The Stages of Pregnancy
Congratulations you have made it to the third trimester! You may start putting on some additional weight in the weeks to come but that is normal for you and a healthy baby. There is less and less room for your stomach even though you may be feeling hungrier. Continue eating many small meals a day and expect to feel indigestion, flatulence, and heartburn. Frequent bathroom trips will continue. Remember to stay hydrated and get a little exercise each day (walking and swimming are great low impact activities) to improve circulation and relieve stress.
Consider visiting the hospital where you plan on giving birth to familiarize yourself with the facilities. Begin thinking about your birthing plan. Will you take medications? A child birth class can be informative at this time and provide additional information to help you think about these important decisions.
Although from the outside baby looks normal, the brain and lungs are still growing and the baby’s length increases by an inch this week! As the retinas develop the eyelids open more and baby continues to take small breaths.
Your baby now measures 14.4 inches (36.6 cm) and weighs 875 grams (about two pounds!).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 28:
If you are Rh negative your doctor may give you your Rhogam shot this week. Have you begun thinking about baby names? There are many great resources online to explore names. Some sites help you figure out whether people with a given name were teased often, or whether the name is easy to pronounce in other languages.
Your baby’s eyebrows and eyelashes are now apparent and hair on top of the head is growing. The skin is smoothing as the body gets chubbier and muscle tone is gained. The lungs are breathing more regularly now although they will not breathe air until birth. Your baby can recognize your voice now and move his or her head side to side.
Your baby measures 14.8 inches (37.6 cm) and weighs 2.2 pounds (1005 grams).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 29:
Some things to consider this week are whether you plan on breast feeding or using formula. You may notice that you are leaking a clearish liquid. This premilk is full of antibodies, fat, and nutrients and is perfect for a newborn baby who can digest it very easily. When baby is born they will eat about every 2 hours. 3-5 days after birth your milk will come in. Your milk is perfect for baby (no measurements or temperature checks required) and the contents of your milk changes along with baby’s growth.
Nursing results in release of the hormone oxytocin which helps cause your uterus to be pulled back into place. You may feel cramping while this occurs. Nursing also burns a lot of calories and may help you use up fat stores accumulated during pregnancy. Nursing takes practice as does using a breast pump. You may consider signing up for a breast feeding class.
Fat accumulation continues and the brain can now control body temperature. Baby is also very mobile, moving from side to side. At this point the head is probably still upward but soon baby will switch to a head down birthing position.
Your baby measures 15.2 inches (38.6 cm) and weighs 2.54 pounds (1153 grams).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 30:
Remember to have good posture even as your center of gravity changes. Your baby will stop growing as much but will gain on average 4 additional pounds in the remaining weeks. You can probably distinguish between hand and foot movement now. You may be feeling a lot of discomfort and be unable to bend over.
Your baby’s head gets larger to accommodate baby’s growing brain. Baby is able to follow a light source with their eyes and can tell if it is dark or light outside of the uterus. There is 1.5 pints of amniotic fluid present now. Toenails are in their final growth stage and the fine hair called lanugo is disappearing. The baby’s bone marrow is producing red blood cells. Baby has gained the ability to cry this week. Most women carrying quadruplets will have delivered by now.
Your baby measures approximately 15.7 inches (39.9 cm) and weighs 1319 grams (3 pounds!).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 31:
If you feel breathless after walking or other exertion it will not harm baby. Baby will still get just the right amount of oxygen from the placenta. A feeling of waddling is common as your ligaments loosen around your pelvis in preparation for birth.
Ask your doctor how many contractions per hour warrant a call to the doctor. Many doctors will request you come in if you are experiencing 6 contractions per hour. When you lose your mucus plug, which seals the cervix to decrease risk of infection, this is a good sign that labor will happen soon but for some women it falls out two weeks before birth. Another sign that labor is approaching is when your water breaks. This is sometimes difficult to tell however since it is often only a trickle of amniotic fluid and there is a lot of other vaginal discharge during this time. Do not worry about making trips to the hospital before it is really time. It is better to err on the side of caution.
Consider what type of pain medications you want. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA) more than half of women delivering in hospitals in the US now use epidurals.
Fathers or birthing partners may want to plan a route to the hospital and think about how much gas the car has and where the keys are left. If possible, partners should take time off from work to bond with their new family member and take care of mom.
Your baby is mainly gaining weight, not increasing in length. Fat continues to accumulate and bones grow and harden. Baby’s skin is changing to a pinkish color. The brain grows and lungs finish developing. Baby may move to the rhythm of music.
Your baby measures 16.2 inches (41.1 cm) and weighs 3.3 pounds (1502 grams).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 32:
Many women are worried about the health of their baby in between doctor visits. One way to monitor baby while at home is to pick a time during the day that baby is usually active. Write down the current time and then count the number of times baby kicks, twists, punches, or turns, but do not count hiccups. As soon as you reach 10 events, write down the current time again. If there are less than 10 events in 4 hours contact your doctor.
Swelling is normal but if you experience facial swelling or severe headaches you may be experiencing preeclampsia and should contact your doctor.
Consider researching pediatricians.
A baby shower may be thrown for you soon. Think about the things you might like to have to prepare for baby’s birth. Onesies are great for baby’s first clothes. Do you have a car seat for the ride home from the hospital with your new son or daughter?
Most hospitals allow one additional person to be present besides your husband. Consider if there is anyone else you would like to be present. Doulas can assist in helping you through any pain you may experience if you choose a natural birth.
There is less and less room available for movement. Baby may have a full head of hair by now. Baby experiences rapid eye movement (REM) sleep now. Babies born now and/or babies weighing less than 1500 grams may have difficulty sucking or nursing. Sucking is a sign of neuromuscular maturity. Baby is most likely in a head-down birthing position by now. If your child is born today survival chances are very good and a long hospital stay may not even be necessary. Women with triplets have most likely delivered by now.
Your baby is 16.7 inches (42.4 cm) long and weighs 3.75 pounds (1702 grams).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 33:
Learn about postpartum issues. Some women are at risk for postpartum depression. To combat symptoms make sure you have a postpartum plan. Take care of yourself and allow others to help make things easier for you.
Keep your cell phones on and charged as the big day approaches, pack a bag for the hospital trip, and remember to bring your camera or video recorder. It is also nice to bring a pillow from home and some socks/slippers as well. Develop a phone tree so you don’t have to call every person on your list to share the big news.
The amniotic fluid levels are at their highest. The head grows and neurons and synapses form. The skull is still pliable. Your baby is now able to take full deep breathes of amniotic fluid. If the baby is a boy, his testicles are moving into place. The baby is also storing iron in the liver.
Your baby is approximately 17.2 inches (43.7 cm) in length and weighs 1918 grams (about four pounds!).
Make sure you are familiar with hospital parking and how to check in. Check if you can fill out some preadmission forms a few weeks beforehand. Call your health insurance provider to find out what costs will be covered like private rooms. Also will you be charged extra to use the hospital room phone or TV? Let your health insurance plan know that you will be adding a new family member soon. Make sure you call soon after birth. Bring the name and contact information of your pediatrician. They may want to visit you before you leave the hospital.
Your baby is now awake with eyes open and asleep with eyes closed. Blinking is normal and the fingernails reach the end of the finger tips. Baby is most likely in a head-down birthing position now. You are transferring antibodies to baby this week. Baby’s muscles continue to strengthen and the head can be held up and moved from side to side now.
Your baby is 17.7 inches (45 cm) long and weighs 4.7 pounds (2146 grams).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 35:
Learn as much as you can about breast feeding. It takes practice! Some women have inverted nipples which means they do not protrude outwards from the areola (darker area around the nipple). When your baby sucks onto your nipple it is called latching. At first baby may only latch onto your nipple but this can cause discomfort so it is important to practice relatching until baby latches onto the nipple and areola.
Think about how your family will handle visitors in the weeks after birth. Sometimes a week of personal time is important. If you do have visitors make sure they are healthy and consider things they might be able to assist you with during your recovery.
Prepare older siblings for a newborn. Make sure you spend time letting them know how special they are to you and how much you will appreciate their help with their new sibling. A toy or doll that they can care for can help with the adjustment.
The baby can hear your internal organs working as well as external voices. Talk and read to baby often. There is very little room left in your uterus by now.
Your baby is 18.2 inches (46.2 cm) long and weighs 2383 grams (almost 5.5 pounds!). These numbers are approximations as weights vary more towards the end of pregnancy than they did at the beginning. Baby gains about half a pound each week towards the end.
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 36:
During your final month of pregnancy, visits to the doctor will be weekly. Your cervix will open (dilate) and be measured at each visit. When it is 10 cm wide you are ready for delivery. You may notice some blood either from the mucus plug coming apart or from ruptured capillaries as your cervix thins to make more room for baby.
Some women have bursts of energy in the final weeks in which they feel like preparing the house for baby’s arrival. Do not do anything too strenuous! Consider stocking your freezer with food as you will be very busy in the days following baby’s birth.
Do not worry if the baby is in a breech (head up) position. Often they will turn before birthing. If not your doctor may consider an external cephalic version (ECV) where the baby is manually turned. If you begin contractions now your doctor will probably not stop your labor. Your lungs gain a little space as the baby moves down towards your pelvis but your bladder has even less space. Frequent bathroom trips continue! Baby is most likely ready for birth and in a head-down position with their behind up against your ribs.
The lungs are in their final stage of maturation. Baby is still accumulating fat to provide insulation once they enter the extrauterine environment. The skin becomes less wrinkly and smoother as fat increases. Baby’s gums become more rigid.
Your baby measures 18.66 inches (47.4 cm) and weighs 5.78 pounds (2622 grams).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 37:
You can go into labor safely any day now. Consider addressing birth announcement cards in advance. You will be busy after your infant is born! Arrange for your first diaper service delivery if you have planned to use a diaper service.
Consider donating the cord blood after birth to a public cord blood bank instead of discarding it. Cord blood contains stem cells and can be used to treat other people with diseases like leukemia and immune disorders.
After birth, you should receive some products from the hospital to help take care of yourself. Peri-bottles allow you to squirt water on your perineum after using the bathroom since toilet paper is not comfortable yet. You will be instructed to use an ice pack on your perineum during the 24 hours after birth but you can do so at the end of a long day as well. Request a sample or prescription for Proctofoam which you can spray on your maxipad to help sooth your perineum. Warm baths will also feel good. Vaginal bleeding will continue for the next few weeks and then gradually subside. It will begin again if you are overactive. Take it easy!
Your baby is now full term and continues to practice breathing. Their grasp is becoming firmer and they turn toward light outside of the uterus. You may recognize its daily activity cycles.
Your baby measures approximately 19.1 inches (48.6 cm) and weighs 6.3 pounds (2859 grams).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 38:
After giving birth, realize that you will need time to recover. Do not worry if you let the household chores go for a while. Relax and recuperate after a job well done!
It will be amazing how quickly you learn to distinguish the meaning of baby’s different cries. Dad will learn this too!
Your baby’s intestines are full of meconium. This will be passed as the baby’s first bowel movement. In a few cases it is passed before birth. Preferably, in this case, you may be induced since it is better if baby is not breathing meconium along with amniotic fluid. The head and abdomen circumference are comparable.
Your baby measures 19.6 inches (49.8 cm) long and weighs 6.8 pounds (3083 grams).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 39:
If you lose your mucus plug with a lot of blood it is called the “bloody show” and is indicative that labor will begin within the next day.
Birthing is not just tough on the mother but also on baby! Baby has been squished in the birthing canal and may be swollen or have bruises on the face. The head may be cone shaped to fit through the birth canal as the skull has not finishing hardening yet and will round out after birth. Remember that hair and eye colors often change after birth. Sometimes it takes two months to see the true eye color!
All of the fine hair is gone and baby is covered in slimy vernix to protect the skin from the amniotic fluid. Lungs are breathing amniotic fluid regularly and are ready for the first breath of air. Fat continues to accumulate and baby has little room left to move arms or legs.
Your baby is 19.9 inches (50.7 cm) long and weighs 7.25 pounds (3288 grams).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 40:
Any day now! Did you know that only 2% of women give birth on their due date. 98% give birth 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after the due date.
Labor is divided into three stages. Early labor consists of the beginning of contractions and slow dilation of the cervix. On average it takes a woman in her first pregnancy 6 hours to become fully dilated. The second stage of labor includes the pushing and birth of your child. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. The final stage is the separation and delivery of the placenta. This generally occurs 5-30 minutes after the baby’s birth.
After birth, the baby will be given an Apgar test which is based on skin color, heart rate, and other measurements of vitals. A score of 10 means your baby is in excellent health.
Your baby now has 15% fat content and 60-75% water content. Baby’s chest juts out more and breast buds are formed. The hair and nails continue to grow longer.
The baby is about 20.2 inches (51.2 cm) long and weighs approximately 7.6 pounds (3462 grams).
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 41:
Fourth trimester!? Don’t worry the average first time mom goes 4 days past her due date. The due date is mostly a guess anyways. Your doctor will continue to monitor you and baby. Unless your doctor recommends induction consider this option carefully because it can increase the risks to mom and baby.
Stages of Pregnancy – Week 42:
Still pregnant!? Enjoy your last few days of pregnancy and relax while you can. Take time to write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal and make sure your overnight hospital bag is packed for you and baby. For vaginal birth you will most likely stay at least one night in the hospital and for C-section longer.
Expect to bleed from 2-6 weeks afterwards. This bleeding is called lochia and starts out very red before turning pink and then whitish colored and finally disappearing.
Your baby is now 2.13 inches (5.4 cm) long and weighs 0.49 ounces (14 grams).