Two weeks into the third trimester and all you can think of is to reach your due date as soon as possible. Owing to the ghosts of first trimester that come haunting, you cannot wait for these 11 weeks to be over. While some women continue to feel the same symptoms all through pregnancy, some others have different symptoms in all the three trimesters and if you have had morning sickness, reflux and leg cramps in the first few weeks of pregnancy, you could very well be looking at some of these this week. However, you can cherish your final leg of pregnancy as much as you want to if you know what to expect and how to deal with the changing forms of symptoms. This article will help you to get a clearer picture of what you could be expecting this week and how your baby and your body will reach new milestones.
You might find it hard to believe but your baby is almost the size of a butternut squash this week. She measures around 16 pounds and is almost 16 inches long! She is inching closer to her birth weight as her fat stores are being laid out rapidly. Her once lean structure is filling out and her skin is no longer wrinkled. If you could have a 3D ultrasound1 this week, you will notice how her skin has stretched out and looks smoother now.
Your baby had brown fat in the earlier days that used to contribute to keeping the body temperature regulated since she did not have enough body fat in itself. What is accumulating under her skin now is white fat that acts as a source of energy. Her weight gain is right on track but you can expect her to triple this weight in the next 11 weeks. In any case if your doctor finds that your baby has not grown enough as per the recommended amount, he might suggest further tests to rule out any abnormality.
There are situations in which IUGR2 (Intra-Uterine Growth Retardation) is one of the factors for which growth becomes stagnated. If that is the case, your doctor will initially want to wait for your baby to show signs of overcoming it and if it does not, he might suggest an early C-section by maturing the lungs artificially beforehand.
Your baby’s head is growing bigger along with the rest of the body. This is because it needs to accommodate the growing brain as well inside it. Your baby’s muscles are getting stronger by the day. The different stages of his lungs are developing and with each passing day, the chances of survival outside the womb get enhanced, if you were to have a preterm delivery.
All this growing up would naturally need more nourishment and there are no prizes for guessing where all the nutrition comes from! Your body is continuing to supply all the essential nutrients that your baby needs in this process of development. From protein, folic acid, Vitamin C, iron to calcium; your baby needs adequate amount of each of these and if you happen to be deficient in any of them, chances are that your body will manifest signs of a deficiency very soon.
You will need to keep up your stores of calcium because your baby is adding 250 milligrams of calcium to his skeletal structure every day. This means that your daily intake of yogurt, milk, cheese and fortified eggs should be enough to support your own and the additional requirements for your baby. Your doctor will be able to help you out with a diet chart to meet your requirements and the changes in them per trimester. A dietician who specializes in prenatal requirements will also be able to suggest effective ways of balancing the nutrients without loading up on unnecessary calories.
Did You Count The Kicks Today?
Your uterus has cramped your stomach cavity by now and while the organs have been pushed to the extremities, you have all the reasons to start counting the kicks now. Your baby is stronger which means all the jabs and kicks will be more intensified by now. Since most of your baby’s senses are also working quite efficiently by now, she will react to external stimuli every now and then. To sum it up, you are likely to feel your baby all the time now, which is why your doctor will ask you to keep a count of the movement this week onwards.
If you do not feel your baby move in more than 2 hours at a stretch, try getting up and moving around a little and look out for a nudge. If there is no movement for more than three hours, you should let your doctor know and rush to the ER if he suggests so. He will be able to detect your baby’s heartbeat and rule out any unusual activity by performing a nonstress test or a biophysical profile check. There is a high possibility that your baby might be sleeping or lazing around but you should ideally not ignore such situations.
Your Body At 29 Weeks
By now, you can expect your belly to be large enough to keep your legs hidden from your eyesight. This is probably a good idea since the swelling, varicose veins and puffiness around your ankles might freak you out. However, it is ideal that you get regular pedicures done to keep the skin on your feet from cracking. The last thing you need with a baby at hand is to deal with cracked heels and dry skin.
The Return Of The Reflux
However poetic it might sound, reflux is not something that you would have looked forward to in the third trimester but it does come back. Heartburn could very well be your closest companion this trimester. From giving you sleepless nights to making you wish you had not given in to that tempting cheeseburger for dinner, reflux can be a pesky and annoying symptom that you can’t seem to do away with.
If you were not aware of why reflux is an unavoidable thing in pregnancy, you would do well to know that the pregnancy hormone progesterone relaxes all the muscles in your body which also include your gastrointestinal tract. This makes food and stomach acids travel upwards more easily than before. Moreover, your stomach cavity is so crowded that the digestive process in itself has slowed down considerably. This causes gas and bloating to add to all the trouble. These are reasons enough for heartburn to keep you up at night.
There are a number of ways to ease yourself of this discomfort. However, knowing well in advance that reflux cannot be avoided altogether is a good place to start. You will have occasional bouts of reflux even if you follow the strictest regime but the discomfort will be lesser, undoubtedly. Begin with small and frequent meals. Although you might feel like stuffing your face with all the lip-smacking delicacies on Thanksgiving Day, giving your tummy a break is definitely a wise idea. Never drink water immediately before or after a meal because that could worsen the reflux.
Smaller meals would help in digesting more easily. By the third trimester, it is likely that your appetite has dipped. Having nutrient dense meals would help keep the balance without overdoing it. Fears of heartburn at night could also keep you from enjoying your meals thoroughly. If reflux worsens over time and you are unable to keep down food, you could speak to your doctor. He might suggest you a remedy that is safe to take in pregnancy.
Constipation And Hemorrhoids
After your daily struggles with reflux, you might want to curl up under a blanket if constipation came visiting but this is yet another unavoidable symptom of the third trimester. Since digestion slows down, bowel movement becomes irregular. The trick is to consume enough fiber in your meals so that you don’t end up with hemorrhoids.
Your uterus, your growing baby and your need to clear your bowels by applying pressure every day contributes to hemorrhoids significantly. Rectal bleeding is common in pregnancy but needs to be addressed immediately. If left untreated, you could very well have swollen and painful veins that might even make sitting down uncomfortable.
You could take warm showers to ease the soreness and pain. Cold compresses have been known to be effective for a lot of pregnant women with hemorrhoids. The natural ways of keeping both at bay include consuming fresh leafy greens, including more fiber in your meals, drinking enough fluids and keeping yourself active all through pregnancy. Even if you feel too lazy to step out with your belly bump, you will largely benefit from a brisk walk for 15-20 minutes a day. If you continue to have severe constipation, you can speak to your doctor and ask for over the counter medication to ease the pain.
Are You Feeling Dizzy Again?
Some pregnant women feel dizzy and light-headed while turning sides on the bed. These bouts of dizziness happen especially when you have been lying down for a long time and need to get up quickly or change sides. This is medically termed as supine hypotensive syndrome and happens because the sudden change in position brings about a change in heart rate and blood pressure.
It is generally recommended that pregnant women lie on their sides so that this dizziness can be avoided. Furthermore, getting up in a sitting position before standing up can also keep these spins at bay.
Forgetfulness And Pregnancy
It is not for nothing that the term pregnancy brain exists because forgetfulness is a quintessential part of this phase of life. You might miss appointments, forget where you kept your car keys, forget your lunchbox at home, completely miss the presentation that you were about to prepare for. Pregnancy induced forgetfulness is for real and there are a number of reasons that are involved in causing it.
The primary reason is your lack of sleep. Owing to all the kicking at night and the reflux that keeps you up, you are practically surviving on shut-eye sleep for the time being. Undisturbed six to eight hours of sleep is almost impossible in the third trimester. This keeps you feeling zapped and low on energy and naturally takes a toll on your mental abilities.
Research also shows that your brain cell volume decreases in pregnancy, which could be yet another reason for the forgetfulness. Your brain functions differently in pregnancy and the side of the brain that is designed to cater to your emotional skills, is enhanced in its functioning. This happens to help develop your bonding with your baby after birth.
How to deal with this forgetfulness? The very first thing that you need to understand is how this is absolutely normal and there is nothing to feel embarrassed about. Develop a good sense of humor so that you can crack jokes about your pregnancy dementia before others start pointing it out. Listed below are a few ways in which you could keep your work on track:
- Make it a habit of using alarms, reminders and keep a note of everything that could be important for you to remember.
- For things like keys, files and papers always have a backup system in place. Keeping photocopies can help you in a number of ways.
- Although a lot of doctors have conflicting views regarding the efficacy of consuming Omega-3 in pregnancy to help the maternal brain, it will not do you any harm to load up on it. If it does not help you, it will be beneficial for your baby at least.
Know How To Count The Kicks
While keeping a count of the kicks could seem like an easy task, it does get slightly inconvenient when you can’t seem to make a difference between a gas bubble and a nudge. This is possible because in the third trimester, your baby is already fighting for space inside your crowded tummy and might not punch you as distinctly as she used to do in the second trimester.
It is advisable to keep a count of the kicks twice a day. You need to be able to count 10 moves in an hour. Lying down is the best way to feel the moves effectively because your baby is likely to be more active as soon as the mother settles down. While counting, make sure that you include even the swishing around. If you don’t reach 10 in an hour, having a light snack can get your baby moving with the sudden blood sugar rush.
If you do not feel 10 moves in more than 2 hours, you should get in touch with your doctor right away because it is always better to be safe than sorry.
The ABC’s Of Maternity Leave
The usual trend in the United States is to bring together all your casual leaves, sick leaves, vacation leaves, PLs and family leaves to make up your maternity leave. This is because paid maternity leave is not common here. However, some companies do offer leaves to their employees who have are new parents.
The FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) states that both men and women who are full-time employees in a company get 12 weeks of paid leave after they have had a baby or have adopted a child. People or companies exempted from this act are new employees, part-timers, small scale businesses with less than 50 workers. However, if the FMLA does not cover you or your company, you might be eligible for a family leave or a maternity leave under the provisions of your state.
How Would You Know When To Take The Leave?
There is no rocket science applicable behind taking up your maternity leave. While some women prefer going on leave by their 8th month, some others work till the last few days before delivery. It completely boils down to how your pregnancy is shaping up. If you have a low-risk pregnancy without any complication, there is no reason to not work till you deliver.
However, if you have a high-risk pregnancy or you have had a complicated delivery before, you might want to go in for the leave sooner. You doctor is the best person to suggest you in this case. You could also be put on short-term disability if your pregnancy demands you to take a couple of breaks before you go for the final maternity leave.
A lot of new mums find it hard to go back to work after delivery. This is natural and if you haven’t really been able to make up your mind regarding joining office after your maternity leave, you are not alone in this. The end decision is yours to take, after considering all your possibilities and how feasible it is with a new baby at home.
Where To Start?
Every company has a set of formal policies in place for pregnancy and maternity leave. Getting in touch with the human resources representative of your company is the best way out of making a mess. You will also have a couple of colleagues who might have gone through the same path. You can ask them how to go about the entire situation.
While deciding on your maternity leave, keep in mind that under the FMLA3, you can split up your leave in whichever way you want to. The most significant question to ask yourself at this point is how long you could go without a paycheck. Running a check on your financials will help answer this.
You could choose to take a long 12 weeks of break or can split it up in a week at a time or two weeks at a time, depending on the kind of support you have at home. Your partner is also likely to have a paid paternity leave that he can utilize to take care of the baby while you use your ML efficiently.
Breaking the topic of maternity leave in front of your boss could be challenging for first-timers. However, if you have your solutions at hand, there is nothing to worry about. You will simply need to lay out a distribution of your job role among your team members. It does not need to be a perfect presentation; a rough draft of what you think could be done is good enough.
You could choose to do this or let your company decide how to handle your responsibilities once you are on leave. However, if you have been in the company long enough and you play an important role, it would be a wise idea to keep things sorted before you take a sabbatical.
What Could You Do For Your Pregnant Spouse?
At 29 weeks, your wife is considering a number of important things like the last minute stocking of supplies, maternity leave, office job roles and birth plans. This is the time to think about how you could contribute significantly to the new life you both are about to embark upon.
Start speaking to people at office regarding paternity leave. Most offices offer paid paternity leave and this could be a blessing for both of you. Chalking up the distribution of your leaves can help in newborn management in a more efficient manner.
As far as supplies are concerned, you should ideally be done with 50% of your work. Baby care items seem easy but you miss one and you will go bonkers when you need it the most. Keep the last few weeks of pregnancy stress-free by managing everything beforehand.
In the midst of everything, keep reminding your spouse to eat healthy. Ensure that she is getting some shut-eye in between running errands. Look out for red flags and keep her away from stressful situations as much as possible. A financial check at this point is an important matter. If you and your partner can afford an unpaid leave, try and invest a chunk of it in your newborn’s care and management.