30 Weeks Pregnant
Kick starting the final stretch
30 weeks pregnant:
bonesBonesYour baby's bones are retaining calcium -- a process known as ossifying -- which will help straighten out the body and lend strength to those kicks and rolls.
eyesEyesThe retinas of the eyes appear as dark spots, and the eyelid folds are beginning to form around them.
fetal positionFetal PositionWhile many babies will wait until the final weeks to turn, some have already positioned their bodies for delivery. The head-down position is the preferred position for birth; babies that don't turn will be in the breech position for birth.
What's happening with you:
Are you feeling particularly heavy this week? It's no surprise that you're moving a little more slowly and starting to struggle against gravity, since your uterus has grown considerably (the top, or fundus, has made its way under your ribcage) and your legs are swelling with extra body fluids. Add to that the heartburn and indigestion that comes with a compressed stomach and surging hormones and you have a recipe for an uncomfortable day. You'll need to be more conscious of your habits and more careful in your activities these days to minimize your discomfort and keep up your energy. Be sure to take breaks from long periods of standing (breaks from long periods of sitting, too) and eat less food more frequently until your baby "drops" down into your pelvis in the last weeks of pregnancy, freeing up your stomach for a full meal.
If you haven't been keeping track of your baby's kicks, now is the time to make up a kick-count sheet to record your little one's movements. After week 20, counting kicks is the best way for you to monitor your baby's well-being; when you've passed your due date, this becomes a vital measure for baby's safety. A 30 week old fetus is typically fairly active, so he'll keep you busy tallying up those kicks -- by now, he should be kicking at least 10 times every hour.
What's happening with your baby:
Your baby is losing the downy hair all over her body and gaining some thicker hair on her head. In fact, all her body parts are growing quickly, from her toenails to her brain. Your baby is around 3 pounds and almost 11 inches from crown to rump (16 inches from crown to heel), and she will be able to move her eyes and eyelids at pregnancy week 30. Big changes are happening in her bones, too: the skeleton is getting harder and stronger, plus the bone marrow has begun to produce red blood cells (up until this point, her liver was taking care of that task).
Are you feeling strong pressure in your ribs or your pelvic floor these days? If so, your baby may have already assumed the head-down position in your uterus to prepare for her upcoming delivery. Little feet tend to get wedged between ribs, and the head can press on the muscles at the base of your pelvis to make you sore and uncomfortable. You can try modifying your position to encourage your baby to change her position, just make sure you don't lie flat on your back and cut off the blood flow through your vena cava.
Things to do this week:
Draft a birth plan to include some of your preferences for the big day. This can be as detailed or as general as you like, but try not to tie yourself down to every small point in the plan because nobody can predict what their labor and delivery experience will be like. Oh sure, the law of averages states that you'll probably be in active labor for a certain amount of time, and it's fair to expect one thing to follow another in a logical order, but this is one event in life that's shockingly unpredictable. A basic plan will help you communicate your requests when labor pain takes all of your attention, but you'll ultimately have a much happier experience if you don't get hung up on the little details that could get left behind.
Your birth plan will probably center on your strategy to get through labor, and the question of whether or not to have drugs for your labor is at the heart of that strategy. From general anesthesia to hypnosis, there are several types of pain relief available, though your specific circumstances might limit the methods that are available to you. For instance, an emergency cesarean section will mean that you might have to abandon your birth plan and take the medication that your doctor recommends. On the other hand, you may intend to use pain medication, but labor is progressing too quickly to have it administered. In any case, think hard about what you're willing to do and what you're absolutely against -- if you would rather labor naturally but will accept medication if you decide you need it during active labor, be sure to indicate that on your plan.
Any complications that arrive in the third trimester are usually traced to problems with the placenta, and although most of them are quite rare, there are several conditions that you need to watch out for. Placenta previa is one complication that can reveal itself before delivery, but placenta accreta (when the placenta is too deeply embedded in the uterine lining) or abruptio placenta (when the placenta separates from the lining prematurely) typically occur closer to delivery and you'll need immediate treatment to keep you and your baby healthy.
Vaginal bleeding might be the most obvious sign of complications, but there are other symptoms that could point to a serious situation. If you begin to feel menstrual-like cramps or you notice a watery, pink or brownish discharge, call your doctor immediately: you could be experiencing the beginning of preterm labor and will need to get help or treatment as soon as possible.
Tips for your partner:
Taking part in the pregnancy will help you bond with your baby and your partner, but it can also be a window into what lies ahead for you as parents. Help create the birth plan that will guide the labor, delivery and stay at the hospital. While your partner ultimately has the last word over how she will handle the pain and who she wants in the delivery room, there are places where you can voice your opinion. Practicing compromise now will help you approach future decisions or disagreements with understanding and respect -- an important quality in any healthy and happy family.
When you help with her plan, you can also discuss any fears, questions or concerns either of you may have. If you are the labor partner, practice different labor postures and concentration techniques to see what works for both of you before the time comes to put them to the test. Remember that you could very well become your partner's spokesperson when she's distracted by labor, so discuss the reasons behind each point of the plan to know where to compromise with the doctor and where to stand firm.
This week's FAQS:
My baby has been kicking a lot lately, but today he's much less active. Should I be worried?
Once fetal activity becomes a regular part of your day, it's hard not to focus on the patterns of movement. However, a 30 week fetus is developing a sleep and waking cycle, losing area to squirm around and reacting less erratically, so it can seem like he isn't moving as much as you expect. In fact, the most active fetal period is typically between week 24 and week 28; after this point, the movements may become more predictable but also more muffled because your baby doesn't have as much room to really kick out.
Each baby is different, so your experience of fetal movement may differ greatly from what your friends and family had felt. Count your baby's kicks twice each day to get a more accurate reading (a morning and evening check is ideal), and if your kick count sheet shows a drastic drop in activity (less than 10 kicks in an hour for a few hours), let your doctor know right away.
My legs have been swollen and aching for a few days. Could this be a sign of a blood clot?
Edema, or swelling during pregnancy, is one of the most common complaints at 30 weeks along, and it's perfectly harmless in most cases. You may find that your feet are particularly puffy at the end of a work day or after a light workout, so put them up for a while to help drain the fluid that has pooled in your legs. However, pain, warmth and inflammation are not common effects of swelling -- these symptoms could point to a blood clot.
Pregnant women are more prone to blood clots for a couple of reasons. First, your blood has begun to clot more quickly in preparation for the blood loss you'll experience during delivery. Secondly, your growing uterus has joined forces with gravity to press on your veins, making it more difficult for blood to travel back up your extremities and to your heart. Luckily, most women won't experience any type of blood clot during pregnancy, but if you've had previous blood clots, are over 30, suffer from varicose veins or are overweight, you may be at a higher risk for deep vein thrombosis. In this case, you should commit to diet, activity and clothing that may fight the formation of clots.
Is it normal for my hips to hurt?
So far, you've been battling round ligament pain, indigestion, muscle cramps and an aching back, and you may be wondering if it's even possible to squeeze in another discomfort. Well, hip pain is another unfortunate pregnancy symptom that can arrive in the third trimester, and as usual, you can blame it on your hormones. Those pregnancy hormones that are responsible for your slower digestion and your fatigue will also target the connective tissue around your joints, making for joint pain and muscle aches around particularly active areas, like the hips.
Luckily, this pain doesn't mean you need to see the doctor. Instead, try to concentrate on some prenatal yoga poses that will help to take the pressure off the hips, and make sure that the chair you use at work is adjusted to suit your height and posture. You only have a couple months to go until many of these pains will go away, but you can use rest, stretching and heat therapy to relieve the discomfort until then.
Your baby's breathing movements have been getting stronger, and by week 30 she's breathing amniotic fluid about 30% of the time. Those breathing movements make her lungs stronger and help her to develop the reflex she'll need to breathe on her own once she's born. Sometimes the gulps of amniotic fluid will trigger hiccups, but unlike their uncomfortable effect for adults, they won't bother your baby at all. Don't be alarmed if you feel some rhythmic twitches in your abdomen these days!