Your normally energetic baby has started to chill out a bit. Her movements feel more like squirms and rolls rather than hyperactive kickboxing sessions. That's because this week, when she's three pounds and 15 inches long, she has begun to run out of room (or should we say womb?). Beneath her skin is a nice layer of fat, and although she still relies on the umbilical cord for nourishment, her digestive tract is almost fully developed. Fetal brain scans show that babies this age actually have rapid eye movements, which means they're dreaming. Who knows what dreams now fill your baby's slumber.
Your uterus rises five inches higher than your belly button. The mid-pregnancy honeymoon period, when discomforts subsided, is over, and you may be bothered by a list of old and new complaints: shortness of breath, heartburn, fatigue, varicose veins and constipation.
Do's and Don'ts
Don't just put up with the pain of hemorrhoids, which are common for women in the third trimester. Apply cold compresses (crushed ice in a clean sock will do) or cotton balls soaked in witch hazel to the area for quick relief. Your doctor may also recommend a nonprescription ointment or suppository to relieve some of the discomfort.
During pregnancy, you need 60 grams of protein each day to help your baby grow (the amino acids found in protein are integral to fetal development). That's the equivalent of a two to three-ounce serving—about the size of a deck of cards—of cooked, lean poultry, beef, pork or fish. If you'd rather not eat meat, there are plenty of other sources, including skim milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs and peanut butter.
Mom to Mom
Advice from the trenches: "I shouldn't have listened to all the horror stories about the agonizing pain of labor and delivery. I spent nine months being anxious about it." -Carol Goins, Walkersville, MD
As you near delivery, you may not feel like spending any more on maternity clothes. But if you need a little pick-me-up after a challenging day—the baby poked you constantly, you've gained more weight than you expected or you tossed and turned all night—give yourself a treat. How about new shoes or a purse—something that won't be useless in a few weeks? You've earned it.
If you ever feel faint during a workout, sit or lie down and breathe deeply. Exercise strengthens your heart and lungs and prepares them for the hard work of labor, but it's beneficial only if done in moderation. Check your heart rate when you exercise to make sure it doesn't exceed the safe level of approximately 140 beats per minute.
Don't feel like intercourse? Oral sex is safe during pregnancy, but be sure your partner doesn't blow air into your vagina; that could push an air bubble into your bloodstream, putting you and the baby in danger.
Make the wait more interesting for your older child by working with her on a scrapbook for the baby. She can jot down her thoughts and draw pictures, and you can take turns writing letters to the baby.
If your doctor says you might deliver sooner rather than later, ask to meet with the neonatologist and tour the neonatal intensive care unit so you can acquaint yourself with the staff and get an idea of what to expect.