All About Pregnancy.
PREGNANCY OVERVIEW: Pregnancy is the carrying of one or more offspring, known as a fetus or embryo, inside the womb of a female. In a pregnancy, there can be multiple gestations, as in the case of twins or triplets. Human pregnancy is the most studied of all mammalian pregnancies. Childbirth usually occurs about 38 weeks after conception; in women who have a menstrual cycle length of four weeks, this is approximately 40 weeks from the last normal menstrual period (LNMP). The World Health Organization defines normal term for delivery as between 37 weeks and 42 weeks.
INITIATION Although pregnancy begins with implantation, the process leading to pregnancy occurs earlier as the result of the female gamete, or oocyte, merging with the male gamete, spermatozoon. In medicine this process is referred to as fertilization; in lay terms, it is more commonly known as "conception". After the point of fertilization, the fused product of the female and male gamete is referred to as a zygote or fertilized egg. The fusion of male and female gametes usually occurs following the act of sexual intercourse, resulting in spontaneous pregnancy. However, the advent of artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization have also made achieving pregnancy possible in cases where sexual intercourse does not result in fertilization (e.g., through choice or male/female infertility).
The process of fertilization occurs in more than a single step, and the interruption of any of these can lead to a failure. Therefore, fertilization is much more than the fusion between the female gamete and male spermatozoon. Through fertilization, the egg and sperm are saved: the egg is activated to begin its developmental program, and the haploid nuclei of the two gametes come together to form the genome of a new diploid organism
PRENATAL PERIOD: Prenatal defines the period occurring "around the time of birth", specifically from 22 completed weeks (154 days) of gestation (the time when birth weight is normally 500 g) to 7 completed days after birth. POSTNATAL PERIOD: The postnatal period begins immediately after the birth of a child and then extends for about six weeks. During this period, the mother's body returns to pre-pregnancy conditions as far as uterus size and hormone levels are concerned.
The perinatal period is immediately before to after birth. Depending on the definition, it starts between the 20th to 28th week of gestation and ends between 1 to 4 weeks after birth (the word "perinatal" is a hybrid of the Greek "peri-" meaning 'around or about' and "natal" from the Latin "natus" meaning "birth.")