How your baby's growing:
Your baby's about 15.7 inches long now, and she weighs almost 3 pounds (like a head of cabbage). A pint and a half of amniotic fluid surrounds her, but that volume will decrease as she gets bigger and takes up more room in your uterus. Her eyesight continues to develop, though it's not very keen; even after she's born, she'll keep her eyes closed for a good part of the day. When she does open them, she'll respond to changes in light but will have 20/400 vision - which means she can only make out objects a few inches from her face. (Normal adult vision is 20/20.)
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:
You may be feeling a little tired these days, especially if you're having trouble sleeping. You might also feel clumsier than normal, which is perfectly understandable. Not only are you heavier, but the concentration of weight in your pregnant belly causes a shift in your center of gravity. Plus, thanks to hormonal changes, your ligaments are more lax, so your joints are looser, which may also contribute to your balance being a bit off. Also, this relaxation of your ligaments can actually cause your feet to spread permanently, so you may have to invest in some new shoes in a bigger size.
Remember those mood swings you had earlier in pregnancy? The combination of uncomfortable symptoms and hormonal changes can result in a return of those emotional ups and downs. It's normal to worry about what your labor will be like or whether you'll be a good parent. But if you can't shake the blues or feel increasingly irritable or agitated, talk to your doctor or midwife. You may be among the 1 in 10 expectant women who battle depression during pregnancy. Also let your caregiver know if you're frequently nervous or anxious.
Surprising Facts: Common labor fears
Are you nervous about giving birth? You're not alone! Here are some common fears and how to cope with them.
- I won't be able to handle the pain.
One in five expectant moms says this is her top third-trimester fear, according to a BabyCenter poll. Some women know ahead of time that they will want pain-relieving medication during labor and, in fact, most women do end up opting to have an epidural. Others are committed to giving birth without drugs. They accept potential for pain and discomfort and learn techniques to help them manage it. With the right preparation and support, some women find natural childbirth deeply satisfying and empowering.
- I'll need an episiotomy or I'll tear.
An episiotomy is a surgical cut in the muscular area between your vagina and anus (the perineum) which is performed right before delivery to enlarge your vaginal opening. Some women tear spontaneously in this area during delivery - even with an episiotomy - and the tears can range from almost undetectable to severe, requiring a significant number of stitches to repair. Once nearly standard, episiotomies are on the decline and experts now agree that the procedure shouldn't be done routinely. Talk to your practitioner about how often and under what conditions she performs episiotomies and how she might help you avoid one, or tearing. There's some evidence that you'll be less likely to need stitches if you start massaging your perineum about five weeks before your due date.
- I'll have a bowel movement during labor.
In a recent BabyCenter poll, 70 percent of women said they were afraid they'd poop while giving birth, 39 percent said they actually did, and of those, only 22 percent were embarrassed by it. Though it's hard to believe now, if you do have a bowel movement while you're pushing, no one will blink an eye. Your caregivers will clean it up possibly even before you know what's happened.
- I'll be steamrolled into unnecessary medical interventions.
The best way to deal with this fear is to have a frank conversation with your practitioner. If you trust and respect your doctor or midwife, you can rest assured that she'll be doing her best for you and your baby on the day of delivery. If she's aware of your wishes and preferences (consider writing a birth plan), she can do her best to adhere to them.
- I'll have to have a c-section.
Since one in five women giving birth for the first time ends up having a c-section to deliver her baby, this fear is understandable. If you have your heart set on a vaginal birth, ending up with a c-section can be disappointing. Some moms say they feel cheated out of a vaginal birth, especially if they took childbirth classes and fantasized about the "ideal birth," or if they feel that their c-section wasn't really necessary. Others say they feel as if they're somehow less of a woman because they needed a c-section. If you have these feelings, it may take some time to reconcile the reality of your birth experience with what you'd imagined during your pregnancy. It might help to know that many women find their babies' births, whether vaginal or c-section, very different from what they expected.
- I won't make it to the hospital on time.
Emergency home deliveries are extremely unusual, especially with first babies. But if you can't shake this fear, check out our emergency home birth instructions so you'll have an idea of what it involves.
This Week's Activity:
Assemble any baby gear This is the perfect job for your partner or a friend who wants to help. Cribs, bassinets, and strollers are notoriously tricky to put together, especially when you're sleep deprived, so get started now. Swings, mobiles, and monitors can all require batteries, so make sure you have enough on hand. Tip: Consider getting rechargeable batteries and a battery charger.