Your baby this week
POUNDS IN WEIGHT
Your baby is now getting regular periods of sleep.
Your baby has opened her eyes for the first time.
Her lungs are continuing to become stronger.
How big is your baby?
Now that your second trimester is drawing to a close, your baby is getting closer and closer to her birth weight. She now measures 36.6cm, which is 14.4 inches, when stretched out – that’s about the length of a 2 litre bottle of fizzy drink.
And she weighs about 900g (2lb). What does this translate to? It means your baby is about the same weight as a medium cauliflower.
Now that your second trimester is drawing to a close, your baby is getting closer and closer to her birth weight. She now measures 36.6cm, which is 14.4 inches, when stretched out – that’s about the length of a 2 litre bottle of fizzy drink. And she weighs about 900g (2lb). What does this translate to? It means your baby is about the same weight as a medium cauliflower.
What does your baby look like?
Your baby is starting to look like she’s ready to come out. If she were to be born prematurely, she would have a very high chance of survival (but she would need a lot of support).
Also, if you were to look at your baby this week, she would look right back at you. Yes – as you near two thirds of the way through pregnancy, your baby has opened her eyes for the first time.
Changes in your body this week
You’re in the last week of the second trimester – congratulations! As you approach the final phase of your pregnancy, you are probably feeling very excited. But this can be accompanied by many other emotions which will be heightened by your fluctuating levels of oestrogen and progesterone. If your mood swings return and you find yourself feeling very panicked or depressed on some days, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor or midwife.
How your baby is developing
Her lungs are continuing to become stronger. By now, a substance called surfactant has developed. Surfactant is crucial for your baby’s breathing because it helps make the lungs stable, preventing them from collapsing when she inhales and exhales.
That’s why if your baby is born prematurely, she is likely to need a lot of support with her breathing, as she will not yet have developed a sufficient amount of surfactant.
How your baby is developing
Her lungs are continuing to become stronger. By now, a substance called surfactant has developed. Surfactant is crucial for your baby’s breathing because it helps make the lungs stable, preventing them from collapsing when she inhales and exhales. That’s why if your baby is born prematurely, she is likely to need a lot of support with her breathing, as she will not yet have developed a sufficient amount of surfactant.
Your baby is now getting regular periods of sleep. And while vivid dreams are a common pregnancy symptom for most mums-to-be, your baby is starting to have dreams of her own, as she is starting to experience periods of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. If she is a restless sleeper, you may be able to feel her tossing and turning inside the ever tightening space in your womb.
Unfortunately, your aches and pains are still going to bother you. Leg cramps are common in the latter stages of pregnancy, with many women experiencing them from around week 27 until they give birth. This is because the weight of your baby puts extra strain on your muscles and veins. While most leg cramps are perfectly normal, if there is any swelling or tenderness, accompanied by a warmer feeling around the skin, then you should check this with your doctor or midwife. It’s possible it may be a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis), which will need emergency medical care.
Are there any symptoms you should be looking out for?
Constipation is a common issue and half of all pregnant women are likely to suffer this annoying pregnancy symptom at one point or another during their pregnancy. Constipation occurs partly because of the amount of progesterone released by the body. This particular pregnancy hormone acts as muscle relaxant, so your usually strong bowel muscles are less able to complete the process of peristalsis i.e moving the waste products through your system.
Constipation can lead to haemorrhoids, or piles, especially if you’re having to strain to go to the toilet. Haemorrhoids are varicose veins – swollen blood vessels – around the rectum and anus. They are not exclusively caused by constipation – in pregnancy they are more likely to be caused by hormones helping veins to relax. They are harmless and easily treated, but they can be very uncomfortable if you have them.
Your diet can relieve both constipation and haemorrhoids. Eating a lot of fibre and making sure you drink plenty of water will help keep your digestion working well. These measures will also help to soften your stool, meaning that you won’t have to aggravate your piles by pushing too hard. Another remedy that can aid the recovery from both symptoms is gentle exercising.
In the later stages of your pregnancy, you may experience shortness of breath. As your uterus puts pressure on your diaphragm, you may feel that breathing takes more effort.
You’ll need to factor this is in when doing any form of exercise, lowering the intensity to a comfortable rate or completely stopping if you feel the activity is too much. When sitting, keep your shoulders back so that you give your lungs the room they need to expand.
If your shortness of breath seems severe, call your doctor or midwife.
Important issues this week
As you embark on your third trimester, the reality of giving birth may be sinking in more and more each day. The thought of labour can be very scary for some women, and you may be concerned about how you’re going to cope with the pain.
Remind yourself that your body was built for this and giving birth is the most natural thing on earth. All pregnant women will have felt the trepidation that you’re feeling right now at one point or another. Why not start reading up on labour and the types of pain relief you may be offered, also start thinking about breathing exercises for labour and one or two practical routines for dealing with contractions. Start thinking about attending antenatal classes – which should start around 30 to 32 weeks. Speak to your midwife about where and when you might be able to attend.
And if you are worrying about labour, just remember that when it’s over you will have a beautiful baby and it will have been totally worth it.
Keeping fit, staying healthy
To help with any leg cramps you may be experiencing, you could try stretching. Effective, thorough stretching can help you avoid the pain of cramps altogether.
A particularly useful stretch, recommended by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, is the calf stretch. You will need to stand one meter from a wall and lean forward with your arms outstretched so that you touch the wall. Keep the soles of your feet flat. Hold for five seconds and then repeat. NICE recommends that this exercise is best done before going to bed.
Remember that simply going for a walk each day and drinking enough water to stay sufficiently hydrated should be enough to help keep cramping at bay.
Looking forward; planning ahead
Have you got the baby’s room ready yet? Now that you’re almost in the third trimester, the reality that you’re going to have another addition to the household should be truly setting in (if it hasn’t already). And there’s no better way to welcome a new family member than with her own room, decorated specially for her.
You could try choosing a fun theme – under the sea, outer space, the jungle – and go about decorating the room with toys and colours to represent that theme.
If you’ve chosen to know your baby’s gender, then this will no doubt be a factor in how you choose to decorate. If not, then you could try some gender-neutral colours and toys. You may also wish to go the gender neutral route if you intend the room to be for more than one child, such as if you’re having twins or you plan to have another baby soon after so that your first child has a playmate.
Whatever choices you make, by planning ahead now, you may have most of the hard work done in plenty of time for the new arrival.