You’ve entered your second-to-last month of pregnancy. It’s time to put the final touches on your preparations – outfitting the nursery, and purchasing a car seat, bath and mealtime accessories, and clothes. Now that you’re getting bigger, don’t forget to relax during these last few weeks. You’ll have precious little time for yourself once your baby arrives!
Here’s a look at what’s happening with your baby – and your body – this month.
Now that you’re in the final weeks of pregnancy, check that you’re ready for delivery day. Get all of your final obstetrician visits scheduled, and have a birth plan in place. You and your partner might want to do a trial drive to the hospital, mapping out your route, investigating parking options, and finding the entrance to the labor and delivery department, so there’s no confusion when your contractions kick in.
Now is the time to check in with your doctor about labor and delivery options, and find out whether you might need a C-section. If you’re concerned about your chances of having an episiotomy – an incision to prevent tearing during labor – ask your doctor whether you should do perineal massage during these last few weeks. Regularly massaging the area between the anus and vulva before labor has been shown to reduce tearing – and the need for an episiotomy.
Right now, your baby measures about 17 ½ inches long and weighs over 5 pounds. Her skeleton has hardened, but the bones of her skull haven’t yet fused. They need to stay separated and mobile so they can slide over each other and allow her head to squeeze through the birth canal during delivery.
At this stage of the pregnancy, your baby’s schedule has taken on a regular pattern. She’s opening her eyes in response to light, which she can see through your belly, and closing them when it’s dark.
You’ll likely see your doctor once a week now in preparation for delivery. Discuss any issues you’ve been having, and talk about what to expect during delivery. Now is a good time to find a pediatrician, if you haven’t done so already. Start with recommendations from friends, family members, your ob/gyn, and your primary care provider. Interview a few doctors until you find one you’re comfortable with.
Your size is likely becoming an issue now. You may notice that you’re clumsier than usual. This awkwardness has to do with your new center of gravity. Be extra careful to avoid a fall. The extra weight in your abdomen can also put pressure on your back, leading to backaches. Sitting up straight, sleeping on your side, and applying heat and cold to your back can help.
Some pregnant women notice fluid leaking from their vagina during the last trimester of pregnancy. It could be urine, dribbling out from the pressure of your womb (which has now dropped – or lightened) on your bladder. Or, it might be amniotic fluid. If you’re not sure what you’re leaking, call your doctor just to be safe. Also call if the fluid is foul smelling, or it has a greenish color – signs that you have an infection.
Your baby measures 17 ½ to 19 inches, and weighs 5 ¾ to 6 ¾ pounds. His organs are essentially complete now. The brain and nervous system are fully developed. The lungs are ready to start breathing on their own. Baby’s kidneys are filtering blood and removing wastes into the urine. And the heart is pumping away. If you’re having a boy, his testicles are descending from his abdomen into his scrotum. (In some boys, the testicles don’t fully descend before birth. Usually, they’ll make their way down before the end of his first year.)
As your baby takes up more room in your uterus, his movements won’t be as big, but you should still feel about 10 kicks, rolls, or flutters each hour. If you don’t feel much or any movement in your abdomen, call your doctor.
Because of your growing girth, you might be afraid to have sex for fear of the discomfort involved, or out of worry that you’ll hurt your baby. It’s perfectly safe for most women to have sex well into their third trimester. Your baby is surrounded and protected by amniotic fluid, so the motion won’t hurt him. (Although, if you’ve had any pregnancy complications like placenta previa or premature labor, or you’re having multiples, check with your doctor first.) Choose a position that feels most comfortable – for example, having your partner behind rather than on top of you.
September 19, 2016
Janet O’Dell, RN