33 Weeks Pregnant
Getting into position
33 weeks pregnant:
amniotic sacAmniotic SacThe membranes that will cushion and protect your baby in the womb are forming and filling with amniotic fluid.
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.
brainBrainNerve centers are becoming distinct, marking the start of an important state of mental development.
What's happening with you:
Your growing belly was a welcome addition just a few months ago, but there's a good chance you're a little startled and worried to discover your belly growing more each day. Are you dreaming of never delivering your baby or maybe giving birth to a gigantic newborn? Well, your surging hormones are partly to blame for wild pregnancy dreams, but it's also quite common for your subconscious mind to express all of your anxieties and worries during your downtime. If you feel as though you've lost control of your ballooning body, take comfort in the fact that your weight will plateau in three or four weeks and you may even lose a pound or two before your due date!
Few women get away with an entirely comfortable third trimester, and the majority of moms-to-be will complain of heartburn, rib pain, breathlessness, swelling and fatigue in the weeks leading up to labor. Rest is becoming more important these days, and reclining slightly in a comfy chair and kicking your feet up will work wonders for many aches and pains. Ice packs, heating pads and natural anti-inflammatory techniques may now have a place in your daily routine.
What's happening with your baby:
Your baby is about 12 inches from crown to rump (17 inches from crown to heel), and weighs over 4 pounds. Your amniotic fluid has reached its highest level -- about 2 pints -- and from here on out, it will begin to decrease until your delivery. Since baby is growing at a much faster rate than your uterus, conditions are getting cramped and her sharp kicks and punches may give way to rolls and wiggles. Inside her body, organ growth is in full swing and now her lungs are almost ready for the outside world.
As fat continues to accumulate, your baby's skin is turning from red to pink and her little limbs are more smooth and rounded now. Her remarkable brain growth has pushed the skull out, increasing the size of your baby's head, and you may be getting painful reminders of that growth. At week 33, she may be moving into the preferred fetal position by now, with her head pointing down to your pelvis and her rump and legs around your ribs. If she hasn't turned yet, don't worry too much: babies often turn themselves at some point leading up to the birth, and if they don't, your doctor may be able to encourage her to flip.
Things to do this week:
You've probably begun to set up the nursery, and many parents see the crib as one of the essential fixtures in the room. However, the question of where to lay the baby down to sleep has become the center of a heated debate. Many parents decide that, instead of keeping their baby at a distance, they would prefer to sleep with their infant beside them.
Co-sleeping is not a new idea, although it has enjoyed a recent resurrection in Western culture; in many countries and cultures, sleeping with your newborn right by your side is not only accepted, it's expected. However, you'll find that many people oppose the idea of co-sleeping on the grounds that sleeping parents could accidentally smother their child or the infant could fall out of bed. If you have decided that you would like to reap the rewards of co-sleeping but are a little concerned about your baby's safety, consider investing in a special co-sleeping bassinet that can attach to the side of your bed. These little three-sided marvels will keep your baby within reach at all times, but prevent you from rolling into her space (and vice versa).
If you're dealing with a pregnancy complication like gestational diabetes or you're expecting more than one baby, you may be approaching unpredictable times and should expect to see your doctor more often for monitoring. Unlike women who experience low risk pregnancies, your last two months can bring the potential for more problems, and in many cases, the babies will be delivered before your due date. How long before your due date will depend on a variety of factors, and ultimately on your doctor or midwife's opinion.
While losing one twin in the first trimester is unfortunately more common than you think, your chances of losing a twin at 33 weeks pregnant are quite low. However,there's a very high chance that you'll deliver prematurely -- over half of all multiple pregnancies will end in delivery before week 37. And while most babies will have developed significant lung, brain and digestive function by now, your doctor will likely want to prolong a twin pregnancy at 33 weeks instead of delivering (the opposite might be true if you suffer from preeclampsia or gestational diabetes). There's a good chance that each of your twins will have a low birth weight even if they're born a few weeks from now, which can bring some challenges and perhaps a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Tips for your partner:
This may seem like a strange question, but do you know how a baby is born? That is, are you familiar with the stages of labor, what happens during a cesarean section, what a doula will do and what to expect in the minutes following delivery? Many partners have steeped themselves in pregnancy information as well as newborn care by this point, but that leaves out a very exciting and challenging episode: the actual birth of your baby.
If you plan on being in the delivery room, you're likely feeling pretty anxious and helpless. Prepare yourself by watching a birth video or two (the second time around might be easier to handle) and discussing the experience with others who have just gone through what you're about to go through. Birth can be a clinical event, but it also has the potential to be an extremely important and fulfilling experience for you and your partner as a couple. You will need to support and comfort your partner through her labor and delivery, and taking a class for new dads can stir your confidence and calm your nerves before the big day.
This week's FAQS:
Will my labor and delivery be different since I'm having twins?
If you're carrying multiple fetuses, your third trimester could be shorter and more complicated than you expect. First, your belly will probably get heavier much sooner, so you'll need to step extra carefully to avoid accidents. You'll also gain more weight, have a higher risk of developing anemia and preeclampsia in the last trimester and you are more likely to require a c section. On the other hand, many women experience relatively easy and uncomplicated deliveries with multiple births.
Although you may have to suffer a little more discomfort during your pregnancy, and the risk of complications does increase with every added fetus, you'll be happy to hear that the total time from the first contraction to the birth is typically shorter when delivering more than one baby. You can expect a larger audience in the delivery room, though: an anesthesiologist, pediatrician and perhaps a neonatologist will be by your side through much of the delivery in case any problems arise. In some cases, the second baby will have a slightly more difficult time getting out, since he hasn't had the advantage of being positioned perfectly during labor.
I've been counting my baby's kicks for the last few weeks, but now I can't feel the strong, distinct kicks as often. Should I call my doctor?
From week 28 to the end of your pregnancy, counting kicks is the best way for you to monitor your baby's well being. Generally, ten distinct movements each hour will signal a healthy baby (more than that is also fine) and less than that could be cause for concern. Of course, this will differ from baby to baby, so your doctor will be able to tell you just how many you should expect and you'll notice activity can range quite a bit between morning and night. It's also important to realize just what qualifies as a "distinct" movement if you want to avoid inaccurate counts.
Although kick counting implies that only kicks can be counted, that's not exactly true. Your uterus is still expanding, but your baby's rapid growth is leading to less wiggle room. Therefore, your baby may have been able to really lash out a week or two ago, but now his elbows, knees and torso are responsible for many of the movements you feel. When you count kicks, include noticeable wiggles, somersaults and flutters, since those movements carry as much weight as kicks when it comes to fetal activity.
If you're carrying two babies, you'll have to concentrate even harder on eating well and be sure to take any help that family and friends offer you. There's no reason you should try to be a superhero and continue with your regular routine right until your day of delivery -- twins bring double the strain, and you may need double the energy to get through the last months of your pregnancy and those first post-partum weeks.