Congratulations, mama, you’re days away from entering your third trimester! Whether time has been flying by or crawling due to nausea or anxiety issues, you’ll be happy to know that the third and last leg of this journey has almost begun.
At 26 weeks, your uterus now reaches more than 2 inches above your belly button. Don’t have a ruler? Try using your thumb to see how far your baby’s stretching out. From your thumb knuckle to the tip of your nail is about one inch. With every passing week you should expect your belly to grow another 1/2 inch or so.
If you’re stressing about the excess weight around your middle, remind yourself that close to two pounds of that is baby, not to mention the amniotic fluid that’s needed to sustain this new life.
Now around 13 inches long and weighing 2 pounds, your baby is as big as a head of cabbage. This week, your baby continues to breathe in and out amniotic fluid, which helps to develop the lungs. If you’re having a boy, his testicles have started to descend into his scrotum.
Your baby can also hear you more clearly with every passing day. As the nerves in your baby’s ears continue to develop, she or he will be able to discern your voice from others around you.
Your babies are growing fast. They’ll soon be 9 inches from crown to rump and weigh in at around 2 pounds each. Consider singing or reading books to your little ones. Their hearing is getting better, and they might even recognize your voice.
As you end your second trimester, your previous symptoms during past weeks may still continue, such as frequent urination. However, another symptom that could begin around week 26 is Braxton-Hicks contractions. These contractions can start as early as your second trimester but are more common in the third trimester.
An increase in frequency of urination is a common symptom of pregnancy, but if you’re also feeling unusually thirsty all day long, or heading to the bathroom much more often, you may be seeing some signs of gestational diabetes. Your healthcare provider should definitely be made aware of such symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that as many as 9 percent of women experience gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. A glucose tolerance test is the best way to determine whether you and your baby are at risk, and it’s now a standard test in pregnancy. If an immediate member of your family has diabetes, or you were overweight at the start of your pregnancy, chances are you have already been tested for this.
Gestational diabetes doesn’t mean you had diabetes before pregnancy. It’s also likely you won’t have it after you deliver, though women who have gestational diabetes are at a greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes down the road. What it does mean is that your body isn’t producing insulin as it should right now, which will invariably lead to higher blood sugar levels.
In case you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you should know that it is associated with some pregnancy and delivery complications, such as large birth weight babies (macrosomia) and an increased risk of cesarean delivery. If it’s caught early and managed appropriately, though, you should be able to go on to have a safe and healthy pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes may be asked to monitor their blood sugar regularly and modify their meals a bit based on how much sugar and carbs they can safely eat. Your doctor should be able to answer any specific questions you have. You may also want to speak with a dietitian or other health professional for more expert nutritional guidance.
Talk to your baby
Now that you know your baby can hear you, add in some extra “talk time” with your belly. No worries if you’ve yet to stock the nursery with children’s books. Any reading or talking will do. One study from the journal Developmental Psychobiology measured how the fetal heartbeat responded to both maternal and paternal voices. While babies responded to both, researchers concluded that the fetuses preferred their mother’s voices. If you want to strengthen your baby’s bond with your partner, try to schedule additional “talk time” between your partner and your belly.
Some researchers have theorized that reading to your baby in the womb could lead to intellectual benefits after they’re born. But there’s still much that’s not known about what, if any, benefits this could offer. Some speculate that the benefits are actually from the relaxation and lower stress that mothers experience from sitting down and reading to their belly. Either way, scheduling regular story time is a great excuse to slow down and enjoy this special time.
Eat well, move more
If you have been maintaining a mostly healthy diet, try not to stress over any not-so-great choices. If you haven’t yet started implementing healthy choices, it’s never too late to start. There are some serious benefits to preventing too much weight gain during pregnancy. Keeping your weight in check reduces your risk for complications such as hypertension and gestational diabetes. The best way to do that is to eat a balanced diet and keep up (or start) a safe exercise routine. If you’re not sure what’s safe, check in with your healthcare provider.
Be on the lookout for contractions, which can be a sign of preterm labor. If you feel what you think is a contraction, don’t go rushing to the hospital just yet. Now that you’re heading into the third trimester, your chances of experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions increase. You can think of these as practice contractions that are preparing your body for the big day. If the feelings you’re experiencing are infrequent or irregular in intensity, and especially if they go away as soon as they start, they’re likely Braxton-Hicks contractions. If they become more frequent, you may be experiencing real contractions. When in doubt, call your doctor for specific guidance.
You should also call your doctor if you experience:
- severe abdominal pain
- vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage
- blurred vision
- excessive leg or facial swelling