You’re entering the final stretch of your pregnancy. It won’t be long before you meet your baby in person. Here’s what you have to look forward to this week.
Changes in Your Body
By now, from your belly button to the top of your uterus measures about six inches. You have probably gained between 25 and 30 pounds, and you may or may not gain more weight for the rest of your pregnancy.
Your baby is between 17 and 18 inches long and weighs between five and a half to six pounds. The kidneys are developed and your baby’s liver is functional. This is also a week of rapid weight gain for your baby as his or her limbs become plump with fat. From this point, your baby will gain around half a pound per week.
If you deliver this week, your baby is considered premature and will need specialized care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that babies born at 35 weeks are at risk of having jaundice, breathing problems, and a longer stay in the hospital. Just the same, the baby’s chance for long-term survival is very good.
You’re probably feeling pretty large and awkward this week. You may become fatigued easily. Your growing uterus may press on your rib cage, which can cause back pain or shortness of breath. This should improve after your baby moves further down into your pelvis, a process called “lightening.” Although lightening helps to relieve shortness of breath, it may also lead to increased frequency of urination as your baby adds increased pressure on your bladder.
Sleep problems are common this week. Try sleeping on your left side. A pregnancy pillow may also help. Some women find that sleeping in a recliner, guest bed, or on an air mattress results in a better night’s rest. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You’ll need your energy to get through labor.
You may also continue to deal with any or all of these additional third trimester symptoms:
- swelling of the ankles, fingers, or face
- low back pain with sciatica
- tender breasts
- watery, milky leakage (colostrum) from your breasts
You might experience an increase in Braxton-Hicks contractions. These “practice” contractions cause a tightening of the uterus for up to two minutes. These contractions may or may not be painful. Unlike real contractions, which are regular and increase with intensity over time, Braxton-Hicks contractions are irregular, unpredictable, and do not increase in intensity and duration. They may be triggered by dehydration, sex, increased activity, or a full bladder. Drinking water or changing position may relieve them. Use the contractions to your advantage to prepare for childbirth and practice labor breathing exercises.
The need to “nest” is common in the latter weeks of the third trimester, although not all women experience it. Nesting often manifests as a strong urge to clean and prepare your home for baby’s arrival. If you feel the nesting impulse, let someone else do the lifting and heavy work, and don’t wear yourself out.
Things to Do This Week for a Healthy Pregnancy
It’s important to continue eating a healthy diet this week. Although you’re uncomfortable, try to stay active and take a walk or move around when you can. It’s a good idea to pack your hospital bag and keep it handy, like right next to your front door. If you have other children, this is a good week to make arrangements for their care during your delivery.
Now is the time to relax and pamper yourself, before the chaos of welcoming your child into the world begins. Consider having a pregnancy massage or enjoy a date night with your significant other. Some couples go on a “babymoon,” a short weekend getaway to relax and bond before baby’s arrival.
When to Call the Doctor
Your baby’s movements may decrease as you near your delivery date. Some decreased movement is normal. After all, it’s getting pretty crowded in your uterus! However, you should still feel your baby move at least 10 times an hour. If you don’t, call your doctor immediately. Chances are, your baby is fine, but it’s best to get checked out.
In addition, contact your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- increased vaginal discharge with odor
- fever or chills
- pain with urination
- severe headaches
- vision changes
- blind spots
- your water breaks
- regular, painful contractions (these may be in the abdomen and/or back)
You’re Almost Full Term
It may be hard to believe, but your pregnancy is almost over. At the end of this week, you only have one week left before you’re considered full term. You may feel like the days of being uncomfortable and huge are never going to end, but you’ll be holding your baby in your arms in no time.