Now that you have entered your third trimester, you may be spending more time thinking and preparing for your baby’s birth. You may have taken a childbirth class already and you probably have some ideas about what your baby’s birth will be like. If this is not your first baby, you may want to do things differently with this baby than you did with your first. If you are considering having a natural childbirth, you may want to consider hiring a doula. A doula is a paid labor and child birth assistant. A doula provides emotional and physical support for the couple during labor. In this week’s newsletter we are going to discuss the benefits of hiring a doula and give you some information on how to hire a doula.
By now the baby is about 16 inches long and should weigh approximately 2-1/3 pounds. The baby’s skin has become wrinkled at this stage so the baby’s skin will look rounder. The lanugo (fine hair) will be covering the baby now. At week twenty-eight, the baby’s eyes will be open and the eyebrows and eyelids are very well formed by now.
The baby’s enzyme system and their endocrinological process are now developed. The baby will start to move around more and you will soon start feeling these kicks and punches on a more consistent basis. The baby’s organs are formed but they are still developing, if the baby was born at this stage with intensive care the baby could survive.
By now the lungs will just about be mature and the respiratory movements of the baby are now being monitored when you go to your doctor’s appointments. The last two months of pregnancy are important to the baby’s body systems and organs. As the baby prepares for birth, their organs are developing and this will help ensure a healthy delivery for the baby.
How Your Life’s Changing
You’re in the home stretch! The third and final trimester starts this week. If you’re like most women, you’ll gain about 11 pounds this trimester.
At this point, you’ll likely visit your doctor or midwife every two weeks. Then, at 36 weeks, you’ll switch to weekly visits. Depending on your risk factors, your practitioner may recommend repeating blood tests for HIV and syphilis now, as well as doing cultures for chlamydia and gonorrhea, to be certain of your status before delivery. Also, if your glucose screening test result was high and you haven’t yet had follow-up testing, you’ll soon be given the 3-hour glucose tolerance test. And if the blood work done at your first prenatal visit showed that you’re Rh negative, you’ll get an injection of Rh immunoglobulin to prevent your body from developing antibodies that could attack your baby’s blood. (If your baby is Rh positive, you’ll receive another shot of Rh immunoglobulin after you give birth.)
Around this time, some women feel an unpleasant “creepy-crawly” sensation in their lower legs and an irresistible urge to move them while trying to relax or sleep. If this sensation is at least temporarily relieved when you move, you may have what’s known as restless legs syndrome (RLS). No one knows for sure what causes RLS, but it’s relatively common among expectant mothers. Try stretching or massaging your legs, and cut down on caffeine, which can make the symptoms worse. Ask your caregiver if you should try iron supplements, which can sometimes relieve RLS.
The Benefits of Having a Doula During Childbirth
There are two types of doulas, birth doulas and postpartum doulas. A birth doula helps during labor and shortly after childbirth, whereas, a postpartum doula provides support to the mom during the first few weeks after baby’s birth.
What Does A Doula Do?
Normally, you will meet with your doula prior to birth and talk about your plans for labor. Your doula can assist you on writing a birth plan, deciding what pain relief techniques you would like to use, and she may also assist with breastfeeding after the baby is born. A doula will act as a support person for the mom but also help to involve the dad in the birth process. She may help you with breathing techniques, massage, or other pain relief techniques as well as provide comfort and emotional support during your labor.
Why Have A Doula?
- 50% reduction of cesarean rate
- 25% shorter labor
- 60% reduction in requests for an epidural
- 40% reduction in the use of oxytocin
- 40% reduction in forceps delivery
Several studies have shown that women who use the services of a doula are more likely to have a positive birth experience, are less likely to need pain medication, and are less likely to require a cesarean section. Your doula may help comfort you during labor or help be your voice when you are having a difficult time communicating during labor. She may also help you to fulfill your childbirth goals. If you would like to have a natural labor, a doula can help you to stay focused on your goals during labor. Your partner may struggle with seeing you in pain. Your doula will help take the pressure off of dad and she may also assist him with things he can do to help during your labor.
Do You Have To Have Natural Childbirth If You Use A Doula?
No, your birth experience is up to you. Talk to your doula about your feelings. A doula is not intended to dictate your childbirth experience, but more to help you to have a positive birth experience. She is there to make your birth the best experience for you, whether you decide to have a natural birth, have an epidural, or just take a “wait and see” approach. She will be able to help you make decisions during labor and also offer support to you in the event that you need intervention or decide that you need medication for pain relief.
What To Expect
You can expect to start attending more doctors appointments, usually in the last trimester, they can range to every two weeks to every week. Women who are considered to be high risk will start seeing the doctor every week at this point. Sometimes at the third trimester, the baby may not be in the correct position for birth. But don’t panic, there is plenty of time for the baby to turn and head in the right direction.
You may start to get headaches, backaches, more itching and heartburn. These are all common. You may start to feel nauseous again so it is important to keep up your nourishment anyway because now it is a very important time in the pregnancy when the baby needs more nutrition before they are born.
Your weight gain should be about 17 to 24 pounds, if you weigh more, along the way the doctor would have shown some concern about your weight. So if they haven’t said anything don’t worry about it. It is never a good idea to start watching what you eat or decrease your food intake when you are pregnant.
If you are concerned about your weight, speak to the doctor, they may recommend more healthy types of foods or they may suggest that you start walking after meals or maybe go swimming a few times a week. Exercise will make you feel better. If you have any questions about future doctor’s appointments or how the birth is being planned. Now is the time to ask your doctor. You may think that the questions you have are just plain silly but they aren’t.
It is your body and your baby; so don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions no matter how trivial you think it is. Some women look to the pregnancy books for answers first. While these books are informative, they should not be a replacement for your doctor’s advice. The only person who knows your pregnant better than you is your doctor.