You and your baby are in the final stages of this pregnancy. However, there will be more exciting fetal developments at work that you can expect around this week and beyond. While you could be wondering why your belly is not as big and rounded as other pregnant bellies, you will need to understand that every pregnancy is different and so is every baby. Until and unless there is a marked difference between the weight and size of your baby on the scale of normalcy, there is no need to worry. Yet another important thing to remember is that your baby hardly has much space in the womb now. Hence, you feel lesser jabs and kicks but you will continue to feel some amount of fetal movement. You will need to keep a count of the moves so that you can make out if your baby is doing fine within.
Your Baby This Week
Yet another comparison might make you laugh out a little but it is true that this week your baby is almost the size of a pineapple. Almost sixteen inches in length and four and a quarter pounds in weight, your baby will continue to grow another inch this week and will also keep adding to her weight. What seems both interesting and apprehensive at the same time, is the fact that your baby has occupied all the space in your womb now and the amniotic fluid has reduced to a good extent. This also means that your baby’s slightest of kicks and nudges will seem stronger and sharper now.
Your baby’s skin is no longer wrinkled and transparent. It has stretched out, owing to the laying down of fat stores under the skin and looks opaque now. Her skeletal structure is also gaining more strength. Almost all the bones of her body have fused together except for the bones in her skull. This is because it eases the passage of the head through the vagina during delivery. During birth, there is a good amount of pressure on the head of a baby which often leads to it looking cone-like in appearance.
You would be amazed to know that the bones in your baby’s skull1 will not fuse together till almost the time she turns a young adult. This happens to ensure that her brain and surrounding tissues can expand normally.
Your baby’s eyesight is getting stronger and more efficient. Since you can’t really look into your womb and find out the finer details, you wouldn’t know how effortlessly, your baby closes her eyes while sleeping and opens them while awake. That differentiation is already in place. Your uterine walls are becoming thinner as they expand further. This allows more light to seep in through your belly. It will feel great to know that your baby can differentiate between day and night by the amount of light that penetrates through your womb. However, don’t get your hopes too high and expect her to remember this difference and sleep through the night. A baby’s sleep cycles change drastically after birth and you might as well find her sleeping all day and staying up all night.
Talking about immunity, your baby is rapidly catching up on all the antibodies. This is yet another milestone for your baby because she has her personal immune system up and running to protect her from potential infections after birth. This is the time when your own antibodies will be passed on to your baby’s body and her immune system will get more efficient in the next six to seven weeks.
How Is Your Body Changing?
Do you find yourself bumping into everything and getting clumsier by the day? You could almost call yourself the queen of clumsiness by the end of this week. With your belly bump the biggest it has ever been, it is but natural that you will find yourself uncomfortable in most of the postures that you try to settle down into. The real challenge is to find a way to sit through prenatal appointments and office meetings. Always ensure that you take occasional breaks so that you don’t end up with leg cramps etc.
All the joints of your body are feeling the pressure that is gradually building up in your womb and also the slight tugs and pulls that are being caused by Braxton Hicks. There may be some amount of aches and pains that develop all of a sudden in different parts of your body. Fluid retention is a common thing in pregnancy and enhances all the existing pains that are already giving you trouble. If you have had carpal tunnel syndrome in the past, you are more likely to have it again. If you haven’t had it before, you can develop the pain all of a sudden because of fluid accumulation around the tissues of your wrist.
Carpal tunnel2 is a rather bony canal that exists in your wrist. A number of nerves pass through it and even if one nerve gets pinched or compressed, you may either experience a sharp and shooting pain that extends to your elbows or a dull ache that is nothing less than annoying.
Your doctor might advise you to wear a splint so that your wrist joint is stabilized and does not go through excessive movement. Your work might require you to make repetitive movements at the keyboard etc. What you can do is to take frequent breaks in between your work to ensure that your wrist is not strained beyond repair.
Find Some Downtime
Needless to say, at 33 weeks, your body is screaming for rest round the clock. While it might be practically impossible for you to get enough rest during the day if you are a working woman, you can unwind before bedtime for a restful night. Going to sleep at once could be inconvenient with a belly that comes in the way of you and good sleep. This is why you will need to try your best to feel comfortable. A warm bath or shower before hitting the bed is an effective way to feel at ease. Avoid excessive activities before bedtime. Relaxing with a light read, a cup of warm milk and just enough lights to read comfortably can help you get a good night’s sleep.
Light and gentle massages can ease a whole lot of discomfort during this time. You can ask your partner to give a light rub before you go to sleep. All the aches and pains that nag you through the day will almost disappear with a nicely done massage at the end of the day. You can play some soothing music to enhance the ambience and you might as well doze off while the music and the massage rock you to sleep.
You might have heard about third trimester insomnia from a number of people who have been pregnant before and it all sounds quite scary. However, it is not as bad as you think it is and might not even affect you. Along with the discomfort of your belly, there is also the anxiety and apprehension around the birth and aftercare of a newborn. All these factors are responsible for causing this sort of insomnia.
Third trimester insomnia is temporary and like the name suggests, it will disappear right after your baby is born. However, you could be secretly thankful to it if it continues because your baby might keep you up for the first few weeks. This insomnia could very well be a kind of training for your upcoming weeks.
Do You See Those Moves?
Your baby does not have enough space inside your womb to roll about or stretch easily but you will feel stronger and sharper kicks now, since the amniotic fluid has reduced and your uterine walls are thinner. You might also feel your baby’s foot caught in your ribs at times. You are most likely to entertain a lot of people with the sudden paw that sticks up from under your belly. Finding impressions of tiny hands and feet is common in pregnancy and you could easily call your baby an attention-seeker!
It is essential to be aware of normal fetal movement at every stage of pregnancy because this information matters. Changes in fetal activity are normal but ideally you should be able to feel at least eight to ten moves in an hour or so. There are a few instances when fetal movement generally slows down. Some of them are listed below:
Orgasms tend to lull your baby to sleep so the next time you have one and don’t feel your baby move for a while, stop worrying about it unless your pregnancy is high-risk. While some babies might sleep, some others might become even more active after sex. All these changes are normal and expected. A lot of couples end up avoiding sex in the third trimester because they feel that orgasms might harm the baby. This is not true. Unless your doctor has specifically asked you to avoid having sex, there is no reason why you should not.
Your Baby Is Sleeping
Your baby has defined sleep cycles now and you can expect her to sleep for longer hours. If you don’t feel constant moves, it is likely that she is napping. If it crosses an hour, try sitting down for a while or grabbing a snack. She will most likely respond to it.
Not Much Space In The Third Trimester
With the arrival of the third trimester, there is not much space inside your womb and you will feel lesser kicks and jabs. However, the ones that you feel will be quite sharp.
Doctors generally recommend counting ten moves in two hours. By the third trimester, you are expected to track your baby’s moves by counting them twice a day. If in any of these circumstances, you don’t feel that many moves, you will need to speak to your doctor right away.
If your doctor feels that lesser movement could signify a problem, he might want to perform a nonstress test3 or biophysical profile to ensure that everything is alright with her.
Huffing And Puffing Your Way Through Work
Along with being the queen of clumsiness, you are now officially the one who huffs and puffs all day. Insignificant amounts of physical exertion could make you feel short of breath. Mild breathlessness is a common symptom of the third trimester. Before you start worrying about the well-being of your baby, get an idea of why it happens and what you could do about it.
Your stomach cavity is overcrowded, your lungs and diaphragm have been pushed to the extremities, pregnancy hormones are making your capillaries swell up, the muscles of your respiratory tract and bronchial tubes are all relaxed and you are always short of breath. Your lungs can’t even expand fully, thanks to your baby and your uterus. These are reasons enough to feel exhausted beyond you have ever been.
While your lungs are being compromised to a good extent and so is your own oxygen supply, you will be relieved to know that your baby is absolutely safe. She is getting her adequate stock of oxygen from the placenta and is completely unaware of your oxygen needs.
One good thing to look forward to is how this breathlessness will pass away once your baby drops down into the pelvis in preparation for birth.
A lot of cases have been reported in which one of the most significant reasons for breathlessness has been lack of iron. If you feel that you could be deficient in iron, let your doctor know about it. If you have been taking your iron supplements regularly, this is unlikely to happen.
Breathlessness, associated with a cough, shortness of breath, unexplained chest pain etc needs to be reported to the doctor immediately.
Get The Omega-3s And DHA
Research has shown that mothers who have had adequate amount of Omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy have given birth to children with an edge in terms of intellect. While there is more research to be conducted around this finding, it does not harm to get your DHA from reliable sources.
DHA has been found to be linked to fetal brain and vision development. A baby is likely to absorb the maximum amount of DHA in the third trimester. This is more reason to grab the salmon and add it to your platter of veggies. Along with being extremely beneficial to your baby, DHA can significantly reduce your chances of developing postpartum depression.
As per the FDA, a pregnant woman should be ideally having eight to ten ounces of well-cooked fish like tilapia, red snapper, salmon, shrimps etc. Fish that contains more toxins and higher levels of mercury are the ones that you should ideally avoid.
Eggs that are fortified can also be a good source of safe DHA in pregnancy.
Will You Breastfeed Or Not?
This is never too early to decide. While breastfeeding is the most natural way of nourishing your baby, not everyone seems to be prepared well for it. It is the safest and the best nutrition you could provide and your baby is sure to thank you for this in future.
To begin with, ask questions regarding breastfeeding at your next prenatal class. Your instructor will be able to explain and exemplify the multiple benefits of breastfeeding and how it could be made convenient for you. Having proper information regarding the same is very important. Watch more instructional videos and speak to mothers who have breastfed or are breastfeeding.
A brilliant way to know more about breastfeeding is to join reliable parenting groups that support breastfeeding. The reality about nursing is that it might not come easily to you but it is clearly the best that you could offer your baby. There will be a number of conflicts with people who would try and persuade you to offer formula milk because your milk is not adequate enough for your baby. Instead of feeling jeopardized by this information, always remember that breast milk works on the method of demand and supply. The more the demand by your baby, the more milk will be produced by your body.
Breastfeeding has its own challenges. You might have flat nipples that could be difficult to latch on. Speak to your doctor or midwife about it so that it can be rectified before your baby arrives. Once your baby is born, there could be problems like a tongue tie, shallow latch, lip tie, faster flow of milk, clogged ducts, engorgement4 etc. Always remember to trust your body to be able to nourish your baby. All these issues can be sorted out and you will be able to exclusively breastfeed your baby.
However, if you have situations and medical emergencies in which you are unable to breastfeed your baby, you will need to offer formula milk. If there is a wet mother around who is willing to offer her breast milk to your baby, then there is nothing like it.
Have You Washed Your Baby’s Clothes?
Your wardrobe might be ready with all those adorable newborn clothes and the blankets etc are all in place. However, did your remember to wash your baby’s clothes beforehand? Everything that you had received at your baby shower or the ones that you bought need to be washed with mild detergents meant for washing clothes of a newborn.
Even the slightest of harshness could cause your newborn to break out into rashes or allergies. Washing your baby’s clothes removes the irritants from the clothes and keeps it safe for usage from the very first day.
Questions To Be Asked At The Next Prenatal Meet
The next time you visit your doctor, you might want to blurt out all the questions you have had on your mind for a couple of weeks now. If your baby has no yet settled down into the cephalic presentation, you might want to know when that would happen.
If you have been on bed rest because of a high-risk pregnancy, you could ask your doctor if it is time to get off the bed and move around a little. You might also want to ask if having sex carries any risk at this stage of pregnancy.
Will You Need An Episiotomy?
A majority of women need episiotomy during childbirth to ensure that the baby is delivered safely. It is a small cut made to the perineum to make the vaginal opening wider. While it used to be quite frequent earlier, the number has reduced significantly because most doctors believe that a natural tear is safer than a cut.
If your baby’s heart rate drops or if her shoulders are too wide to fit into the birth canal; your doctor might need to perform an episiotomy. There are different degrees of an episiotomy and your doctor will decide which is the safest for you. Once your baby is safely delivered, your cut will be stitched up using dissolvable sutures and they will heal in some time.
How Can You Help Your Wife Now?
Help her with the laundry, to begin with. Better still; take over the laundry responsibilities entirely upon yourself now. A pregnant woman has nesting tendencies towards the end of the pregnancy. If you find your wife finicky and irritated with every little mess, consider it to be absolutely normal. Help her deal with it by keeping mess away as far as possible and helping her clean up the house before the baby is here.
Your wife needs adequate amount of rest now and you can ensure that by helping her feel relaxed at bedtime. Try and give her a light and gentle massage before bedtime. Arrange for a warm shower or bath so that she feels relaxed and drifts off the sleep easily.
You can also offer a perineal massage to your wife so that the area around is flexible and stretched out. This will help prevent episiotomies and third-degree tears and also lesser pelvic damage. Always ask her before committing to anything that she might not be comfortable with at this phase.