You're likely feeling perpetually stuffed and slightly out of breath as your uterus relocates all your internal organs. The relief and energy felt in the second trimester may start to fade now. Just remember, you're almost there!
Month Seven Checklist
- Make a date with yourself to relax, read, or just catch up on sleep.
- Interview pediatricians.
- Sign up for childbirth classes.
- Contemplate the breast versus bottle decision.
- Set up an appointment to discuss your birth plan with your provider.
Weighing in at four pounds and about sixteen inches long, your baby is growing amazingly fast now. His red, wrinkled skin is losing its fine lanugo covering as more insulating fat accumulates. And his eyelids, closed for so long, can now open and afford him a dim view of the place he will call home for just a few more months.
Dramatic developments in the brain and central nervous system are also occurring. Your baby feels pain, can cry, and responds to stimulation from light or sound outside the womb. Periodically, tiny elbows and feet will turn your belly into an interactive relief map.
Your Body's Changes
The top of the fundus is halfway between your belly button and your breastbone, displacing your stomach, intestines, and diaphragm. Your breasts are heavier and more glandular and are getting ready to feed your baby. In this last trimester, your nipples may begin to leak colostrum, which is the yellowish, nutrient-rich fluid that precedes real breast milk. To reduce backaches and breast tenderness, make sure you wear a well-fitting bra (even to bed if it helps). If you are planning on breastfeeding, you may want to start buying the following few things now that can take you through the rest of pregnancy and right into the postpartum period in preparation for nursing:
- Nursing bra: Try out the clasps for easy nursing access. Try to unfasten and slip the nursing flaps down with one hand.
- Sports bra: Instead of a nursing bra, you may opt for the comfort of a sports bra that slides up easily.
- Easy-access shirts: Button-up blouses, shirts with zippers, and other easy-access clothing will make nursing easier on a day-to-day basis.
- Nursing pads: These pads, which catch leaks before they soak through your shirt, come in several different materials and configurations, including cloth, plastic, and disposable.
If you will not be breastfeeding but using formula or bottlefeeding breast milk instead, look for a bottle with these characteristics:
- Low air flow: Designs that minimize air or can be de-aired prior to feeding may reduce your baby's gas.
- Convenience: If saving time is a priority, features like presterilized disposable bag bottles are a big plus.
- Easy to clean: Pick something with minimal parts that looks relatively easy to clean and sterilize.
- Built for baby: Make sure your baby gets a newborn-style nipple with a smaller opening to start so he doesn't face a formula tidal wave. If his sucking reflex is weak, however, you may have to upgrade to a larger opening.
Your body is warming up for labor, and you may start to experience Braxton Hicks contractions. These painless and irregular contractions feel as if your uterus is making a fist and then gradually relaxing it. If your little one is fairly active, you may think that he is stretching himself sideways at first. A quick check of your belly may reveal a visible tightening.
Braxton Hicks can begin as early as week twenty and continue right up until your due date, although they're more commonly felt in the final month of pregnancy.
The list is growing. Other symptoms that may continue this month include:Fatigue
Tender and/or swollen breasts
Excess mucus and saliva
Increase in vaginal discharge
Mild shortness of breath
Lightheadedness or dizziness
Skin and hair changes
Round ligament pain or soreness
Lower back aches
Mild swelling of legs, feet, and hands
On Your Mind
As labor looms closer your thoughts turn to the task at hand. Going into labor and delivery with as much knowledge of the process as possible can make the difference between a positive childbirth experience and a long and arduous one. You may now be wondering whether you are up to the task of labor and whether you will be up to the task of motherhood.
Remember that women have been doing this since the beginning of time, and under much more difficult circumstances. In most cases labor will be hard work, but if you prepare yourself by learning what to expect, you will be ready to face whatever comes your way.
Also keep in mind that great moms are made, not born. While some parts of mothering will seem to come to you instinctively, practice and trial and error will make up the better part of your parenting education. Use the tools around you-your pediatrician, other mothers, and research and reading-to build and sharpen your skills, but listen to your inner voice in the final analysis and application of what you learn.
At the Doctor's or Midwife's Office
Starting with this initial third-trimester visit, your visits to the doctor may start to step up to twice monthly. Women who are Rh negative will need treatment with Rh immune globulin (RhoGAM) this month. An injection is typically given at about twenty-eight weeks to protect the fetus from developing hemolytic disease—a condition in which the mother's antibodies attack the fetal red blood cells.