Now that your baby has grown quite a bit, she is probably having a hard time practicing those somersaults inside the womb. There is a lot of space for her to grow further but the quick twists and turns might not be possible. Your uterus is now overcrowding your stomach cavity and you could easily catch a glimpse or two of tiny elbows or fingers that leave an impression when they come near the abdominal wall. This is definitely the most rewarding experience of pregnancy; of witnessing your baby’s impressions for real. Along with good things, come unpleasant experiences and that include the tendency of your body to heat up. You will feel the heat more than your colleagues at office and your husband might need to resort to the comforter because the air conditioner never stops or is switched off.
Your Baby At 26 Weeks
Measuring at around 14 plus inches and weighing two whole pounds, your baby is more lifelike than ever before. Almost the size of scallions, your baby’s auditory senses are working really well this week. All the nerves in his ears are developed well enough for him to be able to hear you and your closed ones chatting away or rolling around in peals of laughter. That wrinkled skin of his is now being filled out by the new fat stores that he is acquiring. Along with his growing weight, your weight is also on the rise this week and your doctor will expect you to keep a track of your weight gain as well as the baby’s movements.
Your baby is trying to master the art of breathing through his lungs by gulping tiny portions of amniotic fluid. These gulping movements will help your baby to breathe in the first gulp of air after he is born. Along with his ears, your baby’s eyes are also developing. The eyes that were fused till the last week have now opened up and your baby will be able to view whatever is going on inside the uterus right now. If you flash a light at your belly, you will be able to feel your baby move in the opposite direction.
Would I get to know the color of my baby’s eyes? It is still too early to denote the color of your baby’s iris. The pigmentation happens in the next month and till then you can let the people around you stay busy with tons of guesswork about the baby. It is believed that a baby changes dramatically over a period of 6 months to 1 year and his eye color might also change during this phase.
If your baby is a boy, his testicles would have started descending to the scrotum and the entire process will take around 3 months.
Is Your Baby Responding To You?
Speech is a far cry for your baby but she is already responding to the different things you say. Depending on how mature your baby is and how swiftly his brain waves start responding, the responsiveness will take place by an sudden spike in movements and pulse rate. This is a significant development since your baby’s brain is picking up more complicated signals from outside the womb.
Your Body At 26 Weeks
Considering how your uterus has reached more than 2 inches over your belly button1, there is no looking back for it till the time you deliver. Your belly button will have protruded by now and even if you have had the shallowest navel all your life, you will find it hard to keep it from popping. You have been told time and again that these are all temporary changes and will go back to being normal once you deliver and a few months pass; you might find it hard to believe. All you would want to think about is probably that dress which you think you might not be able to wear for a long time now. However, dresses are quite flattering in pregnancy; wrap dresses, especially. Why don’t you try a couple of them today and pamper yourself a little instead of feeling bad about the changes in your body?
In fact, if you look at the bright side of it and if you can manage to be an eternal optimist, you will now be able to clean your navel really well. Isn’t this a wonderful way of looking at things that seemingly don’t favor you as much?
Does Your Back Ache Too Much?
Your poor back is putting up with all the weight gain that has been happening for all these months and it is not only about the weight gain but also about your center of gravity that is shifting time and again due to the growing belly. Your uterus is stretching out and along with that your abdominal muscles are being tugged and pulled continuously. A lot of times, a nerve gets compressed due to this and you could have severe aches if it is not properly diagnosed on time. However, it is important to note that this is a mechanical process and mostly heals by itself but if the pain is too severe to bear, you might need to resort to safe forms of physiotherapy.
With the additional weight on your back and joints and also your ligaments stretching out owing to the functioning of the relaxin hormone in your body, doing anything for longer stretches of time could be very difficult. If you are lifting weights or sitting down at your desk for a really long time, you might need to take frequent breaks to relieve your back.
You will be surprised to know how effective warm compresses and hot showers are for backaches. However, if you have a tendency to overheat, avoid very hot showers. You can opt for relaxing massages from well-trained prenatal professionals who will know exactly how to relieve the pain. Ensuring a good posture is not just recommended for now but also for a lifetime. Wrong postures end up giving you nagging backaches for life. While sleeping on your side you should ensure that your body is well-supported. You can take the support of pillows all around you so that no part of your body is being stretched unnecessarily while sleeping. Avoid sleeping on your back as far as possible because it places tremendous amount of pressure on your lower back. It won’t be as easy either because you will start feeling uncomfortable after some time.
Your Blood Pressure This Week
Your blood pressure could be slightly elevated this week. After being comparatively on the lower side till 24 weeks, this is when it tends to be on the rise. There are a number of other factors in tow for this to happen. You are already thinking way too much about what the future holds for you. You are wondering if you would be an efficient parent, your work stress is gnawing at you, if you have an older child, he might be feeling a tad bit lonely and that makes you feel guilty about your absence. There could be a number of reasons to feel stressed out. If your blood pressure is slightly elevated than it usually is, you could start considering slowing down till your blood pressure normalizes.
Could Your Elevated Blood Pressure Indicate Pre-eclampsia?
Preeclampsia does not necessarily have to strike towards the end of pregnancy. It can even strike in the early weeks of the third trimester and the most difficult part is how one can never differentiate between elevated blood pressure and preeclampsia until and unless the symptoms are highly pronounced. How will you know the difference?
If, along with high blood pressure, you have other symptoms like slight or excessive swelling of your hands, feet and ankles, accelerated weight gain, a headache that refuses to go despite proper sleep and rest, changes in vision like seeing spots or being sensitive to normal light etc, pain in your abdomen or loss of fluids via vomiting, you could be manifesting signs of preeclampsia.
Consult your doctor right away if you find signs of preeclampsia. Even double or blurred vision could be a sure shot sign of it and you wouldn’t want to ignore it at any cost.
Pregnancy Induced Insomnia
Insomnia feels good as long as it is a song by a good-looking rockstar but when it happens to you, it might just blow your mind away. Moreover, if you are pregnant, there is nothing more precious to you than good sleep but when sleep is elusive, how would you deal with it?
There are a number of reasons for which sleep might elude you. The biggest factor is your own restlessness. The other factors are reflux, heartburn, leg cramps, backaches, frequent need to pee etc that tend to keep you up at night. If you are finding it hard to fall asleep because of these reasons, you could try walking before you hit the bed. It will release the stiffness of the entire day and will help you unwind. You could read a book if that helps to clear your mind before dozing off. Reading almost always helps. A glass of warm milk before bedtime has been known to help a lot of people have a good night’s sleep. However, if you are lactose intolerant you would rather avoid milk.
Could These Headaches Be Migraines?
If you have been experiencing throbbing headaches on one side of your head and they seem to last forever, they could very well be migraines. Migraines could also include blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. You could also feel dizzy sometimes. If you have never had these symptoms before, there is a possibility that these are pregnancy induced migraines.
The common triggers of migraine are stress, strong lights, and excessively high sounds etc. it has been seen that women who have never had migraines before suddenly start experiencing the symptoms in pregnancy. There is a possible link between pregnancy induced migraines and hypertension2, preeclampsia and other complicated disorders. This is why you would need to keep a track of the symptoms and consult with your doctor as and when you deem necessary.
Other common symptoms that come along with migraines are slightly elevated body temperature, nauseous tendency, mild to severe vomiting and continued throbbing on one or both sides of the head. These symptoms can be mistaken for benign conditions. However, one can never be careful enough when it comes to avoiding or preventing life threatening situations like preeclampsia.
What can you do about pregnancy induced migraines? To begin with, identify the stress factors and try and get rid of them. If the pain is too severe for you to continue with your everyday activities, ask your doctor for pain relief medications. Always avoid over the counter (OTC) medications unless you are absolutely sure of the ingredients. Aspirin is to be strictly avoided during pregnancy unless specified otherwise by the doctor. Safer options are ibuprofen but your doctor would still recommend bringing about dietary and lifestyle changes and resorting to paracetamol as far as possible.
A lot of women resort to the intake of caffeine to get rid of migraines. While this might work for some, it could also trigger the pain even further in others. To re-emphasize the statement, know and identify your triggers and keep them in mind before trying anything new.
Forgetfulness – Is It For Real?
You have been forgetting birthdays, anniversaries, important meetings, scheduled appointments and a lot other things lately. Blame yourself as much as you can but the truth is there are a hundred other women who are experiencing similar situations. The one thing that must and should blame is the resurgence of your pregnancy hormone progesterone that tends to mess with your memory.
You are not only forgetting things but are also zapped most of the time because of sleep deprivation. Research has shown that in third trimester of pregnancy, your brain volume actually decreases. While you are getting more efficient at developing emotional skills, your practical skills might be going for a toss. Hence, the next time you find yourself in the midst of an emotional upheaval, while you are at a presentation, don’t be so surprised. Your body is reacting and behaving as normally as it should.
How can you keep yourself away from the stress of forgetting things? The best way out is to start writing things down and keeping a track of whatever comes to your mind at a particular time. With technology at its peak, there is nothing you cannot do with a smart phone. Be it setting alarms or reminders, scheduling events or saving a date; you can do these and more quiet conveniently.
Although the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids has not been proven yet in the maintenance and improvement of memory, you can still try to include food rich in DHA and Omega-3 because even it did not do you any good, it will not be harmful either.
Do You Need A Birth Plan?
You might have heard about a birth plan from all your friends and relatives who have gone through pregnancy and childbirth recently but do you know what a birth plan is? It is the process of planning for your delivery well in advance because we all have started accepting the idea that when we know better, we do better.
While surgical and medical interventions rule the day even till this date, a lot of women are opting for natural home births. If this is on your mind, you could start jotting down a birth plan right away along with your husband. You would be amazed to know how creating a birth plan is incredibly liberating in the first place. You begin with an idea and give form and structure to it even before you knew it could exist. You will learn a good deal of things while making your own birth plan. you can discuss your options with your doctor or midwife and give him logical reasons for your choice.
However, even while preparing a birth plan that you feel is the best that you could have done, always remember that there needs to be a backup plan if things don’t turn out as you had planned them.
A birth plan is liberating in the sense that you know, understand and respect your body for what it is and how it will deliver your baby. You will be aware of the choices and options you have not at the time of delivery but way before that. You can weigh in your choices and come to a conclusion with the one that serves your purpose.
Always remember that if a birth plan does not work when labor is actually happening, that does not necessarily take away the birth experience in any way. You might have wanted to avoid an epidural but if the pain is unbearable and you do end up asking for it, there is no harm in that.
You can choose to make your birth plan long or short, depending on the philosophy you plan to follow. Your prenatal birth classes will also be significant contributors to this plan sine your ideas will be sufficiently influenced by them. What are the questions that you would like to ask yourself while making your birth plan?
- Do I want a pain-free birth? Will I be able to hold up the pain till I deliver?
- Do I need to avoid epidural at all costs? Is the pain worth it?
- Can I make my delivery as intervention-free as possible? Can my body belong to me while I carry out the most significant act of my life instead of being held up to knives and scalpels?
- Would I want to eat during labor? If yes, what exactly and when?
- Would I want delayed cord clamping3? Would I want my partner to do it?
- Do I plan to breastfeed my baby? Could I make the most of the golden hour after birth and try bonding with the baby right away?
- Would I want to stay alone after the delivery and opt for formula?
- Would I want my baby to be kept in the nursery or with me?
Once you are capable of answering yourself, you would know what all to include in that birth plan. It will be easier for you to fall into place once you know your options.
What Can You Do For Your Pregnant Spouse This Week?
She is settling down in the third trimester but it is not as effortless as you think it to be. It is taking her a lot of clumsiness, consciousness, embarrassment, pain and forgetfulness to go through this trimester because it is anything but a pleasant experience. Owing to all sorts of new symptoms that are craning their neck into her life, she is touched out by now. How can you help her? By being there with her when she needs you the most and letting her know that you feel her pains as much as she does.
She might want to discuss things like quitting her job or continuing with it, looking for godparents for your child, names for boy or girl, working from home or quitting altogether. Respect her choices and give in your suggestions as honestly as you can. It will help her in taking crucial decisions. Transparency is the best way to avoid misunderstandings and as long as you are being honest with each other, nothing else matters. She might be completely against the idea of sex or might want it all the time; it all depends on how her body is reacting to the pregnancy hormones. If she doesn’t want to have sex, you will obviously understand why but always keep in touch with her. Gentle gestures along with the right kind of humor can do wonders and you can strike the right note even if she is currently going through the most unpredictable phase of her life. The idea is to stay by her side, effortlessly.