29 Weeks Pregnant
A demanding body and baby
29 weeks pregnant:
brainBrainNerve centers are becoming distinct, marking the start of an important state of mental development.
skeletonSkeletonThe fetal skeleton is completely formed, although the bones have yet to harden. They enclose all of the organs, which are now beginning to operate.
What's happening with you:
Your uterus is growing at a remarkable pace, and your increased metabolism coupled with the extra blood coursing through your veins may leave you flushed and sweaty. Your body needs about 20% more oxygen these days, so your lungs are working at top speed and your body heat is rising. You'll be more comfortable if your dress in layers, and you should stick to breathable fabrics like cotton, bamboo or hemp. Also, you'll need to hydrate even more these days to keep your body fluids topped up and your body functioning at its best.
Some third trimester discomforts will closely resemble the first trimester discomforts you experienced just a few months ago. Heartburn, constipation, bloating and fatigue are common now, so break down your daily menu into six or seven small meals (or large snacks) and be sure to take some time to sit back and relax a few times a day. Drinking plenty of water is a surefire way to beat constipation, which in turn will prevent hemorrhoids, and you can ease back pain with a hot water bottle or an ice pack held against the site for a few minutes whenever you feel the ache.
Every mom-to-be should continue with a wholesome diet through their third trimester, but if your glucose tests have retuned positive results, you should be crafting a healthy gestational diabetes diet by now. It's very important to keep your blood sugar under control for the health of your baby, so turn to fresh vegetables and whole grains for the majority of your meals and stay away from white rice and simple carbohydrates that can make your blood sugar skyrocket.
What's happening with your baby:
Your baby is growing a little differently now, as his weight will increase faster than his length from here on out. He's about 10 ½ inches from crown to rump (just over 15 inches from crown to heel) and he weighs between 2 ½ and 2 ¾ pounds this week. Baby's brain continues to mature as his body plumps up: more wrinkles over the surface of the brain show that it's becoming more powerful and complex, and its rapid growth is pressing the soft skull bones outward. Now your baby's head is in proportion to the rest of his body.
His eyes are maturing, and he's able to tell the difference between the natural light and artificial light that shines through your belly. Your baby can move his eyes in their sockets, and fully-grown eyelashes and eyelids complete his little peepers. But just because everything is in place and starting to work efficiently doesn't mean that your baby needs less from you. His body will need more calcium as his skeleton continues to harden and strengthen, and you need to keep up your nutritious diet to help your baby pack on the pounds.
Things to do this week:
You're gearing up for the big day by creating a birth plan, shopping for a layette and attending your childbirth classes, but there's one more important thing to cross off your list this week -- hospital preregistration. From insurance paperwork to reserving a private room, you'll be happy you took care of this task in advance, leaving you one less thing to worry about when delivery day rolls around. Not all hospitals actively encourage preregistration, but if the option to preregister at your hospital is there, take advantage of it.
Some clinics and hospitals will allow you to register online, which can save time and effort. On the other hand, some frustrated moms have filled out the paperwork that was given to them, only to find that the hospital hadn't entered it into their system when they arrived to deliver their baby. If you have any questions about the hospital policy or perhaps financial concerns with your insurance, it is a good idea to go register in person so you can get some answers to your questions at the same time.
Although your baby's arrival is still several weeks away, you should start looking for a pediatrician now. The doctor you choose for your child will become a familiar face during the first year of baby's life, since you'll be taking her in for regular check-ups to track her growth and wellbeing. Consider what you and your child will need in a doctor, create a list of candidates and make a careful decision only after you're satisfied with all their answers to your questions.
Your family doctor could become your baby's doctor, especially if you have a long and happy history with their clinic and their care. On the other hand, a pediatrician who has a good amount of experience with children and children's medical issues may be a better choice if your baby needs special attention or if you're not satisfied with your family doctor. In either case, interviewing the doctor is an important step in the process, but your child's reaction to them is just as significant. Be sure that both you and your child feel comfortable in the clinic and with the physician; if it's a group practice, you'll need to test your compatibility with the other doctors in the practice, too.
Tips for your partner:
If you've already dealt with the paperwork, insurance arrangements and nursery preparations, you may have turned your attention to your role and responsibilities as a parent. It's natural to feel nervous at the prospect, but you're probably more prepared for parenthood than you think. Even if you haven't held a newborn baby before or you have no idea what a baby needs from you in those first days after birth, there are many classes that will teach you everything you need to raise a healthy child. In fact, attending prenatal classes with your partner will not only bring you confidence, but also help you bond with your partner and appreciate each other's expectations and preferences for the labor and delivery.
If you don't feel that your father was a model parent, there's no reason to follow his lead. The role of a parent does not follow a strict set of principles, it shifts and expands according to social expectations and the unique dynamics of each individual family. Don't get hung up on what was "right" and "wrong" a generation ago (or even a few years ago) and instead stick to your best judgment and the sage advice of other new parents. Take a look at the mothers and fathers around you and rather than accept them as good parents or dismiss them as bad parents, look closely at the specific elements that you appreciate and the aspects of their parenting styles that bother you. Soon enough you will form a clear picture of what you expect from yourself and how to best support and care for your family.
This week's FAQS:
Will my pregnancy stretch marks go away after I deliver my baby?
Unfortunately, stretch marks are scars across your skin, and like other scars, they won't disappear when your skin heals. They can, however, fade considerably with a good pregnancy skin care routine and good sun care post-pregnancy. Since they typically appear as light pink or silvery lines, you may expect that a suntan will cover up stretch marks, but that is probably not going to happen. Since the surface of each stretch mark is scar tissue, it won't react like the rest of your skin -- a tanned body could actually accentuate the lighter streaks, since the lines themselves probably won't darken at all.
If your stretch marks don't fade as much as you'd like them to after the birth, you may want to consider some medical treatment to get rid of them once and for all. While there's no evidence to show that creams can prevent and completely eradicate stretch marks, Retin-A cream may reduce their appearance considerably and laser treatment could return elasticity to your skin and diminish any noticeable texture or discoloration. Of course, these treatments are off limits during pregnancy, but they may unsafe when you're breastfeeding, too.
How do I know if I'm at a higher risk of delivering prematurely?
While many more babies are born late than early, preterm labor is still a common fear among expectant mothers. The idea of having your baby arrive in the world before it's ready can be frightening, but you can take comfort in the fact that if you were to go into labor this week, your baby would have an excellent chance of surviving outside the womb (though he would need to stay in the hospital for a little while). Of course, every day that baby stays in your body is an extra day for him to develop and gain strength, so you should do everything you can to increase your chances of carrying to week 40.
Unfortunately, preterm births cannot always be explained or predicted, so even the best of intentions won't guarantee a full-term birth. On the other hand, there are certain things in your life that you can eliminate or modify to decrease your chances of delivering early: quitting smoking, abstaining from all drugs and alcohol, gaining enough weight and protecting against infection are all good steps to take. Incompetent cervix is one condition that could be detected in the second trimester, leaving your body vulnerable to preterm labor. If you are worried that you might be at a higher risk or if you begin to notice regular cramping and a change in discharge, get a hold of your doctor or midwife as soon as you can.
Is there anything I can do for back pain without turning to medication?
The third trimester is prime time for back pain, as your growing abdomen challenges your back muscles to keep your body upright. Continue your gentle pregnancy fitness routine to keep those muscles strong, but also pay attention to how you carry your body -- you may be aggravating the ache without realizing it.
You've probably heard that it's always better to lift with the knees instead of bending over from the waist and letting your back do all the work. Well, this is even more important during pregnancy, because your loose joints and muscles tend to provide less support than you're used to. Also, if you go grocery shopping or bring a bag along on a walk, balance your weight and posture: carry an equal amount of weight in each hand and wear a backpack with both straps instead of simply slinging it over one shoulder. If your pain begins to interfere with your daily routine, add an ice pack or heating pad to your regimen or treat yourself to a prenatal massage from a registered massage therapist.
Are you having trouble getting comfortable in any position these days? When your belly started to grow and standing became a chore, you could sit down and relief would come quickly. Now sitting can bring just as much discomfort as standing, and you may be worrying about your circulation in addition to your aching muscles if you're suffering from varicose veins. Many women find their discomfort acting up more at work than anywhere else, so why not bring in an accessory to help you cope? If you're thinking of investing in a birthing ball, a specialized heating pad or another comforting tool to help you through labor, purchase it now so you can reap the relaxing rewards.