Your baby this week
POUNDS IN WEIGHT
She is continuing to gain weight during her final weeks.
Her tiny fingernails have grown substantially.
Your baby’s brain is developing rapidly.
How big is your baby?
By now she measures 45cm (18in) in length and weighs just over 2kg (5.4lb). That’s like carrying two bags of sugar around in your tummy.
How big is your baby?
By now she weighs just over 2kg (5lb) and measures 45cm (18in) in length. This now makes her the size of an average pineapple.
What does your baby look like?
She’s probably got her head down, ready for birth, and she will become ever-plumper as she gains weight during her final weeks in utero. She will add somewhere between 1lb and several lbs before she gets to the finishing line. Her tiny fingernails have grown substantially enough now that they may need a trim soon after birth.
Changes in your body this week
Lots of women develop variations in their urination pattern around 35 weeks of pregnancy. Pressure from your baby’s head can be an issue, making you wee more frequently, and you might experience that “I need to go NOW!” feeling, so beloved of late pregnancy. Unfortunately, coughing, sneezing and laughing can all be accompanied by a loss of bladder control. Ways of controlling this are ensuring that you empty your bladder as fully as possible (leaning as far forwards as you can manage over your bump when you wee is a great tip for achieving this). You should also be practising your pelvic floor exercises regularly (also known as Kegel exercises).
How your baby is developing
This week sees your baby’s brain developing rapidly, meaning her head is still growing larger.
Lots of neural tube tissue is being formed; this will control, among other things, her reflexes and muscle movements.
How your baby is developing
This week sees your baby’s brain developing rapidly, meaning her head is still growing larger. Lots of neural tube tissue is being formed; this will control, among other things, her reflexes and muscle movements.
Despite the growth in her head circumference, her skull bones remain soft, which is useful for when she passes down the birth canal and is why some babies emerge with a slightly misshapen head – but don’t worry, the plates of the skull will fuse shortly after birth and your baby’s brain remains protected.
This stage in your third trimester is likely to provide yet another wonderful side effect of pregnancy – varicose veins. These unsightly things may begin to bulge as your body draws closer to full term pregnancy. The good news? Support tights can combat this by giving your veins a little upward lift as your weight pushes down on them. The bad news? They probably won’t be the sexiest things that you’ll ever wear and they can be quite hot in warmer weather.
Are there any symptoms you should be looking out for?
If varicose veins are troubling you on your legs, the chances are that you’ll also have them around your bottom. When they’re in this area, they’re called haemorrhoids and having these swollen veins near your anus can be both itchy and painful. Haemorrhoids (or piles, to give them their less classy name) during pregnancy are caused by the baby putting pressure on your rectum.
Lots and lots of women suffer and there are many treatments available. Plus, they should disappear after labour. To make the situation better yourself:
- drink plenty of water
- have a high-fibre diet
- sleep on your side
- do your pelvic floor exercises
- don’t strain on the toilet
- keep yourself properly clean down there (purpose-made, toilet wet wipes are good for this)
- if you need more help, your GP can prescribe a stool softener and topical creams
Ever heard of pregnancy brain (or baby brain)? As you get closer and closer to delivery, you may find that a fog creeps up on your mind, because your brain cell volume diminishes around this time – recent research suggests this is the brain’s way of gearing up to make the necessary changes required to keep your baby safe, so there’s no harm in admitting it as it’s just another way your body prepares you to be a mother.
If you are feeling a bit befuddled at times, the good news is that it should lift a few months after the birth. In the meantime, you need to be super careful when you’re carrying out more risky tasks, such as driving, crossing roads, carrying things downstairs – anything that needs concentration – you might just need to be doubly aware of what you are doing.
Important issues this week
If you haven’t done it already, get that hospital bag packed!
Having your hospital bag prepared well in advance can be a source of comfort to you because if anything happens early, you’re all set to go. You don’t need to pack everything bar the kitchen sink for your labour, but there are some must-have items. Your midwife may give you a list of what you’re likely to need (or what your maternity unit requires) but here are some general guidelines.
For your newborn you will need:
- babygros and baby vests
- nappies (and nappy sacks if you’re using disposables)
- wet wipes
- newborn scratch mittens
- a warm all-in-one outdoor suit during the winter months and a cardigan or shawl for the summer months
- a hat
- a baby blanket
For yourself, you should pack items such as:
- two sets of loose, comfortable clothes; leggings and sweatshirts are ideal
- large knickers
- maternity pads
- feeding bras if you plan to breastfeed
- toothbrush, wash flannel, towel, shower gel, etc – you WILL want to be clean after the birth!
- slippers or bedsocks with rubber grips on the soles
- dressing gown
- three loose nightdresses, ideally buttoned down the front for feeding
- any medications that you take regularly
- plenty of snacks and drinks
- a book or magazine to keep you occupied if necessary
- phone/tablet charger
Keeping fit, staying healthy
Right about now, you can start exercises to prepare your body for labour. A birthing ball is a great idea so you can bounce gently and stabilise your core muscles. If your baby hasn’t yet turned, spending time on your hands and knees, rocking slowly backwards and forwards, can encourage her to do so. There are medical procedures that can be done to achieve this, but the DIY way is less painful and more natural. A word of warning though – always use caution when exercising during the later stages of pregnancy, don’t push yourself too hard and if you experience any pain, stop immediately and check for any signs that something could be out of the ordinary.
Looking forward; planning ahead
Are you planning a homebirth? If so, you might like to consider employing a doula. Doulas accompany parents through the birthing procedure, and can help with:
- relaxation and breathing techniques
- using different positions for labour and birth to alleviate pain
- emotional support to enable you to stay calm and focused on the task ahead
- looking after older children so that parents can be fully absorbed in the birthing process