You hit another big milestone this week, as the end of week 27 marks your transition from the second to the third (and final!) trimester, and while it is still very early for your baby to be making an appearance, if he or she just can't wait the chances of survival with some breathing assistance are very good.
As you approach your third trimester, you might be starting to really think about the birth. Getting the baby in there was fun, but the thought of getting the baby out? Not so much! Preparation is key to dealing with your birth fears and anxieties, so make sure you do your research beforehand.
Baby: What's Happening?
With the exception of some continuing development of the lungs and brain, your baby is pretty much perfect, although at just 2 lbs in weight and 14 inches in height, he or she could do with putting on a bit of fat before entering the big wide world, and that's exactly what's going on.
More and more layers of fat are forming on your baby's body (not even all those gymnastic routines are enough to compete with the nutrition gained from the placenta) which helps build strength and also helps to keep Baby warm. Babies are unable to regulate their body temperature properly until about 9 months of age, so you'll need to keep this in mind once your little one has arrived. Once your unborn baby has enough fat, the lanugo hair (and some vernix caseosa) will start to deteriorate, as it's no longer necessary.
Your baby's senses are going through some fine tuning, and the hearing and eyesight becomes much better, although they're still not a patch on what they'll be at a few months old (you'll be surprised at how quickly your baby can notice things you'd rather they didn't, such as the TV controller or your bowl of cereal!). Once your baby's born, their hearing might actually be a little worse than it is in utero, as orifices can become a bit clogged with amniotic fluid. This will clear out within a few days.
As your baby's lungs are developing, you'll probably be noticing more and more hiccups. You can usually tell the difference between movements and hiccups as movements are more severe and random, whereas hiccups are gentle and rhythmic. Have the video camera at the ready, it's amazing watching your stomach jump up and down!
You: What's Happening?
As you come to the end of your second trimester, you'll definitely be used to all the aches and pains of late stage pregnancy such as swelling, hip and joint pain, reflux, sleep problems, gas, frequent urination... you name it! If you're suffering with these things now, there's not much hope of them clearing up before the birth. The good news is that apart from a few last minute symptoms, pregnancy shouldn't have many more tricks up it's sleeve.
Of course, with good news comes bad news. Your uterus is now measuring roughly 27 centimeters, or about 10.5 inches, and with it playing host to a 2 lb baby, a placenta and an amniotic sac; it's starting to take over! You may find as your third trimester approaches that everyday tasks become seemingly impossible. While most women struggle with getting up off the sofa, others have reported being unable to get out of the bath without assistance. Now's the time to start taking things easy.
With only one more trimester to go (and even less if you're having twins or multiples delivered early, or are having a planned caesarean birth), you're probably really starting to think about the birth. The majority of women are nervous about the labor and birth, it's only natural. While you may not be able to be in complete control of the birth you have, you are in control of your overall birthing experience. Be open minded!
Hopefully your baby has another 13 weeks left before arrival, but it's best to be prepared, and that means that now is a good time to be making a birth plan. Birth plans are a great idea because it gives you a good opportunity to think about the type of birth you want while your head is clear (making decisions in the spare of the moment during a painful contraction isn't recommended!).
When making a birth plan, you'll want to consider all three stages of labor. Firstly, stage 1: Do you want to be on the bed, or moving around? Do you want pain relief? If so, what pain relief would you like to be offered? Do you want regular cervix checks? Are you happy for these checks to be performed by students?
Stage 2: What position would you like to birth in? Lying down, kneeling, squatting? Do you want to deliver in water? What are your thoughts on equipment such as forceps? Do you want your partner to see what's going on down there, or are they to be given strict instructions to stay head end only?
Stage 3: Does your partner want to cut the cord? Do you want cord blood banking, or delayed cord clamping? Do you want a natural or managed placenta delivery? Do you want your baby placed directly on you for skin to skin contact? Are you happy for your baby to receive Vitamin K?
There are so many questions to consider that it can be overwhelming, but just take one thing at a time, and your Midwife will always be happy to discuss your options with you. Whatever you decide, there are two very important factors to keep in mind. 1: Make sure your birthing partner knows what you want. It's good for your birthing partner to be able to communicate your wishes if you're not quite feeling yourself. 2: Birth plans don't need to be set in stone; things change. Aim for the birth you want, but expect the unexpected.