Most of the weight gain in pregnancy occurs between the
20th and 30th week. As such, you have probably gained around 19 to 25 pounds by this stage. At this time you can face indigestion problems due to the increasing weight of the uterus so you need to eat a high fiber pregnancy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, cereals, whole grain and bran. You can drink a lot of water to avoid constipation as well as dehydration which can lead to preterm delivery.
Regular exercise including moderate activities like walking and swimming can help to stimulate the bowels. You can ask the doctor to reduce your iron supplements if the constipation is severe. Laxatives and mineral oils are prohibited during delivery to cure constipation as they can instigate a preterm delivery. Some doctors might ask you to avoid certain activities or take complete bed rest at this stage.
To make your pregnancy better, you can appoint a doula who is a professional trained in childbirth. A doula provides physical, emotional and educational support to the expecting women and remains in close proximity to the mother during delivery. They provide comfort through pain relief techniques like massaging, breathing and laboring positions. The goal of a doula is to help the mother in having a safe and positive birth experience. During your visit to the doctor he might ask you to have regular check ups for weight, blood pressure, glucose screening, urine test, and position, growth and development of the fetus.
Your Symptoms: Pregnancy puts pressure on the veins that return blood from the legs and rectum to the heart. This causes varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Your belly is also continuing to expand, putting pressure on the ribs and diaphragm and causing shortness of breath.
Baby’s Development: The brain is developing at a rapid rate. Three of six layers of the cerebral cortex have formed.
Baby’s Size: 36.6 cm, 875 g.
To Do: If you’re having a boy, consider whether or not you would like to have him circumcised. This is often done in the hospital if the baby is healthy.
The baby is growing rapidly at this point weighing about 2 2/3 pounds and measuring around 14 ½ inches. The baby’s head is growing and there is a rapid brain development that began since the 28th week. The baby’s muscles and lungs also continue to develop and mature. The baby can now hear better and can distinguish real sounds and voices from all the vibrations around him/her. Some experts say that the baby’s heart rhythm will increase on hearing the sound of the father or mother. The music you play now or story read now will be recognized by the baby later. You will observe the baby stopping to listen for the same familiar sound. The baby is less hyperactive now and no matter how much you eat the baby will want to have more leaving you feeling hungry and tired all the time. Your baby can now open its eyes and turn its face towards a source of bright light. The fingernails are growing and fat layers begin to form on the skin as the baby gets ready for its life outside the womb. The fetus can suck its thumb and has the ability to cry.
Changes with your body
Most of the women gain around 5 kg or 11 pounds by this time. Some women experience a shift in hormones making them break out into skin rashes. Dry skin can make the skin itchy. This can be reduced by a massage. You can also experience mood swings, fatigue and lethargy at this stage due to the increasing weight. The pressure of the growing baby can cause sciatica problems with severe pain in the long nerve which runs down the entire length of the leg. You can alleviate the problem by soaking your legs in warm water or changing positions while sleeping. Raising the feet with the support of pillows may also help.
Varicose veins on the legs might develop in some women due to the increased weight on the stomach. Bacterial vaginosis or other such fungal infections can cause preterm delivery and needs to be avoided by using clean and loose fitting clothes and undergarments. Sleeping on the back should be avoided and one should try to sleep on the left side to provide comfort for the baby and to improve circulation.
Some mothers might have difficulty breathing. The frequency of urination returns due to pressure on the urinary bladder. Skin temperature increases as the fetus radiates body heat. Swelling of ankles and face might occur due to water retention. Braxton hicks contractions might occur from time to time preparing the body for labor. Stretch marks may appear on the abdomen, breasts and thighs.
What to expect
Since there is a lot of development and maturing taking place in the womb at this stage, you need to make sure that you are getting sufficient rest and pregnancy nutrition. Ensure that you get the daily amount of proteins, folic acid, vitamin C, iron and calcium in the diet as well as through supplements. You can start reading birth stories or other people’s experiences at this stage to prepare yourself for the coming weeks. Exchanging experiences with other women in the antenatal class can help you get information or reassure you of similar problems faced by them.
Try to arrange a tour of the hospital you plan to have the delivery in to familiarize yourself with the place. Knowing the different stages of labor can help you in preparing for the actual labor. Make it a point to include correct posture while sitting, walking, and sleeping to avoid backache problems and muscle cramps. Sleeping with a pillow on either side or under the legs for support can make you feel rather comfortable.
If you have a low platelet count make sure you eat a healthy and varied diet. Platelets play an important role in blood clotting and fighting infection. Treatment for low platelets could include platelet transfusion, but most women do not require it. After the 29th week your physician might change the schedule of your monthly visits to weekly or alternate week depending on your condition and the baby’s development. Towards the later weeks of pregnancy a pelvic examination will be carried out to determine the dilation and effacement of the cervix. Your physician will also inquire as to whether you are experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions and discuss labor and delivery procedures.