What’s happening this week
- may get a feeling of pins and needles in your hands and feet
- could notice leg cramps – try wearing support stockings and putting your feet up when you can.
- has grooves developing on the surface of the brain – it’s starting to look more like an adult brain
- may measure about 43 cm from top to toe
- may react to loud sounds.
Getting to sleep may be more difficult around now as your bump gets bigger. A few babies do arrive early, so it’s worth being prepared.
Practising for labour
If you start to notice your whole bump go hard and then relax again – yes, they’re practice runs for labour. These painless contractions are called ‘Braxton Hicks’ after the doctor who first described them. You can use them to practise breathing and relaxation techniques for labour. As your bump goes hard, sigh out and then take steady deep breathes. Let your body relax. When the practise contraction finishes take a deep breath, and smile.
About seven per cent of babies are born prematurely. There are some known risk factors for ‘prem’ babies like smoking, mums who are very underweight in pregnancy, and twin pregnancies. Bleeding in early pregnancy can also be an indicator of the baby being born early. Some mothers go into labour early because of a vaginal infection, and occasionally the waters break early.
If labour begins before 35 weeks, you may be given drugs to delay the birth while you are transferred to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit. You may also be given drugs which let your baby’s lungs reach greater maturity so that they are better prepared for breathing when your baby is born.
If your waters break and there are no contractions, you may be admitted to the maternity unit for observation until your baby is old enough to be born or labour has to be induced. Labour may be induced if you develop a raised temperature, which is usually a sign of infection.
If the baby is breech (bottom down) a caesarean section may be carried out.
Depending on how premature your baby is, and whether or not he is poorly, he may need help with:
- temperature control – in which case he will be put in an incubator
- fighting off infection
- feeding (may need to be fed via a tube passed through the nose or mouth into the baby’s stomach or a drip until strong enough to go to the breast or take a bottle)
- resting – the baby’s heartbeat and blood pressure are constantly measured.
If you have a premature baby, medical care staff will encourage you to give as much care to your baby as possible. Staff will show you what to do. Sick and premature babies need emotional as well as physical care… and this is best given by the parents. But you need support, too! You may need the help of friends and relatives to get to and from hospital, and to sit with your baby while you take a break
Late ultrasound scans
Scans are sometimes used in late pregnancy to check on babies who don’t seem to be growing satisfactorily and who may need to be delivered early; the scan can measure blood flow through the umbilical arteries and through the placenta. If you’re booked for a late scan, consider taking a friend along with you for support.
Somehow, no matter how tired you get, you may find it difficult to fall asleep, or stay asleep. You could:
- find it hard to get into a comfortable position
- need to go to the toilet frequently
- have disturbing dreams
- be woken by your baby kicking.
Try these techniques for calming before you go to bed: .
- Have a warm bath.
- Have a milky drink.
- Go to the toilet.
- Do some ankle exercises.
- Use pillows to make yourself more comfortable – in the small of your back and between your legs.
- Your partner could sleep in another bed so that you can have all the room, and he can get a decent night’s sleep!
Don’t worry if you can’t sleep. Practise relaxation exercises. If you become really fidgety, get up and do something. Try and catch up on lost sleep the next day.
Five ways to keep up your protein intake if you’re vegetarian:
- Eat beans and pulses – combining these provides a mix of essential amino acids.
- Nuts and seeds are excellent sources (but remember to avoid peanuts if you or someone in your family has allergies, to reduce the risk of your child developing a potentially life-threatening allergy to peanuts).
- Cereals and grains such as cracked wheat, rice and breakfast cereals are good sources – try to have some with every meal.
- Milk or soya milk, vegetarian cheeses and yoghurt or soya-based desserts are complete sources of protein.
- Add a little grated cheese to pasta, beans, vegetable stews and casseroles.