Главная / Новости медицины / Planning for your pregnancy

Planning for your pregnancy

http://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/planning-for-your-pregnancy

Planning for your pregnancy.

If you are thinking about pregnancy, visit your doctor for a preconception consult. They will provide you with expert advice on planning your pregnancy.

The preconception period (three months prior to pregnancy) is the time to make life changes that can help boost fertility, reduce problems during pregnancy and assist in recovery from birth.

Folic acid

If you and your partner are planning to conceive, you should start taking folic acid before you get pregnant. Folic acid helps to provide the best health outcomes for your baby when it is growing. Taking folic acid daily before and during pregnancy also prevents the occurrence of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in your baby.

Watching what you eat

If you and your partner are preparing for pregnancy, you should look at your diet and see where you may be able to make healthier food choices. Eating more healthy foods will help with your chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy.

Alcohol

There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy; therefore, for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option. Alcohol can affect the health and development of an unborn baby for life.

Smoking

Quitting smoking before pregnancy is the single most effective means of protecting your baby and yourself from the development of serious complications during pregnancy. By quitting smoking you are more likely to conceive naturally and without delay, less likely to suffer a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy and less likely to deliver your baby prematurely.

The best time to get pregnant

You’re most likely to get pregnant if you have sex within a day or so of ovulation (releasing an egg from the ovary). This is usually about 14 days after the first day of your last period. An egg lives for about 12 to 24 hours after it’s released. For pregnancy to happen, the egg must be fertilised by a sperm within this time. If you want to get pregnant, having sex every couple of days will mean there’s always sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes to meet the egg when it’s released. Sperm can live for up to seven days inside a woman’s body. So if you’ve had sex in the days before ovulation, the sperm will have had time to travel up the fallopian tubes to ‘wait’ for the egg to be released. It’s difficult to know exactly when ovulation happens, unless you are practising natural family planning, or fertility awareness. The menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of a woman’s period (day one). Some time after her period she will ovulate, and then around 12-14 days after this she’ll have her next period. The average cycle takes 28 days, but shorter or longer cycles are normal.

The woman’s monthly cycle

Ovulation occurs each month when an egg is released from one of the ovaries. Occasionally, more than one egg is released, usually within 24 hours of the first egg. At the same time, the lining of the womb begins to thicken and the mucus in the cervix becomes thinner so that sperm can swim through it more easily. The egg begins to travel slowly down the fallopian tube. If a man and a woman have recently had sex, the egg may be fertilised here by the man’s sperm. The lining of the womb is now thick enough for the egg to be implanted in it after it has been fertilised. If the egg is not fertilised, it passes out of the body during the woman’s monthly period, along with the lining of the womb, which is also shed. The egg is so small that it cannot be seen.

http://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/folate-and-pregnancy

Folate and pregnancy

Folate and folic acid are important for pregnancy as it can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Folate is a B group vitamin needed for healthy growth and development.

This vitamin is known as ‘folate’ when it is found naturally in food, such as green leafy vegetables, and as ‘folic acid’ when it is added to food, such as bread and breakfast cereals, or used in dietary supplements.

Folate has been proven to be particularly important for the development of the nervous system and for preventing neural tube defects (NTDs) in babies.

Approximately one in 500 babies in Australia is born with a neural tube defect (NTD) such as spina bifida.

Spina bifida is one of the most common birth defects in the Western world. About 150 babies are born with spina bifida in Australia each year and it occur in the first weeks of pregnancy when the brain and spinal cord are forming.

You can increase your folate intake by eating folate rich foods, including folate fortified foods in your daily diet or by taking a folic acid supplement. A good sources of folate include green leafy vegetables, fruit (citrus, berries and bananas), legumes and some cereals (many breakfast cereals now have added folate).

The voluntary fortification of several foods with folate has been permitted in Australia since June 1995 and mandatory folic acid fortification of all flour used for making bread (except organic bread) came into effect in September 2009. Three slices of bread (100g) contains an average of 120 micrograms of folic acid.

Folic acid supplements are available in Australia over the counter from pharmacies and through your doctor at varying doses. Look for supplements that contain at least 400 micrograms of folic acid; these will generally be supplements containing only folic acid or special pregnancy supplements. Multi-vitamin supplements generally contain less. The best way to guarantee you get enough folic acid, is to take a daily folic acid supplement at least one month before and three months after conception. You don’t need to take folic acid supplements after that.

Higher dose folic acid

Some women have an increased risk of having a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect, and are advised to take a higher dose of 5 milligrams (5mg) of folic acid each day until they are 12 weeks pregnant. Women have an increased risk if they:

In addition, women who are taking anti-epileptic medication should consult their doctor for advice, as they may also need to take a higher dose of folic acid.

If any of the above applies to you, talk to your doctor as they can prescribe a higher dose of folic acid. Your doctor or midwife may also recommend additional screening tests during your pregnancy.

Folate in your diet

Many foods are naturally rich in folate. But note that folate is water-soluble and is easily destroyed by cooking. Vegetables are best lightly cooked or even eaten raw. Cooking by microwave or steaming is best.

The following are good sources of natural folate:

http://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/immunisation-and-pregnancy

Immunisation and pregnancy

During pregnancy, your immune system is naturally weaker than usual. This means you are more susceptible to certain infections and illnesses which can be harmful to you and your developing baby.

Following some simple precautions will help minimise the risk to you and your baby of developing these health issues.

Immunisation is a simple and effective way to protect yourself and your baby from certain infections. Before becoming pregnant, check that you have protection against diseases that can cause illness in you or your unborn baby.

As well as the routine immunisations such as tetanus and polio, pregnant women should have immunity against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, whooping cough and influenza.

All women are encouraged to get vaccinated before pregnancy as not all of these vaccines are recommended during pregnancy.

However, if you were unable to receive these vaccines before your pregnancy, it is recommended you get them as soon as possible after your baby is born. All vaccines can be given to breastfeeding mothers, and having immunity will reduce the likelihood of passing on these illnesses to your baby.

Vaccinations before pregnancy

Measles, mumps and rubella

Rubella infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. If you were born after 1966, you may need a booster vaccination for full protection. This should be done in consultation with your doctor. It is recommended that you wait four weeks after receiving this vaccine before trying to get pregnant.

Chickenpox (varicella)

Chickenpox infection during pregnancy can cause severe illness in you and your unborn baby. A simple blood test can determine if you have immunity to this infection. If you are not protected, speak to your doctor about receiving two doses of the vaccine for full immunity. It is recommended that you wait four weeks after receiving this vaccine before trying to get pregnant.

Pneumococcal

Protection against serious illness caused by pneumococcal disease is recommended for smokers and people with chronic heart, lung or kidney disease, or diabetes.

Travel vaccinations

Vaccines that are required to travel to other countries are not always recommended during pregnancy. Find out more about travel and pregnancy.

Safe vaccinations during pregnancy

Whooping cough (pertussis)

Whooping cough can cause serious illness and even death in babies less than six months old. It is now recommended that all pregnant women receive a pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination during their third trimester (ideally at 28 weeks). A combination of antibodies being passed through the mother’s bloodstream and the reduced risk of the mother contracting the disease makes this an ideal time to administer the vaccine. Most states now offer the pertussis vaccination for free. Speak to your doctor or antenatal care provider to schedule an appointment.

Flu (influenza)

Influenza can cause serious illness and being pregnant increases the risk of flu complications, especially with the H1N1 influenza virus. Because of this, the flu vaccine is recommended and funded for all pregnant women.

The influenza vaccine is safe and can be administered before, during or after pregnancy. Getting vaccinated every year protects you against new strains of the virus and also reduces the risk of spreading influenza to your baby. Getting the flu vaccine during your pregnancy will also provide ongoing protection to your newborn for the first 6 months after birth.

http://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/first-trimester

First trimester

Finding out you are pregnant can be a very exciting and nervous time. There are lots of things to consider and plan and you’ll need to know some key things to help you do that. Read about your baby’s development and your pregnancy week by week, by clicking on the links below.

Your baby

Weeks 0 - 3

Your weeks of pregnancy are dated from the first day of your last period. This means that in the first two weeks or so, you aren’t actually pregnant – your body will be preparing for ovulation as usual. You ovulate (release an egg) around two weeks after the first day of your period (depending on the length of your menstrual cycle).

During the third week after the first day of your last period, your fertilised egg moves along the fallopian tube towards the womb. The egg begins as a single cell, which divides again and again. By the time the egg reaches the womb, it has become a mass of more than 100 cells, called an embryo. Once in the womb, the embryo burrows into the lining of the womb. This is called implantation.

Week 4

In weeks four to five of early pregnancy, the embryo grows and develops within the lining of the womb. The outer cells reach out to form links with the mother’s blood supply. The inner cells form into two, and then later, into three layers. Each of these layers will grow to be different parts of the baby’s body.

The inner layer, called the endoderm, becomes the breathing and digestive systems, including the lungs, stomach, gut, and bladder. The middle layer, called the mesoderm, becomes the heart, blood vessels, muscles, and bones. The outer layer, called the ectoderm, becomes the brain and nervous system, the eye lenses, tooth enamel, skin and nails.

In these early weeks of pregnancy the embryo is attached to a tiny yolk sac which provides nourishment. A few weeks later, the placenta will be fully formed and will take over the transfer of nutrients to the embryo.

The embryo is surrounded by fluid inside the amniotic sac. It’s the outer layer of this sac that develops into the placenta. Cells from the placenta grow deep into the lining of the womb, establishing a rich blood supply. This ensures the baby receives all the oxygen and nutrients it needs.

Week 5

The fifth week of pregnancy is the time of the first missed period, when most women are only just beginning to think they may be pregnant. Yet already the baby’s nervous system is developing, and the foundations for its major organs are in place. At this stage embryo is around 2mm long.

As the ectoderm develops, a groove forms and the layer of cells folds to form a hollow tube called the neural tube. This will become the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Defects in the “tail end” of the neural tube lead to spina bifida, while defects in the “head end” lead to anencephaly (when the bones of the skull and the brain does not form properly).

At the same time, the heart is forming as a simple tube-like structure. The baby already has some of its own blood vessels and blood begins to circulate. A string of these blood vessels connects the baby and mother and will become the umbilical cord.

Week 6

By the time you are six to seven weeks pregnant, there is a large bulge where the heart is and a bump at the head end of the neural tube. This bump will become the brain and head. The embryo is curved and has a tail – it looks a bit like a small tadpole. The heart can sometimes be seen beating on a vaginal ultrasound scan at this stage.

The developing arms and legs become visible as small swellings (limb buds). Little dimples on the side of the head will become the ears, and there are thickenings where the eyes will be. By now the embryo is covered with a thin layer of see-through skin.

Week 7

By seven weeks, the embryo has grown to about 10mm long from head to bottom. This measurement is called the “crown-rump length”. The brain is growing rapidly and this results in the head growing faster than the rest of the body. The embryo has a large forehead, and the eyes and ears continue to develop. The inner ear starts to develop, but the outer ear on the side of the head won’t appear for a couple more weeks.

The limb buds start to form cartilage, which will develop into the bones of the legs and arms. The arm buds get longer and the ends flatten out – these will become the hands. Nerve cells continue to multiply and develop as the nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) starts to take shape.

Week 8

By the time you’re eight weeks pregnant, the baby is called a foetus, which means ‘offspring’. The legs are lengthening and forming cartilage too. The different parts of the leg aren’t properly distinct yet – it will be a bit longer before the knees, ankles, thighs, and toes develop. The foetus is still inside its amniotic sac, and the placenta is continuing to develop, forming structures called chorionic villi that help attach the placenta to the wall of the womb. At this stage, the foetus still gets its nourishment from the yolk sac.

You

Conception usually takes place about two weeks after your last period, around the time that you ovulate (release an egg). In the first four weeks of pregnancy you probably won’t notice any symptoms. The first thing most women notice is that their period doesn’t arrive. Find out about the signs and symptoms of pregnancy.

By the time you are eight weeks pregnant, you will probably have missed your second period. However, some women experience a little bleeding during the early weeks of pregnancy. Always mention any bleeding in pregnancy to your midwife or doctor, particularly if it continues and you get stomach pain.

Your womb has grown to the size of a lemon by the time you are around seven or eight weeks pregnant. You’re probably feeling tired. Your breasts might feel sore and enlarged, and you are probably needing to pass urine more often than usual.

Some pregnant women start to feel sick or tired, or have other minor physical problems for a few weeks around this time. Most women stop having morning sickness and start to feel better by the time they are around 14 weeks pregnant.

Things to think about

Pregnancy - 9 to 12 weeks

Your baby

Week 9

The face is slowly forming. The eyes are bigger and more obvious, and have some colour (pigment) in them. There is a mouth and tongue, with tiny taste buds. The hands and feet are developing - ridges identify where the fingers and toes will be, although they haven’t separated out yet. The major internal organs (such as the heart, brain, lungs, kidneys and gut) continue developing.

At nine weeks of pregnancy, the baby has grown to about 22mm long from head to bottom.

Week 10

The ears are starting to develop on the sides of your baby’s head, and inside the head its ear canals are forming. If you could look at your baby’s face you would be able to see its upper lip and two tiny nostrils in the nose. The jawbones are developing and already contain all the future milk teeth. The heart is now fully-formed. It beats 180 times a minute - that’s two to three times faster than your own heart. The baby is making small, jerky movements which can be seen on an ultrasound scan.

Week 11

The foetus grows quickly and the placenta is rapidly developing (it will be fully formed at about 12 weeks). The bones of the face are formed now. The eyelids are closed, and won’t open for a few months yet. The ear buds look more like ears as they grow. Your baby’s head makes up one-third of it’s length, but the body is growing fast - it is straightening, and the fingers and toes are separating. There are fingernails.

Week 12

Just 12 weeks after your last period, the foetus is fully formed. All its organs, muscles, limbs and bones are in place, and the sex organs are well developed. From now on, it has to grow and mature. It’s too early for you to be able to feel the baby’s movements yet, although it’s moving quite a bit. Your baby’s skeleton is made of tissue called cartilage and, around now, this starts to develop into hard bone.

You

During this time your breasts will have got bigger, so consider wearing a supportive bra. You may also find that your emotions vary: you feel happy one moment and sad the next. Don’t worry - these feelings are normal and should settle down. You can find out more about feelings and relationships in pregnancy.

If you haven’t seen your midwife yet, contact your doctor or maternity team for your booking appointment and to start your antenatal care. This appointment should take place by the time you are 12 weeks pregnant. You will be offered your first ultrasound scan when you’re between eight and 14 weeks pregnant: this can vary depending on where you live.

Things to think about

http://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/second-trimester

Second trimester

By the second trimester of your pregnancy, your baby is fully formed and growth continues. If you’ve had morning sickness, you should find that it starts to ease off around this time. Read about your baby’s development and your pregnancy week by week, by clicking on the links below.

Pregnancy - 13 to 16 weeks

Your baby

Week 13

Your baby weighs around 25g.

Your baby’s ovaries or testes are fully developed inside their body, and the genitals are forming outside their body. Where there was a swelling between the legs, there will now be a penis or clitoris growing, although you usually won’t be able to find out the sex of your baby at an ultrasound scan at this stage.

Week 14

At 14 weeks, the baby is about 85mm long from head to bottom.

Around now, the baby begins to swallow little bits of amniotic fluid, which pass into the stomach. The kidneys start to work and the swallowed fluid passes back into the amniotic fluid as urine.

Week 15

Around this time, your baby will start to hear - it may hear muted sounds from the outside world, and any noises your digestive system makes, as well as the sound of your voice and heart.

The eyes also start to become sensitive to light. Even though your baby’s eyes are closed, they may register a bright light outside your tummy.

Week 16

The muscles of the baby’s face can now move and the beginnings of facial expressions appear. Your baby can’t control these yet.

The nervous system continues to develop, allowing the muscles in your baby’s limbs to flex. Around this time, your baby’s hands can reach each other - they can form a fist, and hold each other when they touch.

You

If you’ve been feeling sick and tired with morning sickness, you’ll probably start to feel better when you’re around 13 or 14 weeks pregnant.

Some women start to experience an increased sex drive around this time, possibly due to pregnancy hormones or increased blood flow to the pelvic area. Some women don’t, and this is perfectly normal. You can find out more about sex in pregnancy.

You’ll notice a small bump developing as your womb grows and moves upwards. If you’ve been feeling the urge to pass urine more often over the last few months, it’s because your womb was pressing on your bladder. This should ease off now. See your doctor if you notice any pain when you urinate. Urinary infections can happen in pregnancy and it’s important to treat them quickly to reduce the risk of kidney infections.

Things to think about

Pregnancy - 17 to 20 weeks

Your baby

By the time you’re 17 weeks pregnant, your baby is growing quickly, and now weighs around 150g. The body grows bigger so that the head and body are more in proportion.

The face begins to look much more human, and eyebrows and eyelashes are beginning to grow. Your baby’s eyes can move now, although the eyelids are still shut, and the mouth can open and close.

The lines on the skin of the fingers are now formed, so the baby already has his or her own individual fingerprints. Fingernails and toenails are growing and the baby has a firm hand grip.

The baby moves around quite a bit, and may respond to loud noises from the outside world, such as music. You may not feel these movements yet, especially if this is your first pregnancy. If you do, they’ll probably feel like a soft fluttering or rolling sensation.

Your baby is putting on a bit of weight but still doesn’t have much fat so if you could see your baby now it would look a bit wrinkled, although it will continue to put on weight for the rest of the pregnancy and will ‘fill out’ by the last few weeks before birth.

By 20 weeks your baby’s skin is covered in a white, greasy substance called vernix. It’s thought that this helps to protect the skin during the many weeks in the amniotic fluid.

You

At 20 weeks pregnant, you’re halfway through your pregnancy. You will probably feel your baby move for the first time when you’re around 17 or 18 weeks pregnant. Most first-time mums notice the first movements when they are between 18 and 20 weeks pregnant.

At first, you feel a fluttering or bubbling, or a very slight shifting movement, maybe a bit like indigestion. Later on, you can’t mistake the movements and you can even see the baby kicking about. Often you can guess which bump is a hand or a foot.

You may develop a dark line down the middle of your tummy and chest. This is normal skin pigmentation as your tummy expands to accommodate your growing bump. Normal hair loss slows down, so your hair may look thicker and shinier.

You’ll be offered an ultrasound scan when you are 18 to 20 weeks pregnant - this is to check for abnormalities in the baby. Your midwife or doctor can give you information about this and answer any questions.

Common minor problems can include tiredness and lack of sleep. Sleeplessness is common, but there is plenty you can do to help yourself sleep, including using pillows to support your growing bump. Some women also get headaches. Headaches in pregnancy are common, but if they’re severe they could be a sign of something serious.

Things to think about

Warning signs to look out for

Pregnancy - 21 to 24 weeks

Your baby

By 21 weeks your baby weighs around 350g. From about this stage onwards your baby will weigh more than the placenta (which, until now, was heavier than your baby). The placenta will keep growing throughout pregnancy, but not as fast as your baby.

Around this time, the baby becomes covered in a very fine, soft hair called ‘lanugo’. The purpose of this isn’t known, but it’s thought that it may be to keep the baby at the right temperature. The lanugo usually disappears before birth.

Your baby is beginning to get into a pattern of sleeping and waking, which won’t necessarily be the same as yours. When you’re in bed at night, feeling relaxed and trying to sleep, your baby may be wide awake and moving about.

The lungs are not yet able to work properly, but your baby is practising breathing movements to prepare for life outside the uterus. Your baby gets all its oxygen from you via the placenta, and will do so until it is born.

By the time you are 24 weeks pregnant, the baby has a chance of survival if he or she is born. Most babies born before this time cannot live because their lungs and other vital organs are not developed enough. The care that can now be given in neonatal (baby) units means that more and more babies born early do survive.

But for babies born at around this time, there are increased risks of disability. Find out more about premature labour and birth and special care for babies.

You

Your womb will begin to get bigger more quickly and you will really begin to look pregnant. You may feel hungrier than before - try to stick to a sensible, balanced diet, and make sure you know what foods to avoid.

Not everybody gets stretch marks, but if you do develop them they will probably start becoming noticeable when you’re around 22 to 24 weeks pregnant. They may appear on your stomach, breasts and thighs. At first they look red and then fade to a silvery grey. Your breasts may start to leak a little pre-milk - this is normal.

Things to think about

Warning signs to look out for

Pregnancy - 25 to 28 weeks

Your baby

The baby is moving about vigorously and responds to touch and sound. A very loud noise may make him or her jump and kick, and you’ll be able to feel this.

Your baby is regularly passing urine into the amniotic fluid. Sometimes the baby may get hiccups and you can feel the jerk of each hiccup.

The baby’s eyelids open for the first time and he or she will soon start blinking. The eyes are almost always blue or dark blue, although some babies do have brown eyes at birth. It’s not until some weeks after the birth that your baby’s eyes become the colour that they will stay. You can find out more about your baby after the birth.

By now your baby’s heart rate will have changed to around 140 beats per minute. This is still considerably faster than your own heart rate.

Your baby’s brain, lungs and digestive system are formed but not fully mature - they’ll spend the rest of your pregnancy developing so that they work properly when your baby is born.

By 28 weeks, your baby weighs around 1kg and is perfectly formed. The baby’s heartbeat can now be heard through a stethoscope. Your partner may even be able to hear it by putting an ear to your abdomen, but it can be difficult to find the right place.

Your baby continues to put on weight as more and more fat appears under the skin.

You

You may get indigestion or heartburn, and it might be hard to eat large meals as your baby grows and takes up some of the space where your stomach normally is. You may also find you are quite often getting tired.

You may have some swelling of your face, hands or feet. This might be caused by water retention, which is normal (try resting and lifting up your swollen feet to ease it). Be sure to mention any swelling to your midwife or doctor so that they can take your blood pressure and rule out a condition called pre-eclampsia, which can cause swelling.

It is now recommended that all pregnant women receive a pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination during their third trimester (ideally at 28 weeks). A combination of antibodies being passed through the mother’s bloodstream and the reduced risk of the mother contracting the disease makes this an ideal time to administer the vaccine. Most states now offer the pertussis vaccination for free. Speak to your doctor or antenatal care provider to schedule an appointment.

Things to think about

Warning signs during pregnancy

http://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/third-trimester

Third trimester

You’re on the home stretch! This is the first week of the last part of your pregnancy. In some ways, these final three months are a bit like the first three. You may be more tired and more emotional. Aches and discomforts in your belly and back are more common. Try to rest as much as you can. Read about your baby’s development and your pregnancy week by week, by clicking on the links below.

Pregnancy - 29 to 32 weeks

Your baby

Your baby continues to be very active at this stage, and you’ll probably be aware of lots of movements. There is no set number of movements you should feel each day - every pregnancy is different. You should be aware of your baby’s own pattern of movements, and if this pattern changes contact your midwife or hospital to tell them.

The sucking reflex is developing by now and your baby can suck its thumb or fingers. The baby is growing plumper and the skin begins to look less wrinkled and much smoother.

The white, greasy vernix and the soft, furry lanugo (fine hair) which have covered your baby’s skin for some time begin to disappear. Your baby’s eyes can focus now. The lungs are developing rapidly, but your baby wouldn’t be fully able to breathe on its own until about 36 weeks.

By about 32 weeks the baby is usually lying with their head pointing downwards ready for birth. This is known as ‘cephalic presentation’. If your baby isn’t lying head down at this stage, it’s not a cause for concern - there is still time for them to turn.

The amount of amniotic fluid in your uterus is increasing, and your baby is still swallowing fluid and passing it out as urine.

You

As your bump pushes up against your lungs and you have extra weight to carry around, you may feel breathless.

Leg cramps at night are common around 29 to 32 weeks pregnant. You may find it hard to sleep because you can’t get comfortable. Try lying curled up on your side with a pillow between your legs and a cushion under your bump to see if it feels more comfortable. You might find you need to pass urine a lot as well. You can find out about more common pregnancy health problems.

Your midwife or doctor will measure the size of your womb and check which way up the baby is at every antenatal visit. They will also measure your blood pressure, test your urine for protein and discuss the results of any screening tests from your last appointment.

Things to think about

Warning signs during pregnancy

Pregnancy - 33 to 36 weeks

Your baby

By 33 weeks of pregnancy the baby’s brain and nervous system are fully developed. Your baby’s bones are also continuing to harden, apart from the skull bones. These will stay soft and separated until after the birth to make the journey through the birth canal easier - the bones can move gently and slide over each other so that the head can be born safely while still protecting the brain.

Your baby is curled up in the uterus now, with legs bent up towards the chest. There is little room to move about, but they will still change position, so you’ll still feel movements and be able to see them on the surface of your bump.

If your baby is a boy, his testicles are beginning to descend from his abdomen into his scrotum.

By 36 weeks your baby’s lungs are fully formed and ready to take their first breath when they’re born. They will also be able to suckle for feeds now, and the digestive system is fully prepared to deal with breast milk.

You

You need to slow down because the extra weight will make you tired, and you may get backache. From about 34 weeks pregnant, you may be aware of your womb tightening from time to time. These are practice contractions known as ‘Braxton Hicks’ contractions, and are a normal part of pregnancy. It’s only when they become painful or frequent that you need to contact your midwife or hospital.

Only around 5% of babies arrive on their due date. You can find out more about labour signs and what happens in labour.

If you have children already, you may want to make childcare arrangements for when you go into labour. Pack your bag ready for the birth if you are planning to give birth in hospital or a midwifery unit.

When you are around 36 weeks pregnant, make sure you have all your important telephone numbers handy in case labour starts.

Find out more about your options for where to give birth, and the signs of labour.

Things to think about

Warning signs during pregnancy

Pregnancy - 37 to 40 weeks

Your baby

At 37 weeks, your pregnancy is considered full-term.

The baby’s gut (digestive system) now contains meconium - the sticky, green substance that will form your baby’s first poo after birth. It may include bits of the lanugo (fine hair) that covered your baby earlier in pregnancy. If your baby does a poo during labour, which can sometimes happen, the amniotic fluid will contain meconium. If this is the case, your midwife will want to monitor your baby closely as it could mean they are stressed.

In the last weeks, some time before birth, the baby’s head should move down into your pelvis. When your baby’s head moves down like this, it is said to be ‘engaged’. When this happens, you may notice that your bump seems to move down a little. Sometimes the head doesn’t engage until labour starts.

The average baby weighs around 3-4kg by now.

The lanugo that covered your baby’s body is now almost all gone, although some babies may have small patches of it when they’re born. Due to the hormones in your body, the baby’s genitals may look swollen when they’re born, but they will soon settle down to their normal size.

Your baby is ready to be born, and you’ll be meeting them some time in the next couple of weeks.

You

When you are around 37 weeks pregnant, if it’s your first pregnancy you may feel more comfortable as your baby moves down ready to be born, although you will probably feel increased pressure in your lower abdomen. If it’s not your first pregnancy, the baby may not move down until labour.

Most women will go into labour between 38 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. Your midwife or doctor should give you information about your options if you go beyond 41 weeks pregnant.

Call your hospital or midwife at any time if you have any worries about your baby or about labour and birth.

Find out what to expect if your baby is overdue.

Get ready for labour

Be ready for the birth

Common concerns about birth

If your baby is born too soon

Warning signs during pregnancy

Overdue

Pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks (that’s around 280 days from the first day of your last period). Most women go into labour within a week either side of this date, but some women go overdue.

If your labour doesn’t start by the time you are 41 weeks pregnant, your midwife or doctor will offer you a ‘membrane sweep‘.

This involves having a vaginal examination, which stimulates the neck of your womb (known as the ‘cervix’) to produce hormones that may trigger natural labour. You don’t have to have this - you can discuss it with your midwife or doctor.

If your labour still doesn’t start naturally after this, your midwife or doctor will suggest a date to have your labour induced (started off). If you don’t want your labour to be induced, and your pregnancy continues to 42 weeks or beyond, you and your baby will be closely monitored.

Your midwife or doctor will check that both you and your baby are healthy by giving you ultrasound scans and checking your baby’s movement and heartbeat. If your baby is not doing well, your doctor and midwife will again suggest that labour is induced.

Induction is always planned in advance, so you’ll be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your doctor and midwife, and find out why they think your labour should be induced. It’s your choice whether to have your labour induced or not.

Over 42 weeks pregnant

Most women go into labour spontaneously by the time they are 42 weeks pregnant.

If your pregnancy lasts longer than 42 weeks and you decide not to have your labour induced, you should be offered increased monitoring to check your baby’s wellbeing.

There is a higher risk of stillbirth or fetal compromise (your baby’s health being put at risk) if you go over 42 weeks pregnant, but not every pregnancy over 42 weeks is affected this way. At the moment there is no way to find out which babies might be affected, so induction is offered to all women who don’t go into labour by 42 weeks.

Автор:

Ермаченко(Мизаушева) Людмила Валерьевна
гинеколог-эндокринолог, кандидат медицинских наук
Подробнее
Яндекс.Метрика