28 Weeks Pregnant
Is your baby leaving you breathless?
28 weeks pregnant:
lungsLungsTiny air sacs called alveoli are forming to prepare for breathing air.
faceFaceA layer of fat is forming to help fill out your baby's features, although the skin is still quite thin and wrinkled.
What's happening with you:
As you begin your third trimester, your body and mind are gearing up for the final leg of the journey. Are you basking in the energy and excitement you've accumulated over the second trimester, or do your pregnancy discomforts have you counting down the days to delivery? Whichever camp you're in, it's completely normal to feel a little strung out in the final months of pregnancy, but remember that you have plenty of resources to help you cope with your worries.
Your uterus has grown about 1 ½ inches (or 4 cm) in the past month and now it's pushing against your diaphragm and the bottom of your rib cage, which can get a little uncomfortable. Between the pressure of your uterus on your organs, the extra effort it takes to move around and your body's increasing demand for oxygen, it's not uncommon to feel breathless now and then. Don't be alarmed if a hike up the stairs takes your breath away, but be sure to call your caregiver if your breathing troubles don't let up after a few minutes.
What's happening with your baby:
At 10 inches from crown to rump (around 15 inches from head to heel) and 2 ½ pounds, gaining weight is now your baby's main focus. Since her senses are well developed, you'll find that she will react more readily to music, voices and other stimuli from the outside world. Try singing and talking to her regularly, and see if you can make her wiggle by eating certain foods or resting in certain positions.
Her skin, while still thin, is stretching and strengthening to make room for a layer of fat, and the lanugo that has covered her body is falling off. Along with other debris in the amniotic fluid, the remnants of this fine hair create meconium in your baby's intestines, a thick blackish substance that will become her first bowel movement. External genitalia are also forming by now -- a baby boy's testes have descended and a baby girl's labia are growing closer together.
Things to do this week:
Have you hit the shops yet? As your belly gets bigger and your heavy legs make walking less comfortable, you may want to pick up some essential baby gear before it becomes a chore to walk through stores. Your mind has probably strayed to your approaching delivery at least a few times, and you may even have started your birth plan to prepare for the big day. If so, remember that the preparations don't end with the trip to the hospital and your stay there -- you need to account for your voyage back home, as well. One of the first accessories you'll need for your baby is a car seat, and if you're having twins, you'll need to do twice the shopping.
The most important element in an infant car seat is the direction that it faces. Experts agree that babies are far safer in rear-facing car seats for the first two years of their lives, so find an appropriately sized model that can be installed to face the back of the seat. While it can be both cost-effective and eco-savvy to borrow baby gear from friends and family, car seats should be purchased new whenever possible. Car accidents contribute to an astounding number of injuries, and an outdated seat may not provide the protection you expect from it (moreover, it may not meet legal safety standards to begin with).
If you didn't have a prenatal check-up towards the end of your second trimester, you'll likely have one this week. From here on in, you can expect to see your doctor or midwife every two weeks until week 36, when you'll begin to visit your caregiver on a weekly basis. Certain conditions won't show up until the third trimester and you may need to take some precautionary measures now to prevent a problem down the road.
Most women will have a blood test to screen for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks, and if your results show a high level of glucose, you'll need to take a glucose tolerance test to diagnose the condition. Although it can be frightening to learn that your body isn't metabolizing your food efficiently, this condition is very controllable. It's also better to discover it sooner rather than later so you can modify your routine to ensure that your baby continues to develop perfectly.
Remember the blood tests you had way back at the beginning of your first trimester? One of those tests was to determine your blood type and Rh factor, and depending on the results, you may need to take some preventative measures now to ensure a safe labor and birth. If you're Rh positive (meaning that the Rh factor is present in your blood), you have nothing to worry about. On the other hand, a negative result will require you to have an injection of RhoGam (Rh immunoglobulin) this week to prevent your body from developing antibodies that could attack your baby's blood if it should mix with yours during delivery.
Tips for your partner:
Balance plays an important role in every aspect of pregnancy, and that goes for both parents-to-be. Yes, everyday activities are more challenging for your partner these days, and your help is greatly appreciated. On the other hand, a relationship will suffer when the needs of one partner aren't being met. Be a compassionate companion and an invaluable assistant, but make sure you don't forget about yourself. Don't feel guilty about taking some alone time (as long as it doesn't come at a cost to her safety or comfort) and don't let the stress of impending parenthood take over your days.
If your worries are consuming your thoughts, be sure to attend childbirth preparation classes with your partner to ease your anxiety. When you know what to expect and how to handle it, you'll be able to clear your mind of those uncertainties and worst-case-scenarios that keep you up at night. Find a relaxing activity to incorporate into your daily or weekly routine, one that you can do with or without your partner, like walking, cooking or taking your other kids to the park. This way, you have time set aside to bond with your partner and your baby-to-be or simply unwind with your own thoughts, depending on how you feel that day.
This week's FAQs:
How much weight should I put on in my third trimester?
From this point forward, you'll put on another 10 to 12 pounds (a little more or less is alright, but most women should gain about a pound a week during their third trimester). If you find that your hips and your bottom are filling out at a surprising pace, you're not alone: even women who haven't gained too much excess weight by this point are subject to new bulges around their bodies and heavier, plumper breasts. Be careful when you walk and climb stairs, since you may not be able to see where your foot is falling and your shifting center of gravity can lead your body astray.
Although your pregnancy weight gain will ramp up during this final phase of pregnancy, any sudden and severe growth is cause for concern. Gaining more than four pounds in a week or rapid swelling in your face, hands and feet could signal preeclampsia, a very serious version of hypertension that can threaten your health and your pregnancy. Alternatively, if your uterus growth slows down, your doctor may want to check for a condition called intrauterine growth restriction that can lead to a low-birthweight baby or even stillbirth. In both cases, immediate treatment and continual monitoring will be necessary to keep your pregnancy on track.
I tend to urinate a bit when I cough, sneeze or laugh these days. Is there something wrong with my bladder?
There are two main reasons for urinary incontinence later in pregnancy: weak pelvic floor muscles and the pressure of the uterus on your bladder. In short, a bladder with a mind of its own is just one of the pleasures of the third trimester. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to take back control over your bodily functions, and as long as you obey the signals your body sends you, you can make it through the rest of your pregnancy with minimal embarrassment.
The first issue to address is weakness in the pelvic floor. There are a few reasons why you should be working to strengthen this muscle group, and bladder control is one of them. The other reason is an easier and more controlled labor and delivery, since these are the muscles you will need to push your baby out. Kegel exercises are your ticket to a stronger pelvic floor, so start doing them regularly (you can do them anytime, anywhere) and stick with that routine until your delivery. Another important rule for late pregnancy bladder control is to go when you need to go: holding it in can lead to a weaker bladder or even a UTI.
Is sex safe during the third trimester?
If you're having a low-risk pregnancy, intercourse is perfectly alright. In fact, making love is a great way to reignite your intimate relationship and forget about your pregnancy anxieties for a while. The only issue with sex during pregnancy, as you may have already discovered, is that you will need to get a little creative with your positioning. The missionary position is out, but there are plenty of other ways to make love safely and comfortably.
If your doctor has detected a complication, you may need to curtail your lovemaking for the final weeks of pregnancy. Placenta previa, preeclampsia and anything else that puts you on bed rest or needs to be closely monitored will fall under this category, and you'll also need to abstain if you're at a greater risk for preterm labor. But even if your doctor gives you the OK, you may need to avoid deep penetration, and watch out for any vaginal bleeding -- bright red blood after intercourse could signal trouble, and you should call your doctor if you have contractions after orgasm that continue for more than a few minutes.
Eventually, your thoughts will turn to your first days of parenthood, and one thing to consider is whether or not you will breastfeed. This can be a tough decision for some women, but while there are some pros and cons to both breastfeeding and formula feeding, experts agree that breastfed babies are generally healthier than formula-fed babies. But it seems that breast milk affects intelligence, as well: in a recent study, babies who were breastfed scored an average of eight points higher on IQ tests taken later in childhood.