How your baby's growing:
This week your baby weighs a little over 4 pounds (heft a pineapple) and has passed the 17-inch mark. He's rapidly losing that wrinkled, alien look and his skeleton is hardening. The bones in his skull aren't fused together, which allows them to move and slightly overlap, thus making it easier for him to fit through the birth canal. (The pressure on the head during birth is so intense that many babies are born with a conehead-like appearance.) These bones don't entirely fuse until early adulthood, so they can grow as his brain and other tissue expands during infancy and childhood.
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:
As your baby fills out even more of your belly, lots of things might start to change: Whereas before you were sashaying, you may find yourself waddling. Finding an easy position to sit in - let alone sleep - is becoming more of a challenge. And bumping into chairs and counters is par for the course.
You may be feeling some achiness and even numbness in your fingers, wrists, and hands. Like many other tissues in your body, those in your wrist can retain fluid, which can increase pressure in the carpal tunnel, a bony canal in your wrist. Nerves that run through this "tunnel" may end up pinched, creating numbness; tingling, shooting or burning pain; or a dull ache. Try wearing a splint to stabilize your wrist or propping your arm up with a pillow when you sleep. If your work requires repetitive hand movements (at a keyboard or on an assembly line, for instance), remember to stretch your hands when you take breaks - which should be frequently.
Many women are still feeling sexy at this stage - and their partners often agree. You may need to make some adjustments, but for most women, sex during pregnancy is fine right up until their water breaks or their labor starts.
3 Questions About... Monitoring your baby's movements
How often should I feel movements?
Your baby should be moving as frequently as she has for the last month or so. Every baby has her own pattern of activity and there's no correct one. As long as you don't notice any major changes in your baby's activity level, chances are she's doing just fine.
Do I need to keep track of my baby's kicks?
For an added sense of security, many practitioners recommend that after 28 weeks, you formally monitor your baby's movements at least once or twice a day. There are lots of different ways to do these "kick counts," so check with your caregiver about how she wants you to track your baby's movements. Here's one common approach: Choose a time of day when your baby tends to be active. (Ideally, you'll want to do the counts at roughly the same time each day.) Sit quietly or lie on your side so you won't get distracted. Time how long it takes for you to feel ten distinct movements - kicks, twitches, and whole body movements all count. You should feel at least ten movements within two hours. (Don't worry; it probably won't take that long. Sometimes you'll feel ten kicks within the first ten minutes.) If you don't feel ten movements in two hours, stop counting and call your midwife or doctor.
What should I do if I think my baby's movements have slowed down or changed?
Let your practitioner know right away if you notice a slowdown of your baby's movements. A decrease in fetal movement may signal a problem, and you'll need a nonstress test or biophysical profile to check on your baby.
This Week's Activity:
Wash your baby's clothing and bedding. You know all those adorable outfits you bought or received at your baby shower? You should wash anything that will go near your baby's skin to remove any irritants in the fabrics. The gentlest detergents are those designed for babies and those that are labeled hypoallergenic or good for sensitive skin.