02 August 2012

35 Weeks Pregnant

at 5:39 AM

By time the 35th week of pregnancy comes, you may be thinking more about your due date—and how quickly it is approaching. What seemed so far way is now closer than ever before and what felt like years away is at your doorstep.
If you haven’t yet started a journal about your baby , pregnancy or thoughts you would like to share, this is a great time to start.  Every thought and emotion is important and while you may think you will remember, it doesn’t always work that way. So record every special moment for later, and encourage your partner to do the same.
Your body is changing rapidly and you may feel like you are losing control of it—but hold on and do your best to remember that the end result will be you meeting your baby for the first time.
Baby’s Development
At thirty-five weeks, your baby will weigh about 5-1/2 to 6 pounds and measures in at 18 to 20 inches long. By this week, the baby’s organs are complete. The liver and the kidneys are starting to produce waste. The most quickly developing organ is still your baby’s brain though.  Right now those tiny nerve connections are linking up to send signals to and from the brain. Your baby can now process all five senses, detect light, practice breathing, and make purposeful movements like shielding its eyes and sucking the thumb.
Because your baby is quickly running out of room in the uterus to move, so you will start to notice a slight decline in fetal movement, but only slightly.  What may have felt like an obvious kick in the beginning may only feel like a nudge or push these days.
Now is a great time to talk to your baby. This will help start the bonding process before they are born, and help your baby respond to the sound of your voice.
If the baby is born at week thirty-five, they have a pretty solid chance of surviving well. The nervous system and circulatory systems are fully functional and the baby’s lungs are mostly developed, and your baby is steadily gaining weight in preparation for the big day.
Changes With Your Body
You should be near your ideal weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds by now.  The uterus is now about 6 inches above your navel and is probably making you feel like you could roll easier than you walk.  If you have been struggling with shortness of breath, the next week or so should bring relief as baby descends into the pelvis in preparation for birth. Known as lightening, some women feel or see an obvious drop in their bodies when the baby moves down. Others may never notice anything—but where you get a little, you will have to give. As you gain an easier breath, you will begin making even more frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate as baby puts some serious restrictions on the size of your bladder.
If all that bladder pressure causes you to leak a little when you laugh, cough or sneeze, start your pelvic floor exercises for added strength.  Known as a Kegel, these exercises can help strengthen the muscles that support the vagina, urethra and reproductive organs. To perform a Kegel, pretend you are stopping and starting your urine stream several times by contracting those muscles. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat several times each day.
What To Expect
Starting at week 36, you will make weekly visits to your obstetrician, so this is the end of the bi-weekly visits. Because the last several weeks can bring about dramatic changes in a short period of time, it is going to be very important that you keep each and every doctor’s appointment.   Your doctor will monitor your blood pressure, urine, baby’s position, and heartbeat with each visit.
Symptoms of labor may begin any time—so be on the watch for any early signs. Some women claim to lose a large plug of mucus from the vagina as labor approaches, yet other women never do.  In reality, this plug of mucus that prevents bacteria from moving up through the cervix into the uterus is probably lost during labor for some women.  Any bleeding, sudden gush of clear or green-tinged fluid, or contractions that are regular and increasing in intensity over time should be reported to your doctor or labor hall.
Tips/Advice
Pack that bag and make your plans.  Have a list of phone numbers and contact information for friends, family and especially your partner or birth coach. Do your best to limit travel now until delivery to prevent the struggle of going into labor or having a complication away from your doctor and hospital.

01 August 2012

34 Weeks Pregnant

at 3:12 PM
With only a few weeks left in your pregnancy, the uncertainty of your delivery may be looming ahead.  Many women fill the coming weeks with questions and attempts to be as prepared as possible. Now may not be a bad time to consider packing your hospital bag if you haven’t already done so, and putting a few meals in the freezer for those busy first weeks at home.
If born this week your baby may do well, or may struggle. Lung maturity can vary widely between babies and some who are born at 34 weeks only struggle to keep their temperature stable while others need full assistance to breathe and regulate a majority of their body’s functions.
As the pregnancy progresses, some women grow weary with their discomforts and try to give labor a kick start by having sex or riding the lawnmower.  Even though you may be tired of being tired, this is not the time to pull out the Cub Cadet and mow every lawn in your neighborhood. Baby still needs each and every day to grow and develop for life outside the womb.
Baby’s Development
At week thirty-four of pregnancy, the baby is about 5-1/2 pounds and measures in at 15-1/2 to 17-1/2 inches long from head to heel. Some will be larger, some smaller and your doctor should be well aware of any growth issues for your baby by now.
Body fat is continuing to make your baby look more like the picture-perfect sweetheart you have imagined. While this fat certainly helps them look nice, it has several other important roles, including body temperature regulation and blood sugar control during those first days when food can be at a premium (especially if you are breast feeding).   Designed to live on only a teaspoon of colostrum (or first milk) at each feeding, baby’s body is ready to take on a few less calories temporarily.  Most organs are matured at this week in pregnancy except for the lungs, which continue to produce surfactant  and practice breathing movements for the big day.
For little boys, the testes will begin their journey from their previous home in the abdomen into the scrotum.  If your baby is born with undescended testicles, don’t worry—about ¼ of all baby boys have at least one that didn’t make the trip down, but it probably will over the coming months without any problems.
Getting ready for birth, your baby should be head down (toward your feet) by now.  If not, there’s still time for a flip or your doctor may begin talking about a Cesarean-section, just in case.
Changes With Your Body
By now the uterus is about 5-1/2 inches from the belly button and it feels like you are packing around a watermelon. But as we have been saying, every woman is different and every pregnancy is different—so some will carry and show in their own unique way.
The amount of amniotic fluid that surrounds and pads the baby will begin to decrease, and every movement may feel more pronounced as their water padding diminishes.
You may notice your hands, feet and even your face start to swell a bit. With time and a half your normal blood volume in circulation, it can be a hard task for your body to manage all the extra fluid on board.  Lots of walking or standing may cause swelling in the lower legs, but if you should suddenly gain a large amount of weight or your face swells, talk with your doctor as soon as possible.  Blood pressure can make dramatic shifts during the last weeks of pregnancy even in women who have had no problems in previous weeks.
What To Expect
Sometimes the last weeks are about the truly unexpected events.  As your body prepares for birth, you will notice new feelings and sensations from one day to the next. What happens for one woman may not happen for another. Some of the most typical symptoms to come can include:
  • An increase in vaginal secretions (which are usually mistaken for broken water)
  • Backaches
  • A reduction in your breathing difficulties as baby drops into the pelvis
  • Your baby may turn from a breech position to head-down
  • Fatigue may increase
  • Your nesting instinct (desire to prepare for the baby) may increase
Tips/Advice
As the due date draws near, make sure that you are at ease with the way the birth is going to happen. Many women tend to panic and when they get into the delivery room, they forget everything they have learned. Share your concerns with your doctor and your partner and begin thinking about a labor coach if you feel you need one. Doulas are certified labor coaches and offer a variety of skills to help you cope—one contraction at a time.

01 November 2011

33 Weeks Pregnant

at 11:04 AM

Now that you have entered into the last trimester of pregnancy, you will have gained about 25 to 30 pounds. Some women will gain about a pound a week until the end of the pregnancy. But half of that pound will go to the baby in the final weeks, as the rest is distributed to the growing placenta, blood, and breast tissue (and maybe a bit for the hips too). Over the last 6 to 7 weeks, your baby will gain about half of their birth weight, as he or she prepares for life outside of the womb.

As your amniotic fluid levels begin to slow down, your baby’s movements may begin to feel more sharp this week as the fluid padding you had before, is reduced.

Baby’s Development

At this week of pregnancy, your baby should weigh about 5 pounds and measure in at 15 to 17 inches in length. Calcification has allowed baby’s to harden, and key minerals and nutrients are helping your baby grow and develop quickly. Continue to take your prenatal vitamins to help baby get everything he or she needs in the coming weeks.

Your baby is also taking in your maternal antibodies—which will protect him or her from germs after delivery.  Your baby will develop their own immune system in the coming months.

The baby’s lungs are almost mature now. If the baby is born now, they could survive in an incubator. If you are expecting more than one baby, they may be born this week—though a longer stay in your belly is certainly better. Your baby should be in a head-down position (where they may have been for many weeks) but if not, don’t panic. There’s still time for a flip in the future.

Changes With Your Body

By now the uterus is more than 5 inches from the belly button—and it may feel like it can’t get any bigger. The average weight gain at this week in pregnancy is between 22 and 28 pounds (though some people gain much more, or less).

Sleep may be elusive this month and pregnancy insomnia may be in your future.  With all of the nighttime bathroom breaks, your racing mind and crazy dreams, getting comfortable and sleeping for any significant length of time can be a challenge. One bright spot in your sleepless future—it will prepare you for your sleepless nights after baby comes.

What To Expect

In week thirty-three you can expect a bit more trouble sleeping, walking and even sitting. As your uterus expands upward and presses on your diaphragm, even breathing can be a challenge.  As the weeks progress though, your baby will drop lower into your pelvis and take some of that pressure away—allowing you to take a better breath.

If the bathroom doesn’t feel like your second home yet, just hang on.  Urinary frequency should have been back for several weeks by now, but if not, baby’s weight will soon keep your bladder from expanding fully—meaning more trips to the ladies room.

Forgetfulness, lightheadedness with movement may also start this week. If so, you can pin it all on hormones and try to take it with a grain of salt.  These weeks will pass quickly and you will be back to your normal self after delivery.

Overall you can expect more of the same—just on a bigger scale as baby grows and your body does its best to cope.

Tips/Advice

By now, you should know your body better than anyone. If something doesn’t seem right, call your doctor. Any symptoms of pre-term labor should be reported to your physician or labor and delivery unit.  This is also a typical time to enroll in breast feeding, or child birth classes if you and your partner are interested. There’s so much to learn and get ready for—so pace yourself and take it all in one day at a time.
 

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