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Your Pregnancy: Week 19

Your Baby

Your mini-gymnast weighs approximately seven ounces and measures approximately nine inches long. His arms and legs are now properly proportioned. The motor neurons between the muscles and the brain are connecting, giving him control over his movements, so he kicks, rolls, and stretches whenever he feels like it. His gums have tooth buds, and throughout his body, rubbery cartilage is turning into bone. Myelin, a protective substance, envelops the spinal cord.

Your Body

Ideally, you will have gained between 8 and 14 pounds by this stage, 6 ounces of which account for the placenta, 11 ounces the amniotic fluid, and 12 ounces total for both breasts. Thanks to gravity and a rapid drop in blood pressure, you may feel dizzy when you get up too quickly from a sitting, squatting, or kneeling position. You may also get woozy when you lie down, as your expanding uterus exerts pressure on your aorta and vena cava.

Do's and Don'ts

Don't indulge in very hot baths right now. Hot tubs aren't so hot for pregnant women; the intense heat can hurt your developing baby. If you long for a warm bath to ease your aches and pains, a ten-minute dip in warm water (98 degrees or lower) won't harm you. 

Health

Eat up. While it's smart to keep weight gain to no more than 35 pounds during pregnancy, dieting can hurt the baby. You may miss out on nutrients that are vital for fetal development, and if you're underweight you're at risk of having a low birth weight or preterm baby. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy are healthy choices.

Mom to Mom

"I was under a lot of stress during my last pregnancy, and I wasn't gaining enough weight. But my doctor went out of his way. He monitored us both closely and reassured me that my baby was growing just fine." --Kim Johnson, Richmond, VA

Shopping

While you may save a bundle on used baby equipment like high chairs and bouncy seats, purchase a brand-new car seat that meets all the latest safety requirements. Newer versions are outfitted with conveniences you can't find in older models, like tethers that work with the universal anchoring system. Most car models from 2000 on come equipped with anchors that the tethers hook onto, which makes latching a car seat much easier than struggling with the seatbelt. 

Exercise

If your back is starting to complain, try this easy stretch: Sit in a chair or on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Slowly drop your head toward your knees, and reach for your toes with your fingertips as far as they will comfortably go. Straighten up slowly. Someday soon, you'll repeat this process--not for the stretch but to reach for pieces of far-flung macaroni. 

Relationships

Take advantage of the next few months to schedule special dates with your partner while you're still energetic and able to move around easily. Some good choices: a leisurely hike or a weekend trip.

Siblings

Ask for extra printouts of the ultrasound for your firstborn to keep. Pick a picture that's recognizable, like the face, so she can look at it and marvel at the baby she'll someday get to know. 

Twins

Since you're expecting twins, you have a higher risk of developing preeclampsia, also known as pregnancy-induced hypertension. There's no proven way to prevent it, but experts say it helps to stay on top of your health. So take good care of yourself, and call your doctor if you have any new symptoms you can't easily explain. 

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