How your baby's growing
Head to heels, your baby now measures about 13 1/2 inches. Her weight - a pound and a half - isn't much more than an average rutabaga, but she's beginning to exchange her long, lean look for some baby fat. As she does, her wrinkled skin will begin to smooth out and she'll start to look more and more like a newborn. She's also growing more hair - and if you could see it, you'd now be able to discern its color and texture.
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 baby's not the only one with more hair - your locks may look more full and lustrous than ever. It's not that you're growing more hair, but thanks to hormonal changes, the hair that you'd normally shed is sticking around longer than usual. Enjoy the fullness while you can - the extra hair will fall out after you give birth.
You may also notice that you can't move around as gracefully as before. Unless your caregiver has advised you otherwise, it's fine to continue to exercise, but follow a few safety rules: Don't work out when you're feeling overly tired and stop if you feel any pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath. Don't lie flat on your back and avoid contact sports as well as any exercise where you're apt to lose your balance. Be sure to drink plenty of water, and make time for both warm-up and cool-down periods.
When you have your glucose-screening test at 24 to 28 weeks, a second tube of blood may be taken at the same time to check for anemia. If blood tests show that you have iron-deficiency anemia (the most common type of anemia), your caregiver will probably recommend that you take an iron supplement.
Have you started thinking about baby names yet? Choosing a name is an important decision, but it should be a fun one, too. You may want to consider family history (Great Grandpa Zeb), favorite locations (Venice, where you honeymooned), or cherished literary or film characters (Greta, Meg, or Atticus, for example). Check out a couple of baby-name books to help you brainstorm, too.
3 Questions About...Third trimester prenatal care
How often will I see my caregiver in the third trimester?
Between 28 and 36 weeks, you'll see your caregiver every two weeks. One month before your due date, this will increase to once a week.
What will she do at each appointment?
- Ask how you're feeling physically and emotionally and follow up on any issues raised at your last appointment. Among other things, she'll want to know if you're having contractions, vaginal bleeding, or unusual discharge; if you're having headaches; and if you're feeling anxious or depressed. Let her know if you have any symptoms that haven't been addressed.
- Ask about your baby's movements. She'll remind you to call if you sense that your baby has gotten less active. At some point, she may ask you to start counting your baby's movements for a set period of time each day.
- Weigh you and check your urine for signs of preeclampsia, urinary tract infections, and other problems. Take your blood pressure and check your ankles, hands, and face for swelling.
- Check your baby's heartbeat and do an abdominal exam to estimate your baby's size and position. She'll measure the distance between your pubic bone and the top of your uterus to see if your baby's growth rate seems normal.
- Possibly check your cervix. Don't expect a pelvic exam at every visit. Many caregivers don't do one unless they have a specific concern, such as preterm labor. Once you pass your due date, your provider will check your cervix to help decide whether (or when) to induce your labor.
- Tell you what to watch out for. She'll tell you about the signs of preterm labor and preeclampsia, and review other warning signs that should prompt a call. As your due date nears, she'll discuss the signs of labor and let you know when you should get in touch with her.
- Go over your labor and delivery questions. Make a list with your partner and bring it to a prenatal visit.
- Discuss postpartum decisions like whether you plan to breastfeed or circumcise your son. She'll also discuss your options for postpartum contraception. If you haven't found a doctor for your baby, your caregiver can give you some names.
What tests are coming up?
Depending on your situation you may be offered:
- Hematocrit/hemoglobin: This blood test for anemia is usually repeated during the third trimester. (If you were tested when you took your glucose challenge test and the results were normal, it might not be repeated.)
- Gestational diabetes testing: If you have a normal glucose screening test between 24 and 28 weeks, consider yourself done. But if your screening results are abnormal and you haven't yet done the glucose tolerance test, you'll be tested now.
- Rh antibody screening: If you're Rh-negative, the antibody screen will be repeated (usually at the same time as your glucose challenge test) and you'll get an injection of Rh immune globulin at 28 weeks. In the unlikely case that some of your baby's blood gets into your bloodstream, the Rh immune globulin will protect you from developing antibodies that could pose a risk to future babies or even this one. (Note: if your baby's father takes a blood test and is found to be Rh-negative like you, you'll know that your baby is also Rh-negative so you won't need the Rh immune globulin.)
- Tests for sexually transmitted infections: If you're at high risk, your caregiver will do cervical cultures to check for chlamydia and gonorrhea, and your blood will be tested for syphilis. It's a wise idea to be retested for HIV as well if there's any chance you contracted it since your original test because treatment is available that dramatically reduces the risk of transmitting it to your baby.
- Group B strep test: Between 35 and 37 weeks, you'll be checked for group B streptococci (GBS) in your vagina and rectum. You won't be treated right away if the cultures are positive, because early treatment is no guarantee that the bacteria won't return. Instead, you'll be treated with IV antibiotics when you're in labor. (If you've previously given birth to a baby who had GBS, you can skip this test because you'll be given antibiotics in labor no matter what.)
- Biophysical profiles and nonstress tests: If you have certain pregnancy complications or you've passed your due date, these tests will be ordered to check on your baby.
This Week's Activity
Dedicate time to your partner this week. Treat your partner to a romantic surprise. Write down all the things you love about him, tell him why you think he'll be a great dad, or just go for a stroll while holding hands. Take time to connect on a physical and emotional level and celebrate what connects you and makes you love one another. Try to do something at least once a week that clearly communicates the importance of your partner in your life, says clinical psychologist Diane Sanford.