25 Weeks Pregnant

Pregnancy comes in all shapes and sizes

25 weeks pregnant:

What's happening with you:

Your uterus is now the size of a soccer ball, and it's growing at a steady pace -- about ½ inch (1 cm) a week. A pregnant belly picture in week 25 will probably show your bump quite clearly from the front and the side, but you may be carrying some pregnancy weight around your legs, hips and back, too. Are women starting to guess the gender of your baby just by looking at you? One of the oldest (and strangely trusted) old wives' tales says that you will carry a girl higher in your abdomen and a boy lower in your belly, but take every prediction with a grain of salt. Your muscle tone, height and body shape will influence how your belly grows, and first time moms-to-be may even find that they're not showing as much as they thought they would by this point.

The top of your uterus is halfway between your bellybutton and your sternum (breast bone) now, which means you may begin to feel a little breathless as it pushes against your diaphragm. And since it's also pushing on your stomach and intestines, your digestion is likely suffering, too. If heartburn, gas and bloating are bothering you, don't force yourself to get through a full meal in one sitting. Instead, eat small amounts at a time to keep you comfortably full.

Although mood swings are likely becoming a thing of the past as your hormones level out, it's perfectly normal to feel a bit anxious about the third trimester and beyond. If your doctor has determined from an fFN test that you have a higher risk of delivering prematurely, you may be monitored more closely and told to watch out for signs of preterm labor. While certain things are outside your control, you are ultimately in control of your worries, so try to limit them: prepare yourself for labor by taking a childbirth preparation class, keep an optimistic outlook and reduce stress with relaxation techniques.

What's happening with your baby:

Weighing in at a whopping 1 ½ pounds, your baby is gaining strength with each passing day. A 25 week old fetus measures around 8 ¾ inches from crown to rump, or 13 ½ inches from crown to heel, and his body is straightening as the components of his spine begin to develop. He may have had a slim chance of surviving outside the womb at 23 weeks, but he has a much better chance now: the blood vessels in his lungs have developed enough to help them take in air, and he is one step closer to breathing naturally now that his nostrils have opened.

An ultrasound at 25 weeks would show that your baby can grab and hold his feet, hands and even the umbilical cord (which is nothing to worry about, since it's too thick and strong to pinch or damage). Muscle control is much better now, and Baby's developing nerves allow him to react more quickly. The increasing sensitivity around his mouth is particularly important, as he'll need those nerves to find his mother's nipple after he's born. But even though the skin (which is still covered in lanugo and vernix caseosa) is becoming more sensitive, it's still thin and wrinkled because your baby has not yet built up much fat. Give it a few more weeks, and those wrinkles will begin to smooth out as your little one puts on weight.

 

Things to do this week:

If you'll be having a baby shower in the weeks to come, make sure that your baby registry includes everything you need for baby's first days. While big pieces of furniture and cute accessories for the nursery are important, you should also consider the smaller things that your baby will use right away. Comfortable clothes that are easy to maneuver over wriggling arms and legs should be at the top of your shopping list.

There's no reason to wait until baby arrives to put together a basic layette, but choose the garments wisely. Although trendy items may draw your attention in the stores, you will thank yourself for putting practicality over fashion when you're changing baby's outfit for the fourth time in one day! Stick to one-piece outfits and pajamas, shirts with snaps at the neck and a sleeping sack that fits well to keep your baby warm and comfy. Ribbons, wraps and buttons make for adorable outfits, but they will also make extra work for you.

When it comes to sizes, keep in mind that babies grow quickly in the first weeks and those "newborn" clothes will soon be far too small to stretch over your baby's chubby body. Be sure to include on your registry several outfits for her first days, but also some basics in larger sizes so you're prepared for the day when her outfits are a little too tight to be comfortable.

 

Medical musts:

If you have scheduled a prenatal visit for this week, you will probably be given a gestational diabetes test. Although it resembles other types of diabetes, one aspect sets gestational diabetes apart: it comes on suddenly, cannot be traced to a specific cause and typically disappears shortly after your delivery. Anyone could contract it and it could lead to problems for both mother and baby if left unchecked, so most women are screened for this condition sometime between week 24 and week 28 of pregnancy.

The glucose screening test is the first step to diagnosis. It's a relatively quick and painless blood test that measures your blood glucose levels -- if the levels are too high, your body may not be producing enough insulin and you will need to take a diagnostic test to confirm the results. The oral glucose tolerance test, which will follow the blood test, is a little different: you will be given a solution containing 50 grams of glucose to drink and your doctor will take a blood sample one hour later to see how your body metabolized the glucose. Although this test will detect around 80% of gestational diabetes cases, it's not accurate enough to diagnose without a doubt, so a positive result will lead to a longer, more involved glucose tolerance test.

Gestational diabetes does carry risks, but early diagnosis gives you a fantastic chance of having a perfectly healthy pregnancy. If you don't have risk factors for diabetes in general, you may be surprised to learn that you have this condition, but try not to worry: in most cases, regular exercise and careful attention to your pregnancy diet will be all you need to manage the condition for the remainder of your pregnancy.

Tips for your partner:

Have you noticed that your partner's relationship with her mother has changed? Pregnancy can be a powerful mother-daughter bonding experience (though it can also spark vigorous disagreement), and you may find yourself in close quarters with your partner's family more often these days.

This can be a frustrating situation for you, but it's in your best interest to make the most of it. Instead of complaining to your partner about losing your alone time or listening to her mother's opposing opinions, encourage their relationship and do your best to show appreciation for her family's support. When it comes to your family, let them be as involved in the pregnancy as they'd like and at least listen to their advice (even if your parenting styles differ). Pregnancy and parenthood can bring rough times, and you should take any help that is offered to make your lives easier. And besides, nurturing a relationship with both sides of the family is sure to enrich your child's life with more helpful and loving influences.

This week's FAQs:

  • Is cord blood banking a good idea for everyone?

    Saving the blood from your newborn's umbilical cord is a relatively new trend, but it's catching on quickly. Many parents and most doctors agree that it's a worthwhile procedure: taking the stem cells from the umbilical cord after birth causes no pain to mother or baby, they can be stored for a long time and the cells can treat some of the most aggressive genetic conditions. In the end, cord blood has the potential to make your baby's life -- and the lives of others -- longer and healthier.

    But it's not really a question of whether to bank the blood or not, it's a question of where to bank it. You have two choices: you can pay to store it in a private cord blood bank for your own family to use, or you can store it for free in a public bank that will donate it to anyone who may need it. There are pros and cons to both sides, so you'll have to consider your financial situation alongside the available facts and figures.

    Unfortunately, nobody knows for sure the chances that your baby would ever need her own cord blood and whether or not that would be the most effective treatment for her particular condition. On the other hand, publicly donated cord blood has certainly saved lives, plus public cord blood may offer your child a better chance at recovery or survival if she needed a transplant later in life.

  • Is it normal to experience some bleeding in the second trimester?

    While a little bit of blood after intercourse or a vaginal exam shouldn't alarm you, any heavy or spotty bleeding in the later stages of pregnancy often points to a problem. At this point, bleeding that comes with or without pain can indicate a number of serious conditions that would need to be treated right away.

    Most late pregnancy bleeding can be traced to placenta problems. Placenta previa occurs when the placenta doesn't move up the uterine wall as pregnancy progresses, and instead partially or fully covers the opening of the uterus. The result is often painless bleeding that can become severe, and before you know it, you and your baby could be in danger. If the blood is coming regularly (whether it's a light or heavy flow) and brings abdominal pain, it could be a sign that your placenta has separated from the uterus prematurely, which could catapult you into shock.

    In some cases, blood can also indicate the beginning of a miscarriage or even the start of labor. The bottom line is that you should never assume that a bit of blood is alright just because it stops intermittently or it doesn't come with any pain. See your doctor as soon as you can so that any condition can be diagnosed and remedied right away.

  • What are my chances of developing gestational diabetes?

    It is estimated that anywhere between 1% and 10% of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes, or the inability to properly metabolize sugar, though the condition may not bring any symptoms. Like so many other pregnancy conditions, your pregnancy hormones are to blame; unlike Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, your genetics or your lifestyle won't necessarily affect your chances of developing insulin resistance during pregnancy.

    On the other hand, there are some factors that can increase your risk of developing this condition in the later stages of pregnancy. Your age plays a role, as women over 30 have a greater chance of suffering from gestational diabetes, and there's a good chance you'll get it again if you have had the disease before. While your pre-pregnancy weight could influence your chances, it turns out that your weight at birth is more relevant: if you were over 9 pounds when you were born, your doctor may want to monitor your blood sugar more closely. Certain ethnicities, your level of physical fitness, a history of prediabetes and problems in previous pregnancies could also increase your risk.

    It's not a good idea to assume you're in the clear because you don't have any of these predisposing factors, so be sure to have a screening test between week 24 and 28 so you can rule it out or begin treatment.

Helpful hint:

Are you beginning to worry about how this baby will change your relationship with your partner and your family? That's another reason to consider using a doula for professional birth support. While many people consider a doula to be a big help in labor and delivery, she can also make for a more satisfying pregnancy experience and help you get off to the best start possible with your new family dynamic. Look into doulas that offer prenatal and postpartum support, and choose a woman that both you and your partner can trust and respect.

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