal role expectations of the pregnant person and parenting.

This chapter covers the physiologic changes and psychosocial adaptations the pregnant person undergoes throughout pregnancy, common discomforts of pregnancy, fetal growth and development, and recommendations for choosing a health care provider. Nursing care and interventions assist the pregnant person to recognize and understand their body’s changes and adaptations, common discomforts of pregnancy, and growth and development milestones of their fetus. Nursing interventions also focus on education in relief measures for the common discomforts of pregnancy, emphasizing self-care of the person. In addition, nursing care during pregnancy includes monitoring for any indications that the pregnancy, the pregnant person, or the fetus may be at risk for complications.


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