You have been able to feel the baby move for quite a few weeks now, but now others can feel the baby move to by placing their hands on your abdomen when the baby is active. It can be a wonderful experience to share this with others.
Finding a comfortable position for sleeping is a new task. Nighttime trips to the bathroom, or to get water or snacks, cut into your sleep, as do the midnight gyrations of the baby. Since you need all the sleep you can get, grab a nap during the day.
A body pillow is a good recommendation for this time of your pregnancy. It will allow you to support your legs and your growing belly. If you don't have a body pillow, try making use of several regular pillows.
You're now in the third and final trimester. From now until about week thirty-six you will probably gain the majority of the weight in your pregnancy. Weight gain at this time is a good sign that your baby is developing and gaining normally. The weight that you gain will be distributed in several places.
In the beginning of pregnancy you may have noticed that your breasts got larger. The average breast before pregnancy weighs only about 7 ounces, but during pregnancy each breast can weigh up to an average of 28 ounces. Some of the weight will go to body fluids (amniotic fluid, blood volume, etc.). Remember that your blood volume increase by 30-50% during pregnancy. And some of the weight goes to the baby and the placenta! Add this to the few pounds put on as maternal fat storage, and you should average a weight gain of about 25-30 pounds.
The most important thing to remember is that a healthy diet is more important than what you gain. Some women will gain more, as in the case of women who were underweight to begin with, and those carrying multiple babies. Others will gain less. Pregnancy is not the time to go on a reducing diet. Even if you are overweight, reducing can actually harm the baby by burning your maternal fat stores. This can release toxins stored in your fat that are harmful to the baby.
You will probably begin to see your doctor every two weeks now. Some women really like the added visits, because they can watch their progress more closely. If you haven't discussed your labor and delivery plan with your doctor, now is a good time to start.
If you have taken childbirth classes you have a good idea of the pain and delivery interventions and alternatives associated in childbirth. If you haven't, please do some reading on the subject. The most common things that people have questions about are: episiotomy, fetal monitoring, and pain relief. Some women will want to use a birth plan to convey their wishes for their labor, birth and postpartum. This is a good communication tool between you, your labor coach and your doctor.
Your breasts may leak colostrum (a clear fluid) now, although if they do not leak, this is not an indication that something is wrong. You may also find out what your blood type is. Some women, if Rh negative, may need a shot called Rhogam to prevent complications. If you know the birth father's blood type, and he is also negative, then you are safe.
Your internal organs are being crowded by your uterus and the growing baby. The movements that you feel will probably begin to change around this time. As the space becomes cramped you will notice smaller movements from the baby, which are probably from the infant's elbows and knees.
Most discomforts from crowding will occur in your back, your legs, and the amount of air you can take into your lungs.
The best way to deal with some of the discomforts of late pregnancy are:
To decrease the strain on your body as your center of gravity continues to change, try to remember to stand properly. Good posture can actually make your body feel better.
One of the things that you can do to help maintain your energy levels and to increase your stamina for the birth is to exercise. Don't overdo it, though, especially if you haven't exercised before this week. Try walking at a moderate pace or swimming short distances. Simply stretching a few times a day may help you feel better and reduce the numbers of aches and pains you're feeling.
As the baby gets bigger and fills up all the space in your abdomen, your rib cage may become sore. It is not unusual to have to get up at night and walk around for a few minutes to settle the baby back down into your lower abdomen again and out of your ribs. Some women will have more heartburn as the uterus displaces the internal organs, leaving less room for her stomach and its contents. This can be relieved by remaining upright after a meal.
Some women say that eating smaller, more frequent meals helps their heartburn. Always ask your doctor before you take any medications, even over-the-counter products. One of the most frequent complaints in pregnancy is back pain. This can start at almost any point of pregnancy and can continue well into the first postpartum year. Some back pain can be relieved by maintaining good posture, exercise and stretching. And you can always ask a friend to give you a back rub
The pregnant body produces a hormone which is relaxing. This is what loosens the pelvis making it mobile to help the baby to be born. This is what causes the characteristic waddling in the last months of pregnancy.
As you begin to have more and more Braxton-Hicks contractions you may begin to wonder more about labor and what it will be like. You aren't alone in having these thoughts. Most women are very concerned about the pain of labor.
About 10% of women will say that labor is extremely painful, while 10% of the women feel that they experienced little to no pain. The other 80% will experience something between these two groups. Women who have taken childbirth classes tend to report less painful experiences and have fewer complications than women who have not taken classes.
You can now probably distinguish the baby's knee or foot and elbow, even though the movements are smaller. You may also notice small bumps that appear to be rhythmic in your uterus. This is usually caused by the baby having hiccoughs, which is nothing to worry about
There are almost two pints of amniotic fluid in your uterus. You may have been told that you have polyhyrdamnios, or too much amniotic fluid. The opposite of which would be oligohydramnios, often associated with Intrauterine Growth Retardation (IUGR). However, it is important to keep in mind that everyone has varying amounts of amniotic fluid, and that simply having too much or too little does not necessarily indicate a problem.
Your body is really getting ready for labor and delivery. You may notice that you have more and more contractions, and that some of them feel real. This is a good sign that your body will be ready for delivery, but it can also mean pre-term labor. Talk to your doctor to be sure.
You might have trouble sleeping at night. There are several physical reasons that make sleeping more difficult. Between the hormones and the baby pressing on your bladder, you may need to get up to go to the bathroom several times during the night. Also, many women have a constant backache, which makes relaxing difficult as well.
You will probably start to see your doctor every week from this week until you finally give birth. Most babies will be in a head down position at this point. However, about 4% of the babies will be breech, which means the baby's buttocks will be down instead. Don't worry if your baby is breech. There are special exercises that your doctor will give you to do that will encourage the baby to turn around into the head down position. If the exercises do not work, your doctor might try manually turning the baby. This is called an external cephalic version.
The pregnancy is considered a "term" pregnancy now. If you haven't already done so, you should take a tour of your birth facility or hospital. If you go into labor, nothing will be done to stop it now, since the baby is mature enough to survive outside the uterus. There are several ways to tell the difference between true labor and false labor. Be sure that you talk to your doctor or midwife about knowing the difference between the two. Here are some indicators of false and true labor:
|FALSE LABOR||TRUE LABOR|
|Contractions don't get closer together||Contractions get closer together|
|Contractions don't get stronger||Contractions do get stronger.|
|Contractions tend to be felt only in the front||Contractions tend to be felt all over|
|Contractions don't last longer||Contractions do last longer.|
|Walking has no effect on the contractions||Walking makes the contractions stronger|
|Cervix doesn't change with contractions||Cervix opens and thins with contractions|
You may begin to feel electrical buzzes down your legs and inside your vagina. This is caused from the baby hitting nerves as it settles into your pelvis.
You have probably already met your midwife, and have attended childbirth classes with you. Be sure that you go over your birth plan with your coach, as well as with your doctor. Your coach will be your advocate (argue for you) if you are unable to assert your wishes during labor or delivery.
There are other ways that your body prepares for labor. The baby will descend into your pelvis, which is sometimes called engagement or lightening. This usually happens before labor in first-time moms, but with subsequent births it doesn't happen until sometime during labor.
Your cervix, which is the mouth of your uterus, will begin to soften and possibly dilate (open up). Some doctors will do routine vaginal exams towards the end of pregnancy, and they will be able to give you details of how much your cervix has dilated, if at all. Some practitioners will also strip the membranes (break your water) in an attempt to "get things going." If you do not want labor brought on early in this way, tell your practitioner before any pelvic exams
In the days before labor begins you may also experience the following, although they do not necessarily predict when labor will begin:
While only about 4% of women actually give birth on their due date, 98% of all pregnant women, including those who give birth on their due dates, will give birth between two weeks before or two weeks after their due dates. For medical reasons, it is best not to let a baby stay in the uterus much beyond two weeks late. If you are late in delivering, your doctor might talk about inducing your labor.
Inductions are the artificial means used to bring about labor. This can be done with medicine, like pitocin, or by breaking your "bag of waters" (amniotomy)
Congratulations on the birth of your child!