Wednesday, March 28, 2012

36 Weeks!!

My appointment this week was rather exciting. Dr. Hintz decided to check my cervix while testing me for the Group B Strep, just because he was down there already. :) I was about 50% effaced, but not dilated at all yet. Baby's head is really low, apparently, so low that he decided to do an ultrasound just to check things out and make sure everything was okay. Of course, I was extremely nervous, but everything turned out fine. We found out that Baby Lloyd is about 6.5 pounds right now, and has a big head and skinny legs. Dr. Hintz predicts baby will be between 8-8.5 pounds when it's born based on this ultrasound. I've been having a lot of swelling in my feet and my blood pressure was elevated today, but so far, so good.

How your baby's growing:

Your baby is still packing on the pounds — at the rate of about an ounce a day. She now weighs almost 6 pounds (like a crenshaw melon) and is more than 18 1/2 inches long. She's shedding most of the downy covering of hair that covered her body as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that covered and protected her skin during her nine-month amniotic bath. Your baby swallows both of these substances, along with other secretions, resulting in a blackish mixture, called meconium, will form the contents of her first bowel movement.
At the end of this week, your baby will be considered full-term. (Full-term is 37 to 42 weeks; babies born before 37 weeks are pre-term and those born after 42 are post-term.) Most likely she's in a head-down position. But if she isn't, your practitioner may suggest scheduling an "external cephalic version," which is a fancy way of saying she'll try to coax your baby into a head-down position by manipulating her from the outside of your belly.
See what your baby looks like this week. (Or see what fraternal twins look like in the womb this week.)
Note: Every baby develops a little differently — even in the womb. Our information is designed to give you a general idea of your baby's development.

How your life's changing:

Now that your baby is taking up so much room, you may have trouble eating a normal-size meal. Smaller, more frequent meals are often easier to handle at this point. On the other hand, you may have less heartburn and have an easier time breathing when your baby starts to "drop" down into your pelvis. This process — called lightening — often happens a few weeks before labor if this is your first baby. (If you've given birth before, it probably won't happen before labor starts.) If your baby drops, you may also feel increased pressure in your lower abdomen, which may make walking increasingly uncomfortable, and you'll probably find that you have to pee even more frequently. If your baby is very low, you may feel lots of vaginal pressure and discomfort as well. Some women say it feels as though they're carrying a bowling ball between their legs!

You might also notice that your Braxton Hicks contractions are more frequent now. Be sure to review the signs of labor with your practitioner and find out when she wants to hear from you. As a general rule, if you're full-term, your pregnancy is uncomplicated, and your water hasn't broken, she'll probably have you wait to come in until you've been having contractions that last for about a minute each, coming every five minutes for an hour. Of course, you'll want to call right away if you notice a decrease in your baby's activity or think you're leaking amniotic fluid, or if you have any vaginal bleeding, fever, a severe or persistent headache, constant abdominal pain, or vision changes.
Even if you're enjoying an uncomplicated pregnancy, it's best to avoid flying (or any travel far from home) during your final month because you can go into labor at any time. In fact, some airlines won't let women on board who are due to deliver within 30 days of the flight.
Eating in "Start collecting take-out and delivery menus from local restaurants. You won't have time to cook in the early weeks after giving birth. Even restaurants without a visible take-out business will usually accommodate a to-go order (especially if it's for a new mom!)." — Kristina

Surprising Facts: The stages of labor

For first-time moms, labor takes an average of 15 hours, though it's not uncommon to last more than 20. (For women who've previously had a vaginal birth, it takes eight hours, on average.) The process of labor and birth is divided into three main stages. Here are the highlights on how childbirth progresses:
First stage The first stage begins when you start having contractions that progressively dilate and efface your cervix and it ends when your cervix is fully dilated. This stage is divided into two phases, early and active labor.
It can be tricky to determine exactly when early labor starts. That's because early labor contractions are sometimes hard to distinguish from the inefficient Braxton Hicks contractions that you may have been feeling for some time.
Unless there are complications or your midwife or doctor has advised you otherwise, expect to sit out most of your early labor at home. (Be sure, though, to check in with your caregiver to make certain.)
Early labor ends when your cervix is about 4 centimeters dilated and your progress starts to speed up. At this point, you enter what's known as the active phase of labor. Your contractions become more frequent, longer, and stronger.
The last part of the active phase — when your cervix dilates from 8 to 10 centimeters — is called the transition period because it marks the transition to the second stage of labor. This is the most intense part of the first stage, with contractions that are usually very strong, coming about every two and a half to three minutes and lasting a minute or more.
Second stage Once your cervix is fully dilated, the second stage of labor begins: the final descent and birth of your baby. This is the "pushing" stage of labor, and it can last anywhere from minutes to a few hours. (It's likely to be quicker if you've previously given birth vaginally.)
Your baby's head will continue to advance with each push until it "crowns" — the term used to describe the time when the widest part of your baby's head is finally visible. After your baby's head comes out, your midwife or doctor will suction his mouth and nose, and feel around his neck for the umbilical cord. His head then turns to the side as his shoulders rotate inside the pelvis to get into position for their exit. With the next contraction, you'll be coached to push as his shoulders deliver, one at a time, followed by the rest of his body.
You may feel a wide range of emotions now: euphoria, awe, pride, disbelief, excitement (to name a few), and, of course, intense relief that it's all over. Exhausted as you may be, you'll also probably feel a burst of energy, and any thoughts of sleep will vanish for the time being.
Stage three The final stage of labor begins immediately after the birth of your baby and ends with the delivery of your placenta. The contractions in the third stage are relatively mild.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

35 Weeks, and Maternity Pictures

My dear friend from high school, Andrea Benning of Yarrow Photography took some wonderful maternity pictures for me this week. Here are some of my favorites.

How your baby's growing:

Your baby doesn't have much room to maneuver now that he's over 18 inches long and tips the scales at 5 1/4 pounds (pick up a honeydew melon). Because it's so snug in your womb, he isn't likely to be doing somersaults anymore, but the number of times he kicks should remain about the same. His kidneys are fully developed now, and his liver can process some waste products. Most of his basic physical development is now complete — he'll spend the next few weeks putting on weight.
See what your baby looks like this week.
Note: Every baby develops a little differently — even in the womb. Our information is designed to give you a general idea of your baby's development.

How your life's changing:

Your uterus — which was entirely tucked away inside your pelvis when you conceived — now reaches up under your rib cage. If you could peek inside your womb, you'd see that there's more baby than amniotic fluid in there now. Your ballooning uterus is crowding your other internal organs, too, which is why you probably have to urinate more often and may be dealing with heartburn and other gastrointestinal distress. If you're not grappling with these annoyances, you're one of the lucky few.
From here on out, you'll start seeing your practitioner every week. Sometime between now and 37 weeks, she'll do a vaginal and rectal culture to check for bacteria called Group B streptococci (GBS). (Don't worry — the swab is the size of a regular cotton swab, and it won't hurt at all.) GBS is usually harmless in adults, but if you have it and pass it on to your baby during birth, it can cause serious complications, such as pneumonia, meningitis, or a blood infection. Because 10 to 30 percent of pregnant women have the bacteria and don't know it, it's vital to be screened. (The bacteria come and go on their own — that's why you weren't screened earlier in pregnancy.) If you're a GBS carrier, you'll get IV antibiotics during labor, which will greatly reduce your baby's risk of infection.

This is also a good time to create a birth plan. Using our form will help you focus on specifics — like who'll be present, what pain management techniques you want to try, and where you want your baby to stay after you deliver. It will give you a starting point to discuss your preferences with your medical team. Childbirth is unpredictable, and chances are you won't follow your plan to the letter, but thinking about your choices ahead of time — and sharing your preferences with your caregiver — should take some of the anxiety out of the process.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

34 Weeks!!




How your baby's growing:

Your baby now weighs about 4 3/4 pounds (like your average cantaloupe) and is almost 18 inches long. Her fat layers — which will help regulate her body temperature once she's born — are filling her out, making her rounder. Her skin is also smoother than ever. Her central nervous system is maturing and her lungs are continuing to mature as well. If you've been nervous about preterm labor, you'll be happy to know that babies born between 34 and 37 weeks who have no other health problems generally do fine. They may need a short stay in the neonatal nursery and may have a few short-term health issues, but in the long run, they usually do as well as full-term babies.
See what your baby looks like this week.
Note: Every baby develops a little differently — even in the womb. Our information is designed to give you a general idea of your baby's development.

How your life's changing:

By this week, fatigue has probably set in again, though maybe not with the same coma-like intensity of your first trimester. Your tiredness is perfectly understandable, given the physical strain you're under and the restless nights of frequent pee breaks and tossing and turning, while trying to get comfortable.

Now's the time to slow down and save up your energy for labor day (and beyond). If you've been sitting or lying down for a long time, don't jump up too quickly. Blood can pool in your feet and legs, causing a temporary drop in your blood pressure when you get up that can make you feel dizzy.

If you notice itchy red bumps or welts on your belly and possibly your thighs and buttocks as well, you may have a condition called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP for short).

Up to one percent of pregnant women develop PUPPP, which is harmless but can be quite uncomfortable. See your practitioner so she can make sure it's not a more serious problem, provide treatment to make you more comfortable, and refer you to a dermatologist if necessary. Also be sure to call her if you feel intense itchiness all over your body, even if you don't have a rash. It could signal a liver problem.
Slide your way to slumber "In the third trimester, turning over in bed is a nightmare. The solution? Big satin pajamas and even satin sheets — the slipperiness of satin helps tremendously!" — Carrie