Congratulations! Week 27 is generally considered the beginning of the third trimester, otherwise known as the homestretch. Now is a great time to get serious about planning for the big day—and if you’ve started planning already (because of course you have!), here are a few things you might think about or review as the time approaches.
At 27 weeks pregnant, you’ve likely gained somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 17 pounds, give or take. You might be experiencing cramps with more regularity now, as the strain on your muscles grows stronger, and you might start to experience swelling in your hands and feet. Not surprisingly, the increase in both symptoms can be traced back to the basketball-sized uterus currently lodged under your diaphragm and extending down to your pubic bone. This newcomer is putting weight on the veins that drain blood from your extremities.
Coupled with the increase in blood volume you’re experiencing, it’s completely normal to experience some increased swelling and cramping as the time goes by. If you’re worried about it, however, or if it seems especially severe or only occurs in isolated limbs, talk to your healthcare provider. Some swelling and cramping is normal, but severe swelling can be a sign of an underlying issue.
Exercise is a great way to relieve some of these symptoms. It increases blood flow and maintains strength and flexibility. Although you will be limited in what exercises are appropriate at this point, don’t start skipping those workouts!
While you’re exercising, you can think about your birth plan. A birth plan is essentially a simple document stating your wishes and desires for the pregnancy. Oftentimes, they are developed in conjunction with a healthcare provider, but just as often they are not. Birth plans are a great place to make your wishes known. Do you want an epidural or any kind of pain relief? An episiotomy? Who should be allowed in the room? What are your preferences if complications arise? What positions do you plan on using while laboring? Is there any particular music you would prefer to listen to?
These and other questions are all perfect for your birth plan. While you’re creating one, it’s a good idea to review the policies of the hospital or birthing center where you plan on delivering (if you plan on delivering in a facility). If you see anything you’re uncomfortable with, bring it up with your healthcare provider. Communication is key to a successful relationship with the person who will be delivering your baby—even when things go exactly according to plan.
Your baby is now 25 weeks old. Babies at 25 weeks can survive outside the womb, although they will still require lengthy hospital stays. At this point, your baby weighs somewhere around the 2 lb. mark, maybe even a little more. His or her total length, from head to toe, is about 15 inches, or about the size of a large cauliflower.
Even now, life for your baby is a continual journey of discovery. It wasn’t so long ago that he or she first started hearing outside noises, and even more recently that his or her eyelids opened up. Things have moved quickly since then: it’s very possible now that your baby will recognize your voice or your partner’s voice. Don’t be surprised if your baby responds to you!
The rest of the senses are continuing to develop also. Your baby has been sipping on amniotic fluid for some time now and you might notice he or she responds to certain foods (although it will be delayed by a few hours). Amniotic fluid picks up flavors from what you eat, so it’s not too surprising that your baby is already expressing preferences for certain flavors!
Babies at this age can also be champion hiccupers, sometimes causing the skin on your belly to jump with every hiccup. This is also completely normal and nothing to be concerned about.
One question common to moms at this stage is: “Is my baby moving enough?” This is a common concern, especially if you’ve grown used to your baby moving at a certain time and the skip an exercise session one day. The truth is, every baby’s level of activity is different, just as every woman’s sensitivity to activity in their uterus is different. Studies have shown that very active babies tend to be healthier at birth, but that’s not an absolute rule—it’s just an average.
If you’re worried about it, track movements yourself, counting how many times you feel the baby move in an hour or how long it takes to get to ten movements. In general, an active baby is one who moves 10 times within 2 hours. Once again, if you have questions or concerns, talk to your healthcare provider.
“So much can be unknown before you give birth for the first time and if you get hung up on very strict birth plan “rules,” you might end up with unnecessary guilt or disappointment afterward.”
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