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Like a first-time marathon runner who has just hit an uphill stretch at mile 19, your third trimester is filled with the thrill of knowing your due date is creeping ever closer, and the reality that you still have some hills to climb to get there. After a smooth second trimester, the seventh month of pregnancy can see a return of the extreme fatigue you might have felt earlier on, plus other pregnancy pains, ranging from backache to uncomfortable pelvic pressure to trouble sleeping. Despite all this, just keep putting one (swollen) foot in front of the other, mama, because the finish line is finally in sight!
What's your baby up to this month? Growing, growing and growing some more! Starting this month and continuing throughout the third trimester, your baby will undergo dramatic increases in height and weight. Babies gain from ¼ to ½ pound per week during the last few months of pregnancy. By the end of the month, your little nugget will weigh somewhere between two and four pounds.
Other Month 7 milestones:
Your baby's hearing is now fully developed and your baby can change position in response to sound and light.
Your baby's movements are strong and regular.
Your baby begins to store iron (provided by you) for healthy red blood cell development after birth.
With excellent care and no further complications, a preterm baby born after week 29 has a good chance for survival.
Just when you think your body has finally adjusted to pregnancy, here comes the third trimester! Your pregnant belly, a beautiful reminder of your growing baby, may also be the source of many discomforts during the final months before your baby is born. As your belly expands, the pressure from this added weight can cause backache, gas, leg cramps, varicose veins and increased fatigue. You might notice more of a waddle to your walk, and something as simple as getting up from a chair might become a difficult maneuver. Your watermelon-size uterus—and the baby living inside—also place pressure on internal organs, resulting in common inconveniences like frequent urination and even more heartburn.
Other changes happening this month include:
The top of your uterus will expand this month to about 4 1/2 inches above your belly button
Mood swings and increased irritability become more common. (Thanks, pregnancy hormones!)
Prenatal care checkups increase to every other week for the next two months.
Things to Start Thinking About
Kick Counts: After the 28th week, your provider might ask you to do "kick counts" once or twice a day. These simple checks only require you to lie down in a quiet place and tune in to your baby's movements, counting the number of times your baby moves (kicks, squirms, rolls, wiggles) in an hour, or the time it takes your baby to move 10 times. The pattern of movement should be roughly the same from day to day. A good time to perform kick counts is just after a meal. The sudden increase in nutrients flowing to your baby is often enough to jumpstart some activity. Contact your provider immediately if you stop feeling movement or kick counts show a lack of activity.
Making Yourself a Priority: A great item to put on the top of your to-do list this month? It's not decorating the nursery, it's something much more necessary: rest. "Rest when you can. Ask for help more. If working, try to work shorter hours or arrange for a more flexible schedule if possible," recommends Lizellen La Follette, M.D., OB-GYN at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, Calif.
Testing for Gestational Diabetes: This month, your prenatal care provider may recommend you take a screening test for gestational diabetes, a temporary form of high blood sugar that some pregnant women develop in the third trimester. Testing for gestational diabetes involves drinking a sugary cola-like beverage and the checking your blood glucose level to see if it spikes above normal. If you have gestational diabetes, you will need to follow a special carb-controlled diet for the remainder of your pregnancy and check your blood sugar regularly, among other steps. Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is important for your baby's growth. Your prenatal care provider can give you more information about the test.
Planning for Life After Pregnancy: With just three months to go, it's time this month to start thinking about your maternity leave plans at work. Set up an appointment with your company's human resources department to talk about your options. If you plan to head back to work soon after giving birth, it's also a great time to start interviewing different care providers in your area. And don't forget to find a pediatrician! Ask local friends for recommendations and go from there.