You are now in the third trimester of pregnancy. The uterus is now the size of a soccer ball. Though the baby does not
appear that big, he/she is slowly gaining weight and baby fat. The hair, color and texture of the baby seen at this time can change after the baby is born. People will be making all sorts of guesses at this time to find out if you are having a girl or boy. There are basically only two scientific methods used to determine the gender: the ultrasound and the amniocentesis. The accuracy of the ultrasound is not 100% and amniocentesis is not advisable unless there is a problem in the pregnancy.
At this stage you can think of indulging in treating yourself with a manicure or a pedicure as this will help in relieving stress for the muscles of the arms and legs as well as help you to relax. Because of the increase in weight, you might not be as mobile as before, but you can continue going for regular walks and participating in light exercise to keep the body flexible. This also helps to reduce stiffness in the body and joints.
There is a risk of premature delivery at this stage, especially in case of an incompetent cervix or infection of the uterus. The risk of infection increases after rupture and you require hospitalization if the rupture occurs as early as the 25th week. The baby has a chance of surviving as the organs are fully developed and the baby has started breathing as well. The only drawback is that the weight of the baby is very low and the risk of the baby catching infection is very high. The rate of survival in cases of premature delivery at this stage is also relatively low as compared to the baby being born after full term. If the members rupture this early, the doctors generally delay the onset of labor for as long as it is safe. Only 1/4th of the babies born in this period tend to survive as they are not yet fully developed and might show some disabilities.
Your Symptoms: Backache and pelvic pressure are common this week as your belly continues to grow.
Baby’s Development: The adrenal gland starts producing steroids, which your baby will need to deal with the stress of birth. The cerebral cortex is also developing at a rapid rate.
Baby’s Size: 28.9 cm, 501 g.
To Do: Start doing kegel exercises now. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles will help prevent you from having problems with leaking urine after the birth.
The growth is relatively slow and more regular in this pregnancy stage. The size of the fetus is about 32 cm with the weight around 750 g. The bones begin to harden in this stage and you can notice the baby sucking its thumb. The skin gains more vernix which is a coating that protects the baby from the acidity of the amniotic fluid and helps to maintain the body temperature after birth.
In this week, the baby acquires an important function which is he/she can cry and reaches a milestone of surviving if born prematurely at this stage. The skin is thin and delicate but the body is gaining weight and taking more space in your uterus. The baby’s taste buds are developing and the baby might be able to tell the difference between a sweet and salty or sour taste. The baby has fully formed fingers and toe nails and its eyes should open at any time. The brain keeps growing rapidly now. The baby who now has a well proportioned body starts putting on baby fat. The skin begins to smoothen out and lose its wrinkled texture.
Changes with your body
You will be noticing faint red or brown streaks or stretch marks on the abdomen, hips and breasts at this stage. About 90% women get these marks which can be reduced by using supportive bras and anti-wrinkle cream. These marks fade after the birth of the baby.
The eyes become dry and might become sensitive to light. Artificial tears solution can be applied to reduce the discomfort but generally a balanced diet with a boost of vitamins and other supplements help women regain her lost health faster after delivery. There can be a surge in the hormone levels and the metabolic rate also raises leading to excess heat in the body. The body generally feels hotter than usual. You can reduce these symptoms by drinking a lot of fluids to keep the body temperature low. Heartburn and indigestion increase due to the increasing size of the baby. The cholesterol level also increases at this time and so you must try and reduce the intake of cholesterol-heavy food. The problems of constipation can be overcome by eating fiber rich food and doing moderate exercise such as walking and swimming.
What to expect
The medical practitioner might ask you to go for a blood test to rule out anemia in this week. The skin might cause itching and dryness due to stretching which is normal. However, if this continues it could be checked for a fungal infection or liver problems. You can consult a skin specialist if required.
The enlarging uterus might cause cramps in the abdomen and legs but this is normal. Maintain a healthy exercise schedule to stay fit but do not overexert. Stop the exercise the minute you feel dizzy, tired or shooting pain. You can follow safe methods of exercising like walking, swimming, yoga or pilates.
To avoid increasing bouts of heartburn you can eat small and frequent meals. Avoid lying down immediately after meals and reduce the intake of fried and fatty food. Try to include correct postures while sitting, sleeping and walking to avoid spinal problems later as well as cramps in legs and swelling of feet or sciatica pains.
If the amniotic membrane which covers the baby in the uterus ruptures, early labor can follow within a few hours. The reasons for the rupturing of the membrane could include infection of the uterus, multiple births, incompetent cervix, excessive amniotic fluid and smoking. If the membranes rupture you will be able to feel a gush of fluid or a trickle out of the vagina but it could also be caused due to urine being pushed out by the weight of the baby so it needs to be examined by a qualified doctor.