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Pregnancy

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the carrying of one or more offspring, known as a fetus or embryo, inside the body of a female mammal such as a human, between conception and birth. In a pregnancy, there can be multiple gestations (for example, in the case of twins or triplets). Human pregnancy is the most studied of all mammalian pregnancies, and the medical field that deals with pregnancy is called obstetrics.

Childbirth usually occurs about 38 weeks from fertilization, i.e. approximately 40 weeks from the start of the last menstruation. Thus, pregnancy lasts about nine months, although the exact definition of the English word “pregnancy” is a subject of controversy.

One scientific term for the state of pregnancy is gravid, and a pregnant female is sometimes referred to as a gravida. Both words are rarely used in common speech. The term embryo is used to describe the developing human during the initial weeks, and the term fetus is used from about two months of development until birth. A woman who is pregnant for the first time is known medically as a primigravida or "gravida 1", while a woman who has never been pregnant is known as "gravida 0". Similarly, the terms "para 0", "para 1" and so on are used for the number of times a woman has given birth.

In many societies' medical and legal definitions, human pregnancy is somewhat arbitrarily divided into three trimester periods, as a means to simplify reference to the different stages of prenatal development. The first trimester carries the highest risk of miscarriage (natural death of embryo or fetus). During the second trimester, the development of the fetus can be more easily monitored and diagnosed. The beginning of the third trimester often approximates the point of viability, or the ability of the fetus to survive, with or without medical help, outside of the uterus.

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