27 Weeks Pregnant
Controlling your physical and emotional health
27 weeks pregnant:
eyesEyesThe retinas of the eyes appear as dark spots, and the eyelid folds are beginning to form around them.
tongueTongueYour baby now has taste buds on her tongue and inside her cheeks. In fact, the flavors of the food you eat will travel to the fetus through the amniotic fluid, and it's not uncommon for the baby to show appreciation (or distaste) with a kick or wiggle.
What's happening with you:
Welcome to the last week of your second trimester! Take a deep breath (if your uterus will let you), and get ready to dive into the final stretch of your pregnancy. From here on out, your expanding body will probably force you to step carefully and slow down a little bit, which is perfectly fine. Prepare yourself for some more steady weight gain, too: you'll be putting on about a pound a week from now until your last month and extra padding will probably accumulate around your breasts, hips and buttocks. Don't let yourself obsess over your extra weight -- your baby needs you to gain those pounds, and remember that they're only temporary!
With all of the growth and changes in appearance you've experienced, you may have forgotten about some routine health checks that are just as important during your pregnancy as they were before it. Staying in touch with your body will help you catch anything that could lead to problems, so be sure to keep up with routine assessments. See the dentist at least once during your pregnancy to monitor your vulnerable gums, and continue to perform your monthly breast self-exam. If you do notice a lump during pregnancy, don't panic: clogged milk ducts are fairly common in the later stages of pregnancy, and though they can emerge as painful lumps, they can also be remedied.
What's happening with your baby:
At 9 ½ inches from crown to rump (14 inches from crown to heel) and 2 pounds heavy, your baby is finally plumping up more than he's growing in length. The lungs are maturing rapidly from all that inhaling and exhaling he's been doing, and in turn, a 27 week fetus has a far better chance of surviving outside the womb than a fetus born just two weeks earlier. Along with better lung function, the brain is becoming more sophisticated and muscles are strengthening, making for more distinct phases of movement. But don't expect kicks and somersaults all the time; remember that your baby's sleeping patterns are forming, so there will be stretches where you don't notice much movement at all and other very active times of the day.
This week brings another big milestone: the initial stage of sight. Your baby will finally open his eyes at 27 weeks pregnant, and his retinas are developing the layers that receive light and transmit it to the brain. In fact, a flashlight shone against your belly can coax the baby to move toward the bright spot (though some babies may move away from the light). To top off this important eye development, your baby now has a full set of eyelashes to sweep away any dirt or irritants that get in their way once he greets the outside world.
Things to do this week:
If you haven't done so already, this is a great week to start putting the nursery together. The most difficult aspect of decorating your baby's room is ignoring the pretty, but unnecessary, embellishments that fill the stores. Your infant will only be able to distinguish bold shades in her first phase of life, so pastel paintings and a bushel of colorful toys will be more for your pleasure than for her amusement. Try to pick out furniture that is practical and choose playful accessories that feature black, white and red if you want them to keep Baby's attention.
Baby furniture can get pricey, so borrowing some pieces from family and friends is a fantastic option. Sturdy changing tables, dressers and rocking chairs should make it through more than one pregnancy, and there's no reason to let a piece collect dust if it still gets the job done. But while some second-hand items are perfectly acceptable for your new baby, you should invest in a new crib, if you can. Cribs are constantly being updated with safer designs and streamlined features, so it pays to look into new models from various brands and learn about any recent recalls. Familiarize yourself with the basics of crib safety now so you'll be able to make a sound and educated decision when you hit the stores.
Pregnancy is not always relaxing, but you'll need to try extra hard to control the stress in your life for your baby's sake. Did you know that your baby can sense your anxiety, and your moods may influence her moods and her health? Many women find they get more stressed out around this time of pregnancy, as labor worries begin to creep up, hormones continue to twist emotions and test results can bring you down. For instance, if you've recently had your glucose screening test for gestational diabetes and the results came back positive, you may jump to all sorts of conclusions about your body, your baby or your pregnancy. Try to maintain an optimistic outlook, keeping in mind that one poor result does not mean you're doomed.
When you're dealing with certain conditions, stress and pregnancy can be a dangerous mixture. If your doctor has prescribed bed rest to control and monitor preeclampsia, a surge in anxiety can lead to a surge in blood pressure -- something that could seriously threaten your safety and the health of your baby. But even if you're having a medically unremarkable pregnancy, the emotional and physical stress around you will influence your health as you work your way through your third trimester. Rest is more important these days, so if you work on your feet or regularly lift and move heavy objects, you may have to modify your routine at work during pregnancy.
Tips for your partner:
If you haven't already taken over most of the household chores, do so now. Mom-to-be is getting bigger, making bending, walking and reaching more difficult these days. A heavy mop bucket or an overflowing laundry basket can be a big challenge when working with a big belly, and she may have trouble keeping her balance as her center of gravity shifts. Move heavy boxes, fetch anything from high-up spaces and pick up anything off the floor without being asked. Your partner will be grateful.
Before you get to the cleaning, take a close look at what you're using to clean your home. Harsh chemicals and astringent odors shouldn't be used during pregnancy, or perhaps ever again. Although typical household chemicals are not teratogens, the fumes could be unsafe for you and your unborn baby, and keeping those toxic potions out of reach is one more thing you'll have to worry about when your little one arrives. For routine cleaning, look into natural disinfectants and gentler cleaning agents. A little research online or a visit to a homeopathic clinic or store can get you started on the right track.
This week's FAQs:
I've heard that the mercury in fish can cause problems in a developing baby. Is eating fish safe?
Fish brings some fantastic health benefits to mother and baby, thanks to the omega 3-fatty acids found in them. These important fatty acids boost brain, vision and nervous system development in the fetus, plus there's evidence to suggest they lead to fewer behavioral problems and better sleep patterns once baby is born. Additionally, the DHA and EPA in omega-3 fatty acids will reduce your chances of preterm labor, preeclampsia and postpartum depression. To reap these rewards, try to eat salmon, cod, halibut, haddock or pollock two to three times a week.
But while certain fish can improve your health, the wrong type of fish could expose you to toxins that may threaten your baby's wellbeing. Large, fatty fish tend to accumulate mercury in their tissue and many types of freshwater fish are contaminated with chemicals known as PCBs. Both of these pollutants can affect your baby's neurological development. Stay away from shark, swordfish, fresh tuna, tilefish and king mackerel to keep your body and your baby safe.
Another option is to avoid fish altogether and take fish oil instead, but be careful which type of fish oil supplement you use. Fish oil and pregnancy is a good mix as long as you avoid oil taken from the liver of the fish, which contains a form of vitamin A that can lead to health problems.
Is it normal for my stretch marks to be red and itchy?
Stretch marks will affect the majority of pregnant women, and they can get quite itchy as your skin continues to stretch across your growing belly. Rest assured that this itch is very normal and has no negative effects on your pregnancy (aside from driving you crazy). Massaging some peppermint cream into your skin or taking a warm oatmeal bath can bring some relief and relaxation.
Slight itching is common, but if your itch is severe and comes with a rash of small pimples, you may be suffering from PUPPP, or pruritic urticarial papules. Although they can be alarming and very uncomfortable, these little eruptions or lesions are harmless and relatively short-lived; like some other conditions that are unique to pregnancy, PUPPP will typically vanish soon after delivery. Since the itch will be greater than regular stretch mark discomfort, your doctor will likely prescribe a steroid cream to help with flare-ups.
My doctor has recommended that I go on bed rest. Does this mean that I will be confined to my bed for the rest of my pregnancy? How will I handle my other responsibilities?
Bed rest may sound relaxing at first, but the prospect of staying in one spot for weeks on end is not very appealing. If your doctor or midwife has diagnosed a serious condition, complete bed rest might be your only chance of carrying to term; if minor complications arise, it's often the best precautionary measure you can take. In either case, bed rest can be physically draining and the stress of isolation can get to you if you're not careful.
However, confining yourself to the bedroom may not be necessary. A condition like severe preeclampsia will require you to stay in bed pretty much all day every day, but there are many cases where some activity is allowed. Talk to your doctor or midwife about the specifics before, you begin your bed rest. Will you be allowed to move around a bit or is getting up strictly prohibited? How many hours a day will you need to be in bed? What methods or machines will you need to monitor your condition while you're on bed rest? Bed rest can test your patience, but there are many professionals that can offer physical and emotional support to make your down-time more tolerable.
As stresses build up in the home and outside the home, do yourself a favor and take some advice from experienced moms. Some will tell you they wish they didn't give the housework so much attention while others regret dwelling on little relationship hurdles that came and went during their pregnancy. The consensus? Choose your battles wisely and put your faith in the people you trust. If you continually question your doctor's orders, find a new doctor. If you're being as healthy as you can be, don't let the possibility of complications consume your thoughts. If you have a spat with your partner or your mother about something baby-related, talk it out and move on. Relaxation techniques can help you deal with stress, but it's always best to avoid the anxiety in the first place.