At the beginning of the third trimester, your baby measures 14 inches and weighs about 2 1/2 pounds, having doubled her weight in a month. Her brain tissue continues to develop folds and grooves on what was once a smooth surface. Even though she's bigger, she still has plenty of room to flip around, so whatever position she's in right now will likely shift over the next three months.
At this point, you've probably gained between 17 and 24 pounds. Your uterus has moved to three inches above your navel and is pressing against the tubes between the kidneys and bladder, slowing the flow of urine. Also, the hormone progesterone makes it difficult for your urinary system to flush bacteria such as E. coli out of the bladder, leaving you more susceptible to urinary tract infections. Left untreated, UTIs can develop into more serious kidney infections or cause preterm labor. If you feel any pain or burning when you urinate, call your health care provider immediately.
Do's and Don'ts
Do beware of joint pain. If you're at a computer for long stretches, take frequent breaks to give your fingers, wrists, and arms a rest. Your body's retaining fluid, causing nerves to swell and pinch, which could result in carpal tunnel syndrome. Also, check that your setup is ergonomically sound: Your forearms and wrists should be straight and run parallel to the floor as you type, neither reaching too far up nor down.
Just to be prepared, ask your doctor under which conditions labor may have to be induced and what procedures might be involved. Although most babies born post-term have no problems, the risk of complications rises the longer you go past your due date. Even if you end up delivering right on time, preparing for other scenarios will give you peace of mind.
Mom to Mom
"I should have taken a shower before going to the hospital. I didn't realize how long it would be before I'd be able to take another one without pain from episiotomy stitches."--Denise Coffin, Bethesda, MD
If friends and relatives want to throw you a shower, help them get what you need by registering at a few baby stores, and by compiling a wish list in our shopping channel. Our Gear Guide and other shopping guides narrow the field to the products that other moms say you just can't live without.
For an easy arm stretch, stand or sit and clasp your hands behind your back. Pull them back and down, then release. Repeat ten times.
If parents and in-laws aren't on board with your birth plans (you want a natural birth, for example, and they point out that anesthesia didn't hurt their babies), thank them for their opinions but avoid getting into arguments. Focus instead on how wonderful it is that they're so concerned. Learning how to be diplomatic now will help you navigate future parental land mines. (Just wait until you start discussing your views on disciplining children.)
Page through your photo albums and ask your firstborn to choose an early baby picture of herself for you to pack for the hospital. Having her photo will lift your spirits during labor, and it will remind her of her importance to you.
Breastfeeding one baby can be a challenge, so two or more may seem truly daunting. But it needn't be. In fact, 32 percent of moms of multiples nurse for at least six months (vs. 29.5 percent of singletons' moms). Plan to experiment with a two-at-a-time position like the double cradle (also called the crisscross): Put each baby's head in the crook of an arm, and lay their bodies one on top of the other in opposite directions across your lap. This will make feedings go more quickly and spare you a fretful, hungry baby-in-waiting.