You are now coming to an end of the second trimester. In a few weeks you will enter into the last three months of pregnancy. You look forward to the end of the pregnancy because you want to meet your baby. But there are some huge changes to both your physical as well as mental state. As the pregnancy progresses, you will gain more weight. The uterus will continue to grow, as the baby gets bigger.
As time goes on, there won’t be any room left in the uterus because the baby will be full size and that is when you will feel every movement the baby makes. Due to the growing baby and the weight gain, you will start to experience more leg cramps and backaches. You will continue to have frequent trips to the bathroom and some fatigue.
There is still plenty of time to start the prenatal classes. These classes will discuss the remainder of the pregnancy, what to expect during childbirth and what to expect when the baby comes home. These classes are not required but they are very informative. You can start attending them now or some people wait until the 7th month of pregnancy. Check your local hospital for the class schedules.
Your baby is approximately 1 1/4 pounds and is 8″-10″ in length. This is an active time, with lots of movement going on. With a handheld Fetal Doppler, your healthcare provider will be able to pick up the heartbeat of your baby. This common, painless test uses sound waves to listen to the blood going through your baby’s heart, allowing you to listen to the heartbeat. It is without a doubt, one of the sweetest sounds of pregnancy. Your baby’s heartbeat will be very fast it is usually twice the average rate of an adult, varying between 110 bpm and 170 bpm (beats per minute).
If you have a high risk pregnancy, you may be prescribed a Fetal Doppler to use at home. They are only available via prescription and are monitored by the FDA.
Your baby’s brain is really beginning to mature, his lungs are forming and will be producing surfactant in the near future. Surfactant keeps the air sacs in our lungs from collapsing and from sticking together upon exhalation, thus allowing us to breathe properly.
Your baby is almost completely formed, and is beginning to deposit fat on his or her body. Newborns have a difficult time regulating body temperature, the fat helps to retain heat. Babies born at this point have some chances of survival with very special care. They will be in the Intensive Care Unit, usually until their due date. A major problem with premature babies is lung development. If preterm labor is detected early enough a steroid shot can sometimes be given to enhance lung development.
It is important to recognize the signs of premature labor, which is more common in the summer months but can happen during any season. Premature labor can be caused by dehydration in some women, so keep yourself hydrated with water. Call your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Contractions or cramps, more than 5 in one hour
- Bright red blood from your vagina
- Swelling or puffiness of the face or hands, a sign of preeclampsia
- Pain during urination, possible urinary tract, bladder or kidney infection
- Sharp or prolonged pain in your stomach (preeclampsia signs)
- Acute or continuous vomiting (preeclampsia signs)
- Sudden gush of clear, watery fluid from your vagina
- Low, dull backache
- Intense pelvic pressure
Remember, if you have any of the above signs call your doctor immediately. It is always better to be safe than sorry!
Where Will Baby Sleep?
Newborn infants sleep for about twenty hours a day. Finding the best sleep arrangement for your baby may take a little experimenting. Some babies stay asleep no matter where they are and other babies have a difficult time sleeping if they aren’t in a familiar environment. Where will your baby sleep best?
Crib sleeping – There is more than one philosophy on how to get your baby to sleep in the crib at night. You will want to do what works best for you and what feels right for you and your baby.
If you would like your baby to learn to sleep on her own you will want to put her to sleep in the crib when she is sleepy but not asleep. The idea behind this is that she will learn to comfort herself and learn to sleep independently. The drawback to this, is that a lot of babies don’t go directly to sleep and your baby may cry for a while before she goes to sleep.
If you are not comfortable with letting your baby cry, you may want to try to get her to sleep first before putting her in the crib. Babies like to be rocked to sleep or nursed to sleep. Once your baby is sound asleep, you can move her to the crib. The disadvantages of putting her to sleep this way is that she may not learn to sleep independently, she may need you to rock her to sleep every night, and she may wake up as soon as you put her in the crib.
Cosleeping – Both the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) and the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) warn parents not to put baby to sleep in the bed with them.
The main concern is with suffocation from a parent rolling over onto baby, baby getting wedged between the wall or headboard, or baby rolling over to a face-down position and suffocating. Proponents of cosleeping, however, believe that babies sleep better, are more closely bonded to mom, and that the sleep arrangement may cut down the risks of SIDS.
Even though there are risks involved, many moms choose to have their babies sleep in the bed with them at night. If you are a breastfeeding mom you may find cosleeping easier. If your baby is in a crib, you will need to get out of bed each time you feed her. With cosleeping, you can feed your baby in the bed which may help you and baby to get a better night’s sleep. You may also feel closer to your baby by having her sleeping close by.
Other sleep arrangements- If you like the idea of cosleeping but are concerned about the safety of sleeping with your baby, you may want to purchase a cosleeper or bassinet. A cosleeper is an infant bed that attaches to the mother’s bed so that baby is near mom but not sleeping in the bed with mom. There are several types of cosleepers and bassinets that you can purchase to keep baby close by.
Changes With Your Body
Now you will be able feel the top of the uterus about 2 inches from the belly. This will continue to grow as the baby grows. You may start to notice some stretch marks on the abdomen and on the breasts. You may want to use moisturizer on these stretch marks or use cocoa butter. You may notice that your eyes are more sensitive to light and they become drier than usual. You can use eye drops or maybe artificial tears to help with the problem.
By now you will physical feel and know when the baby is sleeping and when the baby is awake. It may be a good idea to rest when the baby is resting because the baby tends to be on an opposite sleeping schedule than you right now. You will also be able to feel the uterus or abdomen tighten every now and then. This will happen more in the third trimester.
Some of the other symptoms that you may notice in this part of the pregnancy are breast changes, more trips to the bathroom, constipation, itching and heartburn. You may experience round ligament pain, these are the ligaments stretching as the baby continues to grow. Some women experience very severe round ligament pain and others don’t feel it at all.
You are going to feel like you have a permanent head cold, the increased blood flow puts pressure on the mucus membranes, which causes congestion. Do not take any over the counter medications without speaking to your doctor first. Try some simple saline drops first.
Keeping Your Body Healthy
As you continue to grow, it might seem easy to eat healthy simply because you can’t manage to ingest more than 500 calories a day (there’s just no room!). But the truth is, it’s important to consciously care for yourself for the remainder of your pregnancy so that you enter mommyhood as strong as possible.
- Continue to eat healthy. Many obstetricians suggest five to six small meals throughout the day as opposed to three main meals. Smaller meals are easier to digest and will keep your blood sugar at a more even level throughout the day.
- Continue to walk or swim if your doctor permits it to reduce edema and maintain your energy level.
- Moisturize your skin- especially around your belly-not only to reduce stretch marks but to prevent your skin from itching as it stretches (which it will do a lot with twins!).
- Spend time in the evening (and afternoon if your lifestyle permits it) with your feet up to reduce swelling. Keeping your feet elevated also helps if you are battling varicose veins.
- Don’t neglect your emotional health during this time. Keep life as stress-free as you can. If allowed by your doctor, get outside each day or in the evening after dinner. Weather permitting, indulging in some fresh air while moving your body will feel wonderful. When you feel yourself getting anxious, play soothing music.
- Begin to line up support in terms of housework and errands, if possible. Have fun preparing your home for the arrival of your babies. They will be here before you know it!