Week by week pregnancy guide

Week by week pregnancy guide

FIRST TRIMESTER

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Trimester #1
SUMMARY
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Trimester #1

Week 1

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Why is week 1 considered the first week of pregnancy when conception hasn’t even occurred yet? The first day after your last menstrual cycle is counted as day 1. If you conceive, doctors will use this week as a guide to pinpoint your due date, typically 40 weeks later. It can be difficult to determine when exactly conception occurred as it can take place days after intercourse. Ovulation occurs midway of the menstrual cycle, around the 14th day (take 2-3 days either side) of an averaged 28 day cycle. An ovary releases an egg that only presents itself for 12 to 24 hours, playing hard to get unlike persistent sperm that can last for up to 6 days in the Fallopian tubes. When trying to conceive, you play this game with a rather different approach, ‘come and get me and you score extra points for intimacy and love’- because let’s face it, sometimes the spark gets overlooked when attempts continuously fail. If disheartened don’t be, did you know on average it takes a healthy couple up to 6 months to a year of trying before they succeed? To increase your chances of sperm meeting ovum, have a lot of sex a week before and during ovulation with much foreplay to avoid using lubricants as they can affect sperm and check that medications are not interfering with fertility. If concerned its best for you and your partner to see a doctor for a check-up.

Eat your fruits and veggies, exercise daily, quit smoking and cut down drinking- yes, you’ve heard this advice a million times before but why are these lifestyle changes so crucial during this life stage? Pregnancy is the period during which a mother with good nutrition, optimal weight and discipline can provide their child with the best start in life. It’s perfectly normal to treat yourself to a sweet delight on the odd occasion but then opt for the walk instead of the couch for at least 30mins a day (speak with your doctor about the amount of exercise recommended for you). Give the cigarettes the flick and don’t tempt yourself with happy hour or regular happy meals. A healthy lifestyle will help to produce quality gametes (eggs and sperm), a nurturing uterus and a successful pregnancy. Eat fruits and vegetables high in green and orange pigment for they contain large amounts of antioxidants; substances that defend cells against the damaging effects of unstable molecules that arise from stressors like smoking. Lean meat, fish and poultry are great sources of zinc essential for regulating gene expression when creating a new unique individual. And no doubt you would have heard about folic acid, also known as folate needed for proper brain and spinal cord development. Deficiencies may lead to malformations known as neural tube defects in early pregnancy thus it’s recommended that folate supplements are taken one month prior to conception and during pregnancy to reduce the risks. You can consume a pre-natal vitamin to obtain all your requirements.

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Trimester #1

Week 2

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Bringing out the ‘do not disturb’ sign but want to know the signs of ovulation? Some women have strict menstrual cycles and can determine for themselves when to get their groove on, others may not be as regular and need some assistance from bodily hints. They may be changes such as increased libido, pain in the pelvic region and a heightened sense of smell. You could detect a rise in BBT (basal body temperature- the body’s temperature at rest) by using a BBT thermometer to let you know when it’s time for some body heating! Need more clues, something without numbers maybe? Well during ovulation your cervix (the long narrow portion of the uterus that joins to the top end of the vagina) is more welcoming to the sperm by opening up a little more and your cervical mucus discharge becomes ideal for sperm delivery as it becomes thinner, clearer and stretchier. If you don’t want things to get messy, you can try ovulation kits that are available at most pharmacies and supermarkets that test your urine or saliva for hormonal changes.

What are the hormonal changes that happen behind this small window of opportunity called ovulation? Kicking off this short tutorial and your menstrual cycle is the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone stimulates little compartments called follicles within the ovaries to grow and mature eggs. FSH also brings about the production of oestrogen; a hormone that firstly instructs the uterus to rebuild its lining and secondly, stimulates the release of Luteinizing hormone (LH). A surge in LH results in a rise in BBT and yep you guessed it- ovulation, the bursting of the most mature egg from the follicle. The resulting follicle becomes a yellow substance called the corpus luteum, which releases progesterone to further enrich the uterus and prepare the body for a potential pregnancy.

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Trimester #1

Week 3

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Your baby

The connection between you and your partner has reached a new level. Coupling of the gametes (conception) has occurred where the male sperm and female ovum, each with a haploid (half) set of chromosomes (genetic material) combine to form a new, complete and unique individual- your baby to be. This single celled organism is called a zygote and remains in your fallopian tube before travelling into your uterus a week later where it will undergo many cell divisions to become a blastocyst (a cluster of cells). Mothers expecting non-identical twins have released two exceptionally different ova, each fertilized by genetically different sperm, others expecting identical twins have released a single ovum fertilized by a single sperm that splits; for which, the causes for splitting are usually genetic.

Your body

The ultimate bond has taken place; a new life, a new identity, a connection between you and your partner has been created. It is the beginning of a new family, a new bloodline. At this point in time, you may have feelings of hope and wonder for what could be. But to reach this point is not easy, it may have taken months or years to reach this point, so it is quite common to have feelings of relief or fear for what seemed out of reach is finally here. If you are actively trying, a pregnancy test is possible from as early as three weeks, so go ahead and unravel that test package to discover if you test positive for the presence of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). This hormone is produced to preserve the lining of your uterus in preparation for nurturing your developing baby over the next nine months. If the test is positive, you will need to confirm the result with your doctor since home pregnancy tests aren’t always accurate.

Although no changes are visible on the outside, inside, your baby promoting hormones are on spotlight, already beginning their nine month performance well before you take to stage. For this reason you must always be prepared, starting one month before conception and throughout pregnancy, folic acid supplementation is recommended. This B vitamin is required especially for the early development of the brain and spinal cord (the neural tube). If you have inadequate levels of this nutrient, development can be impaired, putting the unborn child at serious risk of devastating neural tube defects. To ensure the baby’s neural tube forms normally, it is important to start taking folic acid supplements as soon as possible, ideally before conception.

You may notice that during ovulation your sense of smell heightens, you’re suddenly more aware of smells around you. This is a common sign of ovulation, important as it makes you more sensitive to the smell of your partner’s sex pheromones (chemicals) that triggers your libido as you have reached optimal baby making time!

Your life

If you haven’t already, you may have to make a few lifestyle changes. Cigarette smoking, narcotics and alcohol are associated with intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) and many other problems. These lifestyle choices significantly reduce the nutrient and oxygen supply to your growing, dependent unborn child. To prevent harm to your baby, the safest recommendation is to restrict alcohol consumption and avoid smoking and the use of recreational drugs during pregnancy.

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Trimester #1

Week 4

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Your baby

The cluster of little cells has now grown to the size of a small breadcrumb, which has now found home in your uterus. You would otherwise be expecting your period if you weren’t pregnant. This ball of bundle will divide into two types of cells, embryonic (baby) and placental (placenta) cells. The placenta is a network of tissues and blood vessels that bodily binds mother and baby, an alliance like no other. It delivers oxygen and vital nutrients from the maternal circulation into the fetal circulation and removes fetal wastes by dispersing it to the mother. In the meantime, the embryonic cells will begin to form three distinctive layers, the endoderm, mesoderm and ectoderm. The endoderm is the inner most layer that will differentiate into the internal organs, the mesoderm is the middle layer and will become the skeleton, muscle and blood system and lastly, the external ectoderm will produce the skin and nervous system. The neural tube is the embryonic tissue that forms the brain and spinal cord; it closes around the 27th day after fertilization thus any nutritional deficiencies before this period may induce abnormalities. To protect against such malformations, increase your nutritional intake of folate for one month prior and during your first trimester by taking a folate supplement and eating foods rich in folate like vegetables, legumes and fortified grains.

Your body

Some expecting mothers begin to experience some pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, dizziness, lower pelvic cramping and fuller, tender breasts from as early as week 4. You may have also noticed that your pulse is quicker or will quicken in the coming weeks as your blood volume increases by as much as 50%. This is to ensure that an adequate amount of nutrients and oxygen reaches your baby. To synthesise new red blood cells, you will need an adequate intake of iron, an essential nutrient located in the core of these cells that accepts and releases oxygen and carbon dioxide during gaseous exchange. During pregnancy the demand for iron increases from 18 to 27 mg/day, which is difficult to achieve by diet alone. Eat plenty of red meats, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes and dried fruits with citrus foods containing vitamin C to enhance iron absorption. For many, it is difficult to get iron intake up, so iron supplementation is a key. If you haven’t already, organise to see a doctor to check your iron levels, test your blood type and that you are immune to certain diseases.

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Trimester #1

Week 5

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Your baby

Lub dub, lub dub… The sounds of the beating embryonic heart, your baby’s first functional organ. Though at this stage, it is too faint to hear. The neural tube is in its final stages of formation, so keep up your folic acid intake so it can then transform into your baby’s central nervous system. For this brief time your baby develops a little tail but there’s no alien development here, just the makings of the cutest little monster.

Your body

If you weren’t planning a pregnancy then a surprise might be lurking, you’re officially late for your period, so it’s worth grabbing a pregnancy test and increasing your folic acid levels just in case. By the fifth week the placenta has increased its production of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) to a level not only detectable by a pregnancy test but noticeable by your symptoms. Are you nauseated by the site of some foods? Feel constantly exhausted? Even have the urge to pee more often? Frequent trips to the bathroom are caused by two processes; hCG increasing blood flow to your pelvic area and your kidneys being more efficient at removing wastes. Don’t be tempted to hold back on fluids in a bid to reduce your bathroom trips, staying hydrated is very important for you and your baby. One simple tip, try leaning forward next time you’re on the toilet as this should assist with emptying out the entire bladder. This frequency tends to decrease in second trimester as the uterus assumes an abdominal position but then typically comes back in late pregnancy as the enlarged uterus (containing your baby) will put pressure on your bladder. You might be feeling really tired but that’s understandable, your body is working for two people now. So find some time to relax and put your feet up (you may not get the chance later when the baby arrives, so enjoy it!). Your breasts are also getting larger and your sense of smell may heighten. Some of these symptoms will disappear at the end of the first trimester whilst others may not appear till after. Everyone has a similar but different experience.

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Trimester #1

Week 6

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Your baby

Sheets made out of delicate cells begin to fold creating facial features and small buds located on either side of their body are primed to form limbs. The baby has grown to 3.2mm and resembles a C-shape with its kidneys, liver and lungs beginning to take form. The neural tube has now closed but the brain continues to develop which can be supported with a diet containing iron, iodine and omega-3. Collectively termed as omega-3 essential fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are required from the diet to nurture fetal brain, vision, immune and overall development.

Your body

The recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids for pregnant women is 200mg/day this equates to nearly 2 tuna cans daily whilst pregnant. DHA and EPA are predominately found in oily fish such as tuna, salmon, trout and cod fish. Be mindful of mercury content in particular predatory fish, such as shark which can be fairly concentrated in mercury, posing a toxicity threat to your baby.
You may continue feeling queasy and also experience your mouth watering for no apparent reason. This is once again due to pregnancy hormones which increase saliva. Remember to swallow often or keep tissues handy to wipe away the excess and avoid some embarrassing moments! You may experience even more nausea and have a constant lethargic feeling as your energy is being used by your baby to create his organs. Your body is required to produce more thyroid hormones for your baby and for that, you need more iodine. It can be tricky finding a reliable, stable source of iodine so often supplementation with iodine is recommended.

You may experience food cravings, which are known to get rather odd. Some believe food cravings occur because the food you crave contains nutrients that you’re low on and your baby needs! Another symptom is headaches. No one enjoys these, but before heading straight to the analgesic medication try to see if simpler remedies work first, like drinking water, lying down and getting a head massage. Around 90% of headaches are caused by tension.

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Trimester #1

Week 7

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Your baby

Now the size of a grape, your baby begins to sprout arms and legs with hands and feet not far away. His or her sex organs are beginning to differentiate although you won’t be able to tell if it’s a boy or girl yet. Your baby’s nostrils are now visible and the facial features start to resemble a human being. Does it look like mummy or daddy? Hmm still a bit hard to tell!

Your body

Urrgh! Things start to get more uncomfortable, you may experience constipation thanks to the effect of elevated progesterone levels. Still, you can’t blame this hormone; the symptoms you experience just confirm they are doing their job, developing a new life. To ease constipation, try eating more high-fibre foods and drinking water.

Open wide and let’s take a look into your mouth. I see that you’re producing more saliva, a common feature in pregnancy; you’ll just have to swallow regularly and keep those tissues handy. Your teeth and gums are healthy, great job for its extra important during pregnancy. Bad hygiene creates supports bad bacteria growing. A passageway from your mouth to your blood circulation is exposed through bleeding gums. These germs can be transmitted to your baby, so keep looking after your teeth. In addition to your regular routine for keeping your mouth clean ensure you eat food high in vitamin C to maintain healthy gums to prevent them from bleeding and calcium for strong teeth.

Feel like you’re on a ship, sailing the swirling seas with no way off? When you feel a little queasy try eating small frequent meals rather than three heavy meals a day. Try drinking a hot ginger tea; it’s an ancient remedy for nausea. You might also find yourself liking or disliking foods that you normally love or hate. These changes are quite common so try to adapt to your new tastes and find substitute for foods you can no longer eat such as raw meat/fish, unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses as they can cause harm to your unborn child.

Your clothes might be feeling the pinch a little, so now is a good be time to start upsizing your outfits without feeling guilty of needing that extra space for your growing waist line! Enjoy your shopping spree ladies.

More like a pregnancy dim rather than a pregnancy glow! Some pregnant women have clearer complexions than others during pregnancy. To help you get your glow on, use a gentle skin cleanser to wash away excess oils or a non-comedogenic moisturiser (not pore clogging) to hydrate extremely dry skin. Whilst waiting around for that renowned pregnancy glow, use a mineral based, non-comedogenic foundation to camouflage those imperfections.

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Trimester #1

Week 8

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Your baby

This little piggy is forming ten toes this week and is now about the size of a kidney bean, growing a millimeter each day. More pronounced facial features are developing such as a nose tip and his eyes will be visible. Heart valves have also formed and that little heart is now beating twice as fast as yours. While you won’t notice, small involuntary movements are being made by this growing bundle of joy. The gender still remains hidden but his or her sex organs are beginning to form.

Your body

On the outside, your tummy still won’t be showing so it may easy to keep the news a secret, unlike those growing breasts that aren’t so easy to hide away. A good idea is to get fitted with a comfortable bra to support your larger breasts.

Around 80% of women will experience nausea during the day. To help with this, try snacking between meals to avoid your blood sugar levels from falling. You may also feel faint and dizzy, which can be made worse if your blood sugar is too low. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables as it will provide you with vitamins and minerals that are good for you and your baby and again, plenty of water!

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Trimester #1

Week 9

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Your baby

This week your baby enters its next phase of uterine development- the fetal stage. During this stage, relative to size, your baby will grow most rapidly than in any other stage of its lifespan. You are an amazing powerhouse, taking care of all its necessities, allowing your baby to grow 5% of fetal weight per day. The baby is now the size of an olive and weighs about a gram. The eyes are growing larger and ears, tongue, tooth buds toes and arms are forming. Prepare to possibly hear for the first time, the sound of your baby’s heartbeat. Your health practitioner may be able to hear the faint lub dub of the little heart with a Doppler ultrasound but don’t worry if it’s not heard, for at your next appointment it will be loud and clear.

Your body

You probably feel tired from having to support another life growing inside of you. It takes energy to sustain a baby, so keep up your fluid and food intake, especially iron and vitamin D for low levels can affect energy metabolism and your physical work capacity and mental productivity. See a doctor if extreme fatigue persists, if you haven’t been tested yet it would be a good idea to check iron and vitamin D levels.

Nausea and vomiting occur commonly in pregnancy but try not to worry about this unless it is severe. Morning sickness (don’t let the name fool you, it can happen any time of day) may even be a way for us to protect our baby through some yet to be discovered mechanism. Try to snack on small bland meals instead of eating 2-3 large meals a day. Snacking on some ginger or increasing vitamin B6 levels might provide some relieve to symptoms of morning sickness. You may also experience increased vaginal discharge which is quite normal however, if it irritates you, is yellow in colour or smells bad, see a doctor and consider using panty-liners to help keep your underwear clean. Your nipples may grow larger and become darker. It’s those pregnancy hormones at it again! Just like when you were a teenager, when hormones took over your body, they are back, and so might the barrage of acne on your face and skin. Be careful how you treat them as some treatments may not be recommended for pregnant women. Use oil-free, non-comedogenic (not pore clogging) products and makeup to help prevent and disguise pimples.

Your life

Have you considered joining a mother-to-be club? A sharing, confiding and supporting environment will help you prepare for the later stages of pregnancy, labour and the early years. You may even befriend other expecting mothers and accompany each other to yoga classes. Speaking of exercise, keep up your daily physical activity just shift to exercises that are less impacting like brisk walking and jogging. Swimming can strengthen your muscles and make you feel weightless, Pilates can strengthen your core relieving tension from your back and pelvis and dancing is acceptable when you avoid sudden jump, leap and twirl movements. There’re many other classes designed for pregnant women where you can enjoy others company and be assured that the movements are safe for your baby.

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Trimester #1

Week 10

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Your baby

Growth and development has stepped up another gear as the skeleton is forming and brain waves can be detected, though your baby is still around the size of a prune. External ears, lips, fingers and toes are clearly formed. Your baby’s limbs will now have creases so that they can bend the knee and elbow. Baby teeth begin forming in their mouth. Digestive juices are also being produced in your baby’s stomach and kidneys are producing urine.

Before birth, nerve cells are rapidly created with a quarter of a million neurons forming every minute that rely on DHA for proper structure and function. DHA and EPA are essential omega-3 fatty acids that are needed for the structure and function of all cells in the body and are vital particularly during development. You can obtain omega-3 through your diet with fish or through a fish-oil supplement to best support his brain and overall development to give your baby the best start to life.

Your body

You have probably noticed that your trips to the toilet have doubled! This is due to your expanding uterus pressing down on your bladder. In about two weeks, your uterus will shift up so you’ll find that your need to skip off to the ladies room every minute will soon diminish. Some women experience cramps on the lower abdomen. This may be due to the round ligament supporting your uterus as it stretches. The pain may be sharp but there should be no associated fever, bleeding or light-headedness. If you are concerned, see your doctor, but most of the time this is just a normal and sensation that won’t cause any additional harm.

From weeks 10 to 12, a chorionic villous sampling (CVS) genetic test can be conducted if you desire. This involves taking a small sample from the placenta that contains your baby’s genetic material and testing it for any chromosomal or genetic abnormalities. This is not a routine test as generally, only women with a family history of genetic abnormalities and/or is over the age of 35 will have this test conducted. Another option is waiting for weeks 15-20 for an amniocentesis test. If considering this test, it is best to talk to your doctor about the pro’s and con’s for your situation.

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Trimester #1

Week 11

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Your baby

The life within you is starting to look very much human now and is the size of a lime. Facial features like eyes and ears continue to form and take shape. Will your baby have your eyes or their fathers? It’s a little too soon to tell, even though their eye colour has already been decided. The iris and fingernails will start to appear at this stage. While finding out your baby’s sex is still over a month away, if you’re carrying a beautiful little princess, her ovaries will start to develop this week. Or perhaps you’re carrying a handsome young prince, in which case his testes are forming. Your baby can also make a fist, squint their eyes and swallow in response to stimulus.

Your body

You’ll begin to take delight in the flavoursome foods you once regularly ate and feel relieved with keeping it down as your morning sickness and nausea may start to subside. You might notice your energy levels are getting back to normal and also some necessary weight gain. When these notorious symptoms of nausea and vomiting start disappearing, aim to include 4-6 servings of carbohydrates, increase your fruit and vegetable intake to 4 and 5-6 servings respectively and add another half serving of meat and/or meat equivalents. There’s no need to increase your dairy and yes, definitely keep that one sweet treat in your day.

This week, let’s book in your first antenatal appointment during which the doctor or midwife will run some blood tests to make sure you and your baby are staying healthy. While they have your blood they will also want to confirm your blood type and check for various nutrient levels, in particular your iron levels.

But enough of the boring stuff, around this time you’ll have your first glimpse of your little baby! An ultrasound is a completely harmless method of visualizing the fetus and is usually performed in the first trimester. You’ll be provided their position in your womb, a calculated gestational age and if indeed, you’re carry twins. One of the main highlights will be seeing that little heart pumping away.

Your life

Thinking of taking a short getaway before the D-Day and new life ahead? Now might be a good time to back your bags and head off on a little holiday! You deserve some time off, put your feet up and enjoy some peace and quiet (as you won’t get many more opportunities like this once the baby arrives). With those nasty vomiting and nausea symptoms fast disappearing, you’ll be able to relax better and enjoy your time more. However, try to avoid long flights, places where dangerous diseases are rampant (eg malaria), and certain activities that could be harmful (eg. bungee-jumping). If in doubt, speak to your doctor before you decide to go anywhere. There is always the option of a little weekend getaway, book into a nice hotel, order some fine food and massages and enjoy the luxury and relaxation with your partner.

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Trimester #1

Week 12

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Your baby

Your baby is constantly moving but you won’t be able to feel it as they are not quite big enough. Around this time your baby will start producing their own white blood cells which are crucial to fighting off future infections. Practice, practice, practice! It certainly is the key to doing things well. At week 12, the intestines begin continuous contracting and relaxing cycles to prepare for future digestion which will later be needed to move food along the digestive tract. As their teeth continue to form, ensure that you are consuming enough calcium from dairy foods and vegetables.

Your body

There’s an insatiable drive inside you, leading you into the bedroom, you take firm hold of your partner’s hands because you don’t feel sleepy. Your pregnancy hormones, growing breasts and increased blood flow to your vulva are taking you to heights never experienced before. Embrace this sexual experience not merely for its intense pleasure but the freedom of no birth control measures; after all, you are already pregnant. Your heightened sex drive is probably hard for your partner to understand, don’t assume they know how your hormones are affecting you, it’s important to talk about it. Confine in him your impulses, in fact mirror your feelings to his adolescent years and that may put it into prospective for him. Pregnancy hormones can affect each woman differently hence others may not feel this urge just yet, usually because they still feel nauseated but by second trimester the gear will be in full throttle.

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Trimester #1

Week 13

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Your baby

Your future sporting or dance star is making their first manoeuvers this week as the connections between brain and skeletal muscles are developing allowing them to kick and point ever so lightly, it might be too difficult to detect just yet, which is the opposite of the fetal heartbeat that is loud and clear. Your baby’s vocal cords are forming with a smile underway. Eventually it will develop into a cheeky grin that you will become all too familiar with. It’s one of their finest defence mechanisms, they can be as mischievous as they want, knowing they only have shoot you that little grin and all will be forgiven. Insulin is being secreted by the pancreas to control blood sugar levels while the intestines develop villi which will further enhance absorption of nutrients once they begin feeding. The arm and leg bones really start to take shape, hence for optimal development keep up your calcium intake through dairy and fish with edible bones (eg. sardines).

Your body

In your last week in first trimester, you may still be feeling constipated, as progesterone hormone levels are increasing. Remember to eat plenty of high-fibre foods like wholegrain products, legumes, seeds and vegetables, drink prune juice and plenty of water. It’s a good idea to avoid medication if you can, and see a doctor if you are concerned. For many women, these nasty first trimester symptoms can linger throughout pregnancy but for the lucky ones, the end of first trimester means that they’re behind them. At this stage, you may have notice you’re showing a bit as your waistline expands and your breasts are still feeling big and tender. It’s best that you buy clothes and bras that fit comfortably on you, embrace the change and try not to feel bad just because you can no longer fit into your favourite clothes; your changing body indicates that everything is going smoothly and as planned. You may also be experiencing more vaginal discharge, this is normal and in fact a good thing. It’s advised that you do not clean it out as the secretion is to protect your vagina from potential infections. Internal cleaning with water or hygiene products can actually increase the risk of developing an infection, so try to let it be. You may however want to consider using a panty-liner (but not a tampon) as things can get a little messy, thus will help keep your undies clean.

Your life

Breathe a sigh of relief for first trimester has come to a close which means the risk of a miscarriage has greatly decreased. It’s probably time to verify what people are already suspecting, that you’re expecting a baby! Thirteen weeks have come and gone, taking morning sickness, nausea, constipation and bloating along with it! Your reward- second trimester, the most comfortable and enjoyable trimester is awaiting your attendance.

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SECOND TRIMESTER

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Trimester #2
SUMMARY
Trimester #3

Trimester #2

Week 14

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Your baby

Is it a boy or a girl? The baby’s genitals although still differentiating and growing, are now able to be identified via an ultrasound. Your baby is the size of a clenched fist and has begun sucking their thumb as the roof of their mouth has now formed. The kidneys produce urine, intestines are producing waste which will be passed after birth, and the eyelids are fully formed but fused. The baby is also covered by hair (lanugo) at this stage but baby fat which will be accumulated later will result in the lanugo being shed.

Your body

Welcome future mothers to second trimester, the most likeable trimester of the three for its relative relief in some of the pregnancy symptoms you have faced thus far. You may find that you’re feeling more energetic, food aversions disappearing, morning sickness and the urge to pee often may also feel like a thing of the past. What’s possibly making a comeback this week is your sex drive. Not to worry sex won’t hurt your baby unless your doctor has told you otherwise for your cervix has a mucus plug to prevent any bacteria from entering your womb and your baby is protected in amniotic fluid.

You may still have a stuffy nose this is because blood flow to your nose increases causing your mucous membranes to swell; to help reduce the swelling use a humidifier. You’re also more likely to catch a cold as your immune system is compromised to avoid your baby being attacked by your own antibodies. Practice good hygiene by carrying a hand sanitizer and its best to reschedule dinner until your friend feels better. If you think you are sick, see your doctor straight away. You might also want to consider getting the flu vaccination if it is prevalent in your season and area.

You didn’t just answer the phone when the doorbell rang, store milk in the cupboard or forget your age and where you live did you? These are symptoms of the well-known pregnancy brain or pregnant amnesia. Try to tackle this with a sense of humour as it’s only temporary. Mood swings may also occur but try to take it easy, accept that your hormones are in overload and take joy in the idea that you’ll have some funny stories to share with this little one.

Pregnancy is no excuse for not exercising- light activities are highly encouraged like brisk walking, swimming to make you feel weightless, dancing but without the sudden jump, leap and twirl movements, Pilates and Kegel to strengthen your core relieving tension from your back and pelvis will also help to prevent urinary incontinence after birth that may occur when you laugh, cough or sneeze. There’re many classes designed for pregnant women where you can enjoy others company and be assured that the movements are safe for your baby. Always consult your health practitioner before beginning any program.

Your life

Are your eyes, after months of anticipation, studying the area between their legs or is waiting until D-Day to hear, “it’s a boy” or “it’s a girl” keeping you from taking a peek at the ultrasound? With every insight, your excitement becomes overwhelming yet you feel undecided about knowing the sex of the baby; a decision exclusive to you and your partner. To help with this decision, consider how you would like to prepare for the pregnancy. Does the nursery have blue or pink décor or neutral tones that upon arrival will be decorated with butterflies or dinosaurs? Does this neutral room have a wardrobe filled with white linen, green and purple clothes and earthly coloured accessories or has the room undergone a princess or adventure lair transformation? Maybe you find it more practical to focus on names for one gender instead of two? Discussing these aspects together will be useful when making this decision.

You are strolling along and finally the most vulnerable months are behind you and your baby. Your gratefulness, excitement and relief are overwhelming so too is your big secret, so much so that it may be popping up in conversations now with family and friends.

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Trimester #2

Week 15

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Your baby

Speak up and sing even louder for your baby’s inner ear bones are in place now allowing them to hear you. He or she now weighs almost 100 grams and will often be actively moving about. They may wiggle their fingers and toes and be simulating breathing actions to prepare for life outside the womb. Your baby’s skin is thin and translucent that the blood vessels underneath are visible.

Your body

Bigfoot’s footprints are lurking in your corridor alongside the small shoes you’ve casted away. The pregnancy hormone progesterone will relax your ligaments in preparation for delivery, but will also do the same to your feet hence the Bigfoot resemblance. Moreover, elevated levels of progesterone can cause frequent nose bleeds as blood flow to your nose increases causing your mucous membranes to swell which is why your nose may feel a bit stuffy. On the bright side, your pimples from early pregnancy are likely to have cleared up around now giving you that pregnancy glow.

You may begin to feel insecure about your weight and as you prepare for the expected weight gain in the second and third trimesters. In these trimesters the average weight gain is approximately 0.4 kg per week. Don’t be daunted, for well over half of your maternal weight is excess water and not fat. The recommended pregnancy weight gain for a woman with a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2 is between 11½ to 16kg. Control your portions and food choices by eating the recommended foods and portion sizes daily to not only obtain your nutritional requirements but to prevent excess eating that will only make it harder to get back to your pre-pregnancy body.

Your life

Are you a first time mum-to-be and you find yourself questioning your suitability as a mother? There is nothing wrong with feeling anxious, this is a natural response to the enormous task and responsibilities that lie ahead and come with being a mother. The idea will settle over the next few months as you’ll begin to feel your baby’s movements, responses and indeed life itself as your due date approaches. A supportive partner, family, friend and/or social service can help you adjust to your new life stage of being a mother.

If you are especially concerned about the possibility of genetic defects such as Down’s syndrome, speak to your doctor as diagnostic tests can be performed during this period such as amniocentesis. In this process a small amount of amniotic fluid is extracted from your uterus that contains fetal cells that can be analysed for Down’s syndrome, Tay Sachs, sickle cell anaemia and neural tube defects. This test is available to all women however, it is recommended only to women who have relative risk factors, such as genetic predispositions, over the age of 35 or who have had an unfavourable pregnancy history. It can also be done after 32 week to assess the development of the lungs, in case preterm labour is necessary. Before deciding to take any invasive genetic tests, speak with healthcare professional.

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Trimester #2

Week 16

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Your baby

Your baby’s first reactions are happening in response to the sound of your voice and touch from your hands. The baby has eyelashes now and can squint, although their eyelids are still fused shut. The baby may be moving a lot but you may not be able to feel it as yet for he or she only weighs about 200g. Fingerprints have developed and the backbone is getting stronger and straightening out rather than remaining concave or C-shaped like it was before.

Your body

Are your gums feeling sensitive, looking excessively swollen, intensely red and feel terribly sore? These are common symptoms for raging pregnancy hormones can have this effect on the gums. Keep good oral hygiene by using a soft toothbrush and dental floss morning and night to gently remove bacteria from your teeth and tongue. Eat citrus foods containing vitamin C to prevent gums from bleeding and calcium for strong teeth and bones. If gingivitis develops and is left untreated, inflammation can spread to the ligaments and bones that support the teeth, a disease known as periodontitis; a proven risk factor for premature delivery. It is recommended that women visit their dentist at least once during their pregnancy.

You might notice a milky white vaginal discharge but this is not harmful, so long as it doesn’t smell bad or cause any itching. You may still be experiencing nasal congestion and nosebleeds due to pregnancy hormones increasing blood flow which cause your mucous membranes to swell up. They are generally harmless but if they interfere greatly with your daily activities or if you are concerned with their severity and frequency, see your doctor. You may also be experiencing heartburn even though your digestion slows your uterus places more pressure on your stomach causing the rise of gastric juices into your oesophagus. Avoid spicy foods and eat small but frequent meals to help with symptoms of heartburn. Speak to your doctor about treatments if symptoms are severe.

Your life

Your silhouette is beginning to change with the outline illustrating the growing baby inside you. Here’s something you may consider doing, capturing your growing baby bump after all, how often will you experience this miracle? Documenting the journey will allow you to reflect upon the experience forever not just momentarily.

If your baby has siblings now would be a good time to get them involved in the baby’s life. Ask your children if what names they like if it’s a boy or girl, involve them with the nursery décor and take a trip down memory lane together to show them their baby clothes that will now be shared with their new sibling. This will help ease the transition of them gaining a new family member.

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Trimester #2

Week 17

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Your baby

Female fetuses will now have ovaries that contain primitive egg cells, in fact all the eggs she’ll ever have for the rest of her life as the majority will be lost before puberty. In males, his testicles will not have descended into its final position yet. Over the next few weeks, permanent tooth buds will form. This increases the need for adequate calcium intake to support their teeth enamel development and bone formation.

Your body

As your bump continues to grow, you will find that your centre of gravity changes and this may also cause back ache and muscular strain. Be careful when lifting heavy objects (bend at your knees, not waist!) or ask someone else to do it for you. As your belly gets larger you may find it difficult to fit into the same clothes, a handy idea is to shop for a pregnancy belt; a useful tool that extends the waist circumference of jeans or pants that still fit comfortably around the legs.

Some women, especially those with a family history or who are overweight may get visible varicose veins on their legs. You can try using compression stocking to support blood returning back up the legs and/or lie with your legs elevated. Your vision may also have changed; although this is temporary you may like to see your optometrist for a check-up. Due to pregnancy hormones, your eyes may be drier and your cornea curvature altered causing contact lenses to feel less comfortable. You can switch to wearing glasses, although it may not be necessary to buy a new pair just for a few months. If you feel dizzy, and many women do at this stage, avoid standing quickly. Your light-headedness is likely due to increased blood flow to your foetus and not your brain. Another common reason is dehydration, so continue to drink water throughout the day. Your partner may complain of you snoring, thanks once again to pregnancy hormones. You could try using a humidifier, nasal strips, or sleeping with your head propped up on a few more pillows. Or hand him a couple of ear plugs and snore away till your heart is content.

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Trimester #2

Week 18

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Your baby

Your baby’s bones which were previously soft are now ossifying (hardening). The baby is able to pick up sounds and has grown to a size of a mango, large enough for you to start feeling their movements or you will in the coming weeks.

Your body

No they are not flaws but a sign of fertility! Stretch marks will begin to appear around your tummy, as your uterus expands to the size of a rockmelon, also may appear on your breasts, thighs and buttocks. Stretch marks are torn fibres that break under the elongation of the skin leaving a striation or violet mark. There is a genetic predisposition to stretch marks, so if your mother developed these marks it’s likely you will too although the good news is that after birth most stretch marks fade in time and become less noticeable. To help reduce these marks, rub a cocoa butter or vitamin E cream on your belly or on other affected areas, as well as avoiding excess weight gain.

You may encounter back pain as your uterus and growing baby are increasing in weight causing your lower back to arch in for support. Moreover, your body’s centre of gravity shifts forward putting more strain on your lower back. Pregnancy hormones can also soften the ligaments loosening the joints creating more pain. Back pain is a common symptom of pregnancy and there are many ways to relieve this pain. Walk 20-30 minutes a day, exercise your abdominal muscles, use heat packs or hot water bottles and maternity support belts, complete house work carefully, bend down with your knees not your back, hide the heels from your sight and take children into your lap and then pick them up instead of bending down.

You may still be experiencing some heartburn; to relieve the pain try eating small meals slowly and avoid large infrequent meals. Sit upright for a few hours after eating and if heartburn affects you at night, try to sleep with your head propped up on several pillows. Avoid acidic and spicy foods, as well as medication without first consulting your doctor.

Your baby is growing quickly so you may discover that your appetite is increasing. Stick to healthy foods as often as you can and eat foods low in GI (foods that have a slow effect on the level of glucose in the blood) and higher fibre to help you stay full for longer and manage your weight.

Your life

Can you feel a flutter, soft tap or an unusual rumbling sensation? These are the movements of your baby. While some women like to keep their connection with their baby private, you may want to let your partner feel your baby’s movements too. Some women may not feel their baby’s movements yet and this is not a cause for concern! Some women are more sensitive than others in feeling movements, particularly if they have been pregnant before.

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Trimester #2

Week 19

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Your baby

Peculiar is it not, how luscious baby skin is after months of submergence in amniotic fluid? During this week your baby will develop a waterproof cream called vernix caseosa Latin for “varnish” and “cheese”, respectively. This barrier is released by the baby’s sebaceous glands and is made up of skin oils and dead skin that protects against the dehydrating and wrinkling effects of amniotic fluid. This barrier begins to dissolve towards the end of the pregnancy however, some babies especially premature ones, can be born with some of this anti-wrinkle cream on their skin. This is washed away during their first bath or is usually reabsorbed by the skin. The baby is also developing hair, but some babies are born bald for a few months even after delivery. The baby is getting bigger and preparing to settle in a head down position. If the baby you are expecting is a girl, her uterus and vagina will begin to form this week.

Your body

Erythrocyte (red blood cell) volume expands while pregnant to increase the total oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood to meet the demands of the growing foetus. Synthesis of new red blood cells involves iron, folate and vitamin B12. To meet your daily recommendations consume foods rich in iron, such as red meats, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes and iron-fortified grain products with citrus foods containing vitamin C to enhance iron absorption and if needed, take an iron supplement. Vitamin B12 is found exclusively in foods derived from animals hence If you are vegan consume Vitamin B12 fortified soy milk or supplements. Folate can be found in fortified grain products, vegetables and is a key component of maternal supplements.

Be wary of urinary tract infections, which may affect your baby. This requires you to be extra hygienic particularly during sexual intercourse.

As your uterus continues to ascend to your navel it may push up against your stomach leading to heartburn. This is felt as a burning sensation after eating. Cool down pregnancy heartburn by avoiding foods that increase susceptibility to heartburn such as spicy and fatty foods along with fizzy or citrus drinks. Swap three large meals for six smaller ones, don’t eat so quickly and avoid lying down straight after eating. If symptoms are overpowering, seek treatment options from your doctor.

Are you over the age of thirty? Have a family history of type 2 diabetes? Or were you overweight or obese prior to pregnancy? These are risk factors for developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM); a form of high blood glucose levels during pregnancy that usually subside after birth. Some pregnancy hormones inhibit the action of insulin; the hormone necessary for the uptake and storage of glucose by the cells. A low vitamin D status can also increase your risk of GDM as it supports insulin secretion. This change in blood glucose levels can create problems in labour and in the baby. Approximately 5 to 8% of women develop this type of diabetes usually around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy (Diabetes Australia, 2011). Speak to your doctor if you’re in a high risk group or concerned about GDM.

Your life

You should book your second ultrasound soon to observe the baby’s development. At this visit you can decide if you would like to know the sex of your baby. Your baby can hear you so continue talking and get your partner involved so the baby can become familiar with both your voices.

You may now want to consider getting your home prepared for your baby. Researching or shopping for a cot is great place to start. No doubt you’re excited about shopping for the baby. If financial strain is limiting you, you might want to consider buying second hand or borrowing from friends and family if their equipment is available. You can really save a lot of money this way. One thing you should always consider when purchasing nursery furniture is safety, this should be at the top of your list.

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Trimester #2

Week 20

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Your baby

Your baby’s external ears have formed, picking up on sound waves that can be channelled through your uterine wall. Your baby will find comfort in the sound of your voice for it will familiarise itself with your tones and harmony when you speak to him or her. Their skin will be coated with a greasy yellow substance called vernix caseosa to protect against the dehydrating and wrinkling effects of amniotic fluid. The baby is also actively moving about possibly even felt by you as he or she is now large enough.

Your body

Congratulations, you’ve now made it halfway through your pregnancy! Do remember that only a small proportion of women give birth on their due date; it’s more likely that you’ll deliver 2 weeks either side of your predicted date.

Your body temperature will rise making you feel hot and sweaty and may lead to heat rashes between your legs or under your breasts. Another symptom you may be feeling is light headiness if so, take your time when changing positions especially from lying down to standing upright, take a few seconds sitting upright before standing up to allow circulation to withstand the effects of gravity to optimally reach your head.

Continue working on maintaining a good posture as your belly grows and your centre of gravity changes. To help with your posture wear comfortable and supportive shoes and yes, tuck away the high heels out of your sight for the next few months. Check that you’re sitting in the most ergonomic position possible if you have a desk job. Here’s a tip, avoid crossing your legs or leaning towards one side in unbalanced positions. If you’re concerned, speak to an occupational therapist about any hazards. You may also be suffering from tingling of your fingers and toes which is likely due to swelling tissues compressing nerves, as well as leg cramps. They are pretty common and the cause is still yet to be fully understood. Try straightening your leg and flexing your ankle by pulling your toes towards your shin.

Your life

Your tummy has now reached midpoint of its entire pregnancy growth and your family, friends and colleagues may start to take on more interest in your pregnancy and ask to touch your belly. You may not feel comfortable about being touched or you may not mind the admiring hands; your response is entirely yours to make. As your belly becomes larger, be prepared that people will also touch your belly without asking. The miracle you are performing has such a profound effect on everyone, many will forget their manners. Around this time you may feel the little baby kicks!

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Trimester #2

Week 21

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Your baby

Your baby is now the size of a banana and weighs over 300g. Their movements are becoming stronger and more deliberate and you may notice that the baby is more active at certain times during the day than others. This is due to sleep-wake cycles; he or she will nap often but wake often too. Unfortunately you may notice that it tends to be most awake and active when you are trying to sleep! The baby is swallowing amniotic fluid and urinating pee back out and forming meconium, a brown substance in their intestines that will be your baby’s first poo after birth, although some do pass it in utero which will need to be attended to. The bone marrow is developing the important red blood cells needed to carry oxygen and white blood cells to fight off infections.

Your body

It’s getting hot in here so try sleeping with a fan or with the air-conditioning switched on, or even sleep without your clothes on. Your breasts are probably getting even larger at this stage so you might want to get professionally fitted for another bra. Your body is preparing for breastfeeding so you may notice some yellowish fluid trickling out. To help keep your clothes dry from this secretion place nursing pads inside your bra. You may also feel uterine contractions, these are called Braxton-Hicks contractions that are painless and will subside when you change positions. See your doctor if Braxton-Hicks contractions are becoming painful and/or regular.

Your belly button is likely to be as flat as the surrounding skin due to your baby growing. Your areola will continue to darken. Half of your pregnancy weight gain will occur from now until the 31st week so rub a cocoa butter or vitamin E emollient to prevent stretch marks. You may notice you are craving certain kinds of food. However if you are craving inedible objects such as dirt, you should see a doctor as it may be a sign that you’re deficient in minerals.

Your life

Stay clear from the kitty litter to prevent toxoplasmosis disease. This infectious parasite predominately takes host in cat faeces that if carelessly handled can lead to accidental consumption of the parasite infecting you and possibly your baby. Symptoms of infection are relatively mild for mothers but can cause premature birth, and nervous system, ear, eye and skin defects for the developing baby. To reduce the risks stay well away from the kitty litter and kindly delegate this task to your partner instead.

Depending on your occupation, you may also want to consider taking leave soon. The decision is up to you. But it helps to be organized as early as you can, particularly for cash flow purposes. You may also want to discuss with your employer about the possibilities of reducing time and workload, as this might suit you rather than taking an early maternity leave.

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Trimester #2

Week 22

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Your baby

Your baby is developing more fat and looking less translucent, now with fingernails and external genitalia. They may be born with large genitals which will return to normal size after a few weeks. He or she can hear your voice as well as your heartbeat. The baby will be covered in fine hair called lanugo which will hold the vernix caseosa on the skin. Elsewhere, hair may also be visible such as their eyebrows. The baby weighs about 460g this week and may be almost 20cm long from crown to rump.

Your body

There is no need to double your intake of food; most experts recommend increasing your intake by just 10% to avoid unnecessary weight gain. By adding one more fruit and a light snack (e.g. a small healthy wrap) to your diet could do the trick. Aim to gain around half a kilo a week to equal around 2kg a month however, this guide is very general. The actual weight you should gain should be discussed with your health practitioner as it depends on other factors such as your BMI.

Continue with your low impact exercises and tone down the jogging to walking (unless you are an experienced runner), lower the intensity and speed of the equipment in the gym and maintain a pace that allows you to speak while exercising to prevent the rise of extreme core body temperatures that redirect blood flow from your baby to your working muscle. When selecting exercises, remember that during pregnancy your ligaments and joints loosen making them more susceptible to injury hence swimming is a suitable exercise for it can make you feel weightless and ease the pain off the joints. Remember to also incorporate some resistance training and flexibility exercises too and don’t forget to practice your pelvic floor exercises to prevent urinary incontinence after birth that may occur when you laugh, cough or sneeze. A simple tip is to pretend that you’re stopping a stream of urine and hold it for a few seconds, 200 times a day. Some women start doing some perineal massage to prevent tearing of the vagina, or need for an episiotomy when delivering.

You may still be suffering from heartburn and constipation, keep up your fibre and water intake and stay away from any food which may aggravate your heartburn. You may start feeling short of breath as your uterus and baby continue to grow. Try to avoid intense physical activity and take it easy instead.

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Trimester #2

Week 23

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Your baby

Your baby is plumping up and starting to resemble a cute newborn more and more every day. The skin is filling with fat underneath for insulation, and they’ll become less translucent. At this stage, the organs are still visible through the skin. This week, they will have rapid eye movements which we have when we sleep. Their footprints and fingerprints are forming. If you’re expecting a boy, his testes are making their way down to their final location, while your baby girl will have her uterus and ovaries developed, containing all her eggs for the rest of her life.

Your body

You might have a dark line running down the middle of your abdomen thanks to pregnancy hormones which may have caused your darkened areolas (area around the nipple) and pregnancy mask.

Experiencing vivid and imaginative dreams lately? It is common for your fears to manifest in your dreams. Don’t take your dreams as premonitions or warning signs of the future. It is speculated that dreams are brain activity influenced by the day, wishful thinking or cognitive problem-solving.

You may get leg cramping in which case try to straighten your leg and flex your feet. You may have low potassium (eat a banana) or magnesium. You may notice that your shoes no longer fit your feet, and your rings are feeling very tight. This is a common symptom in pregnancy and is due to having extra blood in your body. Refrain from consuming too much salty food as this can raise your blood pressure and cause you to retain more fluid.

Your life

Start to pick up relaxation techniques that will help you cope with your worries and assist you during labour and the baby’s early years. Try attending Yoga or Pilates classes where you can learn breathing relaxation techniques, work on your flexibility, improve muscle tone and relax. At this stage it’s important to appreciate the time you have to relax as the case may change after the baby arrives.

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Trimester #2

Week 24

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Your baby

Your baby weighs almost 700g now. Senses such as sight and taste are still developing so they will be able to respond to feeding at birth. Your baby’s face is almost fully formed, except their head has white hair as no pigment has formed yet. The baby has reached a stage in development that if it was born now, there is a chance they could survive with specialist care.

Your body

To decrease your chances of urinary tract infections (UTI), consume more vitamin C in the form of vegetables, fruits and juices or through supplements. Hair dyes are not recommended during pregnancy so it’s advised to stick to your natural hair colour. You’ll also need to do a glucose screen which involves you drinking a sweet drink and then having your blood taken an hour after to check for gestational diabetes. Headaches may also be present now, try identifying triggering factors. Avoid medication and speak to your doctor if this is serious.

During 24-28 weeks, mothers at high risk of premature birth due to gestational diabetes, preeclampsia (pregnancy induced hypertension) or carrying more than one baby can complete a non-stress and biophysical profile test. A non-stress test measures fetal heart rate, movement and uterine activity to ensure that the foetus is not in distress. A biophysical profile assesses fetal wellbeing by measuring the fetal heart rate, activity level, muscle tone, breathing movements and amount of amniotic fluid. These two tests are very similar and are often combined.

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Trimester #2

Week 25

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Your baby

Your baby has now developed excellent hearing and may even react in response to noises in the environment like a car door slamming. Many women play music to their baby. Their lungs are filling with air sacs but will not be ready to support them just yet as no surfactant has been produced. Surfactant is a dishwashing-like liquid to help the lung expand and recoil. If a baby is born prematurely, before surfactant is produced, breathing can be assisted by the help of a mechanical ventilator.

Your body

Some women develop very itching skin over their belly and elsewhere. You can try some calming lotions or discuss other options for ointments with your doctor. Constipation and haemorrhoids may also occur so ensure you get plenty of fibre through your grains, fruits and vegetables.

You’re probably getting more used to your baby kicking your belly and find that your appetite has increased. You may still be forgetful and snoring is a common symptom in pregnancy. You might find a nasal strip or humidifier helpful. Make sure you maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly to prevent bleeding gums hence the spread of bacteria into your circulating system.

Your life

If you find it hard to keep up with your exercise regimen, don’t give up! Find other ways to stay active as it will better equip you for labour. Some options include swimming and walking. If you feel your appetite is insatiable, aim for fruits, wholegrain bread and other food with low GI. Foods with high GI will spike your blood glucose which won’t do much to help satisfy your appetite in the long run. Go for food that is high in fibre as it helps you feel fuller for longer. Stay away from junk food as much as possible, but you can indulge every now and then so long as it’s not something that will harm your baby (eg soft cheeses, raw fish) and your doctor has not told you otherwise.

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Trimester #2

Week 26

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Your baby

For the very first time, the baby’s eyes will open and the brain is switched on enough to respond with a kick to the sound of noises or be calmed by the sound of your voice. He or she almost weighs a kilogram now and will spend most days curled up in the fetal position.

Your body

With your full and rounded belly, heartburn and leg cramps, sleep can be difficult not to mention the late night wake up kicks from your baby. Try becoming familiar with the regular sleeping and activity periods of the baby to help organise your daily routine.

Your total blood volume has increased by 25% since the beginning so keep up your iron intake for maternal haemoglobin levels influence the rate of oxygen transfer to the foetus. You may also notice swelling around your feet due to the increase in blood volume. Take your time when changing positions, especially from lying down to standing up. To help with light headiness, try keeping off your feet and sitting down more to minimise the effects of gravity.

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Trimester #2

Week 27

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Your baby

Your baby is no longer measured from crown to rump but from head to toe. Your baby urinates 500mL a day which forms the amniotic fluid that cushions them. You will probably notice its movements more as it grows each day. Taste buds have also formed and retinas are maturing so he or she can respond to light. Keep up your omega-3 intake to assist your baby in their visual development.

Your body

You may start to see stretch marks so continue to massage your belly with a cocoa butter or vitamin E cream after showering. Excess saliva can also occur during this time so you may need to swallow more often and carry tissues if you feel the need to wipe.

The ankle swelling may continue due to fluid build-up so you may want to wear more comfortable shoes. You may also find your fingers swelling and have a harder time putting on or removing your rings. The good news is that this is temporary. Your belly button may now be an outie but it will revert back to being an innie as before, albeit a bit larger than it was before pregnancy.

Your life

There are many things to consider surrounding delivery, birth, breastfeeding and being a mother. If you haven’t already, as you reach the end of your second trimester, now is a good time to do more research and ask questions to help you gain valuable knowledge. Learning about things now and being prepared will make things a lot easier and less daunting when day comes. For example, make an appointment to visit the labour ward so you can to familiarize yourself with it and be less stressed on your big day. Talk to people who have had a baby recently when asking about the important smaller details as their memory will be a little fresher in their mind than those who had their baby years ago.

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THIRD TRIMESTER

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Trimester #1
Trimester #2
Trimester #3
SUMMARY

Trimester #3

Week 28

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Your baby

The baby will very likely be positioned with its head downwards, weigh 1kg and have a head that is more proportional to its body. The baby will spend much of its time in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is important for brain development which is now developing grooves called gyri and furrows called sulci on the surface.

Your body

Welcome to your final trimester for now you’re 12 weeks away from meeting your baby. What does this trimester hold in store for you? Are you hoping for more adorable baby sensations during the day? Well you got it mum-to-be, along with stronger wake me up kicks at night and a limiting wardrobe due to your ever more growing waistline. You’ll find that new clothes are a necessity but your swollen feet and ankles aren’t helping you get there and worst still, back ache isn’t lifting anytime soon. Nevertheless, it’s time for some much needed retail therapy.

You will find certain positions such as squatting more difficult as your belly keeps getting larger. Due to your baby’s size pressing against your bladder, that need to pee all the time will come back. Lay down sideways to shift the pressure off your bladder and not on your back as the weight of your baby can obstruct your vena cava; a major blood vessel that sends blood back to your heart.

Back pain is a common symptom of pregnancy and there are many ways to relieve this pain. Walk 20-30 minutes a day and exercise your abdominal muscles, use heat packs or hot water bottles and maternity support belts. Complete house work carefully, bend down with your knees not your back, hide the heels from your sight and take children into your lap before picking them up instead of bending down.

Your life

If you haven’t already booked your childbirth class, now is the time to do so. It will equip you with knowledge and skills to help you with labour and motherhood. Preparation, you will find to be a valuable commodity.

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Trimester #3

Week 29

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Your baby

Fat continues to accumulate under the fetal skin; this will serve as an insulating and energy source. The fetus weighs approximately 1.4kg and by birth they can weigh almost three times this much. Their irises are now responding to changes in light and their limbs are getting bigger.

Your body

Your pregnancy waddle is as adorable as a penguin’s walk even at times when you feel least poised. Your back sways inwards and your feet further apart to counter balance the weight of your baby. It’s the same waddle anyone would have when carrying a heavy object for example, a T.V set. To avoid unnecessary back strain, maintain good posture when you stand and sit, do not slouch, cross your legs or lean to one side when sitting. Core strengthening exercises are beneficial, a simple exercise is pretending to stop the flow of urine for 8 seconds, then releasing and repeating it again can strengthen the pelvis. When doing these exercises remember to not lie down on your back as your baby can compress your vena cava; the major blood vessel that sends blood back to your heart. If lying on your back is unavoidable, use a wedged pillow under your lower back so that you’re lying on an angle to help blood circulation return to the heart. You will probably not be able to bend over at this point so ask for assistance. Mood swings are increasingly common during this trimester; you may be ecstatic one moment and melancholic the next so keep a handkerchief nearby for these moments.

Your life

Wake up kicks are like a thief in the night stealing your sleep, typically about 10 times per hour. As much as it makes you go insane, these movements are indicative of one healthy baby. Your baby is more active during the night than day because when you’re lying down, blood flow is redirected from your skeletal muscles to your growing fetus. When you struggle to sleep, use the experience to prepare for early motherhood, when kicks turn into midnight cries.

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Trimester #3

Week 30

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Your baby

Your baby weighs 1.5kg and will be gaining weight quite rapidly in the next few weeks. Your baby’s brain has now developed to the point where it can control its own body temperature and since it no longer needs their fine hair (lanugo) to insulate them, it will now be shed.

Your body

You’re spending more time in the bathroom than in any other room in the house but unfortunately not for pampering reasons. You are urinating very frequently for your baby is pushing down on your bladder. To ensure that you are completely emptying out your bladder each time you go, try leaning forward when urinating. You may also have insomnia as sleeping has become less comfortable with a large belly and an active baby who kicks more often when you’re trying to sleep. Swap caffeine and sweets for a glass of milk or herbal tea during the day and evening, and try some relaxation techniques like a massage or a bath to help relax you and the baby for sleep. Avoid medications like sleeping pills and try natural remedies instead, for example a nutrient supplement with valerian extract may assist you with sleeping. You may have swollen and enlarged veins in your legs, bottom and/or vagina. These veins are called varicose veins and they appear because progesterone relaxes the muscles that assist the veins in returning blood back to the heart thus blood return is less efficient and leads to blood remaining in the vessels giving that characteristic pigment. Varicose veins are normal during pregnancy and pose no threat to the pregnancy or baby. Varicose veins usually disappear after birth but in the meantime if you feel self-conscious about their visibility use supportive underwear and tights to help with the circulation. At 30 weeks you can book in for your third ultrasound to check placenta location and baby growth.

Your life

Your dreams, thoughts and feelings are overwhelming for in all too soon or not soon enough you’ll embrace your baby and become its mother. It’s common for a first time mum to have days of certainty and others when she questions her suitability as a mother. Other expecting mothers may question if they will love this child as much as their first born or if all their children will get along. It’s only natural to feel these insecurities and mixed emotions- remember that you’re not alone and that someone is always there to confide in. This may be your own mum, other mothers, fellow expecting mothers and/or community and professional services that can share with you their experiences and knowledge for reassurance and advice.

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Trimester #3

Week 31

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Your baby

Keep singing along even when your partner insists you to stop. Tell them you cannot for the connections in the fetal brain are still forming and need stimulation with music, singing and/or talking. Consuming a diet rich in omega-3 and iodine either through fish servings with low mercury content or fish-oil and iodine supplements are also beneficial for brain development and cognitive function later on in life.

Your body

The initiation of lactation begins in third trimester with the secretion of small amounts of colostrum; a milk secretion composed of immunoglobulins that support your baby’s immune health. Your breasts during third trimester become leaky to colostrum thus to prevent dried yellowish stains; use a nursing pad in your bra to help keep clothes clean from secretions.

It is common for your iron stores to run low during pregnancy, to prevent this consume foods high in iron such as red meats, fish, poultry, eggs and legumes and iron-fortified grain products with citrus foods containing vitamin C to enhance iron absorption.

Your tummy will continue to expand, stretching the fibres to their limits giving them a purplish-pinkish pigment. Keep rubbing a cocoa butter or vitamin E emollient cream to help reduce stretch mark severity although, they are largely unpreventable and genetic.

Why are you gasping for air at the top of your household stairs? As your uterus ascends further to accommodate more room for fetal growth, your lung expansion thus air capacity is compromised. The shortness of breath you feel is yet another miraculous adaption that places fetal nurture before the wellbeing of the mother. To help with your breathing, maintain good posture, don’t participate in vigorous activity and sleep on your sides instead of lying flat on your back to ease the pressure. Your growing baby is experiencing a surplus supply of oxygen however, if at any stage your lips or fingernails turn a purplish-blue or if you’re experiencing chest pain or a racing pulse consult your general practitioner immediately.

Your life

Queue jumps, being offered a seat in a crowded area and being treated nicely are perks of being pregnant. Be grateful for every special privilege that’s sent your way by thanking people for their kindness and empathy. Don’t be hesitant, you deserve the special treatment. Many people will acknowledge this, so take it as a compliment.

You may start to become anxious about labour as your due date approaches. A little bit of apprehension is not a bad thing, but don’t stress too much as it’s not good for you and your baby. Speak to your healthcare provider if you are concerned and they can give you more information. Keep attending your antenatal class as it will assist you in preparing for labour, birth and parenthood.

If you are still working and find that keeping your energy and attention on your job is difficult, speak to your employer about cutting back on your hours or doing an easier job. You might require a letter from the doctor.

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Trimester #3

Week 32

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Your baby

Your 1.8kg baby will spend much of their time sleeping but has strong coordinated movements when awake. Ninety-six percent of babies are now positioned head down ready for birth. The baby can grimace, frown, and suck their thumb, kick and swallow. Their bones are calcifying so remember mum to consume calcium through your diet (fish with edible bones like sardines and dairy products) or through a supplement and absorb vitamin D from the sun (be cautions of getting burnt) or from a supplement.

Your body

It may now be impossible for you to see your feet below your belly. There is probably not much space between your breast and belly either. Be careful of heat rashes developing in between that space. Take cool showers and use a light powder if you desire. Avoid standing for long periods and take the weight off your legs when you can.

Your life

It’s now two months before the arrival of your baby making it the perfect time to schedule a day for girly talk, silly games, laughter, gifts and lots of cake! You can look forward to celebrating the miracle of creating life amongst your family and friends at your baby shower. This event is strictly stress-free for you and the role of event manager usually goes to a close friend or family member. A house other than your own, a café or a restaurant room are ideal places to hold a baby shower to avoid you having to prepare for and clean up afterwards. It’s probably a good idea to starting thinking about a date and your guest list so that your planner can begin preparations.

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Trimester #3

Week 33

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Your baby

Your baby is gaining almost half a kilogram a week. Your baby’s lungs continue to mature so that if the baby were to be delivered now it may not even need ventilator support. There is now 1 litre of amniotic fluid cushioning your baby of which half a litre is produced daily by their kidneys. You will be able to feel kicks more strongly, through your ribs, bladder or tummy due to the large volume of amniotic fluid.

Your body

During and after pregnancy, some women develop urinary incontinence. This may occur especially when you’re coughing, laughing or sneezing. This is a common problem that develops late in pregnancy and post-delivery. Keep doing your pelvic floor exercises and wear a pad to avoid embarrassment.

Due to fluid retention and change to your cornea curvature, contact lenses may be especially uncomfortable and not fit the way they used to. You might want to wear glasses instead until your eyes return to the way they were in a few weeks. You may also begin to feel your uterus contracting; these are called Braxton Hicks contractions. They are infrequent painless contractions that decrease in intensity when you change positions or move about, unlike real labour contractions that are frequent, painful and don’t subside when changing positions. Hormonal changes and fatigue may lead to more headaches. Get enough rest but avoid oversleeping, drink plenty of water, take regular breaks during work and while at it, take in some fresh air too. Your nails may also become more brittle, and your larger belly means increasing clumsiness.

Your life

If you have pets you may want to start getting them used to staying outside the house. Always keep your baby’s room closed so that your pet does not mistake the baby’s cot for their bed.

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Trimester #3

Week 34

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Your baby

A baby boy’s testicles will descend from his abdomen into his scrotum this week. The baby will be blinking and practicing eye focus as the brain further develops as well.

Your body

Counting down the weeks but can’t say the same about the symptoms? Unbearable leg cramps are yet another nuisance keeping you from sleep. It’s been suggested that muscle cramps result from bearing an increased amount of weight, a deficiency in calcium and magnesium intake and from the effects of progesterone. When cramp pain strikes stretch your leg, flexing your toes and ankles towards your shins, hold the stretch and repeat until you find relief. If you are concerned about the frequency of the cramps or if your leg is swollen see your doctor immediately for it could be signs of a rare case of blood clots. Try calf and foot stretches before going to bed, drink plenty of water and eat plenty of diary for calcium and green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts for magnesium intake.

Your life

It all began eight months ago with the discovery being at the tip of your tongue and now you’re preparing the runway for the landing of your little aircraft into its new world. A birth plan is a great way to express your preferences on the delivery of your child to your healthcare professionals. Together you can discuss how you’d like to experience the delivery; after all, your baby is arriving to a modern world, one that’s full of choices. If going to the hospital, do you know how to get there, where to park, which entrance to use and where exactly you need to go? Visit your hospital with your partner sometime this week to prepare for this big day and to complete your paperwork. There are other things you may need to consider like finding sitters for any pets and/or young children. You may want to prepare what you need for when the day may suddenly arise, such as: personal identifications, car, insurance and clothes. Here’s another thought, are you going in with sheer strength or with the assistance of anaesthetic weapons? It is important to consult professional advice when making choices but keep in mind the need to be flexible as you’ll need to prepare also for the unexpected.

You should also know the signs of premature labour; the early onset of labour that can fall between the 20th and 37th week of pregnancy. It feels like menstrual cramps and there may be a watery pinkish fluid discharge flowing from your vagina, this is amniotic fluid. If this happens to you, call your doctor right away and stay calm. Keep your priorities clear- make plans for taking maternity leave soon to avoid unnecessary stress leading up to this important new chapter of your life.

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Trimester #3

Week 35

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Your baby

Your baby’s brain is still growing, with over 250,000 brain cells being produced every minute! Continue consuming your omega-3 fatty acids through sources of oily fish, like salmon and sardines that are low in mercury or through a fish oil supplement and include iodine by using iodised salt and consuming an iodine supplement. Your baby will gain almost half a kilo just this week and accumulate more fat cells. There is now less room in your uterus for them to move around but keep checking their pattern of movement and if something doesn’t feel right, consult your doctor. If your baby wasn’t laying head-down, this might be the week where they turn. This would be the best position for a vaginal delivery.

Your body

You may be experiencing skin changes like an itch or rash on your belly. Use gentle, fragrance free body washes to reduce skin irritation. You may also need to take more careful steps when walking and carry lists to help your memory. Your body is preparing for breastfeeding so you may notice some yellowish fluid trickling out called colostrum. To help keep your clothes dry from this secretion place nursing pads inside your bra. You may also feel uterine contractions, these are called Braxton-Hicks contractions that are painless and will subside when you change positions. It’s important you know how to differentiate Braxton-Hicks contractions from labour contractions. Real contractions are painful that remind you of your menstrual cramps, and will not resolve when you change positions. Speak to your doctor or midwife if you are concerned. You may also feel your heart beat increasing and if shortness of breath and pain accompanies, see your doctor.

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Trimester #3

Week 36

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Your baby

Your baby now weighs 2.7kg and has meconium (first faeces) in their intestines. If they pass it in utero, it means they are distressed so if your waters break and the fluid is a green brownish colour, call your doctor.

Your body

You are now just a month away from your due date. At 36 weeks it is recommended that you complete a group B streptococcus test, also known as a group B strep test. Streptococci (plural) bacteria are normally found in the vagina and rectum of healthy women posing no threat to health. When pregnant however, this bacteria has the potential to be transmitted to the baby during vaginal delivery, possibly affecting your newborn. If you test positive for streptococci don’t be concerned for you’ll receive IV antibiotics during labour to ensure a baby free from this infection. This test poses no risks to the pregnancy and is relatively comfortable as it involves taking vagina and rectum swabs. It is encouraged that all women get tested.

Your life

You may experience an urge to clean your house up and re-organise everything. This is completely normal and is called the nesting instinct. It is also found in animals. While cleaning up is not a problem, you may find it difficult due to your large belly. It is a good idea for the house to be relatively tidy when you bring your baby home so get your partner and other family members to help but focus on one thing at a time.

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Trimester #3

Week 37

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Your baby

Your baby is still growing and weighs almost 3kg possibly more if a boy. So if you feel hungry, you can give in to your temptation as long as it’s not on the “prohibited” list for pregnancy like raw or undercooked meat.

Your body

Your baby may drop lower into your pelvis this week, which will relieve the pressure on your diaphragm allowing you to breathe easier however this may not happen until delivery. Your doctor will most likely see you weekly to check for any cervical changes.

If you feel a jab to your ribs or pelvis, it might be a sign from your baby that they feel uncomfortable and you should try another position instead.

Your life

You’re doing a great job, by the end of this week, your baby will be considered full term even though they are 3 weeks shy of 40 weeks. So if you were to go into labour, it is unlikely that any preterm-related consequences will occur, or that interventions will be required to stop labour. Remember that only 5% of women actually deliver on their due date so you could be giving birth anytime in the next few weeks.

If you are having an elective caesarean delivery, don’t forget to mark it in your calendar and take some time out a few days beforehand so you feel calmer. Excitement is likely to be building in you and the father-to-be. Keep doing your perineal massage if you’re aiming for a vaginal delivery to minimize the risk of tearing.

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Trimester #3

Week 38

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Your baby

Hooray! Fetal development is almost complete now, however the baby will continue shedding their lanugo and vernix caseosa (white coating). Their lungs are making more surfactant which will support their ability to breathe once born. The baby is still accumulating fat and getting chubby. Your baby is now over 3kg, and their movements may slow down due to their size taking up most of your womb. If you don’t think everything is ok, act on your suspicion and call your doctor as you are the best person to judge what is normal or not about your baby’s movements.

Your body

Your breasts are producing colostrum; milk that is packed full of essential antibodies and protein to support your baby’s health. You are probably still leaking colostrum so continue using those nursing pads to absorb the secretions.

Before you flush, take a look at your urine for any pinkish vaginal discharge. This indicates that cervical blood vessels have rupture due to dilation and may be a harbinger of your impending labour. Keep soothing your itchy abdomen with vitamin E oil and feel free to use some on your nipples if you discover them to be dry and want to breastfeed.

Your life

How exciting, any day now and you could be delivering. Pass the shopping list to your partner, ask them to stack the freezer with pre-made food that is easy to heat up and eat because once you’re home with your newborn you’ll be thoroughly exhausted and unable to cook. When choosing foods try to stick to healthy alternatives and include a variety of foods like soups and casseroles.

Don’t forget to have your car seat organized and check that it meets the safety standards for without it you won’t be allowed to take your baby home. Time to get set for D-day! With your partner, practice driving to the hospital, locating the allocated parking and finding the ward. You should also begin to prepare your hospital bag, include a nightgown that can easily open at the top for breastfeeding, slippers/socks, bathrobe, nursing bra, highly absorbent sanitary pads, old underwear, toiletries, comfortable going home clothes, baby clothes and blanket, fully charged video camera/camera, music player, snacks, a baby book, diapers and wipes. Speak with your family and friends who have had a baby recently; perhaps they know a good paediatrician for your child?

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Trimester #3

Week 39

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Your baby

Weighing in at approximately 3.5kg, your baby now weighs in the range most favourable for neonatal survival- that is, between 3-4.499kg. He or she is producing enough surfactant to support proper lung functioning. Moreover, their brain continues to develop thus remember to include a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (DHA in particular) and iodine for proper and optimal brain development.

Your body

A week before 40, and your feeling prime, dime and fine despite your world size tummy and achy back for catching up on reading, watching movies, ringing friends and journal writing are at the best of times, distracting you from feeling pain and playing the waiting game. Relaxing is your only objective on your check list now for everything else is ticked; the run through of the hospital or house birth procedure, a clean house, readily accessible food and baby seat- check, check, check. But wait, where are the baby’s clothes and nappies again? That’s right, already packed in the overnight bag. If you haven’t gotten around to it yet, ask your partner to help. Don’t forget to pack a tooth and hair brush, toothpaste, father’s-to-be old T-shirt for a lucky delivery, a dressing gown and the fully charged camera- all is now set and ready to go, check mate! All that remains is for you to rest up and embrace what’s to come. All the while, be sensitive to your body’s signals especially to regular contractions, water breakage, nausea or diarrhoea, losing your mucous plug that was once needed to protect your uterus from bacterial entry is usually passed out undetected but do check your urine for a slight pink or brown coloured mucous; this signals that dilation has occurred from the rupture of your cervix blood vessels. Before the onset of these early labour symptoms, you’ll be feeling more frequent and intense Braxton Hicks as your body prepares itself for labour and yes, it’s still safe to continue with gentle pelvic floor exercises and perineal stretches.

Your eyes may continue to feel dry and you may find relief in using soothing eye drops, just check with your pharmacist for the most suitable product. You may even notice that hair is growing excessively and in places least expected. Some women choose to wax their pubic hair before labour, don’t worry waxing will only hurt you, not your baby.

Your life

Every baby is unique, so too is their time in gestation. Trust that he or she will come out when they’re ready or that help will be given to escort the little rascal if gestation progresses for too long. If this baby has siblings, use this time to give the children gifts from the baby to promote good sibling relationships. To further involve the siblings, ask them to read to the baby, play music for the baby and to guess the gender and looks of the baby. To prepare them for the introduction, show them baby albums of themselves or videos of when they we brought home for the first time too.

You may not want to travel too far from home, now that you’re expecting to deliver anytime soon. You’ll also find that people and especially women, will take much interest in your pregnancy and may ask you questions and pass on their blessings.

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Trimester #3

Week 40

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Your body

Forget wonder woman, hello wonder mum-to-be with super-stamina and strength! Congratulations on making it to week 40, very soon you’ll be giving birth to your own warrior prince or princess. Remember that very few women give birth on their due dates and if the baby is still shy at 42 weeks gestation your practitioner may advise some induction techniques. Your bodily changes this week include your baby dropping into your pelvic area thus possibly changing your baby bump appearance. This manoeuvre brings relief from constipation and breathing becomes more comfortable but stretch marks won’t lessen so keep applying an emollient cream on regularly.

Your birth plan is ready, your hospital bag is packed and since all other preparations are completed, your mind wonders to a thought that can no longer be avoid- what to expect about labour. Movie scenes and your mother’s recaps have painted a daunting delivery picture so in attempts to soften the graphics, here’s what happens behind the scenes. Your cervix is the long narrow portion of the uterus that joins to the top end of the vagina; this exit track will begin to thin and dilate as labour and delivery approaches. During labour your body produces the hormones oxytocin and prostaglandin to trigger rhythmic contractions every 15 minutes to push the baby down the birth canal. Contractions begin when your baby sends, ‘I’m ready’ signals to your brain. To differentiate labour contractions from Braxton-Hicks contractions be active and move positions, stand up if sitting down or roll onto your other side and if the contractions still persist and are intensely painful they are labour contractions. This pain is accompanied with lower back, abdomen pain and water breakage; this is also referred to as rupture of your membranes. You can differentiate the two fluids based on colour and odour; amniotic fluid is colourless and odourless in comparison to urine and you can stop the flow of urine but cannot stop the stream of amniotic fluid. If when your water breaks and your amniotic fluid is stained brown or green call your doctor for it’s likely that your baby has passed faeces in utero. Don’t worry too much about your water breaking in public and causing you embarrassment, only 15% of women have their waters break before experiencing labour first. Fetal movements are likely to have slowed due to the cramped space, but you should still be able to count 10 movements per hour.

Your life

Assume your position! Will you be delivering in a sit up position by rocking back and forth or squatting utilising the effects of gravity or will you rather be on your hands and knees to ease the pain off your back? Read up on different delivery positions to familiarise yourself with all the possibilities- this will not only assist you with delivering but help build your confidence. Further create your ideal delivery experience by exploring your pain management options. For pain relief consider both the medical and non-medicated approaches or the possibly of beginning with controlled breathing and relaxation techniques and then opting for sedatives to ease your senses as pain worsens. An epidural is one type of anaesthetic administered by an anaesthesiologist by injecting the sedative in the epidural space of the spinal cord that avoids your blood stream thus not affecting the baby. Relief from the waist down occurs usually within 10-30 minutes as it can vary between individuals. Pain tolerance can differ amongst individuals thus your doctor will advise when the best time is for you to take the epidural as he or she will mention when it’s too early or too late for the epidural to be taken. If you are concerned ask your doctor to inform you of the epidural administration window. If you have decided for an elective caesarean delivery, you will most likely give birth this week. Good luck on your delivery and remember your birth preferences sound ideal now but may not be in the delivery room, be prepared for any necessary changes by keeping faith and trust in your professionals.

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Trimester #1

Week 27

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Your baby

Your baby is no longer measured from crown to rump but from head to toe. Your baby urinates 500mL a day which forms the amniotic fluid that cushions them. You will probably notice its movements more as it grows each day. Taste buds have also formed and retinas are maturing so he or she can respond to light. Keep up your omega-3 intake to assist your baby in their visual development.

Your body

You may start to see stretch marks so continue to massage your belly with a cocoa butter or vitamin E cream after showering. Excess saliva can also occur during this time so you may need to swallow more often and carry tissues if you feel the need to wipe.
The ankle swelling may continue due to fluid build-up so you may want to wear more comfortable shoes. You may also find your fingers swelling and have a harder time putting on or removing your rings. The good news is that this is temporary. Your belly button may now be an outie but it will revert back to being an innie as before, albeit a bit larger than it was before pregnancy.

Your life

There are many things to consider surrounding delivery, birth, breastfeeding and being a mother. If you haven’t already, as you reach the end of your second trimester, now is a good time to do more research and ask questions to help you gain valuable knowledge. Learning about things now and being prepared will make things a lot easier and less daunting when day comes. For example, make an appointment to visit the labour ward so you can to familiarize yourself with it and be less stressed on your big day. Talk to people who have had a baby recently when asking about the important smaller details as their memory will be a little fresher in their mind than those who had their baby years ago.