This week, your baby weighs almost 2 pounds (like a head of cauliflower) and is about 14 1/2 inches long with her legs extended. She’s sleeping and waking at regular intervals, opening and closing her eyes, and perhaps even sucking her fingers.
How your baby’s growing:
With more brain tissue developing, your baby’s brain is very active now. While her lungs are still immature, they would be capable of functioning – with a lot of medical help – if she were to be born now. Chalk up any tiny rhythmic movements you may be feeling to a case of baby hiccups, which may be common from now on. Each episode usually lasts only a few moments, and they don’t bother her, so just relax and enjoy the tickle.
How your life’s changing:
The second trimester is drawing to a close, but as your body gears up for the final lap, you may start noticing some new symptoms. Along with an aching back, for example, you may find that your leg muscles cramp up now and then. They’re carrying extra weight, after all, and your expanding uterus is putting pressure on the veins that return blood from your legs to your heart as well as on the nerves leading from your trunk to your legs. Unfortunately, the cramps may get worse as your pregnancy progresses.
Leg cramps are more common at night but can also happen during the day. When a cramp strikes, stretching the calf muscle should give you some relief. Straighten your leg and then gently flex your toes back toward your shin. Walking for a few minutes or massaging your calf sometimes helps, too.
It may be the furthest thing from your mind right now, but it’s not too soon to think about family planning. You’ll want to have made some decisions about postpartum birth control before your baby arrives. If you’re considering a tubal ligation, be aware that most states require you to sign a consent form at least 30 days beforehand. So if you’d like the option of having the surgery during your postpartum hospital stay, don’t wait too much longer to discuss it with your caregiver. (You can still change your mind later.)
Surprising Facts: Symptoms you should never ignore
So many aches, pains, and strange feelings arise during pregnancy that it can be hard to decide what’s normal and what warrants a call to your doctor or midwife. To complicate matters further, some symptoms may be more or less urgent depending on your particular situation or health history and on how far along you are in your pregnancy. Here’s a rundown of symptoms that could be a sign of a problem. If you have any of these complaints, call your doctor or midwife immediately:
Before you reach 37 weeks:
- Pelvic pressure (a feeling that your baby is pushing down), lower back pain (especially if it’s a new problem for you), menstrual-like cramping or abdominal pain, or more than four contractions in an hour (even if they don’t hurt)
- An increase in vaginal discharge or a change in the type of discharge – if it becomes watery, mucus-like, or bloody (even if it’s only pink or blood-tinged)
At any time:
- Your baby is moving or kicking less than usual
- Severe or persistent abdominal pain or tenderness
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting, or watery discharge
- Pain or burning when you urinate, or little or no urination
- Severe or persistent vomiting, or any vomiting accompanied by pain or fever
- Chills or a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Blurred or double vision, or seeing spots or “floaters”
- A severe or persistent headache, or any headache accompanied by blurred vision, slurred speech, or numbness
- Any swelling in your face or puffiness around your eyes, anything more than mild swelling in your fingers or hands, or severe or sudden swelling in your legs, feet, or ankles, or a rapid weight gain (more than 4 pounds in a week)
- Severe or persistent leg or calf pain that doesn’t ease up when you flex your ankle and point your toes toward your nose, or one leg significantly more swollen than the other
- Trauma to your abdomen
- Fainting, frequent dizziness, rapid heartbeat, or palpitations
- Difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, or chest pain
- Severe constipation accompanied by abdominal pain or severe diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours
- Persistent intense itching all over
- Any health problem that you’d ordinarily call your practitioner about, even if it’s not pregnancy-related (like worsening asthma or a cold that gets worse rather than better)
This Week’s Activity:
Sign up for a breastfeeding class. If you are a first-time mom and planning to breastfeed your baby, it’s a good idea to take a breastfeeding class. Ask your caregiver or childbirth education teacher where you can take one. Or call La Leche League. It can help you locate breastfeeding resources in your area.