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2nd trimester: Week 27

Your Baby

At 13 weeks from birth, your baby is now almost 14 inches from head to toe and tips the scales at a little more than two pounds. He's bulking up with fat to keep him warm after he's born, and his lungs continue to develop. His immune system is also gearing up for life outside the womb. He has discovered thumb sucking, which isn't such a bad thing in the womb--it helps strengthen his cheek and jaw.

Your Body

Lately, you may be feeling your uterus tighten and clench for as long as two minutes. The sensations shouldn't be painful, but they can cause real discomfort. They're called Braxton-Hicks contractions, which many women mistake for labor. Look on the bright side: In addition to giving you a hint of what actual contractions feel like (though in labor they're a lot stronger), they also serve to prepare the uterus for delivery.

Do's and Don'ts

Do keep a journal if mood swings leave you feeling exhausted and confused—writing can help you get a handle on your emotions, which, due to fluctuating hormone levels, might switch from joy to anxiety to excitement at any given time. Your body is morphing in ways you can't control, and so is your life. It's enough to unnerve any mom-to-be.

Health

Recent studies show that only minute amounts of hair dye seep through the scalp and enter the bloodstream, so some experts are green-lighting the procedure for women beyond their first trimester. If you are in the habit of coloring your hair, ask your doctor or midwife about second-and third-trimester touch-ups.

Mom to Mom

If your mood at work swings wilder than a pendulum, give yourself a time-out. "Closing my office door when I knew I would snap helped me. People came in only if they had something really important to discuss." —Denelle Swaim, West Palm Beach, FL

Shopping

Want to be more comfortable at your desk? Buy a footstool (most maternity and baby stores carry them), and use it to relieve pressure on your hip joints and lower back.

Exercise

Vigorous exercise keeps you strong during pregnancy, but it can be dangerous for women with certain pregnancy complications. Ask your doctor's advice about exercise if you develop preclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure), are expecting more than one baby, are at risk for preterm labor (or have previously given birth prematurely), have an incompetent cervix or have had some vaginal bleeding.

Relationships

Becoming a parent for the first time arouses fear in even the fearless, from the smallest concern (Will I know how to change a diaper?) to the biggest (Can I keep my baby safe and healthy?). Whenever you feel overwhelmed, discuss your worries with your partner; when he's the one wrestling with looming responsibilities, let him vent. Someone who cares as much as you can assuage each other's concerns simply by listening.

Siblings

If your children will share a room, ask your firstborn how she might like it reconfigured. Set aside an area—a corner or a space marked off by a special rug—just for her, and reassure her that she needn't share everything she owns with the baby.

Twins

Women pregnant with twins are at an increased risk of delivering early, and next week begins an especially vulnerable time. Ask your health-care practitioner to assess your risk of premature delivery and to recommend preventive measures, if necessary. If your doctor says your pregnancy is progressing well, chances are good you'll deliver near or at full-term.