Your baby’s total length from the top of the head to the tip of the toes is about 19 ½- 21 inches and he or she weighs over 7 pounds this week. Your little one is just about ready to greet the world! Your due date is approaching and really, your baby could come any day now. Did you know that paternal genes may play a large role in determining when your baby will be born? Research has suggested that dad’s genes may to blame for overdue pregnancies. The study showed that pregnancy lengths differed if the women changed partners. So this means dad’s genes may contribute to whether your baby is born now or past your estimated due date. With more and more earlier induced labors and c-sections, the truth is, dad may not factor into the equation of when your delivery occurs at all.
Your baby boy or girl’s genitalia appears relatively swollen. You’ll probably notice this after delivery. Part of the reason for this is the exposure to your hormones in the womb, which has been passing through the placenta to your baby. If you’re having a girl, her genitalia may look quite puffy. The labia will be swollen, but it usually resolves within the first month of life. Your baby girl may have a small piece of pinkish tissue protruding between the labia. This is called a “hymenal tag”. This occurs in close to 10% of all newborn girls and is perfectly normal and harmless. It typically shrinks into the labia as her genitals grow, within the first month or so. Some girls have vaginal discharge following delivery because certain hormones (particularly estrogen) begin to disappear from their blood. This discharge of mucus and possibly a little blood sometimes lasts for 2 or 3 days, or possibly up to a couple of weeks. It can be clear or white, occasionally blood-tinged. So, be prepared if you find a little blood-tinged discharge during a diaper change.
If you are expecting a baby boy, his scrotum (the pouch which contains his testicles) appears swollen. This is because many times extra clear fluid collects inside, which is called a “hydrocele”. It typically disappears within a few months following delivery, although it may take up to 9 months to completely clear up. If you notice swelling or a bulge around your baby’s groin area or scrotum that doesn’t go away, you need to consult his doctor, because it could be from a hernia. Also, don’t be surprised or alarmed if your baby’s breasts are enlarged and swollen following birth or if they seem to have a milky discharge. This should go away on its own within a few weeks. Squeezing them may cause an infection, so just be patient and let the development take its course naturally.
The top of your uterus is probably close to 7 inches above your belly button this week. At this point, you uterus may appear to halt its growth rate a bit, maybe partly due to your baby’s head lowering into your pelvis. Walking may be getting more and more uncomfortable, as your baby gets bigger and drops lower into the birth canal. Sometimes, you may even feel as if he or she is ready to fall out! Pelvic pressure or fullness and tingling or numbness in the pelvic region is pretty common during the last couple of weeks, but can be awkward at times, especially if you‘re on your feet quite a bit or doing a lot of walking. If you start to experience these discomforts, give your doctor or midwife a call, so he or she can check to see how low your baby’s head is, if deemed necessary. It is possible that pelvic pressure is a symptom of labor in the early stages.
Do you sometimes feel as if you’re getting the classic pregnancy waddle? It’s very common during the last month or so of pregnancy to feel as if you’re waddling around like a duck. Many people believe this infamous waddle is due to the increasing weight of their baby, when in fact, it’s largely not. The pregnancy hormone, called “relaxin“, loosens the ligaments that support your joints, while preparing your body for childbirth. As the joints in your pelvis and hips soften to become more flexible, it may very well cause you to walk a bit differently.
Your protruding belly does throw off your center of gravity and can definitely contribute to the changes in the way you move. Because it’s much harder now to keep your balance, be extra careful to keep from falling or twisting your ankles. According to a new study, pregnant women have approximately a one-in-four chance of taking a serious fall, which is about the same chance as someone over the age of 65. Studies also report that falls make up over 25% of all traumatic injuries to expectant moms. Since your sense of balance has been thrown off considerably as your pregnancy progresses, thanks to your enlarging abdomen and breasts, take it slow. Be particularly slow and cautious when it’s slick outside due to ice and rain. Shoes which provide traction can be especially helpful now. If you do lose your balance and take a spill, make sure you contact your doctor or midwife to make sure everything is alright.