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Things are usually going so smoothly at the sixth month of pregnancy that Kelly Kasper, M.D., assistant professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Indiana University Health, likes to call it the "coasting" month. "Your baby is big enough that you feel movement every day and your annoying symptoms from the first trimester are gone, but your belly isn't big enough yet to cause you discomfort," she explains. As for how to harness this relative calm, Dr. Kasper suggests that it's a great time to register at a baby store and attend to other projects that might be more difficult to pull off in the months ahead. Just be sure to get help as needed—and skip any heavy lifting!
Have a little night owl growing inside you? During the sixth month, your baby will begin to develop patterns of rest and activity which—be forewarned—may not match your own sleep/wake cycles at all! (An early taste of new motherhood, if you will.) Still, whatever time of day or night you feel them, those gradually stronger and stronger kicks and flutters are reassuring signs from your baby. You might even feel a hiccup or two! Other milestones taking place this month include:
Your baby can grin and frown as facial muscles grow in strength.
Your baby's movements become more coordinated.
Footprints and fingerprints form. Fingernails begin to develop.
By the end of your sixth month, your baby measures about 8 1/4 inches and weighs approximately 1.4 pounds
Experiencing indigestion? Beginning in the middle to end of the second trimester, heartburn begins to plague many moms-to-be, not because of spicy foods they might eat, but because progesterone, the hormone that relaxes muscles in pregnancy, also relaxes the stomach valve that keeps acid out of the esophagus. At this month's checkup, ask your prenatal care provider for tips on putting out the fires of acid indigestion, including the use of over-the-counter calcium-based antacids (which come with the bonus of boosting your daily calcium intake). Other methods to try at home, especially if heartburn keeps you up at night, is to use a wedge pillow to keep your head about 30 degrees elevated while sleeping.
Other changes in your body to watch for this month?
The result of a beautifully bulging belly is often stretched-out, itchy skin. Give your skin as much support as possible by staying hydrated and using a moisturizer.
You may experience Braxton Hicks contractions as your uterus briefly contracts and releases in preparation for the big event a few months down the road. Braxton Hicks contractions are not painful. Contact your provider if you do feel pain or the contractions repeat in a noticeable, frequent pattern (such as contractions every 10 to 15 minutes).
Your uterus is now 2 1/2 inches above your belly button and your uterus is the size of a small watermelon.
Things to Start Thinking About
Staying comfortable: You probably said goodbye to your skinny jeans months ago and have accepted that maternity-cut shirts are pretty much a must. But what about your footwear? For one more pregnancy-friendly adjustment to your wardrobe, Lizellen La Follette, M.D., OB-GYN at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, Calif., advises moms-to-be to invest in supportive shoes. "Get wide comfortable shoes, preferably with a flat heel," she recommends. Putting your feet up throughout the day can also help reduce swelling.
Hospital Pre-Registration: Filling out pre-registration forms at the hospital where you will deliver can save everyone a lot of time and hassle. Your doctor might have the forms available in the office, or call the hospital's delivery wing to stop by and fill out the paperwork in person. (Bring your insurance cards and emergency information with you.) Many hospitals have special days when pregnant moms can come in to pre-register and get a tour of the facilities.