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The Third Trimester

The-Third-Trimester

It’s time to take a look at the third trimester -- the final weeks of your pregnancy. If there is one thing we know, it is that every pregnancy is different. For some women, the third trimester is mostly about increased fatigue, using the bathroom constantly, and just wanting the baby to arrive already! For others, the third trimester is just more morning sickness. Regardless of how easy or challenging your pregnancy has been so far, you will most likely discover new aches and discomforts in these last few months, as your belly gets bigger and bigger and your organs experience more pressure from the weight of your growing baby.

While these last few months can often feel like the longest stretch, there are some incredible things happening with your baby and your body as it prepares to give birth and welcome a new life into the world.

Baby's Development

By the beginning of this trimester, your baby’s hearing is fully developed. This is a great time to start reading, playing music, or simply talking to your baby if you haven’t already! Throughout the third trimester, your baby is gaining lots of weight, and brain and lung development rapidly continues. Around 28 weeks, your baby’s eyes are opening and closing. And remember lanugo, that coat of hair that grew in the second trimester? Your baby starts to shed that hair around this time. By week 30, baby’s eyelashes and eyebrows are grown, and baby may also be growing a thick head of hair. During weeks 33-36, your baby is hopefully starting to position itself head-down in preparation for birth. Just after this, starting at 38 weeks, your baby is full-term. Pack that hospital bag and get ready to answer “any day now” when people ask you when you’re due!

Tip: Consider taking a childbirth class early in the third trimester to help prepare yourself for the big day. Most hospitals offer a class, and Birth Choice will be offering a FREE childbirth class in June. Stay tuned for details!

Baby's Size

27 weeks - Cauliflower

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Why Are Prenatal Vitamins Important?

Prenatal-Vitamins

As soon as you find out you are pregnant (or even when you are trying to get pregnant), it is recommended that you start taking a good quality prenatal vitamin. So what is a prenatal vitamin and why is it so important?

What is it?

A prenatal vitamin is a supplement with vitamins and minerals that your body needs to help your baby develop successfully and keep you and your baby as healthy as possible throughout pregnancy. While you will get most of your nutrients from the food you eat, taking prenatal vitamins is a great way to supplement your diet and ensure you’re getting the right amount of everything your body needs.

Important Vitamins and Minerals

The two most important things you should get from a prenatal vitamin are folic acid (or folate) and iron. Folic acid is needed to help prevent what are called “neural tube defects,” or abnormalities with the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Iron helps with the baby’s overall development, as well as the development of your placenta. Iron also helps your blood carry oxygen for you and your baby.

Other Helpful Vitamins and Minerals

Many prenatal vitamins contain other helpful vitamins and minerals, like calcium, zinc, and vitamins D, C, A, E, and B. These additional nutrients provide many other benefits for you and your baby, such as help with bone growth.

Talk to Your Healthcare Provider

While it is recommended that you start taking prenatal vitamins early in pregnancy (or when you are trying to get pregnant), you should also talk with your healthcare provider as soon as you can about which prenatal vitamin to take. Certain prenatal vitamins contain different amounts of each vitamin and mineral, and you may need more or less of the different nutrients based off of your body and health needs. Your healthcare provider can help you choose the best prenatal vitamin to lead to the most healthy pregnancy and baby.

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Tips to Process Change

Tips-to-Process-Change

Our last blog post was all about stress management, and since things are still crazy and unpredictable because of the coronavirus, we thought we’d do a similar post with tips to process change.

Since the beginning of this pandemic, so many changes have happened in our daily lives. Even if you haven’t experienced something as significant as the loss of a job or an eviction, our daily routines have been thrown off in more ways than one.

So in a time full of unexpected changes, what are some helpful ways to process all that’s going on?

Acknowledge the change.

When things get thrown off, some of us respond by ignoring what’s happening. We try to pretend that things are “all good.” The most helpful thing to do when change is happening is to acknowledge that it’s happening. Once we do that, we can move forward with processing the change and growing from it. Without acknowledging it, you bury it down and risk it coming up later as an unhealed wound.

Figure out what you can control.

So many of the changes we are all facing right now are completely out of our control. In cases like this, it can be helpful to look at your particular circumstances and figure out what is in your control. As we mentioned in our last post, keeping a routine as much as possible can be great mentally! It reminds you that you still have an active role in your day-to-day situation. Depending on the kind of change you are dealing with, it can also be incredibly helpful to make a plan. Making some sort of a plan can offer stability and provide hope in the future.

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Tips to Manage Stress

Tips-to-Manage-Stress

Jobs shut down, kids home from school, family and friends separated. Whether you’re struggling to make ends meet or feeling just plain bored, we’re all dealing with something during these high-stress times. We’ve put together a quick list of things you can do today to help you manage stress and cope with this craziness:

Routine

Start small! Wake up at the same time each day. Start each morning with quiet time or another activity of your choice. Routine and structure help orient our days, and more importantly, our hearts and minds.

Physical activity

There are countless options at your fingertips. On YouTube, you can find everything from an army boot camp to a fun Zumba class! You can walk to get your essential groceries, or go explore your neighborhood. Exercise looks different for everyone, but the benefits are universal! 

Hygiene/dress

Whether it’s changing out of your PJs or putting on a full face of makeup to take out the trash, our dress really can impact our mood. Even if it’s as simple as going from lounge shorts to jean shorts, try getting ready each day for a little pick-me-up.

Go outside

Open the window, go for a walk or run, sit in a park (socially distanced, of course!). Fresh air is good for your health, especially when the sun is shining! Vitamin D can give your mood a huge boost.

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The Second Trimester

The-Second-Trimester

A few months ago, we shared a post all about the first trimester -- what's happening with your body and what's happening with your baby. Now, let's take a look at the second trimester!

For many women, the second trimester is much better than the first. They often feel like they have their energy back, and sometimes those frustrating food aversions and sensitivity to smells completely disappear -- or at least aren't as strong. Many women's bellies start showing during the second trimester, and usually around 20 weeks, you can find out the gender of the baby! Even with these positive changes, though, you may be experiencing new discomforts, particularly pain in your lower back, heartburn, skin changes, and urinary frequency. While it may not be total bliss, you're hopefully feeling better than you were earlier in pregnancy. So what's really going on during weeks 13-27?

Baby's Development

Muscle tissue, skin, and bone begin forming around 16 weeks. Baby is also starting to learn how to suck, preparing him for nursing or bottle-feeding once born. Around 18 weeks, your baby may start hearing and her digestive system has started working. By 20 weeks, eyelashes, eyebrows, fingernails, and toenails have formed. Your baby also forms a protective coating that covers the whole body, called the vernix caseosa, and a fine hair to hold the vernix caseosa to the skin, called lanugo. Around 24 weeks, your baby has unique fingerprints and footprints. Hair is growing on the head, and the lungs are formed. A boy? His testicles move from abdomen to scrotum. A girl? Her uterus and ovaries are formed -- along with her eggs! By week 25, baby may start responding to your voice with movements. Kicking usually gets much stronger in general, so get ready to keep your hands on your belly to feel baby move!

Baby's Size

14 weeks - Peach

16 weeks - Avocado

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Pregnancy and Coronavirus Disease 2019

Pregnancy-and-COVID-19

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is making so many headlines. If you're pregnant, we've summarized some of the biggest takeaways for you! Ultimately, if you are experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19, schedule an appointment with your doctor. If you don't have prenatal care, Birth Choice can help to enroll you with Healing Hands Ministries and even schedule your first appointment with our on-site Care Navigator, available every Monday from 8AM-4PM. Call us at 214-631-2402 to learn more and schedule your appointment.

What is coronavirus disease?

COVID-19 is a new virus that causes respiratory illness, including a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms can be mild or severe. In more severe cases, patients can develop pneumonia or organ failure.

How does it spread?

COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person contact. Because it is a respiratory illness, it can transfer through "respiratory droplets" from an infected person's cough or sneeze or by being in close contact with an infected person. It is also possible to be infected by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching your face. You can learn more details on the CDC's website.

Am I more likely to get COVID-19 if I am pregnant?

According to the CDC's website, there is nothing specific to COVID-19 that would make a pregnant woman more susceptible, but because of the changes happening in a pregnant woman's body, they may generally be more at-risk for any respiratory infection, including this one. Unfortunately, not much is known about how COVID-19 could affect the child in utero, but studies are being done to learn more.

Pregnant women are always advised to wash hands thoroughly and frequently and, if possible, to not be in close contact with sick people while they are pregnant. This is especially important in light of the outbreak of COVID-19. The CDC recommends these main measures, among a few more:

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How Does Plan B Work?

What-is-Plan-B

Plan B, also known as “the morning after pill” or levonorgestrel, is a medication that is available over the counter to women who want to prevent pregnancy after an episode of unprotected sex. Marketing for the drug makes wild claims – including that Plan B is 95% effective at preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex.

So what is Plan B?

Levonorgestrel is a synthetic (non-natural) progesterone, which is a hormone present in every woman’s reproductive cycle. It is a component of many forms of birth control as well as the popular hormonal IUD, the Mirena. 

How does it actually work?

Understanding this requires a little more in-depth knowledge of the reproductive cycle. Before a woman can become pregnant, her brain releases a hormone called LH (luteinizing hormone). This happens only once a month. This LH surge results in the release of an egg. The egg only lives about 24 hours. If sperm are around to fertilize the egg, fertilization can occur, and the fertilized egg (an embryo) will then implant into the uterus and continue to grow. Sperm can actually live up to 5 days, so if sex occurs 5 days before the egg is released, the woman can still become pregnant.

So where in this process does Plan B come in?

Mostly, Plan B is going to work by delaying ovulation. The high dose of progesterone will cause a feedback loop and block the brain’s release of LH, thereby delaying ovulation. Other ways Plan B works is by thickening cervical mucus so that sperm cannot enter the uterus. Studies have not shown that Plan B prevents implantation. This is still debated, because levonorgestrel as a medication does cause multiple changes at the level of the endometrium in the form of OCPs and Mirena, but probably not at the Plan B dosage. 

What are the physical side effects?

Nausea and vomiting, heavier bleeding with your period, abdominal pain, dizziness, headache, breast tenderness. Roughly 20% of women will experience some or all of these side effects.

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How Can Birth Choice Help with Prenatal Care?

Care-Navigator

If you have recently found out that you're pregnant, you may be concerned with prenatal care. Maybe you don't have health insurance, or maybe you just don't know how to find a doctor. 

Thanks to our partnership with Healing Hands Ministries, Birth Choice can help you get started. Starting Monday, February 3rd, Birth Choice will have an on-site "Care Navigator" available for appointments every Monday from 8AM-4PM. The Care Navigator will be able to enroll you as a patient with Healing Hands, regardless of your insurance situation. In that same visit, they can even schedule your first prenatal appointment with one of their physicians. All of this can happen in one simple, quick appointment at Birth Choice.

While the Care Navigator will accept walk-ins, it's always best to schedule an appointment so that you can be seen immediately. Call Birth Choice at 214-631-2402 to schedule your appointment and get started with prenatal care.

Please bring the following documents to your appointment with our Care Navigator:

1. Valid photo ID

2. Most recent pay stub of anyone in the household who works, plus any other type of income (i.e. food stamps, disability, child support, social security, etc.)

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The First Trimester

The-First-Trimester

Nausea, fatigue, tender breasts, irritability: The first 12 weeks of pregnancy, also called "the first trimester," can be full of challenges. Thankfully, these symptoms typically lessen (or even fully pass) during the second and third trimesters. For more information about early signs of pregnancy, check out this blog post

So while you are experiencing all of these physical, hormonal, and emotional changes, what's happening with your baby?

Baby's Development

The first trimester is so important for baby. At 5 weeks, your baby is developing all of his/her major organs, like the brain, stomach, kidneys, and heart. In fact, you should be able to hear baby's heartbeat via a sonogram as early as week 8! From weeks 5-8, little arms and legs, hair, skin, and nails are forming. Around week 8, baby's senses are developing (touch, taste, etc.), and around week 9, you can even find out your baby's gender through a DNA Blood Test. By 10 weeks, baby's eyes and teeth are formed! 

By the end of the first trimester, baby might be moving around a lot - maybe even sucking his/her thumb! While you may not feel baby's movements just yet, you will soon! And look at how fast your baby is growing:

Baby's Size

4 weeks - Poppy Seed

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How to Tell Your Parents that You're Pregnant

How-to-Tell-Your-Parents

You found out you're unexpectedly pregnant, and you are feeling overwhelmed. Telling your parents may be one of the last things you want to do. But it is an important step. 

There is no "formula" for how to have this conversation. It all depends on your relationship with your parents. If you have a great relationship with them, telling them that you're pregnant may actually be a relief to you. Maybe you know that they will be supportive and do whatever they can to help.

If your relationship with your parents is strained, this conversation may be more intimidating. First of all, know that that's okay. This is a big conversation, and you're likely still trying to process the news yourself. Sharing it with anyone is tough. 

If you are feeling really nervous and stressed about telling your parents, schedule an appointment with Birth Choice to talk with one of our trained client advocates. We can help you figure out the best way to start the conversation, all based off of your needs and your circumstances.

Scheduling an appointment with Birth Choice also gives you the chance to confirm your pregnancy with a free medical-grade pregnancy test. And because we will talk with you about all of your options, you can go into the conversation ready with information and thoughts about your next steps

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Are You Feeling Pressured to Have an Abortion?

Pressure

In complicated situations, it is normal to seek advice. People who know us can give valuable feedback and ideas about how to move forward. If you find yourself in an unplanned pregnancy, you may choose to confide in people and ask them what you should do. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it can be a really helpful way to get a new perspective on a difficult situation.

When you begin opening up to people, you may find that some respond really well. Some people will want to support you no matter what. You will feel loved and valued. Other people may not take the news as well. First, make sure you give people time to process your news. Just as you needed time to process the news of your pregnancy, so will they. 

However, it is possible that you will start feeling pressure to consider or choose abortion. This kind of pressure may come from the father of the baby, your parents, or from one of your friends. Regardless of the source, it is so important to remember (and truly believe) that you have a voice in this decision. In stressful situations, we can sometimes rush to a decision that seems like it will resolve conflict and keep everyone happy. But any decision made out of pressure or the fear of disappointing people is not a good decision, especially one as life-changing as this. You want to feel confident and peaceful about your decision so that you have no regrets. 

So what can you do if you are feeling pressured to get an abortion?

One of the best things you can do is get solid, accurate information about all of your options. This can empower you to share information with those who are pressuring you and defend what you are feeling. When you schedule an appointment for a free pregnancy test at Birth Choice, this is exactly what we can work on with you. We can share objective information about all of your options, including abortion. We have so many resources that can help you understand and give you the language to have a productive conversation with others.

If anyone is pressuring you to have an abortion, we encourage you to bring them with you to your appointment. We have male and female counselors who can sit with you and discuss the situation in a safe, confidential, and open-minded environment. We are here for you, and our goal is always that you leave our clinic feeling informed and free. Schedule your appointment online or by calling 214-631-2402. 

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Round Ligament Pain

Round-Ligament-Pain

Some pregnant women experience round ligament pain, especially during or after the second trimester. What is it, why does it happen, and how can you ease the pain?

What is it?

Round ligaments are ligaments (bands of tissue) that connect the front of your uterus to your groin. The pain itself can be an achy, crampy, or sharp and sudden feeling in your lower abdomen - sometimes even in your groin. Some women experience it on only one side, and others experience it on both.

Why does it happen?

Round ligaments stretch and tighten during pregnancy. The pain is caused when the ligaments quickly contract, so you might feel round ligament pain when you change positions too quickly, move suddenly, or even when you cough or sneeze. All of those sudden movements force the round ligaments to contract faster than normal, and that can make you feel very uncomfortable. 

How can you ease the pain?

Thankfully, there are some quick and easy things you can do to help you work through round ligament pain. Gentle stretching and slowly changing positions are the most common ways to relieve the pain. Especially when you do things like get out of bed or stand up from the couch, move slowly to prevent the pain from occurring. If you have gotten approval from your doctor to continue exercising, be gentle with your body and careful with your movements. If you often experience round ligament pain while exercising, you should adjust your routine.

Tip: Many women feel relief after taking a warm bath. A bath can soothe and relax your body.

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Being Uncertain About Your Options

Being-Uncertain-About-Your-Options

"How did this happen?"

"I don't know what to do." 

"I'm not ready to be a mother."

"I don't know how I feel."

"I'm scared."

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Who Needs Licensed Professional Counseling? (Part 1)

LPC-Pt1

In a world filled with excess noise, constant stimulation, social media, packed schedules, overwhelming responsibilities and just plain old stress, taking time to process and pay attention to our internal worlds has never been more important.

It is easy to allow intense human emotions such as guilt, anxiety, panic, shame, fear, anger, etc. to sit within us and remain unacknowledged and unaddressed. Nothing is worse for our mental health...and our physical health too, since both are closely tied (check out this study on the relationship between our mental and physical health for more info). These days, our culture places a high value on our physical well-being: eating well, exercising often, getting enough rest, avoiding certain foods, and on and on. Since we are both mind and body, doesn’t it make sense to care for our mental well-being just as passionately as our physical well-being?

Here is where seeking out licensed professional counseling with a licensed therapist can be an instrumental tool to improve your sense of fulfillment and empowerment. The counseling process can be challenging because it presents you with the opportunity to address things that might be easier to keep swept under the rug, right where they are. Counseling offers the chance to face the ways of thinking and behaving that keep us stuck in unhealthy habits and patterns that make life difficult. This can be frightening, but when we are willing to be uncomfortable, that’s right where real, lasting change and peace can begin to grow. It’s all in your hands to decide whether you want to start on this adventure. You are the single-most powerful agent of change in your life!

If you are hesitant about starting the process of seeing a licensed professional counselor (a therapist), stay tuned for part 2 of this series, where we will address some common myths about the counseling process and hopefully encourage you to take the brave step of flexing those mental health muscles within the therapeutic setting.

If you are ready to take the first step and meet with a counselor, Birth Choice can help. Click here or call us at 214-631-2402 for more information, and a Birth Choice staff member will help you begin the process confidentially. 

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Eating for Two

Eating-for-Two

Being pregnant and "eating for two" can be a great excuse to eat a second helping of french fries or a second piece of birthday cake! While we are all for indulging your cravings here and there, it's also important to keep in mind that you are the only provider of nutrients to your baby. Your baby's nutrition plays an important role in his/her development. The more you take care of yourself during pregnancy, the healthier you baby will be! Be mindful of the types of foods you are eating, how much you are eating, and how often you are eating.

What types of foods should I eat more of?

It's good to eat a wide variety of foods so that you and your baby are getting different kinds of nutrients. Make sure to eat plenty of foods rich in protein, folic acid, iron, and calcium. Fully-cooked meat and fish, yogurt, eggs, vegetables, fruit, breads, cereals - these are all great foods to help you and your baby get the nutrition you need for a healthy pregnancy. View more suggestions here

Tip: If you like to snack, nuts make for a great protein-rich snack!

Don't forget that there are some foods that are unsafe to eat during pregnancy, like soft cheeses, under-cooked meat, unpasteurized milk, and raw fish/fish high in mercury. For a full list of foods to stay away from, check out this article

How often and how much should I eat?

There are no real "rules" for how often you should eat while pregnant. What's more important is that you are taking in the extra calories your body needs, which is usually 300 additional calories in your second and third trimesters. Many pregnant women find that eating smaller meals more frequently is most helpful, especially if you experience morning sickness. And later in pregnancy, as the baby grows, you may get full quicker.

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How Can Birth Choice Help the Father of the Baby?

father-of-the-baby

Many times when a woman finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, the father of the baby can feel afraid and isolated. So many questions may be running through the father's head: What is my role? What is my responsibility? How can I support her? Am I ready to be a father?

If you are the father of a baby in an unexpected pregnancy, we want to remind you that you are not alone in this situation. 

We offer many free services for the mother of the baby at Birth Choice. But we also offer support for the father of the baby. At Birth Choice, we are here for both of you. 

An unplanned pregnancy can be intimidating, overwhelming, and scary - for both the mother and the father. When scheduling an appointment with Birth Choice, we always encourage the father of the baby to come with the mother. We have trained male counselors on staff that can meet with the father one-on-one, hear his thoughts, and talk about the three options of the pregnancy: adoption, parenting, and abortion. In unplanned pregnancies, it's sometimes difficult to communicate with one another, because there are so many emotions at play. Having the chance to talk through your feelings and reactions separately can create the confidence you need to come back to your partner and communicate more openly, honestly, and effectively. It's so important for the two of you to be on the same page as you consider your options and how to move forward. We can help you do just that.

If you are the father of the baby, here are some other ways Birth Choice can help you:

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All About Morning Sickness

morning-sickness

If you're pregnant, you may experience symptoms of morning sickness (like nausea and vomiting), especially during your first trimester. In fact, more than 50% of pregnant women deal with morning sickness between 6-12 weeks of pregnancy. Morning sickness can be so frustrating - and it's not limited to the morning! You are already exhausted, and now you have an upset stomach, too. Maybe you don't even have an appetite. Luckily, morning sickness is just your body's response to the increase in some pregnancy hormones (see our notes about severe morning sickness at the end of this post).

To help you get through this phase of pregnancy (most symptoms subside by week 12), here are some practical tips on how to ease your morning sickness:

1. Stay hydrated.

Drinking lots of water is especially important if you experience vomiting. You need to make sure you're putting plenty of fluids back in your body!

2. Eat simple, bland foods throughout the day.

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Why Your LMP Matters

LMP

Most doctors and nurses that you will talk to throughout your pregnancy will want to know the date of your last menstrual period, or LMP.

What's so important about your LMP?

Well, most pregnant women aren't sure of the actual date of conception (when the egg was fertilized). Unless you are charting your cycle each month, it can be very difficult to pinpoint the specific date. But if you know the date of your LMP, that can give a ballpark range of when you likely conceived. Why? The typical menstrual cycle (from period to period) lasts about 28 days, and ovulation usually occurs around day 14. So if you know the date of your LMP, then the doctor can reasonably estimate the date you conceived, which then helps determine your due date.

You may have some questions about your LMP:

1. What if I have irregular cycles (shorter/longer than 28 days)?

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What is our Earn While You Learn Program?

Education-Program

When you enroll as a client at Birth Choice, you have the opportunity to participate in our Earn While You Learn Program. This is an  education program that equips you with skills and knowledge relating to pregnancy, parenting, and general life skills, all while earning Baby Bucks to use in our Baby Boutique. 

What will you learn?

Our free classes cover a variety of topics designed to help you feel equipped to take on parenthood with confidence. Here are some examples of our classes: Parenting Basics: Self-Care for Moms, Preparing for the Interview, Doctor Dad: The Well Child/Sick Child, How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Kids, Positive Partnerships for Women, Potty Training, and Understanding Your Newborn. There are many, many more topics covered that may be of interest to you. View our full calendar of September classes here.

On the second Saturday of every month, we also offer a free 8-hour Childbirth Class taught by a midwife. This class helps you prepare for labor and delivery. Note that sign-up for this class is separate from our normal class schedule. If you want to know more, call us at 214-631-2402.

So how does it work?

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How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?

How-Do-Pregnancy-Tests-Work

Before (or even after) you take a pregnancy test, you may be wondering how they even work. There are two types of pregnancy tests: urine tests (like your over-the-counter/at-home tests) or blood tests (done at a doctor's office). Both tests detect the presence of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in your urine or blood. The hCG hormone is produced after the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, which is why it is often called the "pregnancy hormone."

Once pregnant, the hCG hormone rises very quickly, even doubling every few days. Implantation typically happens about six days after fertilization, but in some women, implantation won't happen until the  first day of your missed period. This is why it is generally recommended to wait until after your missed period to take an at-home pregnancy test: The test has a better chance of detecting the hCG hormone. If you think you are pregnant but get a negative result from a pregnancy test, you can wait about a week to take another one, or you can schedule an appointment at Birth Choice to get a free medical-grade pregnancy test.

The blood pregnancy test is used at some doctor's offices if the test needs to be done very early. There are two types of blood tests, one of which simply detects the presence of the hCG hormone (similar to a urine test, but with the ability to detect the hormone earlier on), the other of which can actually measure the amount of hCG in the body. Doctors will often order this second type of blood test if the pregnancy is high-risk.

Is my at-home pregnancy test accurate?

At-home pregnancy tests are around 97% accurate, though  there is room for error based on a number of factors such as: 

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